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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Satin Doll – A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn

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The true beauty and utility of the Great American Songbook is the durability of the music in response to interpretation, often jarring and drastic. French pianist Martial Solal made a master's class of demonstrating the music's vitality on his uniformly excellent Live at the Village Vanguard: I Can't Give You Anything But Love (CAM Jazz, 2009). On that recording, Solal so deliberately and completely deconstructed Tin Pan Alley, that he created a new lens through which to pass these old ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Musillami/Rich Syracuse: Of The Night

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For some reason, Wayne Shorter is in the air, as evidenced by pianist Denny Zeitlin's wonderful Early Wayne and now guitarist Michael Musillami's duo album with bassist Rich Syracuse, Of The Night. As stated in the earlier review, Shorter tunes, for the most part, are almost immediately recognizable as such without being able to be (accurately) sung. Shorter's melodic, harmonic and rhythmic choices create a Shorter style that is very strong without being easily definable. However, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Musillami/Rich Syracuse: Of The Night

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It would be hard to name an artist who has written more jazz standards than saxophonist Wayne Shorter, someone who has been penning memorable tunes since his days with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the very early sixties. After his stint with Blakey, he contributed his singular song crafting acumen to Miles Davis' Second Great Quintet in the same decade, as well as recording numerous albums under his own name on Blue Note Records during that time. Now, the year ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Andy Jaffe Nonet +4: Arc

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It is difficult to get past the opening, and title track, to Andy Jaffe's Nonet recording Arc. The reason being, it is a flawless piece of music as it is written, arranged and performed. There is just something about this little waltz that is cinematic, in both the sense that it feels like the soundtrack to a classic film and that it also projects a narrative in the mind. Jaffe weaves the Taiwanese Interestring Quartet into the seamless piece, but ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Madsen: Elvis Never Left the Building

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The route through Graceland to a jazz concept album is a treacherous one. Popular music icons of varying styles--such as the Beatles and Joni Mitchell--have been transcribed with varying degrees of success. The more successful interpretations of The Crimson Jazz Trio benefited from their actual ties to King Crimson and outstanding musicianship. Now, pianist Peter Madsen's CIA Trio ventures into potentially contentious territory with Elvis Never Left the Building and pulls off a brilliantly executed coup. Madsen re-harmonizes ten Elvis ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ted Rosenthal Trio: Rhapsody In Gershwin

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The glories of George Gershwin have been well-documented in jazz settings. In fact, many would argue that Gershwin's music has been done to death. So does the world really need another tribute to this iconic tunesmith? In theory, it does not. Supply and demand, and the very nature of saturation, would say that a more-than-sufficient dose of Gershwin has been given to the world, so it's time to move on. However, these principles have never applied to this type of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Musillami Trio: Pride

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With ten albums as a leader in his portfolio, guitarist and composer, Michael Musillami remains disproportionately under the radar in the public domain. Working in formats from duo to octet and inspired by classic artists like John Coltrane and Miles Davis, Musillami has a gifted touch for arranging the traditional and highly improvisational together in accessible ways. Pride features Musillami's decade-long established trio of bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller, a rhythm section made for this kind of versatility.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mario Pavone: Street Songs

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Listing an accordion in a jazz sextet's lineup evokes either thoughts of avant-garde leanings or maybe kitschy hipsterism. Not so for bassist Mario Pavone. Street Songs includes Adam Matlock's bellows-driven squeezebox, not as a gimcrack ornament, but a link to the immigrant working class neighborhood music of Pavone's post-WW II youth. The musician's history is significant because his bass has anchored modern music including bands by innovators such as Paul Bley, Bill Dixon, Thomas Chapin, Anthony Braxton, and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ted Rosenthal Trio: Wonderland

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Lots of “Christmas Albums" come out every year. Many of them are nice for an easy holiday listen, but let's face it, expectations are low in terms of endurance, and they can often be rightfully seen as quickly done, quick buck affairs. Then there are the ones that have endured: the Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy, 1965); Elvis Presley's A Christmas Album (RCA, 1957); and Frank Sinatra's A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra (Capitol, 1957). And aside ...


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