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The Branford Marsalis Quartet: The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul

Read "The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

It was back in 2012 when the last quartet-only recording Four MFs Playin' Tunes (Marsalis Music) was released. So give more room on the floor to the evil toys dancing their pants off to the pure, wild, free-styling surge of “Dance of the Evil Toys," the killer, lead-off track to the Branford Marsalis Quartet's first full release in seven years, The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul. After touring with Sting, and in support of {[Kurt Elling}} ...

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The Branford Marsalis Quartet: The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul

Read "The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul" reviewed by Doug Collette

Anyone who's seen the Branford Marsalis Quartet in concert is well aware of what high-flying improvisations the group can embark upon. But the foursome's abandoned approach hardly precludes due emphasis on structure---how better to highlight it than leave it behind?--which is also why this band makes studio albums as trenchant as The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul. Yet the irony in this duality is that strong material is the foundation for concise, purposeful musicianship, whether within ...

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Bill Frisell: Music IS

Read "Music IS" reviewed by Ian Patterson

Widely touted as Bill Frisell's second solo recording, and his first since the darkly introspective Ghost Town (Nonesuch, 2000), Music IS is, in fact, the guitarist's third, with the oddly overlooked Silent Comedy seemingly having slipped by most folk. That outing, on John Zorn's Tzadik label, was unique in Frisell's discography for being freely improvised, whereas Music IS revisits and reworks classic Frisell compositions, all the way back to his first ECM recordings as leader in 1983/4. This set of ...

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Kurt Elling: The Questions

Read "The Questions" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

How does one grapple with existence and its juxtaposition against the present state of affairs? That's the question that hangs heaviest over The Questions. While vocalist Kurt Elling didn't come into this production with a theme in mind, he discovered a through line in the act of wrestling with difficulties and dreams in this age of marked unreason and unrest. With these ten songs he explores that topic to the fullest, coloring the music with his signature blend of authority ...

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Bill Frisell: Music IS

Read "Music IS" reviewed by John Kelman

The tradition of solo jazz guitar recordings is a long one, with guitarists like Johnny Smith, Al Viola, George Van Eps, Lenny Breau and Joe Pass demonstrating just how far a mere six (in some cases, seven) strings could be taken on their own as far back as the 1950s. Subsequent guitar soloists like John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner went even further by, at times, taking advantage of the recording studio's facility to overdub layers of guitar to create even ...

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Somi: Petite Afrique

Read "Petite Afrique" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Somi's debut on the Okeh imprint--The Lagos Music Salon (Okeh, 2014)--pulled no punches. It tackled tough topics within an African framework, bringing hard truths to bear in soulful fashion. This follow-up is equally impactful, but it shifts focus stateside, eyeing the titular Harlem neighborhood that Somi calls home now. In addressing life along 116th Street, Somi opens eyes to the cultural ideals and struggles associated with the working class immigrants that reside there while also touching on ...

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Kurt Elling: The Beautiful Day

Read "The Beautiful Day" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Forget the standard old tidings of good cheer, the same old set of swinging Christmas standards, and the sugary holiday treats that lack vitality and real sustenance. Kurt Elling certainly paid little mind to them when he was putting together this gem of a program. Instead of taking the road more traveled when it comes to holiday trips, Elling takes back roads and detours. And as with most of his projects, that makes all the difference. For his ...


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