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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jen Shyu: Song of the Silver Geese

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The dramatic and sublime The Song of the Silver Geese is vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu's magnum opus. On it Shyu draws from her dual cultural ancestry as well as other east Asian heritages to craft memorable performance art replete with dynamic spontaneity, unique instrumentation and exquisite poetry. The nine-piece suite is divided into “doors" and each segment brims with a mystical ambience and a surreal air. Shyu opens “Door 4: Sinom Semarangan" for example, with her resonant ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Matthew Mitchell: A Pouting Grimace

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A regular member of Tim Berne's Snakeoil and the Dave Douglas Quintet, pianist/keyboardist/composer Matt Mitchell has recently appeared on Rudresh Mahanthappa's Bird Calls (ACT Music, 2015) and Jonathan Finlayson's Moving Still (Pi Recordings, 2016). Mitchell has worked with a broad array of top-name artists including Steve Coleman, John Hollenbeck and Mario Pavone. Mitchell is a chameleon, able to take on completely different musical personas across of fast array of situations. His own Vista Accumulation (Pi Recordings, 2015) was one of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tyshawn Sorey: Verisimilitude

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So much has been said and written about Tyshawn Sorey's presence as a composer, performer and educator, that there is a threat of redundancy, even in adding new superlatives. Each release, however, demands attention to his exceptional and unmatched creativity. Putting aside Sorey's leader dates for the moment, those who have sought him out as a colleague, constitute a who's-who of outstanding creative artists. Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Steve Coleman, Steve Lehman, Roscoe Mitchell, Craig Taborn, Kris Davis, Ingrid Laubrock ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tyshawn Sorey: Verisimilitude

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Given Tyshawn Sorey's propensity for shattering the boundaries between jazz, free improvisation and classical music, it's noteworthy that he decided to stick with just his regular trio for his latest release, Verisimilitude. His previous record, last year's Inner Spectrum of Variables (Pi), drew heavily from the streams of classical and new music, with the additional presence of a string trio essential in giving that music a chamber-like feel, albeit with a good deal of open- ended improvisational space and even ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman: Morphogenesis

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Steve Coleman's music has long sounded largely removed from the direct influence of his native Southside Chicago, not because those elements are missing, but because he creates a hybrid universe that owes as much to Africa and Europe, and to folk, funk, classical and jazz. His newest release, Morphogenesis, while furthering Coleman's musical development, displays features that were present as far back as his Drop Kick (BMG, 1995) and up to Harvesting Semblances and Affinities (Pi Recordings, 2010); the stripped ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Coleman's Natal Eclipse: Morphogenesis

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After his 2015 masterpiece, Synovial Joints, alto saxophonist/composer Steve Coleman left his listeners wondering how he could try to top that extraordinary project. With 21 musicians and an ambitious melding of classical and jazz instrumentation with intricate compositional decisions, Coleman used that record to reveal yet another dimension of his constantly-evolving musical concept--one that's been changing shape for over thirty years now. In some ways, Morphogenesis continues that project: although this is a smaller nine-piece ensemble, almost all of these ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Miles Okazaki: Trickster

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There is nothing deceptive about guitarist Miles Okazaki's Trickster. It is simply an elegantly crafted work that engages with its narrative quality and its darkly hued, intriguing texture. On his fourth release as a leader the New York based Okazaki leads a quartet that consists of two of his bandmates from altoist Steve Coleman's Five Elements, bassist Anthony Tidd and drummer Sean Rickman. Dynamic pianist Craig Taborn rounds up the group. Okazaki and Taborn open the album on ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Miles Okazaki: Trickster

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Guitarist Miles Okazaki (Steve Coleman, Dan Weiss) is a meticulous artist and visionary partly due to his thorny and geometrically inclined theme-building practices. With ECM recording artist Craig Taborn sharing the frontline, the guitarist often makes complex storylines sound effortless by design, paralleled by the quartet's symmetrical pulses and deterministic gait. The band also gels to odd-metered bump and grind motifs and linear progressions amid succinctly stated unison lines. According to Okazaki, “The Calendar" ..." is a song ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jonathan Finlayson: Moving Still

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Trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson has been an in-demand sideman for a decade, laying a foundation of top-tier groundwork in recording with Steve Coleman on all of that uncompromising composer's Five Elements albums since 2002. Finlayson's performing credits include gigs with Ravi Coltrane, Steve Lehman, Mary Halvorson, Vijay Iyer, and many other notable artists. Not until 2013 did the trumpeter/composer release Moment and the Message (Pi Recordings), his first--and highly acclaimed--outing as leader of the quintet, Sicilian Defense. He returns with six ...