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Articles by Karl Ackermann

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cory Smythe: Circulate Susanna

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Cory Smythe tells stories. About stories. Specifically, a father's tales in the rural heartland of America; ingredients that a listener might assume had shaped Smythe's imagination in ways that go far beyond music. But like the Stephen Foster discs spinning on the gramophone as a tornado approaches, Smythe's nostalgic and inspirational world is liner-note fantasy. Nevertheless, on Circulate Susanna those flights of fancy have manifested themselves in a near-indescribable collection of compositions and improvisations. There are hints of western swing, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dexter Gordon Quartet: Espace Cardin 1977

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Dexter Gordon left us almost three decades ago, but his presence in 2018 has virtually brought him back to center stage. The release of his biography Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon (University of California Press) by his wife Maxine Gordon, and the previously unreleased Dexter Gordon Quartet Tokyo 1975 (Elemental Music) have revitalized interest in one of the most influential early leaders of the bebop movement. Elemental follows up the Tokyo concert release with Espace Cardin ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Floyd Domino's All-Stars: Floyd Domino's All-Stars

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At the time in which traveling bands of the Southern Plains were reaching their peak popularity--the 1920s--Texas and Oklahoma contingents were experimenting beyond their typical formulaic performances. At the same time Western music was on the verge of dying and likely would have were it not for the efforts of folklorists John Lomax (the father of Alan Lomax) and Jack Thorp who published collections of “cowboy music," reviving interest in the genre. It was probably inevitable that Western music, jazz ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Amu: Weave

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The year-long Satoko Fujii sixtieth-birthday project enters its final quarter in autumn 2018 with the stellar Weave. In a year of surprising and unusual releases, her newly assembled quartet--Amu--represents Fujii at her most unconventional yet accessible. The group includes Fujii's husband and frequent partner Natsuki Tamura on trumpet and percussion, drummer and percussionist Takashi Itani and percussive dancer Mizuki Wildenhahn. The mixed-media release consists of an audio disc and a DVD that features six of the seven audio pieces; the ...

UNDER THE RADAR

Big in Japan: A History of Jazz in the Land of the Rising Sun, Part 1

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The music market in Japan--second only to the U.S. in terms of revenue--generates more than two-billion dollars in sales annually. Enthusiasts and collectors of jazz recordings had long ago discovered that Japan's robust music scene, and the now virtual accessibility to products have made the country a go-to resource for hard-to-find releases. Among the Japanese pressings of American artists, various retail outlets offer vinyl rarities such as Oscar Peterson's Nigerian Marketplace (Jive, 1982), recorded in July 1981 at the Montreux ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Don Byron / Aruán Ortiz: Random Dances And (A)Tonalities

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Two highly accomplished artists--one long-established, the other solidifying his legacy--are brought together on Random Dances And (A)Tonalities. This duo outing features clarinetist and saxophonist Don Byron and pianist Aruán Ortiz. The two gifted composers have been playing together, at Ortiz's initial request, since 2014 but in larger ensembles. In late 2017 Byron and Ortiz met in a studio in Zürich, Switzerland to record this eclectic set which plays to both artists' broad musical sensibilities. One of the most ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Adam Berenson / Scott Barnum / Eric Hofbauer: Introverted Cultures

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On his 21st album, composer/pianist/electronic artist Adam Berenson continues his string of remarkable and unpredictable projects with Introverted Cultures. His early association with Paul Bley and a broad range of influences and interests have resulted in a harvest of creative music that shapes unexpected hybrids. Here we have a drummer-less trio for the first twelve tracks of this double CD and, in effect, three percussionists for the final eight. The first disc consists of relatively compact Berenson compositions and a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vincent Peirani: Living Being II - Night Walker

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Led Zeppelin and the accordion is an unlikely pairing, but then so is a collection that mixes the compositions of Robert Plant, John Bonham and Jimmy Page with Sonny Bono. Nice, France native and multi-instrumentalist Vincent Peirani has recorded five albums as a leader/co-leader for ACT Records. Living Being ll--Night Walker is the follow up to Living Being (2015), and features the same quintet with the addition of electronics artist Valentin Liechti, who appears briefly on the last of its ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Keith Jarrett: La Fenice

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The archival gap tightens between the earlier solo release of Keith Jarrett's mid-90s concert, as captured on A Multitude of Angels (ECM, 2016), and his post-illness return to live performing. La Fenice was recorded at the Gran Teatro La Fenice in Venice, in 2006, four years after Jarrett had returned to solo performing in Japan. The double album closely corresponds with Jarrett's Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement award from the International Festival of Contemporary Music of the Biennale di Venezia. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Till Brönner / Dieter Ilg: Nightfall

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Trumpeter Till Brönner is widely lauded in his native Germany and throughout Europe. He has had broad success not only as a jazz composer and musician but also in film music, pop and country genres. Brönner has recorded eighteen albums as a leader and worked with Monty Alexander, Dave Brubeck, Al Foster, Joachim Kühn, Nils Landgren, James Moody, Aki Takase, Ernie Watts and many other noteworthy artists. On Nightfall, he is paired with countryman and bassist Dieter Ilg whose sole ...