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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Edward Simon: Sorrows & Triumphs

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This project by pianist Edward Simon blends together many diverse elements. The music combines classical formalism with jazz energy and is performed by a combination of Simon's jazz quartet, Afinidad, and the woodwind quintet, Imani Winds, with some guest musicians added in. The compositions themselves are movements of two separate suites written by Simon, “Sorrows And Triumphs," inspired by Buddhist philosophy, and “House Of Numbers," inspired by numerology, rearranged into a cohesive set of music. The end result of all ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Duduka Da Fonseca: Duduka Da Fonseca Trio Plays Dom Salvador

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It would be something of an understatement to say that the music of pianist Dom Salvador served as a formative influence for drummer Duduka Da Fonseca. As a teenage musician, Da Fonseca absorbed every phrase and nuance that drummer Edison Machado put to wax on Salvador's immortal Rio 65 Trio (Philips, 1965). That recording, and that trio, would come to serve as a primer for the budding Da Fonseca, schooling him on samba jazz and setting him up for a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Shamie Royston: Beautiful Liar

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Shamie Royston has played with Tia Fuller, Ralph Peterson, Sean Jones, and Terri Lynn Carrington, so her credentials are well up to spec, but the glamour-shot artwork and album title ("Beautiful Liar," at least to this writer, suggests a quiet-storm vibe) might lead one to assume that Royston's second date as a leader is an overly-polished recording from the lighter side of the spectrum. Don't be fooled: Beautiful Liar is an exceptionally accomplished and engaging post-bop album. It's beautifully recorded ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Edward Simon with Afinidad & Imani Winds: Sorrows & Triumphs

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Pianist Edward Simon's sensitivity, eloquence, strength, and intelligence stand in full view throughout this gorgeous collection of material plucked from two different suites. “Sorrows and Triumphs," the older of the two, which draws inspiration from Simon's study of Buddhism, first surfaced in 2009. “House of Numbers," taking cues from numerology and weaving cross-cultural implications into its fabric, saw its debut in 2016. Here, four numbers from the latter, three from the former, and a wondrously flowing opener originally penned for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Caroline Davis: Heart Tonic

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Reared in Chicago where she attained her PhD in Music Cognition at prestigious Northwestern University, alto saxophonist / composer Caroline Davis recently migrated to New York, while nestling into its fertile jazz and improvisational environs. And while this vibrant quintet date is perhaps more conventional than some of her freer works, Davis' complex harmonic fabrications ring loud and clear via these noteworthy compositions. Moreover, the album title refers to Davis' heart research to obtain a better understanding of its properties ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alan Ferber Big Band: Jigsaw

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The Jigsaw mapped out by trombonist Alan Ferber's splendid New York City-based ensemble comprises a number of dissimilar pieces, drawn from a broad range of musical patterns, which makes its assemblage arduous yet ultimately rewarding. Ferber's sophisticated arrangements manifest a pensive, and at times ethereal, temper that is far removed from the realm of flag-wavers and barn-burners on which big bands once relied as their raison d'etre. That's not to say that there aren't times when Ferber ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Raymond & Real Feels: Joy Ride

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There's something to be said for the centered and warm sound qualities born of a flugelhorn fronting a bass-less trio. Even when John Raymond ratchets up the intensity on his original compositions--the choppy title track in five, the circuitous “Follower"--there's a sense of sonic evenhandedness reflecting both the instrument's depth of character and the artist's depth of soul. Of course, it helps when you also have players of the caliber of guitarist Gilad Hekselman and drummer Colin Stranahan filling out ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Adam Nussbaum: The Lead Belly Project

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The blues is simple music. What do they call it? Three chords and the truth? They say the same about country music and rock, but that's another article. But for much of American music, blues is the bedrock, be it rock, soul, funk, a good slice of country western, and, yes, jazz. Drummer Adam Nussbaum zeros in on the blues with the Lead Belly Project, exploring the seminal delta blues of Huddie Ledbetter (1888-1949), aka, Lead Belly.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Vector Families: For Those About To Jazz / Rock We Salute You

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Drummer Dave King (The Bad Plus, Dave King Trucking Company) has been a significant protagonist within the burgeoning Minneapolis / St. Paul progressive jazz scene amid various ensembles' --including Vector Families --stark experimentalism. Here, the drummer along with esteemed veteran bassist Anthony Cox steer the mutable groove-building episodes on an album that places jazz rock inside an avant-garde dynamic. Hence, these compositions are executed with asymmetrical parts improvisation and structure. With the opener “Free Funk!," King ignites the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Harriet Tubman: Araminta

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Named after the iconic American heroine: escaped slave, abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross circa 1822); the extraordinary New York based trio of guitarist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs and drummer JT Lewis have performed together for over 20 years yet have only released three prior recordings: I am a Man (Knitting Factory, 1998), Prototype (Avant Records, 2000) and the double trio recording Ascension (Sunnyside Records, 2011) with trumpeter Ron Miles and two turntablists: DJ Logic and DJ ...