Articles by Phillip Woolever

Daily articles carefully curated by the All About Jazz staff. Read our popular and future articles.

ALBUM REVIEW

Eric Binder: Hard Bop

Read "Hard Bop" reviewed by Phillip Woolever

Eric Binder is a drummer based in the Chicago area gaining recognition as a teacher and technician who combines slick sequencing and academic awareness to create modern masterworks with a classic jazz sound. This abbreviated yet consistently inspiring album affirms Binder as a rising force on the US jazz scene. Authenticity is obviously vital to Binder, who earned a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and teaches at three colleges. He has multiple, academic-based publications to ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Spirit Fingers: Peace

Read "Peace" reviewed by Phillip Woolever

Variety is said to be the spice of life and it's also a big plus for music. What stands out on this record is variety of the broadest measure. Pianist Greg Spero has a diverse resume that includes assembling this powerful quartet boasting guitarist Dario Chiazzolino and the mighty rhythm section of bassist Max Gerl and drummer Mike Mitchell, along with some excellent guests. Mainly, this release advances the promise of the band's debut album from 2018 (with ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Markos Chaidemenos: McModal

Read "McModal" reviewed by Phillip Woolever

The Greek pianist Markos Chaidemenos has released a wonderfully uplifting tribute to the late McCoy Tyner with this track, in anticipation of a full-length album. The song was recorded live in Athens at The Zoo. It has a feel of focused spontaneity that dances through the ear and bears repeated listening very well, capturing Tyner's essence without sinking into unworthy derivatives. Tidbits seemingly inspired by familiar compositions like “The Greeting" spark up as Chaidemenos sticks to an amalgamated ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Max Gerl: Tbilisi

Read "Tbilisi" reviewed by Phillip Woolever

In a four-song display of highly skilled writing and musicianship, Max Gerl provides deep liftoff points for a versatile quartet to roll through thirty-three minutes of distinctly different pieces in a widely comprehensive range of jazz contexts. The songs share similar length and instrumental dexterity, but that's about it. In Gerl's thematic landscape, most uncommon ground is prime musical territory. “Tbilisi" is a sax-based romp that swings for the fences with a big band aesthetic. Aaron Shaw delivers ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Lulu Fall: Between Two Worlds

Read "Between Two Worlds" reviewed by Phillip Woolever

This enjoyable album is distinguished by Fall's multi-layered vocal inflections, which shine amidst myriad flourishes of afro-centric rhythms that reach well beyond typical dance tracks or pop tunes. With roots in Cameroon and Senegal, the well-established NYC singer-songwriter has worked at the apex of musical theatre, including roles in Passing Strange and the revival of Hair. Fall definitely understands many techniques of vocally “selling" a song and her compositional chops make for engaging, party playlist pieces. The way ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Kurt Rosenwinkel Trio: Angels Around

Read "Angels Around" reviewed by Phillip Woolever

In addition to recognition among modern jazz's most talented guitarists, Kurt Rosenwinkel has earned a reputation as a thoughtfully skilled interpreter of jazz standards. This stirring release should deservedly elevate his status to even higher levels as bassist Dario Deidda and drummer Greg Hutchinson add punch and precision to every piece. Rosenwinkle revisits classic compositions from six of jazz's most recognized talents, and adds a pair of new songs. While traditional purists may have issues with the transfer of more ...

BOOK EXCERPTS

Land of the Black Squirrels

Read "Land of the Black Squirrels" reviewed by Phillip Woolever

Land of the Black Squirrels Mwalim 266 Pages Thirty-three Enterprises 2020 In these days of pandemic pressure, it's increasingly obvious that books are a very effective method of dealing with self-isolation symptoms like boredom, frustration or depression. The smoothly-paced Land of the Black Squirrels (Thirty-three Pages, 2020) provides fictional urban scenarios centered by characters in the music and arts industry, including numerous jazz-based references. This is the first installment of a “Bronx ...


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