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Articles by Samuel Stroup

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Hubert Dupont: Smart Grid

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Hubert Dupont's new live album, Smart Grid, finds the seasoned French bassist in good company. With the assistance of saxophonist Denis Guivarc'h, pianist Yvan Robilliard, and drummer Pierre Mangeard, Dupont manages to give the set's six original tunes the utmost life. The exceptional work of the quartet makes itself known in not only their improvisation and interaction but in the grace and funk they manage to bring to the music. Sadly, this makes it evident that the compositions on the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Pocket Aces: Cull the Heard

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Pocket Aces have made all the right moves in gearing up for their first album. The three improvisers are comfortable with each other, having spent time playing together, unearthing their sound. Cull the Heard finds the leaderless trio composing as they improvise, curating an album full of focussed and engaging songs. The Boston trio omits any overindulgence--even in their album's 'out'-est moments--favoring subtlety over clutter. Though experienced in playing cover tunes as well as their own, Pocket Aces have proven ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Broken Shadows at Icehouse

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Broken Shadows Icehouse JT's Jazz Implosion at Icehouse: Broken Shadows Minneapolis, MN June 18, 2018 Supergroup Broken Shadows hit Icehouse in Minneapolis Monday, June 18, 2018, paying dues and offering interpretations of music by their heroes and mentors. The NY-based band consists of Tim Berne on alto saxophone, Chris Speed on tenor, Reid Anderson on bass, Dave King on drums and showcases the music of Ornette Coleman, Julius Hemphill, Dewey Redman, and Charlie Haden. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Bad Plus: Never Stop II

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Armed with a new pianist and eight solid original tunes (plus two original bonus tracks), The Bad Plus prove that being a working, cohesive band is what's most important to them. Their 13th album, Never Stop II, sees a triumphant return of the seasoned piano trio, after the relatively graceful departure of their long-time pianist Ethan Iverson and their less graceful previous album, It's Hard (Okeh/Sony Masterworks, 2016), of all cover songs. On the Never Stop II, The ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Surman: Invisible Threads

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Half a century into his musical career, English reed player John Surman continues to find outlets to explore a wide variety of introspective compositions. Invisible Threads, out on ECM, finds Surman exploring folk and world music, accompanied by pianist Nelson Ayres and mallet percussionist Rob Waring. The album features Surman's woodwind melodies bouncing atop piano and vibraphone/marimba patterns so smoothly that it becomes almost impossible to tell what is improvised and what is not. Surman's trio is an ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marquis Hill: Meditation Tape

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"The universe and us are the same," proclaims legendary drummer Marvin Bugulu Smith between tracks on Marquis Hill's ethereally groovy Meditation Tape. Recordings of Bugulu Smith narrate the 7-track album by Hill, one of Chicago's foremost trumpeters. Hill describes the short record as a “beat tape," and it plays that way, a divine hip-hop vibe always present. Hill's horn--reverb-ed, delayed and multiplied--acts as the MC, freestyling post-bop-influenced verses over the rhythm section's insistent grooves. Hill's smooth tone and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Black Diamond: Mandala

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It's easy to see how Chicago quartet Black Diamond fit right into the sax / sax / bass / drums tradition in jazz. In fact, with the intricate and energetic compositions, speedy and flawless solos, and evocative song titles this group's first album Mandala almost feels like a passing of the torch from the likes of similarly instrumented quartets like Endangered Blood and Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth. Even Dave Holland's Conference of the Birds comes to mind on occasion throughout Mandala, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jeremy Ylvisaker: Dimebag

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What makes Jeremy Ylvisaker's music interesting is its versatility. Many sides of a musician, masterfully blended together. In 2016, he performed with Michael Lewis and JT Bates at the Icehouse in Minneapolis, playing two sets. The first featured the guitar / saxophone / drums trio playing free ballads. For the second set, Lewis swapped his tenor for an electric bass and suddenly they were not a jazz trio, they were a group fronted by Ylvisaker and called Alpha Consumer, an ...