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ARTICLE: CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marko Churnchetz: RUTHENIA - Retrospective of Russian Composers of the 20th Century

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Slovenian-born pianist/composer Marko Churnchetz presents an ambitious suite for fifteen musicians: essentially his jazz quartet accompanied by a small orchestra of winds and strings. He pays tribute to the great Russian composers of the 20th Century: Shostakovich, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff (the title “Ruthenia" is a Latin name for the Russian border provinces and their ...

ARTICLE: CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

MMO-Ensemble: Any Day Now

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MMO-Ensemble is the realization of Norwegian saxophonist/composer Martin Myhre Olsen's vision of a new 21st Century large improvising ensemble. The twelve-piece group (the largest version of the ensemble to date) includes horns, strings, a vocalist, and of course a rhythm section. The Ensemble's third project, Any Day Now is based upon texts by James Baldwin, Emily ...

ARTICLE: CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yelena Eckemoff: Better Than Gold and Silver

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Russian-born pianist/composer Yelena Eckemoff began setting verses from the Bible's Book of Psalms shortly after her conversion to Catholicism, even before her emigration to the United States. But she waited until she had considerable experience working with jazz musicians before attempting these jazz arrangements. The first disc in this double disc set presents settings with two ...

ARTICLE: CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rachel Caswell: We're All in the Dance

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If you want proof of singer Rachel Caswell's jazz chops, you could skip right to the last two tracks. She scats the head of bebop saxophonist Charlie Parker's evergreen “Dexterity" along with guitarist (and producer) Dave Stryker, then blends in with the rest of the band for a round of solos. Sticking with the bebop theme, ...

ARTICLE: CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bruno Raberg Trio: Tailwind

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Tailwind is the tenth album as a leader for Swedish-born, longtime Boston-resident bassist/composer Bruno Råberg. His most recent groups have been piano-less: Hot Box (Orbis Music, 2015) was a quartet with trumpet, saxophone and drums; For The Unknown (Orbis Music, 2016) brought back the same group sans drums, and was entirely based on freely improvised music. ...

ARTICLE: CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Phil Schurger: The Waters Above

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Guitarist/composer Phil Schurger is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. He leads his Chicago-based quartet--previously heard on Echoes of the Ancestors (ears&eyes, 2017)--through six expansive originals. The tracks run an average of ten minutes or more apiece, and they attain that length through compositional complexity rather than extended solos (although the band is blessed with very ...

ARTICLE: CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wolfgang Muthspiel: Where The River Goes

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Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel returns with the same lyrical magic that characterized his previous quintet recording Rising Grace (ECM, 2016). That quintet--with trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, pianist Brad Mehldau and bassist Larry Grenadier--is altered only by the substitution of drummer Eric Harland for Brian Blade.

Muthspiel begins the title tune unaccompanied on electric guitar, with ...

ARTICLE: CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aguankó: Pattern Recognition

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If the music of Aguankó is any indication, Latin jazz is in good shape in Southeastern Michigan. Conguero/composer Alberto Nacif leads a crack band, most of them from the metro Detroit area. Their previous album, Latin Jazz Christmas in Havana (Self Produced, 2015), presented creative arrangements of a variety of holiday standards, a delightful standout in ...

ARTICLE: CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cuong Vu 4Tet: Change In The Air

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Seattle-based trumpeter Cuong Vu continues his collaboration with guitarist Bill Frisell that began with It's Mostly Residual (AUAND, 2006). His previous 4Tet release, Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs (RareNoise Records, 2017), was also made by the same personnel. But this time, instead of interpretations of an outside composer, every group member contributes compositionally, including Vu, ...

ARTICLE: MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Kevin Kastning’s Extended Guitars

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American fingerstyle acoustic guitarist Kevin Kastning has increasingly dedicated himself to two musical areas: improvisation and extending the range of the acoustic guitar. He has created a number of new instruments in this quest, including the 36-string Double Contraguitar, 30-string Contra-Alto guitar and 17-string Hybrid Extended Classical guitar he has used on recent recordings. In addition ...