by Ian Patterson
Garaj Mahal is a strange and colorful bird. It's music draws heavily from '70s fusion, with elements of everything from the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever to Weather Report, as well as progressive rock bands in the broadest sense of the term. To this already potent mix where, needless to say, high octane musicianship is par for the course are added elements of funk, jazz, and a certain melodic quality vaguely reminiscent of the Grateful Dead.
Garaj ...read more
by Michael P. Gladstone
Jazz vocalist Helen Merrill doesn't record that often and when she does, it is often an unpredictable session. For her last major label work in 2000, Jelena Ana Milcactic A.K.A. Helen Merrill, recorded music based upon her Croatian heritage; it was quite a project but somehow eluded me. Music Makers is a reissue of a 1986 session, originally on Sunnyside, with two unusual trios. Merrill appears with long-time accompanist Gordon Beck on piano and electric piano, plus either master violinist ...read more
by Clifford Allen
All instruments are, naturally, a mere approximation of what can be done with the human voice; yet in avant-garde improvisation, it is the saxophonists and pianists who are credited with being the innovators. Artists like Jeanne Lee, Patty Waters and Julie Tippetts are often shunted aside to make way for counterparts Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, and Evan Parker... men with horns.
Of those three vocal artists, Lee was always the most grounded in jazz vocal tradition, able ...read more
by Rex Butters
Recorded a year before this trio's final record in ’93, Fly Away Little Bird delivers a more grounded, earthy performance than Conversations With a Goose. Here, Jimmy Giuffre, Paul Bley, and Steve Swallow explore their blues roots, particularly Giuffre. And, in addition to their trademark spontaneous inventions, they lovingly render five standards and a surprisingly strong composition by Juanita Odjenar Giuffre, Mrs. Jimmy. This was their third album for Owl after a 27-year hiatus.
Giuffre’s credited with the ...read more
by Alexander M. Stern
Mal Waldron’s passing this past December robbed jazz of one of its finest and most original pianists. His long career was marked by many high points, including stints with Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Booker Little. It is especially wonderful to listen to Waldron in solo and duet settings, where his unique style on his instrument can be heard to its fullest effect. One of the best of these albums is After Hours, a thrilling standards set recorded ...read more
by Rex Butters
Like too many utterly original and fearless jazz artists, Jeanne Lee’s audience and reputation seems to reside more within the community of musicians than listeners. Despite remarkable classic recordings with Archie Shepp, Anthony Braxton, Carla Bley, Andrew Cyrille, Billy Bang, William Parker, Steve Coleman, and of course, Gunter Hampel, Lee has never received the notoriety due a musician with such an impressive resume. Her naked alto, broad interpretive skills, improvisational gifts, and choice of material left her with few peers ...read more
by AAJ Staff
You have to give Bassrespänse credit for boldness and imagination. It's not every day that a bass quartet steps out and covers the ground from down-home blues to swinging jazz and extended drones and scrapes. As expected, Bassrespänse delivers a sonority rich in the lower frequencies. The four bassists in this group strive for a balance of thunder and lightning: by also attacking the upper register, they cover a much wider range than one might imagine. Though the quartet has ...read more