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ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Rez Abbasi: Out of Body

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Rez Abbasi's Out of Body finds the prolific guitarist creating nine rich and wildly imaginative scenes, with the ample help of trumpeter Ron Horton (sounding a lot like Dave Douglas here), saxophonist Tony Malaby, bassist John Hebert and drummer Bruce Hall.

Though Abbasi credits Jim Hall and Pat Metheny as his primary influences, his approach to ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Michael Blake Trio: Right Before Your Very Ears

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The opening tune and the manic, anguished cover aside, there's nothing to fear on Michael Blake's Right Before Your Very Ears. The album's contents are delightful, creative adventures in jazz, with saxophonist Blake, bassist Ben Allison and drummer Jeff Ballard conjuring the strength and imagination of a much larger outfit.

Most of Right Before Your Very ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Frank Wright: The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings

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This two-disc set features two of the notoriously underrated saxophonist's albums, 1965's Frank Wright Trio and 1967's Your Prayer, as well as providing some brief interviews with Wright and ESP-Disk record producer Bernard Stollman.

Born in Grenada, Mississippi in 1935, Wright grew up playing the electric bass in R&B bands in Memphis and later in Cleveland, ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Dennis Gonz: Idle Wild

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As with his previous efforts, notably 2004's quartet NY Midnight Suite, Texas-born trumpeter Dennis González creates jazz steeped in life's various joys, anxieties, truths and wonders. González's works require time and patience for full appreciation as they unfold through various rhythms, melodies, and harmonies. This is a thinking person's jazz. Catchy riffs and clever hooks won't ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

The Contemporary Jazz Quintet: Actions 1966-67

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At any moment, the dialogue to some '60s sci-fi movie seems ready to enter the eerie, spooky world of Actions. “Geez, Jim. Where have we landed?" “This, Timmy, this is planet free jazz circa 1967." Cue the “singing saw," the album's most prominent feature, and you can almost see the string pulling the spaceship off to ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Sirone Bang Ensemble: Configuration

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Occasionally interesting despite its noisy attitude, the Sirone Bang Ensemble's Configuration strikes the listener with oddities. Violin, saxophone, bass, and drums--an uncommon combination--join forces through six eccentric offerings. Instrumentation aside, the group's willingness to instigate an unnecessary commotion stands out most on this album.

The opening number, “Jupiter's Future," allows individual powers to shine ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Roundtrip: Two Way Street

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Two Way Street is the impressive and raucous debut by the youthful Scandinavian trio known as Roundtrip. Formerly called Mega Tsunami, the group changed its name after the recent disaster in Southeast Asia. These nine offerings are clever, rhythmically charged compositions, with Klaus Ellerhusen Holm's alto and baritone work clearly rooted in the exuberance of his ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Chicago Luzern Exchange: Several Lights

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The Chicago Luzern Exchange is made of three Chicago-based musicians--cornetist Josh Berman, saxophonist Keefe Jackson, and drummer Frank Rosaly--plus one Swiss, tubaist Marc Unternährer. The group's rather nerdy name does little to entice the listener, though its music certainly will. This is free jazz, with shapes and forms, melodies and rhythms in a constant shuffle. While ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Jim Baker: More Questions Than Answers

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A constantly introspective and inquisitive sound haunts More Questions Than Answers, Jim Baker's aptly titled solo debut. Baker is a Chicago-based musician who often ventures out with like-minded improvisers on projects like Ken Vandermark's Caffeine and Cornelius Cardew's Treatise. Here, Baker is left to his own devices, forging an interesting path for ten piano pieces and ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Daniele D'Agaro/Jeb Bishop/Kent Kessler/Robert Barry: Chicago Overtones

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The Windy City is currently cultivating new sounds in jazz. Sure, sure, it's always been a strong hub for the music, but recent offerings out of Chicago have elevated the city's jazz status beyond New York-like coolness. Not only does Ken Vandermark reside there, but in recent memory there have been several worthwhile releases from Chicago-based ...