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Articles by Mark Sullivan

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Shorter: Emanon

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Saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter is a living jazz legend--his career includes stints with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, with trumpeter Miles Davis (including his last great quintet, as well as foundational fusion albums), and with fusion icon Weather Report--any one of which would be enough to give him a significant place in the history of the music. Throughout his career he has also produced influential work as a leader, going back to hard bop standards for Blue Note Records. So it is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sungjae Son: Near East Quartet

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Korean saxophonist Sungjae Son founded the Near East Quartet with the goal to form a bridge between traditional Korean music and American jazz. Korean music's traditional slow rhythmic feel is not immediately compatible with the regular rhythms of jazz--so it was up to the quartet's members to find a common ground. They followed different paths individually: Son and guitarist Suwuk Chung both studied in the United States, but at the time Son was a bebopper, while Chung was into fusion ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sebastian Schunke/Diego Pinera: Elusive Beauty

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German pianist/composer Sebastian Schunke has a sound firmly rooted in Latin jazz, but he has never shied away from bringing in European influences as well. His previous album Genesis, Mystery And Magic (Nwog Records, 2014) employed a conventional sextet with horns and percussion--but also included Interludes of introspective solo piano. Elusive Beauty presents a conscious move into new stylistic territory: Schunke calls it “Fourth Stream," a symbiosis of Afro-Latin American music and the “New Music" of the 21st century.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jorge Fernandez Trio: Historias Del Pasado Reciente

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Mexican drummer/composer Jorge Fernandez returns with a trio project, joined by guitarist Juan José López and double bassist Leonardo Cortes. López appeared on Fernández's previous quintet recording J.I.G.E.N. (Intolerancia, 2016), and one composition here is reprised from it. The quintet album was an eclectic collection of contemporary jazz, often featuring fusion sounds and grooves. This trio takes a slightly more mainstream jazz approach, but it's still all original music with no bebop in sight. Opener “AB" spotlights the ...

DVD/FILM REVIEWS

Lajos Dudas: Ein Künstlerportrait

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Lajos Dudas Lajos Dudas--Ein Künstlerportrait Stadt Neuss Kulturamt 2018 The German city of Neuss honors an adopted son with this three-part video project (under the auspices of the Culture Department of City Neuss (GER)). German/Hungarian clarinetist Lajos Dudas has made his home there since 1973, leaving the freelance life to teach at the Neuss School of Music. Dudas had been performing in rock and jazz, as well as a featured classical soloist. But his true ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Martin Schulte Trio: Time Remembered: Standards and Other Songs

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German jazz guitarist Martin Schulte's previous album Walking Distance (Laika-Records, 2016) was a quartet (sometimes quintet) recording of Schulte's compositions. Here the instrumentation is stripped back to a solid trio with bassist Henning Gailing and drummer Jens Düppe, and as the subtitle would have it, the program is mostly standards (although Schulte sneaks in three of his own tunes). The guitarist sticks to a clean sound throughout, so it is a mainstream program in most ways. The title ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Necks: Body

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Their official biography calls The Necks “one of the great cult bands of Australia," which says more about their fan base than the music they play. But it's still not a bad place to start; certainly, the mesmerizing improvised, slow-moving sound they create together is not likely to attract a mass audience. Like most of their recordings and live concerts, Body is a single, nearly hour-long improvisation--but one with four distinct sections. The performance begins with Chris Abrahams' ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Rob Dixon Trio: Coast to Crossroads

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Saxophonist Rob Dixon, who mainly plays a muscular tenor sax here, is based in Indiana (the Crossroads state) but also works a lot on the East and West Coasts--hence the album title. He has done three tours with guitarist Charlie Hunter's band, and the 7-string guitar phenomenon returns the favor here by both playing and producing the album. The core band is completed by legendary drummer Mike Clark (who made his name playing with pianist/composer Herbie Hancock in the 1970s), ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alex Conde: Origins

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Spanish pianist/composer Alex Conde has roots in flamenco, but his influences range widely through Afro-Cuban and American jazz idioms. He is now based in New York City, a place with a pool of musicians ideally suited to the musical blend he creates. The “origins" of the title refer to all of the pianist's roots, which he freely combines in a true fusion. On his previous album Descarga For Monk (Zoho Music, 2015) he interpreted Thelonious Monk compositions; here he features ...

DVD/FILM REVIEWS

Open Land: Meeting John Abercrombie

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John Abercrombie Open Land: Meeting John Abercrombie Music Heritage Productions / ECM Records 2018 Named after John Abercrombie's 1999 ECM album of the same name (by his trio with organist Dan Wall and drummer Adam Nussbaum, plus guests trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, violinist Mark Feldman and saxophonist Joe Lovano), Open Land finds the guitarist late in his career. Much of the ninety minute run time shows him talking about his life as a jazz guitarist and ...