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Nocturnal Four: Life On Earth

Read "Life On Earth" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

What's in a band name? Sometimes, absolutely nothing; but in this case, a world of truth. Croatian guitarist Ratko Zjaca's Nocturnal Four infuses his music with vespertine vibes and shrouds it in shadows, living up to its name while carving out its own identity on an absorbing program calling to the moonlight. After forging a bandstand brotherhood through touring with saxophonist Stefano Bedetti and organist Renato Chicco, it was clear to Zjaca that they needed to be ...

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Amina Figarova: Blue Whisper

Read "Blue Whisper" reviewed by Dave Wayne

Pianist and composer Amina Figarova is truly a citizen of the world. Born and raised in Baku, Azerbaijan, she decamped to the Netherlands in the 1980s to study at the Rotterdam Conservatory, and then to Boston in 1989 to continue her studies at Berklee. Blue Whisper is her 12th recording as a leader, but her first to feature a band comprised primarily of US-based musicians. Aside from Bart Platteau (also Figarova's husband), the only holdovers from her excellent Netherlands-based band, ...

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ZZ Quartet: Beyond the Lines

Read "Beyond the Lines" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Croatian guitarist Ratko Zjaca and Italian accordionist Simone Zanchini hit artistic pay dirt when they teamed up for The Way We Talk (In + Out Records, 2010). They joined forces with Macedonian bassist Martin Gjakonovski and American drummer Adam Nussbaum for that album, creating a cross-cultural blend of music that speaks to specific musical idiosyncracies and universal truths in sound. Now, a few years after that initial encounter-on-record, this outfit returns with a follow-up that's just as pleasing and unique ...

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Amina Figarova: Twelve

Read "Twelve" reviewed by Hrayr Attarian

Calling Amina Figarova merely a jazz impressionist does injustice to the full breadth of the pianist's vision and does not reflect the uniqueness of her artistry. That said, most of her compositions do have an impressionistic bent. The nocturnal “Shut Eyes, Sea Waves...," for instance, on Twelve (her twelfth release as a leader), uses her cascading piano and Dutch drummer Chris Strik's gentle cymbals to paint a picture of waves crashing against the shore. The salty air is almost palpable ...

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Amina Figarova: Twelve

Read "Twelve" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

Change is in the air that pianist/composer Amina Figarova is breathing. While the personnel from her previous outing is still intact, and her personal aesthetic remains largely unaltered, she comes to this album with a different worldview and a new place to call home. The Azerbaijan-born Figarova and husband/band mate/flautist Bart Platteau had been based in Rotterdam for quite some time, but decided to move stateside in 2010. This change of scenery served as the inspiration for the twelve-song suite ...

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Ratko Zjaca / Simone Zanchini: The Way We Talk

Read "The Way We Talk" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Little more than a year ago, the great Croation guitarist, Ratko Zjaca, released the terrific Continental Talk (In + Out Records 2009) with his longtime collaborator, saxophonist, Stanislav Mitrovic, and some all-star American support. Not content to follow even a highly successful formula, Zjaca has teamed with Italian accordionist Simone Zanchini, Macedonian bassist Martin Gjakonovski and American drummer Adam Nussbaum for The Way We Talk. Zjaca's new--but still global--quartet represents a change, not only in group structure, but in its ...

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Jermaine Landsberger and Paulo Morello: Hammond Eggs

Read "Hammond Eggs" reviewed by Edward Blanco

Hammond B3 specialist Jermaine Landsberger and fellow German, guitarist Paulo Morello, have played together for over a decade, since their first gig in 1990 in the village of Maxhutte, Bavaria, where they both lived. Morello is one of Germany's finest jazz guitarist and Landsberger--who comes from a German Gypsies Sinti musical family lineage--is a modern jazz keyboardist originally influenced by the music of Django Reinhardt. It's been written that these two talented European jazz artists go so well together just ...


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