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New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Songs: The Music of Allen Toussaint

Read "Songs: The Music of Allen Toussaint" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Allen Toussaint (1938-2015), a composer / producer who made his mark in the broad spheres of R&B, rock and roll, funk, country and pop music, may seem at first glance an unusual choice for a big-band jazz tribute. On the other hand, the New Orleans native never strayed far from the pivotal music of his home city, embracing and supporting jazz even as he found other musical worlds to conquer. So when vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater remarked to Adonis Rose, ...

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Ben Webster: Ben Webster's First Concert in Denmark

Read "Ben Webster's First Concert in Denmark" reviewed by Chris Mosey

This is a small piece of jazz history. In January 1965, Ben Webster, newly arrived in Europe from America, was working out where to settle down. This concert shows why he decided on Copenhagen. The album starts with Webster making a point about the playing of his former boss Duke Ellington's “In A Mellotone." Webster argues his case on piano, an instrument he played well, while brusquely growling instructions to producer Børge Roger Henrichsen. There is a ...

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Thomas Fonnesbæk: Sharing

Read "Sharing" reviewed by Chris Mosey

The title is apt and perhaps a trifle ironic. Danish bassist Thomas Fonnesbaek and the blind young American pianist Justin Kauflin share a condition known as synaesthesia, in which their senses overlap and they experience music as color. For this, their second album together and recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden, they are joined on by Kauflin's childhood friend, drummer Billy Williams, who has worked with a number of first-class jazz musicians including Benny Golson, Ellis Marsalis and Christian ...

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Lars Jansson: Just This

Read "Just This" reviewed by Chris Mosey

Swedish pianist/composer Lars Jansson is a Zen Buddhist, concerned primarily with being in the moment. There can be difficulties--"To experience and accept all that happens in our lives is no easy matter," says Jansson. “It takes practice and an open mind (beginner's mind) to ignore expectations and preconceived attitudes and completely immerse oneself in the present as it unfolds." There are two songs on Just This that deal with this problem: the title track and “No Purpose." ...

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Morten Haxholm: Vestigium

Read "Vestigium" reviewed by Friedrich Kunzmann

The world of bass players in modern and post-bop jazz can be divided into two currents. On the one hand, you'll find the dominant character who leads the compositions with a decisive hand and frequent moments of striking ostinatos. On the other, one finds a personality who seems to walk through the composition and, like camouflage, conceal moments of pure bliss within the harmonic context and overall texture. While the former at times seems to have the song serving his ...

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Morten Haxholm: Vestigium

Read "Vestigium" reviewed by Chris Mosey

Other nationalities find the double bass a cumbersome instrument. But, perhaps because they are, in the main, tall, healthy and strong and thus can handle it with relative ease, Danes love it. Since its introduction by the great native American bassist Oscar Pettiford in the late 1950s, it has come to play a major role on the local scene. The thing is Danes take their jazz seriously. There is now a Rhythmical Music Conservatory, or university of ...

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Ronnie Cuber: Live At Montmartre

Read "Live At Montmartre" reviewed by Chris Mosey

Of all the musical instruments invented by Adolphe Sax in the mid-19th century, the baritone saxophone remains the least played. Harry Carney persuaded Duke Ellington to use the heavy, cumbersome instrument and it became a distinctive part of the band's sound. Others who have played the baritone saxophone include Cecil Payne, Pepper Adams, Serge Chaloff and--for reasons that remain obscure--Lisa Simpson (perhaps she welcomed the challenge). Gerry Mulligan and the Swede Lars Gullin gave the instrument a distinctive, laid-back, specifically ...

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Duke Ellington And His Orchestra: The Treasury Shows Vol. 25

Read "The Treasury Shows Vol. 25" reviewed by Chris Mosey

Storyville Records, based in Copenhagen, have now completed the Herculean task of re-releasing all the Duke Ellington Treasury Show albums on CD. These are recordings of broadcasts made for the US Treasury Department from 1945 to 1953, to promote the sale of war bonds, often with plugs by Ellington himself, a staunch patriot. Volume 25 is the last 2-CD set to be issued. In addition to featuring the last-known Treasury broadcast from the Blue Note Club in ...

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Duke Ellington: Duke Ellington In Coventry

Read "Duke Ellington In Coventry" reviewed by Chris Mosey

During World War Two, the Germans rained tons of high explosives, including parachute air-mines and incendiary petroleum mines on the English city of Coventry. In addition to factories supporting the British war effort, they destroyed the city's emblematic cathedral. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Minister of Propaganda, took to using “Coventry" as a synonym for mass destruction. Enemy cities would be “Coventried," Goebbels proclaimed. It was revealed after the war that Churchill had received advance warning of the blitz ...

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Christina von Bülow: On The Brink Of A Lovely Song

Read "On The Brink Of A Lovely Song" reviewed by Chris Mosey

American saxophonist Lee Konitz first toured Scandinavia in 1961, his wonderfully original saxophone playing leaving a lasting impression on, among many others, an aspiring Danish alto player, Christina von Bülow. Konitz, who played on the classic Gil Evans/Miles Davis Birth Of The Cool session, is now in his nineties. It is to be hoped that, no matter the vicissitudes old age may have visited upon him, when he listens to this album, he will smile slowly to ...

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Hank Jones: In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983

Read "In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983" reviewed by Chris Mosey

Hank Jones' pianistic style was born out of a fusing of Harlem stride piano with the virtuoso approach of Art Tatum and the harmonic daring of bebop. Jones played with just about everyone in a long and illustrious career but remained modest concerning his musical achievements. When French journalist Francis Marmande, interviewing him in 2010, suggested that he was a giant of jazz, Jones begged to differ, describing himself rather as “a dwarf in the service of the music." Marmande ...

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Kathrine Windfeld Big Band: Black Swan

Read "Black Swan" reviewed by Chris Mosey

Do opposites really attract? Danish big band leader Kathrine Windfeld's compositions are meticulously worked out in advance, whereas saxophonist Thomas Agergaard, her collaborator on this gig, takes a different, more spontaneous approach. “Thomas writes quite differently than I do," says Windfeld. “He thrives on the energy of the moment. This is beneficial to the music, but it is also a challenge when we are so many together and have to make something work within a limited time ...