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Charles Pillow Large Ensemble: Electric Miles

Read "Electric Miles" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

The electric music Miles Davis recorded from 1969 and into the 1970s was a game-changing event in jazz, a steamy, mysterious, ever-evolving soup of improvisation, rock, funk and electronics that launched numerous careers and inspired subsequent generations of musicians across genres. Its influence shows in the numbers of players who have since studied, dissected and interpreted this material in their own ways. Alto saxophonist Charles Pillow has adapted Davis' work for a full-scale big band but with mixed results.

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Charles Pillow Large Ensemble: Electric Miles

Read "Electric Miles" reviewed by Jack Bowers

So how does trumpeter Miles Davis' post-1969 “electric period" translate to a big-band format? About as well as could be expected, thanks to leader Charles Pillow's bright arrangements for his New York-based Large Ensemble. Davis' seminal Columbia albums from 1969-1972--In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Live at Fillmore East, Live-Evil, On the Corner--are considered by many to have ushered in the jazz / rock / fusion era, which could be a good thing or otherwise, depending on one's point of ...

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Randy Brecker & Mats Holmquist with the UMO Jazz Orchestra: Together

Read "Together" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Here's a productive cross-border alliance if ever there was one: American trumpeter Randy Brecker, Swedish composer / arranger Mats Holmquist and Finland's superb UMO Jazz Orchestra, Together for the first time in a recording studio. The versatile Brecker is the featured soloist throughout, while Holmquist wrote five of the album's engaging songs and arranged all of them. As for the orchestra, it is letter-perfect from end to end, performing Holmquist's often strenuous charts with singular proficiency and assurance.

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Charles Pillow Large Ensemble: Electric Miles

Read "Electric Miles" reviewed by Mark Corroto

You thought not, but you can put the genie back in the bottle. What we're talking about is the specter unleashed by Miles Davis with Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970). Davis' expanded lineup for BB with ten-plus musicians, including the electric pianos of Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, and Larry Young, Bennie Maupin playing bass clarinet, a young guitarist John McLaughlin, two bassists, percussion, and more percussion, and oh yeah, Wayne Shorter's saxophone was ever present. Charles Pillow did that with his ...

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Hyeseon Hong: EE-YA-GI (Stories)

Read "EE-YA-GI (Stories)" reviewed by Troy Dostert

With her rich, engaging debut release, EE-YA-GI (Stories), composer Hyeseon Hong brings her own unique approach to contemporary jazz. Using a first-rate large ensemble to showcase her compositions, she takes traditional folk forms, particularly from her native Korea, and develops them with modern big-band jazz voicings. The result is an eminently listenable and enjoyable recording, one that reveals new nuances and subtle pleasures with each encounter. The album's opener, “Harvest Dance," captures Hong's modus operandi perfectly. With a ...

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Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge: Whispers on the Wind

Read "Whispers on the Wind" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Chuck Owen's Florida-based and Grammy-nominated Jazz Surge is back in the saddle with another series of impressive musical portraits, Whispers on the Wind, whose genesis harkens back to Owen's childhood in windy Omaha, NE, and whose inspiration derives in part from the works of three contemporary authors: Larry McMurtry, Cormac McCarthy and Stephen King (the last, as Owen writes, from King's Dark Tower series). To help cast the spell, Owen uses a number of instruments not generally associated with big-band ...

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The Phil Norman Tentet: Then and Now

Read "Then and Now" reviewed by Jack Bowers

There comes a time, usually during the fifth or sixth rendition of a “franchise" movie (think “Rocky" or “Star Trek"), when the phrase “enough is enough" inevitably springs to mind. While Then and Now, the seventh album by saxophonist Phil Norman's L.A.-based all-star Tentet, lands somewhere this side of overkill, its premise--to update and reintroduce classic themes from the jazz scene's illustrious past--is a tad shopworn, and serves for the most part to remind inveterate listeners that the original versions, ...

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Hyeseon Hong Jazz Orchestra: EE-YA-GI (Stories)

Read "EE-YA-GI (Stories)" reviewed by Jack Bowers

What a delightful surprise. Korean-born composer / arranger HyeSeon Hong, a graduate of NYU who now lives in New Jersey, enfolds the best of two worlds --east and west --on her superlative debut album, EE-YA-GI (Stories), introducing Hong's eighteen-piece Jazz Orchestra and some heavy-hitting soloists including trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and tenor saxophonist Rich Perry. While Hong salutes her heritage at various points along the way, she proves on every number her conclusive grasp of traditional western jazz, ...

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Dick Oatts / Mats Holmquist New York Jazz Orchestra: A Tribute to Herbie +1

Read "A Tribute to Herbie +1" reviewed by Jack Bowers

A Tribute to Herbie +1 is Swedish-born composer / arranger Mats Holmquist's third “tribute" album, following well-received salutes to Chick Corea (2003) and Wayne Shorter (2012). For his encomium to pianist / composer Herbie Hancock, Holmquist called upon two of New York City's most respected sidemen, alto saxophonist Dick Oatts and trombonist John Mosca, known and admired, among other things, for their long association with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, to assemble an ad hoc orchestra comprised of some of the ...

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Socrates Garcia Latin Jazz Orchestra: Back Home

Read "Back Home" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Back Home, the debut recording by composer / arranger / musicologist Socrates Garcia's Latin Jazz Orchestra, combines the best of two worlds: ardent Latin jazz that never forswears its roots, and emphatic American-designed big-band swing that provides a solid framework for Garcia's picturesque Latin / American excursions. Garcia, who was born in the Dominican Republic, is director of Music Technology at the University of Northern Colorado, and Back Home, it seems, represents more a state of mind than any physical ...

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John Fedchock New York Big Band: Like It Is

Read "Like It Is" reviewed by Budd Kopman

Trombonist, composer and arranger John Fedchock's New York Big Band has been in existence for more than twenty years, and the scintillating Like It Is is this group's fifth album. Fedchock, his band and this album have also garnered quite a few of this year's Grammys including “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album," “Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Capella" ("You And The Night And The Music"), “Best Composing" ("Ten Thirty 30"), and two “Best Improvised Jazz Solo" nominations, one for Fedchock ...

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John Fedchock New York Big Band: Like It Is

Read "Like It Is" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Worth waiting for--an expression that can be used to describe any number of life's pleasurable experiences: a memorable vacation, a sumptuous meal, a thrilling chance encounter --or even the fifth recording (and first in roughly eight years) by trombonist John Fedchock's superlative New York Big Band. Pleasurable it is from start to finish, with inspired blowing by the ensemble enhancing ten of Fedchock's exemplary charts. Whatever the premise or circumstance, Fedchock tells it Like It Is, and the band responds ...


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