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ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Dan Wilensky: Group Therapy

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Tenor saxophonist Dan Wilensky possesses a warm, accessible tone on his instrument, and at first glance Group Therapy seems tailor-made to feature this broad, bluesy sound on ten straightforward compositions. However, less than two minutes into “Reckless Tongue," the album opener, the syrupy head breaks down into a standstill of rests and whole notes before sliding ...

Omer Avital: Free Forever

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Omer Avital

Free Forever

Smalls Records

2011

Bassist Omer Avital is not a household name. Despite a surge of media coverage about the rise of Israeli expats on the New York jazz scene, despite playing a central role in a variety of ensembles at the now-beloved Smalls jazz club, and ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Jaki Byard: A Matter of Black and White

Read "A Matter of Black and White" reviewed by Charles Walker

Curious title for this album. Sure, it's a nice pun on the pianistic adventures included, but with the possible exception of Duke Ellington or Mary Lou Williams, there was hardly another jazz pianist of the mid-20th Century who saw more gray areas in the music's broad landscape than the late Jaki Byard. In his trio sessions ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Tigran Hamasyan: A Fable

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The young, Armenian-born pianist Tigran Hamasyan possesses an almost intimidating virtuosity, a style that owes as much to Art Tatum's two-handed volubility and the sweeping refinement of Impressionist composers as it does to the spiraling, East-meets-West melodies of his homeland. Winner of the 2006 Thelonious Monk Institute's piano competition, New Era (2008, Nocturne) found Hamasyan settling ...

Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two: Live at the Village Vanguard, Volume lll

Read "Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two: Live at the Village Vanguard, Volume lll" reviewed by Charles Walker

Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two

Live at the Village Vanguard, Volume III

Winter & Winter

2011

It almost seems like a challenge to the critical establishment: return to the scene of your greatest early-career triumph, 40 years later, surrounded by active musicians instead of legends, and see what happens. ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Michael Feinberg: With Many Hands

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Atlanta is not known as a hotbed of jazz activity. Pianist/arranger Duke Pearson hailed from the city, and trumpeter Russell Gunn has a longstanding residency at the club Churchill Grounds, but on average, the metropolis rarely registers on the jazz map. On With Many Hands, 23-year old bassist Michael Feinberg's second album as a leader, the ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Fred Hersch: Alone at the Vanguard

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If there's anything left to be said about pianist/composer Fred Hersch's resurgence after his 2008 battle with AIDS-related dementia and the subsequent two-month long coma that entailed the complete loss of motor skills in both of his hands, it's this: there is not a single measure of this seventy minutes of solo piano that requires the ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Diego Urcola Quartet: Appreciation

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Subtlety seldom brings rewards in the life of a journeyman jazz musician. In a field overcrowded with competent colleagues, plagued by spotty media coverage and half-starved by the problems facing the music industry more generally, a gimmick is often required to garner even scant attention. Argentinian-born, New York-based trumpeter Diego Urcola--a long-time member of Paquito D'Rivera's ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Free Fall: Gray Scale

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For years now, multi-reed instrumentalist Ken Vandermark has been a consistent, if idiosyncratic, devotee of the jazz canon. Musically coming of age in the internet era, however, his taste reflects the widespread availability of previously neglected recordings and the resulting reorientation of what exactly that canon includes. Explicit dedication of Vandermark 5 tracks to Curtis Counce ...

ARTICLE: EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Tim Berne: Insomnia

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Tim Berne

Insomnia

Clean Feed

2011

In the medical world, a blood count is a clinical tool, a method of aggregating data in order to make a diagnosis. In short, it's a way of picturing the lay of the land and from there determining the best path forward. Alto saxophonist Tim ...