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Articles by Mark Sullivan

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Samo Salamon & Stefano Battaglia: Pure Magic

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Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon and Italian pianist Stefano Battaglia present a sequel to their first live collaboration WindS (Klopotec Records, 2016). That album included a couple of Salamon compositions along with several collaborative tracks--this time the duo have gone all in with a fully collaborative program, recorded in the studio. “The Beauty of Kei" opens the set in a reflective mood, both instruments exploring harmonically ambiguous chords, the guitar almost sounding like overtones of the piano part at ...

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Fred Hersch Trio: Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard

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Pianist Fred Hersch has produced a steady stream of recordings in the last few years, both solo and with his current trio. The trio was featured on Live In Europe (Palmetto Records, 2018) and Sunday Night At The Vanguard (Palmetto Records, 2016). This album captures a special career moment for Hersch: his first appearance as leader at the venerable Village Vanguard, arguably the most storied jazz club in the history of the music. At the time his working ...

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Casey Golden: Atlas

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Australian pianist/composer Casey Golden, now a London resident, was last heard from on Miniature (Scrampion Records, 2016) with his long-standing Sydney-based trio. He also appears on Phillip Johnston's The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Cuneiform Records, 2018). Atlas is the first recording from his new London-based quartet with guitarist Alex Munk, bassist Henrik Jensen, drummer Will Glaser and the leader on piano. This is his fourth recording as a leader. The title tune opens the album quietly. At first ...

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Stephan Thelen: Fractal Guitar

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For this debut solo album Swiss guitarist/composer Stephan Thelen reached back to his interests before the band Sonar for which he is best known. That band builds its interlocking patterns without electronic effects (other than reverb), so Thelen felt the urge to to compose and perform pieces in which effects were an integral part of the music. The album title comes from a rhythmic delay with a high feedback level that produces cascading delay patterns in odd time signatures. He ...

YEAR IN REVIEW

Mark Sullivan's Best Releases of 2018

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2018 was another year with too many favorites to choose from. I'm struck by the number of “extended ensembles" on my list: groups of eight or more, including a chamber orchestra plus jazz group. It was also an exceptionally good year for RareNoiseRecords, making it hard for me to stop at three albums. This list is in chronological order but not ranked. MMO-Ensemble Any Day Now Øra Fonogram Norwegian saxophonist/composer Martin Myhre Olsen's ...

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Uros Spasojevic/Bojan Marjanovic: V

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Serbian electric bass guitarist Uros Spasojevic presents an intimate set of solos and duets with pianist Bojan Marjanovic. He plays an extended range instrument, frequently employing an approach more like a guitarist than a bassist--in terms of both timbre and register. Opener “North" is the first of three unaccompanied bass pieces. Beginning with volume-pedal swelled chords which are then looped, Spasojevic adds a spare, echoing solo part. In contrast “Senok" features Marjanovic's piano with a lyrical unaccompanied opening, ...

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Wako: Urolige Sinn

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Wako is a Norwegian jazz collective with a truly collective sound. Saxophonist Martin Myhre Olsen--heard as a leader on MMO Ensemble's Any Day Now (Øra Fonogram, 2018)--and pianist Kjetil Mulelid--leader of the Kjetil Mulelid Trio's Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House (Rune Grammofon, 2017)--each contribute three compositions. But the group identity is equally present on the jointly created tracks that dominate this program, their third album. Opener “Jernvilje" is a brief, atmospheric rubato exercise by the whole ...

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Chris Trinidad: Chant Triptych II

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Bassist/composer Chris Trinidad (based in the San Francisco Bay area) presents the second in a series of albums that place Gregorian chant melodies in new contexts. The arrangements combine instruments from a wide array of musical traditions: Indian tabla drums and bansuri flute; Caribbean bongo, congas and other percussion; accordion influenced by Argentinian tango and other folk traditions; Bulgarian tambura (which has double-coursed strings like a mandolin); and guitar, bass guitar and saxophone from Europe and North America.

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Sonar: Live At Moods

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Swiss experimentalists Sonar found a new groove on their album Vortex (RareNoiseRecords, 2018): the marriage of their intricate pattern playing with the American guitarist/live looper David Torn's raw emotional abandon created a rich synthesis. This live album is a celebration of that sound, but it is much more than a live version of their collaboration in the studio. Opener “Twofold Covering" starts out in fresh territory, adding Torn to a track from Sonar's Static Motion (Cuneiform Records, 2014). ...

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Baldo Martinez: Cuarteto Europa

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Spanish bassist/composer Baldo Martínez (founding member of the bands Clunia and Zyklus; worked with trumpeters Kenny Wheeler and Paolo Fresu, pianist Joachim Kuhn and others) leads the aptly named Cuarteto Europa (Quartet Europe) with French violinist Dominique Pifarely (probably best known for his ECM recordings, as a leader and with reedist Louis Sclavis), Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser (who has been associated with players like double bassist Thomas Morgan; drummers Paul Motian, Gerald Cleaver and Pierre Favre; and guitarist Marc Ducret) ...

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Eraldo Bernocchi: Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It

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Italian multi-instrumentalist and composer Eraldo Bernocchi created this music as the soundtrack to a documentary film on the American visual artist Cy Twombly entitled Cy Dear. Bernocchi was given complete freedom, and quickly found that his ideas naturally reflected those of the film's creators. More than that, he found himself becoming part of the story, bringing his own memories. The album title is taken from the Twombly painting reproduced on the cover, but the track titles refer to words and ...

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Frank Kimbrough: Monk's Dreams: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Sphere Monk

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There were scores of tributes the legendary pianist and composer Thelonious Monk in 2017, the centennial of his birth. But only guitarist Miles Okazaki's six- volume solo guitar album Work: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Monk (Self Produced, 2018) gave a clear presentation of all seventy of Monk's compositions. Pianist Frank Kimbrough's similarly comprehensive set is riskier in some ways, as the grouping of jazz quartet with a horn as the lead instrument (usually saxophone) is the one that Monk ...