Mike Shanley

Mike’s Contributions


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...


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...


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...


01/10/14    Albums

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...


01/07/14    Albums

Stellar Power

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...


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...


12/01/13    Albums


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...


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...


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...


10/30/13    Albums

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...


10/22/13    Albums

Looking For the Next One

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...


09/22/13    Albums

...It Was Beauty
Orrin Evans

Orrin Evans works with one drummer and four different bassists on ...It Was Beauty , all of whom have played with the pianist in different ensembles. While Eric Revis plays on most of the tracks, Luques Curtis and Alex Claffy each get their turn and Ben...


09/18/13    Albums

Cicada Music
Frank Rosaly

Despite a vast number of projects that feature his insightful drumming, Frank Rosaly’s name has rarely appeared on the spines of albums. On those few occasions, it has been a solo percussion session or free-improv duets rather than a set of his compositions...


09/09/13    Concerts

Review: The 34th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival

Despite the city's economic woes, a free jazz festival still offers a wealth of great music


08/23/13    Albums

Hush Point
Hush Point

Trumpeter John McNeil and alto saxophonist Jeremy Udden might seem like unlikely collaborators. McNeil’s career began with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and continues through a series of straightforward but bold releases under his own name. Although...


08/19/13    Albums

Good Medicine
Ig Bo Duet: Joseph Bowie & Adam Rudolph

Put two musicians in a studio full of instruments (the majority being of the percussive persuasion) and two possible results can emerge: groovy, spatial soundscapes; or the overwhelming, kid-in-a-candy-shop urge to play everything for a few minutes. Good...

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About Mike Shanley


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.