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Articles | Featured | Future

ALBUM REVIEWS

Michael Kocour: East Of The Sun

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Michael Kocour's solo piano recital is comprised of great American songs, most of which were popular in the early-to-mid twentieth century. There's nothing dated or anachronistic about the ways in which he handles the material. Throughout the record's ten tracks, Kocour establishes a state of equilibrium between a fealty to traditional song forms and jazz practices; a resourceful, imaginative streak; and a great deal of facility on the instrument. While he often incorporates elements of early jazz piano styles, such ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Mason Razavi: Quartet Plus, Volume 2

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If “Riverbed," which opens Mason Razavi's burnished sequel to Quartet Plus (First Orbit Sounds, 2014) were a doorway, it would welcome listeners like guests of honor to an intimate yet lively gathering of close friends and family. Such is the feeling of hospitality and warmth that pervades this thoroughly nourishing album. Over this and the next four tunes, all Razavi originals, the guitarist's bandmates regale us with one slick tale after another. The groovier “Blues in New Hues" highlights pianist ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Michael Kocour: East Of The Sun

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The ease of expression with which pianist Michael Kocour unspools standards tends to belie the greatness of his playing. With extreme comfort and control he lays out one beautiful performance after another, all the while presenting a fine balance between technical accomplishment and creative bent. East Of The Sun--the sixth leader (or co-leader) date from Kocour, and the third to offer a detailed look at his solo piano work--largely focuses on songs from the '20s and '30s. ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Kristen Strom: Moving Day: The Music of John Shifflett

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The esteemed bassist John Shifflett was for roughly thirty years a mainstay in countless San Francisco Bay Area sessions and recordings until his untimely passing in April 2017. Gone, that's true, but far from forgotten. Shifflett, as it turns out, had another largely hidden talent as a composer of bright and accessible jazz tunes, seven of which are performed by a number of his friends and colleagues on Moving Day, a warm-hearted tribute whose nominal leader is saxophone / woodwind ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Shawn Maxwell's New Tomorrow: Music in My Mind

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After a series of well-received mainstream recordings, Chicago-based alto saxophonist Shawn Maxwell moved into a “taking more chances" mode with Shawn Maxwell's New Tomorrow (OA2 Records, 2016). Much of the sound there fell into the exploratory, even avant-garde area. He delves further into that territory with Music In My Mind. With albums titled Originals (Self Produced, 2006) and Originals II (Self Produced, 2008) opening up his recorded resume, it's no stretch to say that Maxwell's focus is zeroed ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Ben Markley Quartet: Basic Economy

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Pianist/composer Ben Markley has enough jazz pedigree to draw interest from jazz fans on an international level. After all, he has performed with such notables as Brian Lynch, Terell Stafford, and Eddie Henderson. His work on the jazz scene in Denver is well regarded, as is his work as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, not what one would call a hotbed of jazz music. It was Markley's most recent recording Clockwise: The ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Tucker Antell: Grime Scene

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Tucker Antell knows how to make an entrance. The two-minute solo stand that opens Grime Scene finds his stentorian saxophone blowing brusque and fluid across a wide swath. It plays like a strong man's lament-cum-catharsis, but what follows on the same track is something else: a bluesy shuffle with foot tap-inducing properties. This marks the first of many welcome surprises on this pleasing debut. While the pairing of tenor saxophone and organ trio coupled with an affinity ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Danny Green Trio Plus Strings: One Day It Will

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Charlie Parker, alto saxophonist/bebop pioneer, got the ball rolling on the adding of strings to jazz. This went down in the late 1947 through 1950, on a pair of releases on Mercury Records introducing the sound of the Yardbird backed by a symphony orchestra. These sets were later compiled by Verve Records and issued in 1995 as Charlie Parker with Strings. That offering is a masterpiece of the genre it spawned: Chet Baker with Strings, (Columbia Records, 1954); Clifford Brown ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Electric Squeezebox Orchestra: The Falling Dream

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No, the San Francisco-based Electric Squeezebox Orchestra does not come with accordions attached. It does, however, come with a well-developed eye for harmony and rhythm, an inflexible group dynamic and a number of perceptive soloists, all of which serve to make the ensemble's second album, The Falling Dream, a pleasure to hear. The orchestra's nominal leader is trumpeter Erik Jekabson who wrote three of the album's tasteful numbers, the undulating “Guala," circuitous “November" and hard-hitting finale, “Jungle ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Jeff Baker: Phrases

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After a seven-year absence, vocalist/composer/arranger/educator and foremost fan of the Boise State Broncos, Jeff Baker has returned to the studio to add to his already impressive discography, which includes: Baker Sings Chet (OA2, 2004); Monologue (OA2, 2005); Shopping for Your Heart (OA2, 2007); Of Things Not Seen (OA2, 2009). The distance between the earthy, basic Of Things Not Seen and the present airy and ethereal Phrases is a vast one. Baker increases his instrumentation dramatically, from a quintet ...

REASSESSING

Of Things Not Seen

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How Jeff Baker avoided full coverage at All About Jazz is beyond me, but now is a fine time to write this wrong. In 2009, Baker took a professional and stylistic chance in producing a jazz treatment of songs from the American Christian Songbook, Of Things Not Seen. He had worked up to this bold statement with his preceding recordings: Baker Sings Chet (OA2, 2004); Monologue (OA2, 2005); and Shopping for Your Heart (OA2, 2007). Proving deft and smart with ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Phil Parisot: Creekside

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With his second recording as a leader, Seattle drummer/composer Phil Parisot follows up his debut record, Lingo (OA2, 2016), with Creekside (OA2, 2017), an interpretation of how nature manifests itself within urban environments. It's sound reflects the natural world perceived within the context of urban life, as a primal, inexhaustible source of enveloping sanctuary, seeing human participation as another link in the primordial march of timeless and innate universal emotive interaction. This visionary concept is explored and embellished upon by ...