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Ben Haugland: A Million Dreams

Read "A Million Dreams" reviewed by David A. Orthmann

During the course of A Million Dreams, pianist Ben Haugland's second date as a leader, most of the trappings of a typical mainstream jazz record are present and easy to identify. Not unlike a lot of young leaders who are fusing their own creative aspirations with an allegiance to the tradition, Haugland penned four of the ...

Shirley: From a Bright Clearing

Read "From a Bright Clearing" reviewed by Florence Wetzel

It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment when “fusion" became a dirty word in jazz, but it definitely occurred sometime in the 1980s. Although fusion had been embraced by many musicians and fans, there was suddenly an overriding philosophy that “real" jazz did not incorporate electric instruments or electronics. This idea has lost currency over the ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Steve Denny Trio: Life in the Basement

Read "Life in the Basement" reviewed by Florence Wetzel

The basement is a rich metaphor, with all sorts of literary and emotional connotations. In pianist Steve Denny's case, it represents a place for gestation and growth, a lair in which to hunker down and do one's work. Denny was born and raised in Denver, studied music at Loyola University in Chicago where he graduated summa ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Josh Quinlan Quintet: Mountain Time Standards

Read "Mountain Time Standards" reviewed by Florence Wetzel

Although the Gold Rush is long over, the Wild West still holds out the promise of reinvention and inspiration. For saxophonist Josh Quinlan, who came of musical age in Chicago and moved to Colorado in 2006, the Front Range jazz scene has been chock-full of opportunity: he is co-director of the Telluride All-Star Program, director of ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Matt Smiley: Quartet Art

Read "Quartet Art" reviewed by Florence Wetzel

Colorado-based bassist Matt Smiley is an excellent example of the virtues of musical versatility. His résumé includes performing internationally at the Montreux, North Sea, and Montreal Jazz festivals; premiering John Hilliard's 2nd Piano Concerto at the Kennedy Center; presenting his own arrangements of bassist Dave Holland's seminal “Conference of the Birds"; playing with a funk band; ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

The Teaching: 12.26.09 Live at Dazzle

Read "12.26.09 Live at Dazzle" reviewed by Florence Wetzel

One of the most inspiring stories in jazz concerns saxophonist John Coltrane's valiant attempt to kick heroin. In the midst of a physical firestorm, Coltrane had a spiritual awakening, and he asked God to give him the means and privilege to make others happy through music--which he ultimately did, creating jazz history in the process.

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Peter Sommer: Tremolo Canteen

Read "Tremolo Canteen" reviewed by Florence Wetzel

Like food, music can be hastily prepared and obvious, or it can be thoughtfully concocted, with delicious subtleties of flavor and seasoning. Saxophonist Peter Sommer's standout Tremolo Canteen is happily the latter, full of intricate layers and quiet surprises, performed by four excellent musicians who came of age in the Denver jazz scene.

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ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Fred Hess Big Band: Hold On

Read "Hold On" reviewed by Troy Collins

Originally from Abington, Pennsylvania, tenor saxophonist Fred Hess has resided in Denver, Colorado since 1981. Though Denver is not often considered a hotbed of progressive jazz, Hess, as founder of the Boulder Creative Music Ensemble and Denver's Creative Music Works Orchestra, has fashioned an alternative to the East Coast/West Coast paradigm. With 14 albums as a ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Fred Hess Big Band: Hold On

Read "Hold On" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Fred Hess has been prolific this millennium. For those familiar with the Denver-based saxophonist's last six discs, however, Hold On may come as a surprise. Since 2004, Hess has immersed himself in the art of the piano-less quartet, before augmenting his group--first, with a second saxophonist, and then a guitarist, moving from quintet to sextet and ...