Mike Shanley

Mike’s Contributions


06/09/13    Albums

The Orchestrion Project
Pat Metheny

Pat Metheny’s setup for his Orchestrion tour looked like a cross between a ransacked orchestra pit and an elaborate stage show from the excessive ’70s. For those late to the game, the Orchestrion is based on the elaborate, century-old contraptions of the...


06/04/13    Albums

Skull Sessions
Rob Mazurek Octet

Sometimes Rob Mazurek’s compositions begin quietly and move slowly. Recent works by the Chicago Underground Duo and the Exploding Star Orchestra have been as much about the journey as the destination. The trio Starlicker and the Pulsar Quartet are marked...


05/19/13    Albums

Craig Taborn Trio

If jazz can really be described as the sound of surprise, it also involves trust on the part of the listeners. We need to approach the music trusting that the players are really trying to create something expressive rather than simply noodling away. The...


05/16/13    Albums

For People In Sorrow
Alex Cline

Too often tribute albums are based on reverence that leaves the heart and soul of the honoree behind. Other times, the subject’s material gets re-contextualized to the point of absurdity. Alex Cline approached Roscoe Mitchell’s “People in Sorrow” hoping...


04/20/13    Features

Curtis Hasselbring's Secret Agent Bands

The trombonist creatively melds two ensembles on 'Number Stations'


04/15/13    Albums

Sky Bleached
Dylan Ryan/Sand

Dylan Ryan is a drummer adept at combining his jazz skills with adventurous rock, resulting in music that maintains the cerebral and visceral qualities of both styles. A man of many projects, he’s probably best known for his work with Herculaneum, a Chicago...


04/14/13    Albums

Ches Smith & These Arches

Even among today’s many ambitious drummer-composer-bandleaders, Ches Smith applies his skills to an especially dynamic array of brainy projects. Last year he appeared on Tim Berne’s Snakeoil , continued in Mary Halvorson’s quintet and released a solo percussion...


04/08/13    Albums

Never Let Me Go: Quartets ’95 & ’96
Thomas Chapin

To get a handle on the musical scope of Thomas Chapin, look no further than the second CD of this three-disc set. Taken from a 1995 live performance, it begins with Thelonious Monk’s rare waltz “Ugly Beauty,” followed by Charlie Parker’s equally deep cut...


04/05/13    Albums

John Tchicai
John Tchicai

The late Danish saxophonist John Tchicai lived and recorded predominantly in Europe, although he’s best known for several 1960s projects, some named for the American city that housed him during those heady seminal years of the avant-garde: John Coltrane’s...


03/30/13    Albums

Slippery Rock
Mostly Other People Do the Killing

Mostly Other People Do the Killing has taken on some pretty sacred cows in jazz over the years. While the group is ultimately out to have a good time rather than put anyone down, its prankish avant-jazz zeal can sometimes be a bit much. Knowing that the...


03/18/13    Albums

Look Up
Charles Gayle Trio

Look Up documents the period in Charles Gayle’s life when he first began to receive greater recognition. After years of living and playing on the streets of New York City, the tenor saxophonist began appearing regularly in nightclubs and in 1994 embarked...


03/13/13    Albums

Early Combinations
Art Ensemble of Chicago

The Art Ensemble of Chicago always seemed at ease when the tapes were rolling, even if focus wasn’t at the top of the priority list. Some of their early recordings revealed a band ready to go wherever inspiration took them, even if it meant noodling. That...


03/13/13    Albums

Greatest Hits
Matthew Shipp

The concept of greatest hits records began in the early days of albums as a way to compile an artist’s singles into one set, appealing to the consumer who otherwise only bought 45s. The idea that the adventurous pianist Matthew Shipp has a series of “hits...


02/11/13    Albums

State of Emergency!
Nat Reeves

The title State of Emergency! represents neither a political statement nor a fresh assessment of the first Tony Williams Lifetime record. Instead, it refers to the nor’easter that hit Connecticut in early 2011, during the sessions for this album. Despite...


01/26/13    Albums

Fred Lonberg-Holm's Fast Citizens

Fred Lonberg-Holm keeps himself so busy with such a vast number of projects that it seems nearly impossible to know what to expect from him. Will he be the vicious cello-scraping improviser of Ballister or the Fred Katz disciple of the Valentine Trio? On...


01/21/13    Albums

Jon Irabagon's Outright!

Saxophonist Jon Irabagon isn’t content to put all his eggs in one stylistic basket. Upon winning the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, this member of the irreverent quartet Mostly Other People Do the Killing released a fine straightahead...

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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.