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Best of Mr. P.C. 2017

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Dear Mr. P.C.: This whole “jazz musicians play thousands of chords to three people" vs. “rock musicians play three chords for thousands" thing: What is the correct chord/audience ratio? Perhaps zero chords for an infinite audience is the ideal; or all chords for no audience. I certainly have landed closer to the latter. Is art about this kind of calculus? --Randy H., Atlanta   Dear Randy: Let's break ...

BOOK REVIEWS

The Universe and John Coltrane: The Physics of Cosmic Vibrations

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The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe Stephon Alexander 272 Pages ISBN: # 13: 978-0465093571; # 10: 0465093574 Basic Books 2016 On the face of it, the premise that jazz and physics are related disciplines seems strange and remote. Because of its spontaneous nature, rhythmic pulse, and emphasis on emotion, jazz is a personal, subjective artistic means of expression which is accessible to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

URO: OR

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It's always nice to discover a meeting of new or unfamiliar bedfellows in the music world. However figuratively or geographically removed some things may seem to be--such as Scandinavia's fjords and the American heartland, let's just say for instance--you can probably count on a crew of good and willing players to find some common ground. Okay, old-world folk and Americana aren't even that different in the first place, but they don't seem to rub shoulders as often as they could. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

William Flynn: The Songbook Project

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The Songbook Project from guitarist William Flynn provides jazz enthusiasts with great arrangements of some top-flight songs from the popular music catalog. On this album, one can hear jazz versions of music by the Smashing Pumpkins, Oasis, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and Jewel. The musicians all add color to the music. “Tonight Tonight" opens with harmony provided by Pete Mills' saxophone and Flynn's guitar. This is followed by charming and ebullient solos by pianist Lucas Holmes, Flynn and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jamie Saft: Solo a Genova

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Pianist Jamie Saft's Solo A Genova is a revelation. It is, in an extensive discography, his only alone-in-the-piano-chair outing. Saft has made a wide-ranging mark in collaborations with Slobber Pup, Metallic Taste of Blood, The Spanish Donkey and Berserk! These group names don't say it all, but do probably say something (Brash? Unconventional? Loud?) about the sounds they make. But for the jazz fan of the more purist persuasion, his piano trio discs are probably the ones that find their ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Dease: Reaching Out

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Somebody has to be the keeper of the flame, right? In jazz, an art form that has only recently passed the century mark, that responsibility has seemed to diminish in importance. It's not that music schools aren't churning out graduates versed in the traditional repertory, and post-modern players aren't constantly pushing the envelope of possibilities. It's just that we need more musicians like Michael Dease who, to quote Art Blakey, play jazz that “washes away the dust of everyday life." ...

PROFILES

Ranky Tanky: African Rhythms Preserved

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Liberia, the West African country named for freedom, was partly financed by wealthy Americans as a haven for people who escaped enslavement. Its capital Monrovia was named for US President Monroe. The Gola (also called Gula) tribe are indigenous to the northern borderlands of Liberia with Sierra Leone. The Gola people are farmers who weave swamp grass, grow rice, corn and okra as their staple food. The comparison to the American Carolina Gullah traditions of eating rice, corn ground into ...

MIXCLOUD

Best of 2017: The All About Jazz Mixtape, Volume 3

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Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 Some cling to the belief that jazz is in crisis or worse, dead. Our impression is quite the opposite, and to prove our point, we've compiled a mixtape featuring some of the best jazz released in 2017. Also, check out our staff's BEST OF 2017 lists and view our 2017 recommendations. Playlist Fabian Almazan, “Alcanza Suite IV: Mas" from Alcanza (Biophilia) 0:00 Ralph Towner, ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms

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Jazztopad 2017: Concerts In Living Rooms Various homes Wroclaw, Poland November 25-26, 2017 You, dear reader, might have been to the occasional house concert, growing in popularity as these events are: but have you ever attended three in one afternoon, six over two days? Such was the potential over the climactic weekend of Jazztopad, that excellent Polish festival whose main gigs are set in the soaring concert hall of Wroclaw's National ...