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Sun Ra

Eclectic, outrageous, sometimes mystifying but always imbued with a powerful jazz consciousness, the music of Sun Ra has withstood its skeptics and detractors for nearly three generations. And well it should, since Sun Ra has been both apart of and ahead of the jazz tradition during that time. Like Duke Ellington and swing-era pioneer Fletcher Henderson, Sun Ra learned early on to write music in an arranged form that showcased the specific talents of his individual Arkestra members, and he has retained the services of some of these musicians to this day: John Gilmore, Marshall Allen, and Julian Priester for example since they first joined in the 1950's

ARTICLE: YEAR IN REVIEW

2020: The Year in Jazz

Read "2020: The Year in Jazz" reviewed by Ken Franckling

The COVID-19 pandemic put the jazz world in a tailspin, just like the world at large, in 2020. And there is plenty of uncertainty going into the new year about what “new normal: might emerge from the darkness. International Jazz Day, like so many other things, became an online virtual event this time around. Pianist Keith ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Sun Ra Arkestra: Swirling

Read "Swirling" reviewed by Ian Patterson

Though Sun Ra departed Earth in 1993, his music has continued to thrive, first under the stewardship of John Gilmore and, since 1995, by the remarkable Marshall Allen who turned 96 in May 2020. A live Arkestra show still contains many of the elements that have been present since the 1950s and '60s-- color, pageantry and ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Benjamin Boone: The Poets Are Gathering

Read "The Poets Are Gathering" reviewed by Paul Rauch

Saxophonist Benjamin Boone continues his ambitious foray into jazz and poetry, this time recruiting an impressive cadre of poets for his aptly entitled release, The Poets are Gathering (Origin, 2020). The union of poetry and jazz has never been so powerfly presented, reflecting the past year of the worldwide Black Lives Matter movement, the universal role ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Rob Mazurek / Exploding Star Orchestra: Dimensional Stardust

Read "Dimensional Stardust" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Composer, multi-instrumentalist, and visual artist Rob Mazurek has made his Exploding Star Orchestra the centerpiece of his larger groups. In this formation, he finds ample room to channel his disparate influences such as Sun Ra and Bill Dixon, and the distinctions he's absorbed as a global citizen. On Dimensional Stardust Mazurek and a dozen collaborators present ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

EABS: Discipline Of Sun Ra

Read "Discipline Of Sun Ra" reviewed by Chris May

Poland's future-jazz collective EABS brightened up summer 2020 with Erozje (Astigmatic), made by a breakout quartet going under the name Bloto. Those musicians—keyboardist Marek Pedziwiatr, saxophonist Olaf Wegier, electric bassist Pawel Stachowiak and drummer Marcin Rak--return to the mothership for Discipline Of Sun Ra, EABS' fifth studio album, on which they are joined by trumpeter Jakob ...

ARTICLE: YEAR IN REVIEW

Karl Ackermann’s Best Releases of 2020

Read "Karl Ackermann’s Best Releases of 2020" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

2020 abridged: A staggering loss of lives and livelihoods. We had worldwide social unrest, wildfires, locust swarms of Biblical proportions, killer hornets, killer drones, kids in cages; an impeachment, an election, an attempted insurrection. Oh, and Poland accidentally invaded the Czech Republic. It was not exactly the Gilded Age. Yet, amid doom-scrolling, the creative music community ...

ARTICLE: YEAR IN REVIEW

Chris May’s Best Releases Of 2020

Read "Chris May’s Best Releases Of 2020" reviewed by Chris May

Not the best year for live gigs in London, but Dele Sosimi's Afrobeat Orchestra just made it under the wire, lighting up the Jazz Cafe in late January. Rather like Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Sosimi's band has form as an incubator of young talent. A recent star in the making was trumpeter Ife Ogunjobi, who has ...

ARTICLE: ALBUM REVIEW

Roberto Magris: Suite!

Read "Suite!" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

Roberto Magris, the Italian pianist who spends a good bit of time in the United States, records prolifically. His latest release is a 2CD set that covers a lot of ground, encompassing sparkling hard bop, spiritual jazz, solo piano work and soulful excursions that feature electric keyboards. For much of the CD Magris plays ...

ARTICLE: FILM REVIEW

Zappa

Read "Zappa" reviewed by Ian Patterson

Alex Winter Zappa Magnolia Pictures 2020 Composer, guitarist and iconoclast nonpareil, Frank Zappa was never an easy artist to pin down, as Alex Winter's perceptive and entertaining documentary makes abundantly clear. If an artist's music should speak for itself, what are we to make of Zappa's freakish '60s collage ...


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