Mike Shanley

Mike’s Contributions

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06/01/14    Albums

Root of Things
Matthew Shipp Trio

Less than a year after the strong solo disc Piano Sutras , Matthew Shipp returns with his faithful trio mates (bassist Michael Bisio, drummer Whit Dickey) for another solid release. While the pianist has maintained a steadily prolific output for nearly two...

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05/18/14    Albums

Play Blue: Oslo Concert
Paul Bley

Paul Bley’s 1973 album, Open, to Love , set a precedent as both a document of the pianist’s skill in the solo setting and for the rich production that has become an expectation with ECM Records. Despite that artistic success, Bley wouldn’t release another...

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05/12/14    Albums

That Which Is Planted
1032K

Repertory bands tend to be a safe way to gain recognition, since the music of revered masters lures audiences more effectively than original compositions. The trio 1032K toys with that concept because the material they cover comes from Albert Ayler, Charles...

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04/23/14    Albums

Thumbscrew
Thumbscrew

Mary Halvorson (guitar), Michael Formanek (bass) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums) play serious music but don’t take themselves too seriously. A Fujiwara composition, inspired by the angular writing on Formanek’s recent albums, has the self-deprecating title “Cheap...

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03/28/14    Albums

Live In Stockholm
Don Cherry

It would be a few more years before Don Cherry would start playing his version of world music wholeheartedly, but elements of the trumpeter’s all-encompassing vision can be heard on these live recordings, most of them from 1968. This album marks their first...

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03/19/14    Albums

I Hear the Sound
Archie Shepp Attica Blues Orchestra

Upon its original release in 1972, Archie Shepp’s Attica Blues made bold statements politically and musically. It was inspired by the riot at Attica Prison the prior year, where 39 prisoners and hostages were killed. Shepp, who had recorded with groups ranging...

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03/13/14    Albums

Ran Blake Plays Solo Piano
Ran Blake

Although many of the titles in the ESP-Disk’ catalog have been reissued multiple times since their original releases, Ran Blake Plays Solo Piano has been an unfortunate exception. Aside from a rare Italian reissue, the album hasn’t really been seen or heard...

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01/17/14    Albums

A Round Goal
Keefe Jackson's Likely So

Chicago tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson has worked in groups large and small, among them the all-saxophone 774th Street Quartet. With his unit Likely So, he pushes that concept further. The group consists of a clarinetist and six saxophonists (three doubling...

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01/10/14    Albums

Alchemy
Amir ElSaffar

Trumpeter Amir ElSaffar has made three albums that bring Iraqi maqam music into a jazz setting, including an excellent collaboration with saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh, 2009’s Radif Suite . Here ElSaffar starts with a standard quintet lineup of trumpet, tenor...

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01/07/14    Albums

Stellar Power
Cacaw

With distorted keyboard bass and a heavy backbeat, “Double Dagger” begins Stellar Power somewhere between industrial synth-pop and fusion. However, Landon Knoblock, the visionary keyboardist of the trio CACAW, avoids any potential cheesy pitfalls. He also...

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12/19/13    Albums

Newport '59
Thelonious Monk

Legend has it that a good piano inspired Thelonious Monk’s 1957 performance at Carnegie Hall with John Coltrane, a date that was famously unearthed and released on Blue Note in 2005. The 88s provided for the Newport Jazz Festival two years later surely weren’t...

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12/01/13    Albums

Sifter
Sifter

Anyone expecting a set of free improvisations from the triumvirate of guitarist Mary Halvorson, cornet player Kirk Knuffke and drummer Matt Wilson might be surprised by Sifter—pleasantly surprised. All three musicians bring compositions to the table. Knuffke’s...

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11/16/13    Albums

The Byron Allen Trio
The Byron Allen Trio

When his debut album was released in 1965, ESP called Byron Allen “the spiritual descendant of Charlie Parker,” but at first blush the alto saxophonist sounds more like the man who introduced him to the label, Ornette Coleman. Allen plays with a rough tone...

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11/01/13    Albums

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
Misfit Toys

Rearrangements of pop hits from the 1970s usually come with a heavy dose of irony, but it’s hard to tell if vibraphonist Dan Moore had that in mind when assembling this album and the Misfit Toys. The ad-hoc group, which includes Matt Wilson (drums), Paul...

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10/30/13    Albums

Nourishments
Mark Dresser Quintet

Mark Dresser provides detailed liner notes for the seven compositions on Nourishments . They explain the origins of the pieces as well as the details of the structures, and make an interesting companion to this expansive music. But even with a close examination...

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10/22/13    Albums

Looking For the Next One
SOS

SOS (named for each player’s initials) was more than a “saxophone trio.” Tenor and soprano saxophonist Alan Skidmore often sat down behind the trap kit. John Surman, in addition to his artillery of reeds, employed an EMS synthesizer and electric piano. Only...

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About Mike Shanley

Shanley_selfportrait_thumb

Mike Shanley wishes there were more hours in the day to just sit and listen to music, probably with some coffee close at hand. A native of Pittsburgh, he served as arts & entertainment editor at two of that city's alternative newsweeklies, InPittsburgh and Pulp. In addition to JazzTimes, he freelances for Pittsburgh City Paper, Blurt and maintains a blog at www.shanleyonmusic.blogspot.com where he rambles on about whatever has landed on the turntable or disc player at that moment. His writing has appeared in Harp, Pittsburgh Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and on the website PopCity.com. He has also played bass guitar in a number of Pittsburgh indie rock bands over the past two decades.