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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aguankó: Pattern Recognition

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If the music of Aguankó is any indication, Latin jazz is in good shape in Southeastern Michigan. Conguero/composer Alberto Nacif leads a crack band, most of them from the metro Detroit area. Their previous album, Latin Jazz Christmas in Havana (Self Produced, 2015), presented creative arrangements of a variety of holiday standards, a delightful standout in the usual parade of holiday releases. Here all but one of the compositions is by Nacif, plus one from group reed player Russ Miller. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius & Heard: Flyway

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Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius burst onto the scene, or so it seemed, with Karibu (CD Baby, 2010) when, in fact, it was the leader's sophomore outing. Her debut, Water Music (CD Baby), was released in 2008 but seemed to fall into obscurity. The group Heard, who has shared the bill with Kasius on each release, has continued to evolve into much more of a collaborative ensemble rather than simply as a leader's namesake, and with the release of Flyway (2018), the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Greg Diaz & The Art of Imagination Jazz Orchestra: Begin the Agora

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At a time when many contemporary big bands are eager to brush aside the past and “break new ground," it's always a pleasure to welcome an ensemble that honors and espouses jazz tradition with no appreciable loss of savoir-faire or, well, imagination. Begin the Agora, the debut recording by saxophonist Greg Diaz's Florida-based Art of Imagination Orchestra, embraces a customary point of view that in no way encumbers the leader's resourceful compositions (three) and arrangements (all). In other words, this ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Q Morrow: There Are Stars In Brooklyn

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Like America, the ideas are good. And just like the USA, they are lost in translation, from concept to being. Q Morrow's There Are Stars In Brooklyn combines jazz with Brazilian, Afro-Cuban and Carnatic music. It is the product of a curious mind and an interconnected world, specifically of the United States, where different peoples, cultures, and musics are accessible to the enlightened who seek them out. However, there are post-surgery scars on this splicing of styles, where the ideas ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Daan Kleijn: Passages

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On his album Passages, Netherlands guitarist Daan Kleijn and his cohorts -Tobia Nijboer on bass and Joost Van Schaik on drums -provide a solid and tasteful mix of originals and standards. The entire affair is sunny and impressionistic. Like a day at the park, the musical settings move from tree-lined paths and forest streams to walkways with fountains and lawns that stretch between. The set opens with the Kleijn original “Bird Song." It has a fluid flying feel ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jay Danley: Ethio Jazz Volume One

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Complex rhythms and relentless grooves are what set music from the so-called golden era of Ethiopian jazz apart, and it's that essential and even hypnotic energy that guitarist and composer Jay Danley captures in Ethio Jazz Volume One. Arguably the most important--certainly the most recognizable--element of classic Ethiopian jazz is its bass-heavy groove patterns. In the hot music scene of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, musicians fused traditional Ethiopian music with North American jazz, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nobuki Takamen: The Nobuki Takamen Trio

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Nobuki Takamen is, in all probability, the best jazz guitarist Japan has ever produced. Nowadays he lives in New Jersey but tours his homeland regularly. His playing is marked by good taste and sensitivity. He is a highly inventive guitarist, his runs and progressions never quite going where you expect them to go but always making perfect sense. He doesn't overburden his playing with technique, staying accessible to a wide range of listeners. He names his influences ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jay Danley: Ethio Jazz Volume One

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The roots of Ethio-jazz may date back to the '50s, but Jay Danley and crew show that it's too fresh and funky to be chained to any era--the grooves are slick, the bass catchy, the brisk rhythms expertly woven like the strands of a rope, and the cast is clearly having a good time. The Canadian guitarist covers a lot of figurative ground with Ethio-Jazz Volume 1, though it's the kind of mix that welcomes everyone to the party regardless ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cliff Brucker: Full Circle Vol. 2

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On Full Circle Vol 2, Albany, New York-based drummer Cliff Brucker and friends reach back to the swing and bop jazz periods to showcase their talents on a set of first-rate standards. These musicians clearly understand the bop trade and what emerges from their collective knowledge is solid and assured music. The entire affair is like a stroll around a familiar block. The arrangements have an early-60s feel. Think of a party with the Rat Pack. Brucker's steady ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

University of Toronto 12tet: When Day Slips Into Night

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Those who are tasked with monitoring the pulse of intercollegiate jazz, if indeed there are such overseers, will find it beating strongly at the University of Toronto whose well-schooled 12tet, comprised of students in the school's bachelor's, master's and doctoral music programs, has recorded its third admirable CD, When Day Slips Into Night. As before, the album focuses on music written and / or arranged by the students with two more charts contributed by director Terry Promane. ...