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Greg Abate & The Tim Ray Trio: Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ the Z

Read "Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ the Z" reviewed by Rob Rosenblum

If you are going to be a bebop purist, you have to resist the temptation to dress your music up to appeal to the masses. Greg Abate is one of those brave souls who worship at the altar of Charlie Parker, and depends on pure inspiration to capture his audience's attention. Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ the Z is his latest recording and, according to form, there are no pop tunes or electric helpmates and gimmicks. The album ...

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Gerry Gibbs Thrasher People: Our People

Read "Our People" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Our People, the twelfth album as leader by multi-instrumentalist Gerry Gibbs, is difficult to describe and even harder to pigeonhole. Is it jazz? Not really. Is it world music? Sometimes. And sometimes even other-worldly. Stream of consciousness? Perhaps, but always with a specific plan in mind. Tone poems? Only in the sense that there are times when Gibbs' helical and esoteric charts may bring poetry to mind. One thing it definitely is not is a big-band album. Despite its capacious ...

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Greg Abate & The Tim Ray Trio: Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ the Z

Read "Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ the Z" reviewed by Jack Bowers

If somehow you haven't yet heard saxophonist Greg Abate (pronounced Uh-BAH-tay), now in his seventh decade and as sharp and eloquent an orator as ever, it is high time you did. The Rhode Island native is an earnest post-bopper from the Phil Woods / Bud Shank school of straight-on swinging, and Gratitude, Abate's fourth album with the admirable Tim Ray Trio, happens upon the ensemble in blue-chip form in a lively concert recorded on the cozy stage of the Zeiterion ...

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Benito Gonzalez: Passion Reverence Transcendence

Read "Passion Reverence Transcendence" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

In the grand, giving spirit of the master, pianist Benito Gonzalez, drummer Gerry Gibbs and bassist Essiet Okon Essiet hold absolutely nothing back and pull no punches on their exhilarating tribute to McCoy Tyner, Passion Reverence Transcendence. With each tune taped in a single take, the trio explodes with a bold and proclamatory rush. “Fly with the Wind" (originally written by Tyner for trio and strings in 1976) sets the bar high and never looks back. It's a ...

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Eric Wyatt: Look To The Sky

Read "Look To The Sky" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Look To The Sky is a story of family, navigating the world of jazz, and extolling those who helped light the way. To call it a tribute record would be to frame it inaccurately, but it's most certainly built around the personalized song of praise. Saxophonist Eric Wyatt, a brawny Brooklynite with a heart of gold, uses this date to honor his parents, touch on touchstones, and walk down memory lane with his bandmates. He doesn't feign ...

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Monika Herzig: Sheroes

Read "Sheroes" reviewed by Jim Worsley

Composer and pianist Monika Herzig embarks on carefully scored passages against a bevy of broad sonic palettes on her 2018 release Sheroes. Herzig has long championed female empowerment in jazz, as well as other forms of music. For Sheroes she assembled an international cast featuring many of the finest musicians in the world. A total of nine musicians, including Herzig, brought their wealth of talent and band leading skills into the studio. The results are rewarding and sophisticated ...

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Monika Herzig: Sheroes

Read "Sheroes" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

Pianist and composer Monika Herzig pays tribute to women in jazz, on her captivating Sheroes. The artistically superlative, all-female band explores various cadences, harmonies and moods on this exquisite album, all the while deftly maintaining thematic unity. Eight of the tracks are originals by ensemble members, and two are Herzig-arranged covers. These are the traditional “House of the Rising Sun" and singer-songwriter Valerie Simpson's (of Ashford/Simpson fame) classic “Ain't No Mountain High Enough." The latter opens ...

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Miles Donahue: The Bug

Read "The Bug" reviewed by Jack Bowers

People who have an aversion to bugs (do you know any?) may hesitate to purchase (or even review) an album whose title epitomizes the very thing they abhor. But even though multi-instrumentalist Miles Donahue's new album does nod to that often-despised creature and even includes a song by that name, there is more to it than that; one might even say that Donahue removed the most of the “bugs" from the studio before he and his colleagues started recording.

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John Stein: Color Tones

Read "Color Tones" reviewed by Jack Bowers

On Color Tones, his ninth album for Boston's Whaling City Sound label, Kanas City-bred guitarist John Stein has chosen a quintet whose front line includes trumpeter Phil Grenadier and flute specialist Fernando Brandao. All tones considered, it's a splendid idea, as Grenadier and Brandao blend well with Stein's lucent, well-groomed guitar, while bassist John Lockwood and drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario comprise a snug and unflappable rhythm section. Even though everyone in the ensemble is a talented soloist, ...

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Reggie Young: Forever Young

Read "Forever Young" reviewed by Jack Bowers

It's good that guitarist Reggie Young is Forever Young, as he waited until he was almost eighty years old to record the album of that name, the first as leader of his own group(s) after six decades of backing innumerable pop stars including Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Dusty Springfield and Willie Nelson. While Young shows he can still play a mean guitar, he has brought along some baggage, namely the sort of pop-rock frame of mind on which he built ...

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Plucky Strum: Departure

Read "Departure" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Guitarist Sheryl Bailey and bassist Harvie S have clearly learned the first rule of getting ahead in show biz in these days of glitz and hype: find a clever and distinctive name--in this case Plucky Strum (after all, Lady Gaga was going nowhere as Stephani Germanotta). Departure is the duo's second album under that name for Whaling City Sound, one on which they show that pluck or strum by any name can be charming and persuasive. Musically ...

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Terry Gibbs: 92 Years Young: Jammin' At The Gibbs House

Read "92 Years Young: Jammin' At The Gibbs House" reviewed by Jack Bowers

"92 Years Young." Sometimes that's an exaggeration. On the other hand, when applied to vibraphonist Terry Gibbs it may well be an understatement. Gibbs was indeed a mere six months shy of his ninety-second birthday when “Jammin' at the Gibbs House" was recorded in his living room in April 2016. Close your eyes, however, and it's the 1940s again, and Gibbs is jammin' with Woody Herman's Second Herd, or the '50s, and he's presiding over his high-powered Dream Band in ...