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Article: Multiple Reviews

Ran Blake: Gray Moon, When Soft Rains Fall and Northern Noir

Read "Ran Blake: Gray Moon, When Soft Rains Fall and Northern Noir" reviewed by John Ephland


I'm a sucker for musical duets. Duets that make me feel like I'm in the same room with the two of them. Here we have three recent releases with the iconoclastic, legendary Ran Blake, now 83, in what is his most typical setting. Yes, to hear Blake paired up like this is to hear ...

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Article: Live Review

ELLNORA: The Guitar Festival

Read "ELLNORA: The Guitar Festival" reviewed by John Ephland


Krannert CenterELLNORA: The Guitar Festival Champaign/Urbana, IL September 5-7, 2019 It takes place every other year; every odd year. Going back to 2005, ELLNORA: The Guitar Festival, held in the University of Illinois' Champaign-Urbana' one-stop-shop Krannert Center, has been celebrating the works of an amazing array of plectrists from all walks ...

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Article: Album Review

Paul Bley: When Will The Blues Leave

Read "When Will The Blues Leave" reviewed by John Ephland


Ornette Coleman recorded “When Will The Blues Leave" in early 1958, released the next year on Something Else!!!! (Contemporary). Paul Bley played Coleman's blues four years later on The Floater Syndrome (Savoy Records), a trio recording with bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Pete La Roca. Both versions--Coleman's in a quintet with trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Don ...

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Article: Live Review

Spring Quartet at Dalton Recital Hall

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Spring Quartet Dalton Recital Hall, Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI May 4, 2019 They had to add chairs. The 435-seat Dalton Recital Hall, on the campus of Western Michigan University, was filled with multiple generations of music fans from all walks of life. The alluring ticket, brought to town by ...

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Article: Album Review

Sun Ra: Monorails & Satellites: Works For Solo Piano Vols. 1, 2, 3

Read "Monorails & Satellites: Works For Solo Piano Vols. 1, 2, 3" reviewed by John Ephland


Sun Ra as a pianist could be in your parlor, entrancing you with all manner of wistfulness, star-gazing, even a dash of the down-and-dirty via some dusty blues or off-kilter, angular, jagged afterthoughts. In this two-disc solo piano set, the nine selections that make up disc two bring it all back home, the music coalescing in ...

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Article: Album Review

Liebman, Rudolph & Drake: Chi

Read "Chi" reviewed by John Ephland


Chi is another trio outing with saxophonist Dave Liebman and percussionist Adam Rudolph, the third leg on this stool being drummer Hamid Drake. It is a kind of follow-up to 2018's alternately serene and propulsive The Unknowable (RareNoise), on which Liebman and Rudolph were joined by percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani. Unlike The Unknowable, Chi was recorded in ...

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Article: Album Review

Stephan Thelen: Fractal Guitar

Read "Fractal Guitar" reviewed by John Ephland


A guitar lover's delight, the Swiss Stephan Thelen's Fractal Guitar reeks of the many splendid effects the instrument can bellow, belch, intimate, cry out and sing. And all within the narrow yet liberating, pattern-based corridors Thelen's ofttimes arhythmic funkfest conjures. With nods to David Torn, Robert Fripp, Glenn Branca and even Nik Bartsch, the aesthetic creates ...

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Article: Album Review

Eraldo Bernocchi: Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It

Read "Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It" reviewed by John Ephland


RareNoise is one of those labels, one of those rare (no pun intended) labels, where format and style have become irrelevant. A recent sampling of the soon-to-be historic label should suffice in telling their ongoing musical odyssey. Pit one against the other: 2018's Anguish, featuring among others, Nordic phenom Mats Gustafsson in a wild-haired hoedown of ...

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Article: Catching Up With

Elio Villafranca: Five Islands & A Revolt

Read "Elio Villafranca: Five Islands & A Revolt" reviewed by John Ephland


The setting was Systems Two, a well-known, state-of-the-art recording studio in Brooklyn. The sessions, occurring over five days in May (7-11) 2017, were set up to record Cuban pianist/composer Elio Villafranca's sixth album, the elaborate and thoroughly rehearsed double-CD Cinque (artistShare), the music previously performed in shows at Lincoln Center in 2015. Present at ...

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Article: Live Review

Gilmore Keyboard Festival

Read "Gilmore Keyboard Festival" reviewed by John Ephland


Gilmore Keyboard Festival Kalamazoo, Michigan April 25 to May 12, 2018 Thursday night is always the second night of the biennial Gilmore Keyboard Festival. Thursday night is also the first night for jazz, the festival putatively a classical music rollout with jazz confections, albeit well-considered, strewn throughout this 22-day cultural jewel based ...


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