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Jazz Articles | Blog

LIVE REVIEWS

Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman and lots more at SFJAZZ Center gala

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2017 Gala Celebrating Zakir Hussain SFJAZZ Center jny: San Francisco January 18, 2017 When SFJAZZ decides to throw a party, it does not fool around. For evidence, you had to look no farther than the presenter's 2017 gala, celebrating both the 5th anniversary of the organization's impeccable new home smack in the middle of city's cultural district and a lifetime of pioneering work by master percussionist Zakir Hussain, the latest ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Sabu Martinez: Palo Congo – 1957

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1957 was a banner year for hard bop and Blue Note. In one year, the label released 40 albums, including classics from John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, Bud Powell, Lou Donaldson, Hank Mobley, Johnny Griffin and eight by Jimmy Smith alone. In the midst of all that hard bop, Blue Note released two percussion-based albums that were way off the beaten path. Art Blakey's Orgy in Rhythm was a drum-fest of epic proportions. Sabu Martinez's Palo Congo was a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Miguel Zenon: Tipico

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The vintage cover photograph on Tipico, of Puerto Rican musicians, might lead one to believe that this is a continuance of alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón's jazz adaptations revolving around his heritage and homeland. But this is not the case. On this release, he hones in on his bandmates, and the music is centered on what each individual member contributes to the ensemble, and overall sound. His quartet for over a decade now is comprised of pianist Luis Perdomo, ...

CATCHING UP WITH

Trombonist Wayne Wallace racking up Grammy nods with distinctive record label

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Usually when a musician starts a record label, it's with no intent beyond releasing his own music. Not so with San Francisco-based trombonist Wayne Wallace. Since forming Patois Records (Motto: “Promoting improvisation") more than a decade ago, Wallace has used the label as a vehicle to promote both his own Latin jazz work and music of fellow free spirits performing everything from salsa to big-band jazz. Along the way, the label has picked up a handful of Grammy nominations, including ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maureen Choi Quartet: Ida Y Vuelta

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The phrase, Ida Y Vuelta, literally translates into roundtrip, as in a journey, going somewhere and returning back to point of origin. For violin virtuoso Maureen Choi, her sojourn to Spain in 2012 has turned into an extended residency, as an educator, and applying her musical prowess to expand upon the influence of Spanish music from the Iberian Peninsula to the Caribbean and into South America. Working within the quartet format, she delves into established folkloric currents with inventive compositions ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita: Transparent Water

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Cuban Pianist Omar Sosa and Senegalese kora player and vocalist Seckou Keita have assembled an extraordinary album seamlessly melding Latin American and West African music. Additional guest instrumentalists bring with them a host of other sounds predominantly emanating from the Far East. The koto is a traditional Japanese stringed instrument whilst the sheng is a Chinese mouth-blown free reed instrument consisting of vertical pipes. The bawu is a Chinese wind instrument and the geomungo is a traditional Korean type of ...

BEST OF / YEAR END

James Nadal's Best Releases of 2016

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Having had the honor and pleasure to review over eighty records in 2016, choosing a dozen is a difficult task. There are featured blues and soul vocalists, which are maintaining the significance of these genres alive with the authentic talent and dedication required. Included are stimulating offerings from innovative fusion and experimental artists, as well as diverse instrumental and vocal performances from Africa and the Caribbean. My sincere appreciation to all the musicians, producers, promoters, publicists and friends who send ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Clouds and Stormy Nights: A New Pair from QFTF

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Germany's growing QFTF label remains ambitious as ever as 2016 draws to a close, showcasing two young off-the-beaten-path bandleaders with their own ideas of the directions modern jazz might take. With some fairly offbeat feels for melody, the pair manage to serve as two sides of the same semi-abstract coin. Matthew Sheens Cloud Appreciation Day QFTF 2016 It eases in with an almost stately air, then abruptly breaks into rhythmic careening like lightning ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Etienne Charles: San José Suite

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Whenever Trinidadian jazz trumpeter and composer Etienne Charles releases an album, it is an event. In this case, it is his latest opus, the ten-part San José Suite--soon to be performed live in Trinidad and Tobago for the first time on November 20. [The album was released in the US in June 2016 and debuted live at the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest in August 2016.] This suite dares to magnify the idea of the wider Americas as a crucible ...


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