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Multiple Reviews

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Latest From Eva-Maria Houben On Edition Wandelweiser

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The last 2017 batch of releases from the Edition Wandelweiser label consisted of six albums including one by the Swiss duo of Cyril Bondi and d'incise, a double album of piano pieces by the late Hermann Meier played by Dominik Blum, and a chilling but intriguing Michael Winter album featuring readings from The Limits of Mathematics by Gregory Chaitin, accompanied by sound samples from an impressive cast. However, the remaining three albums of the batch were all by pianist-organist-composer Eva-Maria ...

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Rock Candy: Montrose (eponymous) & Paper Money

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The late Ronnie Montrose was a guitar hero for our times if there ever was one. An uncommon combination of skills in which he fused as much finesse as power enabled him to assume him a wide-ranging series of sideman gigs and solo projects, the dual results of which were, unfortunately, inextricably intertwined: he was impossible to pigeonhole and thus relegated to toiling under the radar during his multiple-decade career before his untimely passing in 2012. Nevertheless, the ...

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Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition & Rez Abbasi’s Invocation

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Two nearly simultaneous releases that shine an especially interesting light on the three players they have in common. In addition to leading the two dates, alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and guitarist Rez Abbasi play prominent performance roles in both, and Dan Weiss provides drums (and tabla). Both projects mark the return of their respective bands: the second time for the Indo-Pak Coalition, the third for Invocation. Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition Agrima Self Produced 2017

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Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk & Najwa

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Wadada Leo Smith's most recently recorded albums reaffirm this trumpeter/composer/bandleader's deep, abiding loyalty to his muse. Equally so on stage or in the studio, Smith's devotion to the creative impulse is absolutely unwavering, and, as a result, his works are pure, direct expressions of his concepts, undiluted by compromise. Such is the uniformity of his execution that Smith can take diverse approaches as represented by these two TUM records, one of which is a solo album in homage to Thelonious ...

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The Original Delaney & Bonnie (Accept No Substitute) and To Bonnie From Delaney

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Delaney & Bonnie's best work functions as a primer on contemporary rock and roll, not to mention how the pair functioned as a catalyst to what's arguably the most prolific and productive instances of musical community that arose from the late Sixties and early Seventies. And even if the following two selections are the sole titles that have not yet been reissued in expanded form, the very fact these releases remain available on CD (on How High the Moon and ...

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Van Morrison: Roll With The Punches & Versatile

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Van Morrison's disenchantment with the business underpinnings of his creative output has been a continuing theme of his work over the years. It's always been something of a self-serving state of mind, but never so much so with the release of two very similarly-conceived and executed albums, on two different labels, within three months of each other. Roll With the Punches is the Belfast cowboy's second album on the Caroline Records label (following 2016's Keep Me Singing), while Versatile extends ...

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The Possibilities of Percussion: Yarn/Wire & ensemble, et. al

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Percussion is often seen as the spice that is added to an ensemble carried by chordal instruments, but something interesting happens when the use of percussion is allowed to shape the aesthetics of a composition. Early on, minimalists like Steve Reich and Terry Riley have realized the potential of percussion and have used it to bring a breath of fresh air into the dusty study room of classical composition. In a sense, it is also a paradigm shift changing emphasis ...

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Holiday Roundup 2017

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Here are this year's holiday albums I received for review. They are an exceptionally varied lot, ranging from contemporary pop to mainstream jazz--there's even one big band Hanukkah album! I wanted to make special mention of an exceptionally beautiful album that I reviewed late last year, after I had published the 2016 Roundup: Olga Konkova & Jens Thoresen: December Songs. An extraordinary guitar/piano duo performance, highly recommended. Various Artists Holidays Rule Volume 2 Capitol Records ...

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Old, Borrowed and Just a Little Blue

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How many collections of standards does the jazz world really need? The answer, of course, is that there's always room for more as long as the players and listeners can find something relevant and fresh. Every piece on offer in this batch has been around for several decades at least, but these old things never fail to shine in the right hands. William Evans/Donat Fisch/Banz Oester/Jorge Rossy/Andy Scherrer Schlitten QFTF 2017 For ...