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CD/LP/Track Review

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg: Dirt...And More Dirt

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Pi Recordings, under the leadership of Seth Rosner, got its start in 2001 with the simultaneous release of two CDs from avant-garde reedman Henry Threadgill, Everybody's Mouth's A Book, featuring the band Make a Move, and Up Popped The Two Lips, by the Threadgill group Zooid. This was a re-emergence for Threadgill; his three-record deal with Columbia Records had ended in 1996, with the release of Where's Your Cup. He has since made the most of his relationship with Rosner's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brand X: Locked & Loaded

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There are a great many bands whose lineups have been so fluid that keeping track of who was in the band when is no mean feat. Few bands have, however, had as complicated a history as Brand X. Even in its latest re-reincarnation, there's been a lineup shift between the high octane fusion group's January, 2017 performance documented on But wait...There's more!, released independently the same year, and Locked & Loaded, culled largely from a show just five months later ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Salvo Losappio: Long Story Short

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Although Long Story Short is an entirely appropriate title for Italian-born tenor saxophonist Salvo Losappio's debut CD as leader, as its playing time is a lean LP-like thirty-eight minutes, Rush Job might have been an even better one. Losappio's name and face adorn the front cover of the album, which names his four sidemen but does not disclose which instruments they play. That information is consigned to an accompanying press release. Song titles and running times are shown on the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nik Bärtsch: Awase

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The exquisite Awase is Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch's eighth release with his band Ronin. Although the ensemble has had a few personnel changes, the album maintains the creative energy and the spirit of its previous work. The title refers to a principle of martial arts that translates to coming together and an appropriately dynamic synergy marks all six tracks. The cinematic “Module 34," for instance, consists of atmospheric and expansive refrains that resonate against Bärtsch's cascading piano. The ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Matthew Shipp: Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich

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On Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich, echoes of the jazz and classical traditions rub shoulders in a bewitching amalgam of insistent phrases, left hand tumult, undulating abstractions and gossamer melody. “No change there then," you might say when considering this installment of Matthew Shipp's solo oeuvre from May 2016. By this stage in his career the pianist was standing as one of the premier instrumentalists in the modern jazz arena, with an utterly distinctive style. That is borne out by ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bongwool Lee: My Singing Fingers

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The music of pianist Bongwool Lee has a hopeful feeling. The Korean-born and now New York-based artist drew her first jazz inspiration--after classical studies in her homeland--from the work of Oscar Peterson, who sent much musical time walking on the sunny side of the street. But where Peterson rolled mostly in the jazz standards/Great American Songbook realm, Lee presents, on her debut recording, My Singing Fingers, a set of compelling original compositions. With one exception--the Ray Henderson-penned classic “Bye Bye ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Glenn Crytzer Orchestra: Ain't It Grand?

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As Karen Carpenter once sang, it's “yesterday once more"--at least it is whenever and wherever the gregarious Glenn Crytzer Orchestra springs into action. Crytzer's ensemble not only revitalizes songs from the long-ago Swing Era of the 1920s, '30s and '40s, its high-stepping two-CD set, Ain't It Grand?, even sounds as though it were recorded in those halcyon days of vinyl, shellac, gramophones and 78rpm records, even though the truth, shall we say, is rather more contemporary, as in New York ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Andrea Brachfeld: If Not Now, When?

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Of all of the necessary tools associated with the creative process, the most overlooked may simply be space to think and grow. While the mile-a-minute, multi-tasking mentality that dominates in modern society makes it difficult to find said breathing room, musicians occasionally need to take a step back to fuel their artistic impulses. Flutist Andrea Brachfeld is well aware of that fact. In 2016, Brachfeld put her writing on the backburner and spent a year focusing on meditation. She came ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Espen Eriksen Trio With Andy Sheppard: Perfectly Unhappy

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Primo Levi wrote that perfect happiness and perfect unhappiness are both beyond reach. For this he blamed our human condition, which is opposed to everything infinite. Maybe this album's title is also a comment on our hope and despair through life's journey. Not within the realm of Levi's suffering, of course, but in our common role as sentient beings. Those of us for whom music is a great solace should thus revere the union of Espen Eriksen and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Edward Simon: Sorrows & Triumphs

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This project by pianist Edward Simon blends together many diverse elements. The music combines classical formalism with jazz energy and is performed by a combination of Simon's jazz quartet, Afinidad, and the woodwind quintet, Imani Winds, with some guest musicians added in. The compositions themselves are movements of two separate suites written by Simon, “Sorrows And Triumphs," inspired by Buddhist philosophy, and “House Of Numbers," inspired by numerology, rearranged into a cohesive set of music. The end result of all ...