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Emma Frank: Come Back

Read "Come Back" reviewed by Friedrich Kunzmann

It takes most artists many years and several tries (accompanied by one mishap or another) to turn the search for momentum within a composition into something elegant in which the understated beauty manifests itself naturally, as if it had always been there. New York-based singer-songwriter Emma Frank already reached that point on her third effort, last year's Ocean Av (Justin Time Records 2018). Drenched in a light RnB touch which saw her whispy falsetto accompanied by melodic piano motifs, the ...

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Steve Haines: And the Third Floor Orchestra

Read "And the Third Floor Orchestra" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

In the Fifties and Sixties it was very common to have jazz recordings that would feature a vocal or instrumental soloist like Ella Fitzgerald or Stan Getz in front of a full orchestra. That still happens today but nowhere as frequently as it once did. Bassist and composer Steve Haines revives that tradition with an amazing session that sets vocalist Becca Stevens, saxophonist Chad Eby and pianist Joey Calderazzo against the warm, surging sounds of a string-laden full orchestra.

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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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