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Melissa Aldana: Visions

Read "Visions" reviewed by Friedrich Kunzmann

Compositional and instrumental virtuosity always walks along a razor's edge between self-indulgence and purposeful accomplishment. On Visions, sought after saxophonist Melissa Aldana proves that she doesn't only master balancing this edge but that she can also go beyond the complexities of structure, scales and improvisation and naturally create her very own musical aesthetic. In interplay with an all-star cast of equally dynamic sidemen—Sam Harris on keys, Pablo Menares on bass, as well as drummer Tommy Crane and Joel Ross adding ...

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Ben Wendel: The Seasons

Read "The Seasons" reviewed by Friedrich Kunzmann

For many centuries composers have set to music the different seasons each new year has to offer (lately, some show the tendency of disappearing more and more. Seasons, not composers). Baroque composer Vivaldi's very straightforward division in four on “Le Quattro Stagioni" has to be one of the most prominent examples. Saxophonist and composer Ben Wendel however was inspired by 19th century superstar Pyotr Tchaikovsky's “Les Saisons" when in January of 2015 he decided to document a series of 12 ...

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Ben Wendel: The Seasons

Read "The Seasons" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

Stepping out as he occasionally does from the genre-mashing ensemble Kneebody, Grammy-nominated saxophonist / bassoonist Ben Wendel takes up the challenge of interpreting the seasons as they exist in this time of climate upheaval and delivers the dynamic, visceral The Seasons. In 2015, inspired by Tchaikovsky's “The Seasons," Wendel set about writing and performing twelve duets and videos featuring musicians he keenly admires, including Shai Maestro, Joshua Redman, Julian Lage, Matt Brewer, Eric Harland, and vocalist Luciana Souza. ...

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Donny McCaslin: Blow

Read "Blow" reviewed by Roger Farbey

At first listen, Blow sounds more like a rock album than a jazz one. The catchy “What About The Body" could arguably be mistaken for one of King Crimson's more vituperative numbers featuring Adrian Belew. Ryan Dahle's emotionally-charged vocals are equally at the forefront of the explosive “Club Kidd." But the selection also includes three instrumental tracks too, such as the grungy, anthemic “Break The Bond," the polyrhythmic “Beast," and “Exactlyfourminutesofimprovisedmusic" (which speaks for itself) all underpinned by Tim Lefebvre's ...

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Stefon Harris & Blackout: Sonic Creed

Read "Sonic Creed" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

In its most basic function, the music that makes up Sonic Creed serves as a mirror to African American life in the here and now. It explores the history, legacy, struggles, and joys of the Black community, speaking to all of it at once through sound and sentiment. Sonic Creed arrives almost a decade after this groove outfit's last showing--Urbanus (Concord, 2009)--but the time away hasn't hurt the band. If anything, Blackout has become a more limber ...

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Joey Alexander: Eclipse

Read "Eclipse" reviewed by Geannine Reid

Pianist Joey Alexander knows how and when to strike the ivories. At the age of 14 he has already recorded two GRAMMY-nominated studio albums, My Favorite Things (Motema Music, 2015) and Countdown (Motema Music, 2016). Late in 2017, Alexander released Joey.Monk.Live! (Motema Music), a critically acclaimed surprise release to honor Thelonious Monk's centennial. Alexander has released his third studio album entitled, Eclipse. The eleven selections are mixture of originals and standards, demonstrating his aptitude as a composer (Alexander composed six ...

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Joey Alexander: Joey.Monk.Live!

Read "Joey.Monk.Live!" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

The late Thelonious Monk is most certainly the toast of the town these days. With the High Priest of Bop's centennial upon us, he's being saluted from all corners of the jazz world. Pianist John Beasley is leading the charge on the big band front with his MONK'estra, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith is reflecting on the great pianist-composer all by his lonesome, and New York's Jazz Standard has given over Monk's birth month to a broad swath of tributes to ...


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