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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The New York Standards Quartet: The New Straight Ahead

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The New York Standards Quartet (aka the NYSQ) formed around 2006, its members sharing a love of standards played with a contemporary edge. This, the band's fourth album, is called The New Straight Ahead. As band name and album title suggest, this is a collection of straight-ahead standards, given new arrangements and “redesigns" by the quartet. Re-inventing the standards can be fraught with difficulties--these tunes are, after all, much loved in their original or classic incarnations. Changing tempos or altering time signatures can also impact on the emotional qualities of a tune. The NYSQ is inventive enough to ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Dave Holland’s Prism at Copenhagen Jazzhouse

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Dave Holland's Prism Copenhagen Jazzhouse Copenhagen, Denmark July 10, 2014 In jazz, forming a new group gives the possibility of finding a new musical expression, but it can also be a way of returning to one's musical roots. In the case of bassist Dave Holland's group Prism, it is actually both of these things. The group has brought Holland back in touch with the electrifying fusion that he created with trumpeter Miles Davis on such legendary records as In a Silent Way (Columbia, 1969) and Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970), but the music also reflects ...

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

The Jazz Messengers at the Café Bohemia, Volumes 1 and 2 – Blue Note 1507 and 1508

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Is it possible for a band to be both legendary and underrated? The Jazz Messengers at the Café Bohemia makes that case. Jazz fans know the Jazz Messengers is the definitive, go-to band for straight-ahead hard bop. Art Blakey was both master drummer and master talent scout--the man who co-founded and sustained the celebrated group. For all his talents as a trailblazing harp bop drummer, Blakey's probably better known for discovering and nurturing several generations of jazz in the Messengers. It's a long, impressive list. Fans may debate which incarnation of the Jazz Messengers was the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ingrid Laubrock Octet: Zurich Concert

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Even though numbering just eight strong, Ingrid Laubrock makes such skillful use of the talented cast at her disposal on Zurich Concert that the band delivers an almost orchestral experience. She achieves that through the deployment of three chordal instruments in Mary Halvorson's guitar, Liam Noble's piano and Ted Reichman's accordion. Not that you would characterize the music as overly dense. Laubrock exploits the possibilities inherent in her unusual line up to the full. Not everyone plays at the same time and novel combinations abound in an extended work of serious compositional intent, manifest in a suite like structure which ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sylvie Courvoisier – Mark Feldman Quartet with Scott Colley and Billy Mintz: Birdies For Lulu

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Pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and violinist Mark Feldman are a dynamic duo within the neoteric strategies of modern jazz, coupled with their substantial artistic output. They intersperse classical inferences with shades of folk, avant-garde schemas, and bristling improvisational segments into the big picture. This incarnation of the quartet now features upper-echelon session bassist Scott Colley and venerable drummer Billy Mintz. Essentially, the artists enrich the avant-classical genre by cultivating an undertow framed on swing, bop and concise opuses tinted with the appropriate doses of razzle-dazzle and free-flight mechanisms. Birdies for Lulu is a revelation of unanticipated surprises via the quartet's seamless ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Tyler Blanton: Gotham

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Tyler Blanton is a young vibraphonist and composer whose second album, Gotham, is nothing short of remarkable. The great playing by Blanton and his extraordinarily talented young band aside, Blanton's compositions are really what sets Gotham apart from the vast majority of new recordings by equally wonderful young jazz musicians. One can only guess that New York City made quite an impression on the young California native when he arrived in Brooklyn in 2007. This shock of the new was sufficient and prolonged enough to provide the seed material for a suite of interrelated compositions that finally appeared seven years ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Bonerama at the Governors Island Beach Club

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Bonerama Governers Island Beach Club NolaFunk's 1st Annual Crawfish & Music Fest Governors Island, NY June 27, 2014 Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler! Those who speak French know what the phrase means. If you have ever been to jny: New Orleans, you've “lived" this phrase. If you've had the pleasure of seeing Bonerama in concert you can't help but scream the phrase at the top of your lungs. French or English. Either way, Let The Good Times Roll!. Bonerama is a band. Yes it is, but that description is somewhat lacking. Bonerama ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dan Phillips BKK Quartet: Bangkok Edge Live

