Album Reviews

ALBUM REVIEWS

King Crimson: Live in Newcastle, December 8, 1972

Read "Live in Newcastle, December 8, 1972" reviewed by John Kelman

"Never say never," or so the old adage goes. When it comes to music, there are two more that should be added: “farewell tour" and, most certainly as it relates to King Crimson's Live in Newcastle, December 8, 1972, “the complete recordings." This, the 48th in the veteran group's King Crimson Collector's Club series of archival releases, turns out not just to be an unexpected addition to the group's Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Panegyric), but belies that fifteen-disc, 2012 40th ...

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Howard University Jazz Ensemble: HUJE 2018

Read "HUJE 2018" reviewed by Jack Bowers

One sure sign of spring is the arrival of the latest yearly recording by the superb Howard University Jazz Ensemble, a tradition that dates without pause from the days of vinyl in 1976, one year after the ensemble was formed by its first and only music director, Fred Irby III. For archivists and numbers-crunchers, that's forty-four years and counting. Unlike some of its precursors, HUJE 2018 is entirely instrumental; it does, however, include the usual measure of ...

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Nick Grinder: Farallon

Read "Farallon" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

The striking thing about this CD by Bay Area trombonist Nick Grinder is how warm and soothing it sounds. It is not Smooth Jazz by any means, but there is a broad, melodic tone to Grinder's playing and the way he arranges the music that feels inviting and friendly. This is present even in up-tempo pieces like “New And Happy," with its brisk bebop cadences, and the prickly battle of “5 Steps" between Grinder's dancing horn, Ethan Helm's twisting alto ...

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Wadada Leo Smith / Sabu Toyozumi: Burning Meditation

Read "Burning Meditation" reviewed by John Sharpe

The Japanese concept of ma—a celebration of the space between things—is one to which trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith can readily subscribe. Space and silence are as important as sound in his conception. The weight given to the pauses between phrases stands out on this live recording from 1994 with Japanese drummer Sabu Toyozumi, which forms another winning installment in the Chap Chap series of archival recordings from Japan which see the light of day thanks to licensing to the Lithuanian ...

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Dom Minasi: Remembering Cecil

Read "Remembering Cecil" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Guitarist Dom Minasi counts the late pianist Cecil Taylor (1929-2018) as one of his idols. Taylor was among the true pioneers of free jazz, with free-flying ensemble recordings like Unit Structures (Blue Note, 1966), Conquistador (Blue Note, 1967), and scores of solo piano outings, notably including Silent Tongues (Freedom, 1974), and For Olim (Soul Note, 1986). For many free jazz fans, it was the solo sets that showcased Taylor's true genius, so it is fitting that Minasi goes solo for ...

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Miguel Gorodi: Apophenia

Read "Apophenia" reviewed by Roger Farbey

As a youngster, Miguel Gorodi led something of a nomadic existence. He was born in Spain in 1990 but was then raised in Saudi Arabia and Thailand before moving to England in 2006. In his mid-teens he won a scholarship to study music at Wells Cathedral School and two years later received a place at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study trumpet. He graduated from there in 2012 with a first class honours degree but stayed on ...

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Organic pulse ensemble: Transcending the Sum

Read "Transcending the Sum" reviewed by Chris May

The name Organic Pulse Ensemble suggests a largish line-up, but Transcending The Sum is actually the creation of just one musician, multi-instrumentalist Gustav Horneij. Horneij does, however, definitely transcend the sum of that unitary part, overdubbing away to recreate a six, seven or eight piece band, with front line, rhythm section and all. As the cover art indicates, his bag is spiritual jazz. Horneij, who is based way up in the chilly north of Sweden, is a ...

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Kaja Draksler / Petter Eldh / Christian Lillinger: Punkt.Vrt.Plastik

Read "Punkt.Vrt.Plastik" reviewed by John Sharpe

Three outrageously talented up-and-coming players on the European scene join energies on a program of spiky attitude based around rhythmically dynamic foundations. German drummer Christian Lillinger and Swedish bassist Petter Eldh may be best known as the potent bedrock of the Amok Amor Quartet which featured trumpeter Peter Evans. Now they fulfill the same function in a new co-operative trio with Amsterdam-based Slovenian pianist Kaja Draksler, who reveals a more wayward side than manifest on her ambitious octet release Gledalec ...

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Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom: Glitter Wolf

Read "Glitter Wolf" reviewed by Jennifer DeMeritt

Some jazz musicians dare you to follow them to the rarefied realm of their imagination, where you might discover paradise, or you might get lost in a forest of abstraction. Allison Miller says, “Hey, let's take a ride!" then revs the engine and takes you on a grand tour of a carnival of sounds. A masterful jazz drummer and composer, Miller has also performed with Natalie Merchant, Ani DiFranco, and Brandi Carlile, among others, and she brings a rock musician's ...

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Durand Jones & The Indications: American Love Call

Read "American Love Call" reviewed by John Bricker

Durand Jones & The Indications prove with American Love Call that the sounds of 1960s and '70s soul are as beautiful today as they were first time around. The group's second album has great songs, passionate performances and immaculate production. “Morning in America" is an ambitious opener, establishing American Love Call's updated soul aesthetic while Durand Jones paints a bleak picture of American life, crooning that he “can't see the dawn" while “mourning in America." The song's ...

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Howe Gelb: Gathered

Read "Gathered" reviewed by Jakob Baekgaard

Singer/songwriter Howe Gelb has made his name with desert-rock/alt-country pioneers, Giant Sand, but he also has a lengthy solo-career, and his 24th album, Gathered, finds him in his usual excellent form. The album follows a flirtation with jazz that came to the fore on the superb Future Standards (Fire Records, 2016) and the follow-up Further Standards (Fire Records, 2017). Those albums were very much carried by Gelb's skewed piano playing, equally old-fashioned and hip, swinging in his ...

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Eyolf Dale & André Roligheten: Departure

Read "Departure" reviewed by Roger Farbey

This follow-up to Eyolf Dale's 2018 album Return To Mind, as with its 2016 predecessor, Dale's Wolf Valley, features André Roligheten on tenor sax and clarinet. But crucially, on Departure Dale and Roligheten have dispensed with a rhythm section. This is not a new format since this Norwegian pair had played in a duo configuration under the name of Albatrosh, and as a result winning the Jazzintro award in 2008. They released their debut album Seagull Island (Inner Ear) in ...


2019 NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert

In celebration of the 2019 NEA Jazz Masters—Stanley Crouch, Bob Dorough, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Maria Schneider—the National Endowment for the Arts, in collaboration with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, hosted a free concert in their honor on April 15, 2019.

The evening featured remarks by NEA Acting Chair Mary Anne Carter and Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter and appearances by world-renowned musicians paying tribute to the NEA Jazz Masters’ careers, with performances by Jay Anderson, Steve Berger, Terence Blanchard, Terri Lyne Carrington, Kurt Elling, Sullivan Fortner, Bill Goodwin, Cleave Guyton, Noah Jackson, 2012 NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan, Grace Kelly, Frank Kimbrough, Christian McBride, Charles McPherson, Jason Moran, David Murray, Pat O’Leary, Scott Robinson, and J D Walter.