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ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

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 ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Songs: The Music of Allen Toussaint

Read "Songs: The Music of Allen Toussaint" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Allen Toussaint (1938-2015), a composer / producer who made his mark in the broad spheres of R&B, rock and roll, funk, country and pop music, may seem at first glance an unusual choice for a big-band jazz tribute. On the other hand, the New Orleans native never strayed far from the pivotal music of his home ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Dan Banks Quintet: Simulated Cities

Read "Simulated Cities" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Simulated Cities, the second recording by British pianist Dan Banks' well-schooled quintet, consists of seven original compositions by the leader, the bulk of which call to mind the storied hard-bop conclaves of the mid 20th century while enwrapping the music in an up-to-date wardrobe tailored to accommodate today's more sophisticated and savvy audiences. Once past the ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Steve Haines: And the Third Floor Orchestra

Read "And the Third Floor Orchestra" reviewed by Jack Bowers

This is by and large lovely music, to be sure, but to paraphrase a Burger King ad from years gone by, “Where's the jazz?" Aside from a handful of perfunctory solos by soprano saxophonist Chad Eby and pianist Joey Calderazzo, there isn't much here. Instead, composer / arranger Steve Haines and the Third Floor Orchestra canvass ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Cory Weeds Quintet: Live at Frankie's Jazz Club

Read "Live at Frankie's Jazz Club" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Yes, this is saxophonist/master of all livelihoods Cory Weeds' quintet, the year is 2018, and the group is beyond a doubt Live at Frankie's Jazz Club in Vancouver, British Columbia. But close your eyes, open your ears and it's the unapologetic re-creation of a quintessential hard-bop session from the historic Blue Note / Prestige years of ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Millennium Jazz Orchestra: Octopus

Read "Octopus" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Octopus, the tenth album released by the Millennium Jazz Orchestra in its nearly twenty-five years of impressive music-making in The Netherlands, is actually an eight-part suite by composer / arranger Joan Reinders devoted to one of the sea world's more fearsome and enigmatic creatures. The thematic essay spans the whole nine yards, from “Evolution" and “Environment" ...

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Justin Morell: Concerto for Guitar and Jazz Orchestra

Read "Concerto for Guitar and Jazz Orchestra" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Justin Morell, himself a world-class guitarist, does not play guitar (or anything else) on this splendid new album, which, even so, could not have taken flight without him. Morell, an assistant professor of music at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania, composed and arranged the inclusive three-movement Concerto for Guitar and Jazz Orchestra, performed in his stead ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Larry Dickson Jazz Quartet: Winter Horizons

Read "Winter Horizons" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Winter Horizons is the last of Cincinnati-based baritone saxophonist Larry Dickson's four-part salute to the seasons which began in 2015 with Second Springtime and includes Summergold Promises and Donora Autumn. As before, Dickson leads a quartet whose charter members are bassist Michael Sharfe and drummer Jim Leslie. Alto saxophonist Rick Van Matre, Dickson's band mate in ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Matt Savage Groove Experiment: Splash Variations

Read "Splash Variations" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Matt Savage, a young man who knows his way around a keyboard (a child prodigy, he recorded his first album, Live at the Olde Mill, when he was barely nine years old), has added a new twist, namely soul / funk, to Splash Variations, the thirteenth recording under his name and first as leader of the ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Jim Brenan 11: 50 / 50

Read "50 / 50" reviewed by Jack Bowers

A popular jazz magazine once had (and perhaps still has) a list of CDs in most issues labeled “beyond category." 50 / 50, the debut (?) recording by Canadian saxophonist / composer Jim Brenan's eleven-piece ensemble, would fit quite comfortably therein. It is as hard to ascertain Brenan's frames of reference as it is to unravel ...