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Horace Tapscott: The Dark Tree

Read "The Dark Tree" reviewed by Chris May

The year of writing this review, 2019, is the thirtieth anniversary of the recording of The Dark Tree. It is also the twentieth anniversary of the passing of Horace Tapscott, a forgotten master of politically engaged African American spiritual jazz. The album, which is among Tapscott's finest, is crying out for a 2019 anniversary reissue. STOP PRESS! 7/25/19: The album has been reissued. Of course, to describe Tapscott as “forgotten" is only true of mainstream jazz history. His ...

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Samuel Blaser: Taktlos Zurich 2017

Read "Taktlos Zurich 2017" reviewed by John Sharpe

Although in existence since 2013, Taktlos Zurich 2017 constitutes the first record by Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser's Trio with French guitarist Marc Ducret and Danish drummer Peter Bruun. It's worth the wait as Blaser helms a very responsive trio, so attuned to one another's movement that the spaces are as eloquent as the notes. One of the most talented trombonists on the scene, Blaser makes his instrument mutter, growl, speak and sing, sometimes in multiple registers through his control of ...

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Anthony Braxton Quartet: (Willisau) 1991 Studio

Read "(Willisau) 1991 Studio" reviewed by Mark Corroto

Picture Miles Davis finishing a solo and stepping off the bandstand to smoke, while John Coltrane steps up to the microphone to play. I'll bet that never happened with the legendary Anthony Braxton Quartet (1985-1994). His quartet with pianist Marilyn Crispell, bassist Mark Dresser, and drummer Gerry Hemingway may be the best vehicle to appreciate Braxton's conceptions as they relate to the jazz tradition. That period was the turning point for Braxton. His hardscrabble existence ended as he was awarded ...

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Matthew Shipp: Symbol Systems

Read "Symbol Systems" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Recorded originally in 1995 and released on No More Records, Matthew Shipp's Symbol Systems finds new life on Hatology in 2018. This was Shipp's first solo-piano recording whose genesis lay in the ideas of producer Alan Schneider. The recording is the result of a day spent in the studio by Shipp effusing what Shipp described to writer Lyn Horton in All About Jazz as thirteen “compact miniatures of ideas imposed on a structure." If Shipp sounds like a brainy mystic, ...

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Silvan Schmid Quintet: At Gamut

Read "At Gamut" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

30-year-old Swiss trumpeter Silvan Schmid performs at a level of ingenuity and craftiness that some listeners might consider out of the ordinary for such a young artiste. Nonetheless, he's developed a mature and rather cunning compositional style. Among other noteworthy aspects, Schmid employs tubaist Lucas Wirz and cellist Silvan Jeger to build the lower-register bass parts with expansive flows and malleable sound designs. They also enjoy soloing opportunities amid the brazen choruses embedded with subtle melodies and odd-metered unison sprees. ...

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Matthew Shipp: Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich

Read "Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich" reviewed by John Sharpe

On Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich, echoes of the jazz and classical traditions rub shoulders in a bewitching amalgam of insistent phrases, left hand tumult, undulating abstractions and gossamer melody. “No change there then," you might say when considering this installment of Matthew Shipp's solo oeuvre from May 2016. By this stage in his career the pianist was standing as one of the premier instrumentalists in the modern jazz arena, with an utterly distinctive style. That is borne out by ...

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Samuel Blaser with Marc Ducret & Peter Bruun: Taktlos Zurich 2017

Read "Taktlos Zurich 2017" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

Swiss trombonist Samuel Blaser continues his upward mobility within cutting-edge jazz and improvisational realms on this live trio date as he realigns with unconventional French guitar hero Marc Ducret and utilizes the skills of resourceful Danish drummer Peter Bruun. Here, the trio merges inward-looking dialogues with an all-inclusive rite of passage, sparked by dips, spikes, free-form call / response processes, intense unison breakouts, and speedy, odd-metered time signatures. Blaser and Ducret also execute buzzing angular motifs amid some ...

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Markus Eichenberger & Daniel Studer: Suspended

Read "Suspended" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

Here, two prominent and well-traveled Swiss improvisers, Markus Eichenberger (clarinets) and Daniel Studer (double bass) align their imaginations by exploring minimalist and microtonal trajectories while using space as an additive. Moreover, the duo attains synergy via largely, restrained dialogues. The musicians' delicate approach intimates the power of suggestion, where they can lull you into a trance or raise the pitch on pieces that may also intimate self-analyzation processes vis terse exchanges. As deft expressionism enacted with choice notes play a ...

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Christoph Erb / Jim Baker / Frank Rosaly: ...don't buy him a parrot...

Read "...don't buy him a parrot..." reviewed by John Sharpe

Swiss reedman Christoph Erb has a thing about the Windy City. He first visited in 2011 and discovered fertile ground for collaborations, affirmed by the 14 Chicago-centric releases on his own Veto imprint. Among those hookups is the trio here with pianist Jim Baker and drummer Frank Rosaly, which is also responsible for Parrots Paradise (Veto Records, 2017). In instrumentation they recall both Cecil Taylor's seminal '60s Unit as well as the still extant Alexander von Schlippenbach Trio. And they ...

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Myra Melford Trio: Alive In The House Of Saints Part 1

Read "Alive In The House Of Saints Part 1" reviewed by John Sharpe

Back in 1993, pianist Myra Melford announced herself on the international stage with Alive In The House Of Saints and it still constitutes exhilarating listening. It was the third and, as it happened, last album by her trio completed by bassist Lindsey Horner and drummer Reggie Nicholson, following a brace of recordings on the Enemy imprint (although she did supplement the line up with trumpeter Dave Douglas and reedman Marty Ehrlich for Even The Sounds Shine (Hatology, 1995). Originally issued ...

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Albert Ayler: Copenhagen Live 1964

Read "Copenhagen Live 1964" reviewed by John Sharpe

Even more than 50 years on, there's still never been anyone quite like Albert Ayler. Or for that matter like this 1964 Quartet, which was one of the few ensembles during his career to match the tenor saxophonist against equally forward thinking peers. Bassist Gary Peacock was fresh from pianist Bill Evans' Trio, cornetist Don Cherry was based in Europe having worked with both Ornette Coleman and Sonny Rollins, while Sunny Murray had held the drum stool in pianist Cecil ...

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Marco von Orelli - Max E. Keller - Sheldon Suter: Blow, Strike & Touch

Read "Blow, Strike & Touch" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

The members of this experimental Swiss trio have been significant contributors to the avant-garde, or perhaps outside realm of European jazz circles for many years. But this album is bundled with perpetual reconstruction efforts, drifting sequences and mini-themes that are sometimes meditative in scope amid several transient pieces that intersect the full-length works. Nonetheless, the musicians craft an intimate portraiture framed on textural shadings, trumpeter Marco von Orelli's multiphonics and segments where pianist Max E. Keller summons darkness via asymmetrical ...