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Steve Haines: And the Third Floor Orchestra

Read "And the Third Floor Orchestra" reviewed by Jack Bowers

This is by and large lovely music, to be sure, but to paraphrase a Burger King ad from years gone by, “Where's the jazz?" Aside from a handful of perfunctory solos by soprano saxophonist Chad Eby and pianist Joey Calderazzo, there isn't much here. Instead, composer / arranger Steve Haines and the Third Floor Orchestra canvass the sort of rarefied landscapes reminiscent of “music to (fill in the blank) to" by such moonlit mid-twentieth century maestros as Percy Faith, Mantovani, ...

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Ariel Pocock: Living In Twilight

Read "Living In Twilight" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

When the sun rests below the horizon, the sky sits in a limbo state represented by a wondrous ambiguity in color, content, and intention. An intoxicating afterglow emerges, both wishing the day a fond adieu and ushering in the night. It's that variegated realm, an in-between locale that's neither here nor there, that inspires pianist-vocalist Ariel Pocock's musical musings and offers much satiating food for thought on this young talent's sophomore release. The gloaming state cited in ...

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Brandi Disterheft: Blue Canvas

Read "Blue Canvas" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

A canvas is often viewed as a neutral starting point, but it needn't be so. Even a so-called “blank" space can be suffused with certain color(s) before brushstrokes are ever applied, as Brandi Disterheft reminds us. Her fourth album is a trio date painted atop, around, over, and with the color blue. It's a work that uses various shades and hues of the titular color to form a connective design, or if you prefer, a loose theme, built with confident ...

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Marianne Trudel: La vie commence ici

Read "La vie commence ici" reviewed by Tyran Grillo

Pianist and composer Marianne Trudel may not be so well known outside her native Canada, but her elegantly crafted sound, as all good music does, carries its own passport and travels where it will. La vie commence ici is Trudel's sixth album as leader and immerses her within the sympathetic vibrations of trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, saxophonist Jonathan Steward, bassist Morgan Moore, and drummer Robbie Kuster. Trudel and Jensen share the deepest rapport of this particular session, and so it is ...

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Ariel Pocock: Touchstone

Read "Touchstone" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

What are the touchstones of jazz? Harmonic acuity? Internalization of swing aesthetics and advanced rhythmic language(s)? The ability to quickly parse a composition in real time? An understanding of the historical framework of the music? The ability to create and speak one's own mind using any number of vocabulary sets? Yes. Each of those elements are touchstones in jazz, but they're meaningless when viewed separately. Jazz requires musicians to synthesize all of those skills and more while finding something meaningful ...

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Halie Loren: Butterfly Blue

Read "Butterfly Blue" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

All About Jazz collegue R.J. Deluke published a lengthy piece on Alaska-now-Oregon native vocalist Halie Loren. In that piece, DeLuke concludes: “Loren is also in a place vocally where her sound has moved away from influence and is her own. Emulating her favorites, and learning from that in years, are behind. Her phrasing and her presentation are seasoned. They move to unexpected places. It is Halie Loren's voice." And in that, lies what is ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra: Habitat

Read "Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra: Habitat" reviewed by John Kelman

It may have been the title of her last album--Treelines, Christine Jensen's first large ensemble recording--but there was no song of that name on the 2010 Justin Time release. Instead, it's the lead-off to Habitat, Jensen's second album with her Jazz Orchestra, a commissioned work for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Jazz Orchestra, its director, Dr. Paul Haar, looking for the Canadian saxophonist/composer to continue the strong work begun on Treelines. And why not? Treelines may have been the Montreal, Canada-based ...

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Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra: Habitat

Read "Habitat" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Christine Jensen is one of the new breed of composer / arrangers who write for large ensembles on a grand scale, favoring themes that paint well-drawn pictures and tell evocative stories, most of which are based on personal experiences or particular sights or sounds that have lingered in their mind and led them to put pen to paper (metaphorically speaking, of course, as most musicians these days use computers like the rest of us). Jensen, a Canadian, ...

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Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra: Habitat

Read "Habitat" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

The blurry photo that adorns the cover of Habitat is completely at odds with what awaits inside the package: Some of the most incredibly focused and finely wrought large ensemble music to emerge in recent memory. Canadian saxophonist/composer Christine Jensen won plenty of fans with the her last jazz orchestra album--Treelines (Justin Time Records, 2011)--but this one puts her in an entirely different category. With Habitat, Jensen joins the ranks of the large ensemble elite.

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Halie Loren: Simply Love

Read "Simply Love" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Vocalist Halie Loren has never avoided love songs. Her spectacularly engaging Heart First (Justin Time, 2012) is actually full of them, but this program one-ups that album in the love department. Loren mixes and matches popular songs from a variety of sources and eras, throws in a few originals for good measure, and lets her warm and seductive voice work its magic on all of them during the easy-to-enjoy Simply Love Loren has always been repertoire savvy, ...

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Oliver Jones: Just For My Lady

Read "Just For My Lady" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Pianist Oliver Jones has become something of a national treasure on the Canadian jazz scene over the past three decades. That's all the more remarkable considering the fact that this soon-to-be eighty year old didn't start making jazz recordings until he was in his 50s. In many respects, as his recording career has evolved, Jones has become the poster boy for the Justin Time imprint; he's released about twenty records on this label over the past thirty ...

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Lorraine Klaasen: A Tribute To Miriam Makeba

Read "A Tribute To Miriam Makeba" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

The late Miriam Makeba is a musical hero in her native South Africa, but her importance in the grand scheme of South African history goes well beyond her vibrant vocals. Makeba became a cultural icon and symbol for freedom, fighting the good fight against apartheid for--and with--her countrymen. She was exiled from her homeland because of her public defiance to the status quo, and denied a right of return for decades, but it didn't shut her up or slow her ...