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Guitarist Dan Phillips has long been a leading figure in nurturing jazz in his adopted home of jny:Bangkok. Whether teaching in the city's universities or through his club gigs, Phillips has mentored and inspired many of Thailand's upcoming jazz musicians. With the excellent pairing of drummer Chanutr Techatana-nan (aka Hong) and bassist Pornchart Viriyapark, the trio's impressive debut Bangkok Edge (Self produced, 2012) featured Danish saxophonist Jakob Dinesen on half the tracks. That collaboration is reprised here in a vibrant live recording where the quartet blows hard on a set of standards. Recorded in 2013 at Niu's Jazz ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rich Halley 4: The Wisdom of Rocks

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Over the span of a uniformly superb career, saxophonist Rich Halley and his working quartet have blended sophisticated style and unbridled vigor into impeccable performances that brim with creative energy. Their fourth release The Wisdom Of Rocks is no exception. What is unique about this provocative and exhilarating record is its unadorned beauty and mordant sound. Like the title insinuates, a pervasive theme is a raw, almost primal erudition that permeates its dozen, mostly, short tracks. The hard-hitting “The Atoll" opens the disc with an intense sonic gust. After a powerful series of musical blows, Halley and trombonist ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Halie Loren at the Bach Dynamite & Dancing Society

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Halie Loren Quartet Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society aka Douglas Beach House Half Moon Bay, CaliforniaJune 22, 2014 Topping off the late afternoon at the Bach, the Halie Loren Quartet took the stage, ready to give the audience the gift of song. The quartet was composed of Brian West on drums, Mark Schneider on bass, Matthew Treder on piano and Halie Loren vocals. They have been on the rise in the public eye, expanding their horizons and gaining national and international notoriety over the past several years. It is not just a single thing that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tom Chang: Tongue and Groove

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Look at the lineup on Tom Chang's Tongue & Groove! There is literally no way that this album could be anything less than great. Listening, repeatedly, to Tongue & Groove has, in fact, borne this out. Chang utilizes the increasingly popular two-reeds / bass / drums configuration to frame brief, but consistently spectacular, improvisations in the midst of his surprisingly knotty and complex multi-sectioned compositions. Everyone rises to the occasion here because the only way to play Chang's cutting edge compositions successfully is to rise to the bloody occasion! The only player on Tongue and Groove who I ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Barenaked Ladies at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa

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Barenaked Ladies San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa Nielsen 360 Conference San Antonio, TX June 24, 2014 The Barenaked Ladies are one of Canada's greatest and most successful exports to the United States if not the world. If success were defined by bringing smiles to the faces of the young and old alike, then the band is clearly a huge success. Best known for their string of hit singles that include “One Week," “The Old Apartment," “If I Had $1000000," “Brian Wilson" and most recently the theme song for the CBS sitcom ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Remembering Charlie Haden

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We're celebrating the spirited life and music of bassist Charlie Haden (1937-2014) who passed away on July 11th. We've included links to four archived interviews as well as our coverage of Mr. Haden's music from years past. Charlie Haden: An Analog Guy in a Digital World (2004) Born August 6, 1937 in Shenandoah, Iowa, Charlie Haden came up in a musical family. After moving around the Midwest, he eventually settled in Los Angeles playing bass with Hampton Hawes, Elmo Hope, and Paul Bley. A fateful meeting in 1958 with Ornette Coleman netted Haden one of his ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Jeff Beck in Cologne

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Jeff Beck Group E-Werk Cologne, Germany May 29, 2014 Sometimes a man's reputation proceeds him. Such was the case tonight, where an overflow crowd of 2,000 fans arrived early, and crammed into a steamy bunker of bricks to hear Jeff Beck's wonderous wails to the electric wind. With general admission ticket prices around an 80 buck exchange rate, it was good indication of respect. The price of admission proved to be merited, about twenty licks in. Luckily for hundreds of fans, sensational sounds were the primary pleasure, ...



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