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Articles | Featured | Future

BEST OF / YEAR END

Geno Thackara's Best Releases of 2017

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My second year playing in the All About Jazz sandbox has been even more packed with great times and great musical discoveries than the first. I had the pleasure of reviewing plenty of terrific recordings just as strong or highly-rated as those on this list, not to mention some superb live shows, but these were the personal favorites that simply hit the spot the most. Portico QuartetArt in the Age of Automation Gondwana Records

BEST OF / YEAR END

Jerome Wilson's Best of 2017

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By most measures 2017 was not the best of years. In the jazz world however, the creativity and dedication of musicians worldwide was a beacon of positivity and purpose. Matt Wilson and Jane Ira Bloom made superb connections between poetry and jazz, new artists like Simon Millerd and Laura Campisi made strong first impressions and veteran powerhouses like Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith kept on doing what they do. Here are the 12 recordings that moved me the most ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Van Morrison: Roll With The Punches & Versatile

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Van Morrison's disenchantment with the business underpinnings of his creative output has been a continuing theme of his work over the years. It's always been something of a self-serving state of mind, but never so much so with the release of two very similarly-conceived and executed albums, on two different labels, within three months of each other. Roll With the Punches is the Belfast cowboy's second album on the Caroline Records label (following 2016's Keep Me Singing), while Versatile extends ...

IN PICTURES

The Christian McBride Trio at the Tin Pan, Richmond, VA

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Christian McBride strode onto the stage of the Tin Pan in Richmond, VA. to announce that his regular pianist, Christian Sands, and drummer, Jerome Jennings, (refereed to as his younger brothers) could not be with him for their performance. He phoned a couple of his friends, (referring to them as his big brothers), to see if they could help him out and happily they could. That night's trio consisted of McBride on bass, Benny Green on piano and Lewis Nash ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

David Stackenäs: Bricks

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Hailing from Sweden, David Stackenäs (Per Zanussi Ensemble, Lina Nyberg Band) may be one of the best lesser-known global guitarists out there. Active in jazz and experimental ensembles in Europe and beyond, the artist follows up his previous solo acoustic guitar outing Separator (2009, Found You) with a cunning and at times, mesmeric exposition. In the album notes, iconic guitarist Nels Cline extolls glowing praise via his detailed analysis of certain tracks and narratives concerning Stackenäs' striking technical gifts and ...

BEST OF / YEAR END

Troy Dostert's Best Releases of 2017

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Looking over the vast quantity of fine music released in 2017, it is reassuring to know that even in these troubled times, the spirit of creativity and endurance that jazz has always embodied continues to hold strong, especially as the music continually finds new forms of expression that move beyond stylistic boundaries. It was a particularly good year for pianists, as several of the most important contemporary voices on that instrument are represented here. Vijay Iyer Sextet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Deanna Witkowski: Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns

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The improvisatory phrase and the song of praise don't stem from the same place, but who's to say they can't break bread together? With Makes The Heart To Sing: Jazz Hymns, pianist Deanna Witkowski erases lines between the strict-toned sacred and malleable secular, creating music that manages to be tradition-minded and open-minded all at once. The fifteen tracks contained herein pull from myriad sources and eras. An African-American spiritual cozies up next to a 17th-century German hymn, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Alexander: Song of No Regrets

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Eric Alexander, who has been wielding as impressive a tenor saxophone as anyone on the scene for more than two decades, returns to the studio for what seems the umpteenth time with an abundant stockpile of point-blank pleasures on Song of No Regrets, an essentially Latin-grooved session that leaves room on the first two numbers for the superlative trumpet work of guest artist Jon Faddis. One of Alexander's strengths, and perhaps the one that has caused him ...

LIVE REVIEWS

We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory

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We Jazz Festival Helsinki, Finland December 3-10, 2017 Although Finland has long had a vibrant jazz life, both in terms of its musician population and support for music coming from America, Europe and beyond, there has been a curious lapse in terms of festival representation in the central city of Helsinki. The now 37-year-old Tampere Jazz Happening (in Tampere, Finland's second largest city) has earned bragging rights as Finland's grandest and most adventurous jazz fest, and ...


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