Mike Shanley

Mike’s Contributions

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07/13/15    Albums

Once in a While
George Van Eps

The story of George Van Eps is one of a musician a few steps from fame who never received his due. A wunderkind of the guitar, he played in the Benny Goodman Orchestra when the band landed on the Let’s Dance radio show. But before they went on tour, and...

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06/30/15    Albums

Arms & Hands
Kirk Knuffke

Kirk Knuffke has played in all sorts of contexts, so a trio is nothing unusual for the cornetist. What makes Arms & Hands distinctive, though, is his choice of bandmates. Bassist Mark Helias comes from a more adventurous (and prolific) background (Anthony...

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06/28/15    Albums

Emanation (Solo: Volume 2)
Roberta Piket

At one time, pianists could be chastised for having a “weak left hand,” which simply played chords while the right hand did all the heavy lifting. On her second album of solo piano, Roberta Piket proves that not only is her left hand well equipped, it often...

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06/18/15    Albums

You've Been Watching Me
Tim Berne's Snakeoil

Certain musical strategies can betray a Tim Berne composition. There’s the angular melody, played by the leader’s acidic alto, often in harmony with another horn, while the rhythm section tosses and turns beneath them. With the theme complete, two members...

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06/01/15    Albums

The Signal Maker
Mark Helias Open Loose

Musicians who thrive in the realm of free improvisation need to be flexible, stopping and rerouting their path as a performance calls for it. While the possibility exists to extend and expand during solos, the most attentive players can make a point succinctly...

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05/31/15    Albums

Dawn
Mike Osborne

Some musicians project a cocksure attitude with regard to their abilities, while others can be driven by a lack of confidence. For Mike Osborne, the latter proved to be his undoing. A fixture on the jazz scene in 1960s/70s England, his career was derailed...

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05/05/15    Albums

Medicine Buddha
Billy Bang/William Parker

In 2009, two years before Billy Bang lost his battle with lung cancer, the violinist teamed up with bassist William Parker for a performance at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York. To hear Parker tell it in this album’s liner notes, the duo’s longstanding...

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04/01/15    Albums

Turning Point
Dave Burrell/Steve Swell

Effectively depicting the struggles of the Civil War presents a challenge for any group, especially a piano/trombone duo. But pianist Dave Burrell, composer-in-residence at Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum and Library, has used his position to research the...

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03/25/15    Albums

The Jazz Composer's Orchestra Update
Michael Mantler

Michael Mantler organized the original The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra album in 1968, as a manifestation of his and then-wife Carla Bley’s activities in the new jazz scene in New York. The music, all penned by Mantler, featured dense, long-toned backdrops...

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02/23/15    Albums

We Make the Rules
Jochen Rueckert

Drummer Jochen Rueckert has published three volumes of short stories entitled Read the Rueckert , which chronicle the life of a touring jazz musician, dirty hotel rooms and all. It’s earned at least one comparison to the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson...

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02/15/15    Albums

What I Heard
Oliver Lake Organ Quartet

There’s no doubt that Oliver Lake’s alto saxophone could tear up a blues with the help of some greasy B3 pedals and drawbars. His work with the World Saxophone Quartet regularly takes tradition and breathes new life into it, and his recent big band does...

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01/25/15    Albums

In the Ivory
Matt Ulery

In the Ivory wasn’t written as a soundtrack, but someone ought to take it and build a film around the music. Matt Ulery, a bassist and composer, writes melodies that beg for expansive cinematic shots of open plains and characters who speak more through facial...

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01/24/15    Albums

Destination: Void
Peter Evans Quintet

It might be hard to believe that Destination: Void comes from the same trumpet player who, a few months ago, performed a precise imitation of Miles Davis on Blue , Mostly Other People Do the Killing’s note-for-note recreation of Kind of Blue . What was warm...

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12/28/14    Albums

Room
Nels Cline & Julian Lage

This meeting of the guitar minds might sound like an improbable pairing: the 58-year-old Wilco guitarist known for his punkish avant-garde flights of fancy joining forces with the 26-year-old melodicist best known for his mastery of mainstream jazz guitar...

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12/23/14    Albums

Alloy
Tyshawn Sorey

In addition to being a drummer able to handle the jagged musical terrain of Vijay Iyer, Steve Coleman and Steve Lehman, Tyshawn Sorey continues to mature as a composer who draws equally on experimental jazz and new music. While Sorey’s Oblique – I featured...

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12/20/14    Albums

Circa
Dylan Ryan/Sand

Dylan Ryan’s drums and songwriting might lead Sand, but guitarist Timothy Young is the guy doing the heavy lifting. And “heavy” can be easily affixed to his fretwork. The low, drop-tuned riff in “Possession” evokes Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi on a more progressive...

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About Mike Shanley

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