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Album Reviews

ALBUM REVIEWS

Michael Kocour: East Of The Sun

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Michael Kocour's solo piano recital is comprised of great American songs, most of which were popular in the early-to-mid twentieth century. There's nothing dated or anachronistic about the ways in which he handles the material. Throughout the record's ten tracks, Kocour establishes a state of equilibrium between a fealty to traditional song forms and jazz practices; a resourceful, imaginative streak; and a great deal of facility on the instrument. While he often incorporates elements of early jazz piano styles, such ...

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Kresten Osgood Quintet: Kresten Osgood Quintet Plays Jazz

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Danish drummer Kresten Osgood achieves the musical equivalent of pay-it-forward with Kresten Osgood Quintet Plays Jazz. His ensemble of up-and-coming Copenhagen musicians delivers convincing renditions of some archetypal compositions, plus three originals by the leader. The choice of music on these two discs exposes the quintet to many types of possible criticism. Listeners familiar with the music of Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Eric Dolphy and Charles Mingus most certainly have seminal recordings of these artists burned into their ...

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Frank Macchia: Rhythm Kaleidoscope

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With a host of wide-ranging work not only as a musician but also as a producer and arranger for television and film projects, Frank Macchia has never been one to rest on his laurels. Even if you're not familiar with his recordings, chances are you've heard at least one of his many film orchestrations: from The Cable Guy to Mission Impossible III to Muppets Most Wanted, Macchia's resume covers virtually every movie genre imaginable. And his own recording projects have ...

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Rob Dixon: Coast to Crossroads

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"The album is called Coast to Crossroads because I'm based in Indiana, the Crossroads state, but I also work a lot on the West Coast and East Coast," explains saxophonist Rob Dixon, who leads this trio session with drummer Mike Clark and seven-string funk guitar maven Charlie Hunter (who also served as producer), plus occasional guest trombonist Ernest Stuart. Personal connections between the three principals enable their musical connections to flow richly and deep: Indianapolis Jazz Hall of ...

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Alfredo Rodriguez/Pedrito Martinez: Duologue

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When running down the names of notable and somewhat recent Cuban exports in the jazz realm, Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez both rank at the top of the list. Rodriguez, a conservatory trained pianist with a strong familial connection to the aural arts, came under the wing of the great Quincy Jones back in 2006. He made his way to the United States three years later and began taking the world by storm when he delivered his stunning debut--Sounds Of ...

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Marc Ducret - Joëlle Léandre: Chez Hélène

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The audience in attendance at the 19PaulFort venue in Paris, France must have been spellbound after witnessing these prolific and highly influential improvisers wield their magic. As leaders and collaborators bassist Joëlle Léandre and guitarist Marc Ducret have pretty much done it all over the years, evidenced by their extensive discographies. Here, the bassist is a galvanized catalyst via her fervent and precise strumming and impossibly fast bowing patterns as Ducret is often the colorist as they counterbalance each other ...

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Warren Wiebe: Original Demos

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From the accounts of nearly everyone who heard him, Warren Wiebe was “a singer's singer." After kicking around in several bands between his native San Diego and Los Angeles, songwriters Burt Bacharach and David Foster ran across Wiebe's pure tone and apparently effortless range, and Wiebe became the go-to demo singer for many of southern California's most successful songwriters. “We were kind of like Edger Bergin and Charlie McCarthy, only I was the dummy and Warren made me come alive ...

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Victor Haskins: Showing Up

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Since he burst onto the scene, Victor Haskins has developed a robust reputation as a modern-day jazz storyteller. His utterly sincere approach to his art is in the highest jazz tradition of exploration and innovation. With Showing Up, Haskins has taken his message to yet another higher level. The album, Haskins' second, presents his “Skein"--comprised of himself acoustically and electro-enhanced, a bassist and percussionist--delivering ten highly intelligent, textured tracks. Each presents its own eclectic musical poetry. Haskins ...

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Fred Hersch Trio: Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard

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Pianist Fred Hersch has produced a steady stream of recordings in the last few years, both solo and with his current trio. The trio was featured on Live In Europe (Palmetto Records, 2018) and Sunday Night At The Vanguard (Palmetto Records, 2016). This album captures a special career moment for Hersch: his first appearance as leader at the venerable Village Vanguard, arguably the most storied jazz club in the history of the music. At the time his working ...

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SJZ Collective: SJZ Collective Reimagines Monk

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Until a saucy swagger kicks in on the fourth and final track, “Blue Monk," it's difficult if not impossible to recognize this music as a tribute to the late Thelonious Monk And that's perfectly appropriate--no similarly-conceived homage should be overly familiar. But it is also a tribute to the ingenuity of the SJZ Collective, and the prominence of Brian Ho's organ, which is crucial to this record's distinction. Yet, as with that concluding cut, and the opener, “Green ...

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Julian "Cannonball" Adderley: Swingin' In Seattle, Live At The Penthouse 1966-1967

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Julian “Cannonball" Adderley and his merry men--brother/cornetist Nat Adderley, bassist Victor Gaskin, backbeat king drummer Roy McCurdy and bursting-at-the-seams-with-new-ideas pianist Joe Zawinul--were having themselves a high time during 1966-67, that Renaissance time of adventure between Cecil Taylor's Unit Structures (Blue Note, 1966), Miles Smiles (Columbia, 1967) and the colorful, imagination emancipations of Sgt. Peppers' Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capital, 1967) and Charles Lloyd's live Forest Sunflower (Atlantic, 1967). Into this froth drops Cannonball's earthy and jocular soul/blues/jazz and “Mercy, Mercy, ...

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Liudas Mockūnas: Hydro 2

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Liudas Mockūnas, an iconic Lithuanian improvisation and jazz figure, still continues his exploration of water. By combining water and reeds he steps into an unpredictable and unique sonic meadow. His first attempt to put the bridle on water, Hydro, was released in 2017 by NoBusiness Records. At the end of 2018 the same label presented the second part, Hydro 2. Like its predecessor it is a solo record. Water and solo? On one hand that sounds promising, but on the ...