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ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Chelsea McBride's Socialist Night School: Aftermath

Read "Aftermath" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

Carve out an hour to listen to Socialist Night School's Aftermath because the combination of big-band music and progressive, challenging lyrics demands it. There's no way to let either simply wash over the ears. The music is too blunt, the lyrics too developed and too integral to absorb passively.

The follow up to the ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Bill Frisell: Harmony

Read "Harmony" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

Renowned guitarist Bill Frisell's Blue Note Records debut Harmony is a pleasant album. This does not imply lack of innovation, the saccharine sound or the absence of bite and sorrow. These hues of bite and sorrow actually dominate the fourteen selections, which in patented Frisell manner run the gamut from traditional Americana to Elvis Costello to ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

John Yao's Triceratops: How We Do

Read "How We Do" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

Trombonist and bandleader John Yao possesses a penchant for imposing ambitious artistic constraints on himself. How We Do continues that trend with a newly formed quintet comprised only of three horns, bass, and drums. Yao further ups the ante by composing demanding pieces that often careen from one stylistic approach to another within the same tune. ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Lafayette Gilchrist: Dark Matter

Read "Dark Matter" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

Recorded live, pianist Lafayette Gilchrist's second solo recording, Dark Matter, embraces the long history of jazz bound to the beat and textures of a specific time and place, rather than stylistic pedigree or lineage of influencers. Its rhythms are the jackhammer throb, subway rattle, and relentless pulse of Baltimore, Philly, and Washington, D.C. It's textures the ...

Mikael Mani: Bobby

Read "Bobby" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

Icelandic guitarist Mikael Mani's debut release is a poised, rewarding set of original compositions inspired by events surrounding Bobby Fischer's capture of the world chess championship in 1972.

Held in Iceland, the politically charged bout took place against the backdrop of the cold war and garnered worldwide attention. Less well known is the subsequent ...

ARTICLE: INTERVIEWS

Satoko Fujii: The Kanreki Project

Read "Satoko Fujii: The Kanreki Project" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

Over four decades of experimentation, Satoko Fujii has made a lasting mark on the contours of modern jazz. The wave after wave of expressive force she has unleashed emanate from the aesthetics of her home country, but are never bound exclusively to it. They form a distinctive sound belonging only to her, yet comprised of wide-ranging ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Skuli Sverrisson: Strata

Read "Strata" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

A contemplative affair, Skuli Sverisson and Bill Frisell's Strata unfolds like a slow burning fire. The hovering notes and somber guitar lines evolve gradually, emerging like wind carved monuments visible through a hovering mist to reveal a stark, melancholic, and aridly beautiful landscape.

The album demonstrates a fluid, masterful interaction between the two artists ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

José James: Lean On Me

Read "Lean On Me" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

Already known for his crisp production values, astute musicianship and eclectic presentations, Jose James delivers again with his tribute to Bill Withers, Lean on Me. The album reaffirms James' signature attention to stylistic pastiche while further refining his thematic focus on the subtleties of human relationships.

Here James' narcotic blend is simultaneously steeped in ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Aaron Shragge: This World of Dew

Read "This World of Dew" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

The distinctiveness of This World of Dew stems equally from Aaron Shragge's technical mastery of the flugelhorn, dragon mouth trumpet, and Japanese Shakuhachi, his deep understanding of the traditions underpinning the Japanese aesthetic, and guitarist Ben Monder's ethereal, elongated harmonic syntax.

Combined, these elements produce an immersive experience permeated by the sensibilities of the ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEWS

Adrean Farrugia: Blued Dharma

Read "Blued Dharma" reviewed by Franz A. Matzner

The duet outing Blued Dharma by pianist Adrean Farrugia and tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm is a nuanced affair suitable as background to a quiet evening but also worthy of closer reading.

The title track epitomizes the whole. Contemplative, balanced, subtly blended, tonally stolid, inviting, consequential. Throughout the following seven pieces, the pattern of ruminative ...