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Album Reviews

ALBUM REVIEWS

Soundscape Orchestra: Nexus

Read "Nexus" reviewed by Jakob Baekgaard

The big city is a place of wonder and estrangement. It has its own pulse and sound. Individuals disappear into crowds, and yet the city is also the scene of individual freedom, a potential theatre of endless roles and masks which are carried with conviction as people move through a technological landscape that seems to change all the time. The complex identity of the city is captured musically on Nexus, the debut from the Swedish six-piece ensemble Soundscape ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Marco Colonna: The Second Coming

Read "The Second Coming" reviewed by Daniel Barbiero

In improvised music no less than in composed classical music, the period from the 1950s forward has seen the invention and development of new and expansive instrumental techniques. Along with the expansion of technical resources has come a corresponding evolution of musical poetics grounded in the idea that performance techniques and gestures, when engaged with a certain degree of self-consciousness, can serve as the fundamental material basis for an expressive musicality. Such is the case with the music of The ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Frame Trio: Luminária

Read "Luminária" reviewed by John Sharpe

With freely improvised music, you have to trust that the performers will take you somewhere you want to go and that the journey itself will be as worthwhile as the destination, if not more so. Those expectations are more than met by the Frame Trio on Luminária, the first album by the collective of trumpeter Luís Vicente, guitarist Marcelo dos Reis and bassist Nils Vermeulen. Both bastions of the Portuguese creative music scene, Vicente and dos Reis share a common ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Moppa Elliott: Jazz Band/Rock Band/Dance Band

Read "Jazz Band/Rock Band/Dance Band" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

Bassist Moppa Elliott is best known as the leader of the surrealistic jazz group, Mostly Other People Do The Killing, but his musical universe, encompassing work with symphony orchestras and new music ensembles, stretches much farther than that band's frantic music. This is reflected in this 2 CD set of Elliott leading three different types of groups, a jazz band, a rock band and a dance band. All three ensembles continue Elliott's off-center sensibilities, but in different ways. ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Paul Bley / Gary Peacock / Paul Motian: When Will The Blues Leave

Read "When Will The Blues Leave" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Had Paul Bley, Gary Peacock and Paul Motian recorded together more consistently, they would have been considered among the best piano trios in modern jazz history. The three first recorded on the ECM collection Paul Bley with Gary Peacock (1970), a compilation from the 1960s where three of the eight tracks had Billy Elgart on drums. It would be decades before the trio reunited in the studio, and again, ECM captured the session, Not Two, Not One (1998). When Will ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Domas Žeromskas: Infinite Itinerant

Read "Infinite Itinerant" reviewed by Geno Thackara

A title like Infinite Itinerant may seem like a premature (or even pretentious) statement coming from a player in his late teens, but Domas Žeromskas' sparkling debut shows that he's got enough ambition to back it up. The young leader's piano work smartly builds on past decades of swing and bop alongside contemporary hipness, and the all-original pieces follow suit. If this happy session is any indication, Žeromskas seems poised to live up to that exploratory promise. This is a ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Nicoló Ricci: Pulcino

Read "Pulcino" reviewed by Nicholas F. Mondello

With Pulcino saxophonist Nicoló Ricci bravely sets off on a musical excursion with only bassist Giuseppe Romagnoli and drummer Andreu Pitarch along for the adventure. The result is a fascinating portrait of an artist and players willing to forego the keyboard's harmonic support and cast improvisational fate to their own superior creativity. “The Superflourescent Boy" has Ricci and team exploring a brief theme and subsequently moving into a varying-tempoed, swingingly playful track. Ricci's inventiveness, egged on by ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Judy Wexler: Crowded Heart

Read "Crowded Heart" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

For her fifth album, Judy Wexler has embraced a concept that's oddly foreign in the jazz vocal realm. Instead of walking her way down the all-too-familiar avenues for singers—classic Broadway-cum-jazz material, canonical works written by revered jazz figures, pop tunes reshaped with harmonic facelifts, self-penned originals—she takes the road less traveled by focusing on the work of jazz composers thriving in the present. In doing so she magnifies the importance of these artists, highlights material worthy of greater attention, and ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

David Janeway: Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances

Read "Hastings Jazz Collective/Shadow Dances" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Sail twenty miles up the Hudson River from New York City and you find Hastings-On-The-Hudson, a vibrant artists' colony situated on the river's shore. Among the town's artists you'll find jazz pianist David Janeway, a New York City transplant via Detroit, Michigan. The Hastings Jazz Collective is Janeway's brainchild. He presents the all-star group's debut with Shadow Dances. Though he claims the title “musical director" of this contemporary mainstream jazz quintet, he also stresses the “leaderless aspect" of the group's ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Lucas Pino's No Net Nonet: That's a Computer

Read "That's a Computer" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

Lucas Pino is a New York-based tenor saxophonist who leads the No Net Nonet, a band that fits snugly into the jazz tradition but displays its own style of creativity. Despite what this CD's title suggests, this group's music is full of emotion and warmth. That is evident from the outset with “Antiquity," written by alto saxophonist Alex LoRe; this is a floating melody that meshes undulating lines of tenor, piano and guitar together within a cocoon of ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Patrick Ames: All I Do Is Bleed

Read "All I Do Is Bleed" reviewed by Paul Naser

Lyric writing is an oft under-appreciated element in contemporary music. Guitarist/songwriter Patrick Ames puts lyrics front and center in his rootsy tunes. Somewhere between Tom Waits, The Velvet Underground and Robert Johnson (without the slide), Ames' stripped down recordings are direct a transmission of his feelings, aided by gritty, loose arrangements that give the feel of a living room jam session; safe to say there were few overdub sessions involved. With his latest EP, Ames conjures feelings of ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Judy Wexler: Crowded Heart

Read "Crowded Heart" reviewed by Nicholas F. Mondello

"Tribute," “re-imagined," “remembered," “Great American Songbook." You won't see or hear those words anywhere on Crowded Heart, Judy Wexler's fifth and best effort to date. What you will hear are 10 sublime cuts from some of the finest composers and lyricists in the game. Here Wexler revels in songs where romance and all of its kaleidoscopic intersections are the order of the day. “Circus Life," the opener, is a samba with Wexler spinning the tale of life's ...