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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dalava: The Book of Transfigurations

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On the tender and haunting The Book of Transfigurations vocalist Julia Ulehla and her partner guitarist Aram Bajakian interpret thirteen Moravian folk songs with a personal and contemporary touch. Joining them in the ensemble Dálava are a quartet of Canadian improvisers who add an additional layer of spontaneous lyricism to this memorable music. Majority of these ballads come from transcriptions that Ulehla's Czech great grandfather made. Although the melodies, as well as the words, are original Ulehla and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Harris Eisenstadt: Recent Developments

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Canadian native and Brooklyn resident Harris Eisenstadt has built a solid reputation as a composer, matching accolades for his eclectic expertise as a drummer. His passion as a student of the art has taken him to West Africa, where he has studied the music of the Wolof people and Cuba, where he has delved deeply into Afro-Cuban music. A leader/co-leader on more than two-dozen releases, beginning with Last Minute of Play in This Period (Questionable Records, 2001), Eisenstadt is also ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brad Shepik / Ron Samworth: Quartet 1991

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Tony Reif is calling a mulligan here. Some twenty-five years ago, shortly before he founded and launched the Songlines imprint and long before he was known the world over for his work in the production and promotion of creative music, Reif went into a Seattle studio to produce a recording for a quartet fronted by guitarists Brad Shepik and Ron Samworth. It was the first session he ever helmed, and some intriguing music was created and captured in less-than-ideal circumstances. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Blake: Fulfillment

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Saxophonist Michael Blake's previous concept album Kingdom of Champra (Intuition, 1997) is based on his experiences living with his family in Vietnam. On Fulfillment, the artist centers his focus on India, namely an incident that occurred when a Japanese freighter, transporting hundreds of East Indian immigrants was denied entry into the port of Vancouver, Canada in 1914. Another source of interest is that Blake's great grand uncle H.H. Stevens was instrumental in engaging the Canadian Parliament to take action.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Harris Eisenstadt: Canada Day IV

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Canada Day has been drummer Harris Eisenstadt's flagship ensemble since its first gig on July 1, 2007--his homeland's national holiday, hence the band name. In the ensuing years the quintet has developed an identifiably cohesive sound that expertly balances avant-garde explorations and in-the-pocket swing, with only one significant personnel change; the bass chair is now filled by Pascal Niggenkemper, the group's third bassist. Eisenstadt's writing for the unit continues to expand upon post-modern jazz traditions in intriguing ways. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Horvitz: Some Places Are Forever Afternoon

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Poet and essayist Richard Hugo, a celebrated son of Seattle, was best known in his short life for his straight-forward but moving portrayals of the stark realities of the Pacific Northwest, both people and places. His works have previously been documented in print and on film and now by pianist/composer Wayne Horvitz who pays tribute to the writer on Some Places Are Forever Afternoon (11 Places For Richard Hugo). In the wordless interpretation of Hugo's works, Horvitz brings ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Waxwing: A Bowl Of Sixty Taxidermists

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The second album from this Vancouver-based trio--originally going by Wilson/Lee/Bentley, now known as Waxwing--is a study in contrasts. Idiosyncratic miniatures sit shoulder to shoulder with statements of serenity, eerie constructs and macabre scenarios are quickly replaced with comforting sounds, and uncertainty peaks around every corner. But there's a distinctive group sound and aesthetic here that transcends individual song structures or directions. Tony Wilson's mastery of subtle guitar effects, Peggy Lee's serious-minded turned stoking cello work, and saxophonist Jon Bentley's melodic ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Horvitz: Some Places Are Forever Afternoon (11 Places For Richard Hugo)

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Nature's gifts, depressive streaks, undiluted tastes of reality, and everyday slices of twentieth century northwestern American life all strongly inform the work of poet Richard Hugo (1923-1982); all of those elements, not surprisingly, also find there way into pianist Wayne Horvitz's Some Places Are Forever Afternoon (11 Places For Richard Hugo)--an absorbing collection of music that manages to merge the visceral and intellectual in much the same way that Hugo's writing does. While there's inherent difficulty in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Harris Eisenstadt: Golden State II

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Drummer Harris Eisenstadt's Golden State--the avant-chamber group that he formed while he was in residence at the California Institute of the Arts in 2012--is a meeting of minds and instincts. In its initial form, with bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck, bassist Mark Dresser, and flutist Nicole Mitchell, this ensemble created music that was smart and offbeat. Logic and surprise were both at play in the sounds that these four made together. They refused to draw out clear distinctions between pre-composed thought and ...


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