Album Reviews

ALBUM REVIEWS

Nicolas Bearde: I Remember You: The Music Of Nat King Cole

Read "I Remember You: The Music Of Nat King Cole" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

In 2019, Cole is king. Feted on record by John Pizzarelli, celebrated with a new seven CD set of his early work from Resonance Records, and praised and reappraised from numerous journalistic angles, Nathaniel Adams Coles--better known as Nat King Cole--is receiving the posthumous plaudits he so richly deserves in this, his centennial year. Now, adding to the chorus, comes this easy-going charmer of a tribute from one of the West Coast's most underrated vocal talents. Completely ...

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Jon Irabagon: Invisible Horizon

Read "Invisible Horizon" reviewed by Mark Corroto

The inexhaustibly adventurist saxophonist Jon Irabagon has repeatedly challenged his listeners with each project he undertakes. The 2008 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition champion and former member of the rebel outfit Mostly Other People Do The Killing can be heard in Mary Halvorson's projects, The Dave Douglas Quintet, and Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor, beside leading his own trio, quartet and quintets. But then again, maybe he is continually challenging himself to expand his music in new directions. Invisible Horizon ...

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Spring Roll: Episodes

Read "Episodes" reviewed by John Sharpe

French flautist Sylvaine Hélary's Spring Roll follow up their ambitious debut Printemps (Ayler, 2015) with another adventurous outing on Episodes. While the first disc incorporated words and voices, the twist this time is that Hélary commissioned works from three of New York City's finest composer-improvisers, pianists Matt Mitchell and Kris Davis, and saxophonist Dan Blake, to supplement two numbers from the band. In addition to the 2018 studio session responsible for most of the recording, Davis appears as a special ...

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Bobby Rush: Sitting on Top of the Blues

Read "Sitting on Top of the Blues" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

There exists a fertile underbelly to American Music. It is music that never experiences the success of a Jay Z or Beyonce, but is infinitely more vital and fecund than any of the synthesized, IPad-generated, “genius" generated sounds that have come out over the past 20 year. Sorry, but “rad beats" is not everything and second-hand rhymes might raise a woody in any number of print critics reviews...but not this humble one. Street cred still reigns big, and ...

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Quentin Collins Sextet: Road Warrior

Read "Road Warrior" reviewed by Chris May

Hard-bop with a modern twist from the British trumpeter Quentin Collins, who is probably best known for his work with the Kyle Eastwood Band and who leads his own transatlantic group on Road Warrior. The frontline is completed by two British-based saxophonists, Leo Richardson on tenor and Meilana Gillard on alto. The rhythm section is out of New York: pianist Dan Nimmer, bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Willie Jones III. The international set-up is reinforced by producer Jean Toussaint, a ...

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Mike Westbrook Orchestra: Catania

Read "Catania" reviewed by Ian Patterson

A major figure in British jazz since the late 1950s, composer-pianist Mike Westbrook continues to write, perform and record at a rate of knots which would leave contenders half his 83 years on the ropes. Four albums since 2016, including--after a gap of forty years—not one but two solo piano recordings, are testament to the creative fire that continues to burn inside him. This previously-unreleased live recording from Sicily in 1992, captures the twenty-three-piece Mike Westbrook Orchestra in truly scintillating ...

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Ernesto Rodrigues / Abdul Moimême / Antez: Magma

Read "Magma" reviewed by Mark Corroto

The question that lingers over Magma, by the trio of violist Ernesto Rodrigues, guitarist Abdul Moimême and percussionist Richard Antez, is whether the artists were conscious of the visual aspects created by their music. Of our five senses—taste, sight, touch, smell and sound—it is, of course, the perception of sound that we attribute to music. This is not about the observation of musicians going about their performance as much as the visuals created by the sound itself. Only the audience ...

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Refraction: The Outsider

Read "The Outsider" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Australian trio Refraction recorded this album just before drummer and bandleader Chris Broomhead's relocation to Nashville, Tennessee (which is now given as the group's home city on their Bandcamp page). As on the last two albums, Inerrant Space (Rare Colour Records, 2016) and Reimagined (Rare Colour Records, 2017), Broomhead is joined by pianist Brenton Foster and bassist Jordan Tarento. There is one major change for this album. The previous ones were all recorded in a traditional recording studio. ...

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Steve Lehman Trio + Craig Taborn: The People I Love

Read "The People I Love" reviewed by Mark Corroto

It is easy think about the shock of the new that was bebop when listening to The People I Love by alto saxophonist Steve Lehman's trio. Not that Lehman plays bebop as it was in the 1940s. It took mammals millions of years of evolution to climb down out of trees and fashion tools, but it has taken but a few decades to progress from Lester Young to Charlie Parker, to Eric Dolphy to Rudresh Mahanthappa. Think Darwin's foot on ...

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Whit Dickey/Kirk Knuffke: Drone Dream

Read "Drone Dream" reviewed by John Sharpe

Duets with drummers form the bedrock of cornetist Kirk Knuffke's whole musical experience, ever since jamming with a friend in high school. Consequently, Drone Dream constitutes the third such twosome to appear in his discography. And he obviously finds drummer Whit Dickey--still best known for his tenure with fiery saxophonist David S. Ware and adventurous pianist Matthew Shipp--a sympathetic foil as it's the second entry with him behind the traps, following on from Fierce Silence (Clean Feed, 2016). The wonderful ...

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Ron Jackson: Standards and Other Songs

Read "Standards and Other Songs" reviewed by Peter Hoetjes

Ron Jackson may have the bluesiest seven-string guitar in New York City. He peppers a carefully deliberate swing throughout every track on Standards And Other Songs, joined by Nathan Brown on acoustic bass and Darrell Green at the drum kit. As suggested by its simple title, the album is a collection covering a broad range of music, ranging from the 1920s to the modern era, from vintage jazz standards to pop, rock, and even rap hits. The melody ...

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Duke Ellington: Uppsala 1971

Read "Uppsala 1971" reviewed by Chris Mosey

From his first visit in 1939 to a concert a few months before his death in 1973, Duke Ellington took special pleasure in visiting Sweden. He composed a “Serenade to Sweden" and wrote a new arrangement for a very Swedish pop song, “I en rod liten stuga (In a Red Little Cottage)." He also entered into a fruitful collaboration with Swedish vocalist Alice Babs. This album, recorded at a concert in the great hall of Uppsala University on ...