Mike Shanley

Mike’s Contributions


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...


01/13/13    Albums

Grass Roots
Grass Roots

When everyone in a band gets credit for an album track, it often means the music was the result of a spontaneous performance. It speaks to the strength of the group when those shared efforts contain the same sense of direction heard in the tunes written...


12/30/12    Albums

Floating Ice
Michael Bisio/Matthew Shipp Duo

Bassist Michael Bisio has recorded extensively in leader and sideman roles, including his current spot in Matthew Shipp’s trio. Although there were moments on the trio’s recent Elastic Aspects album when Bisio and Shipp didn’t seem to properly connect, the...


12/27/12    Albums

Florian Weber

Biosphere is likely the first jazz album to include compositions by Lee Konitz, Eric Clapton and the band Coldplay. More surprising, though, is the fact that all of the songs make sense in the context of the album. German-born pianist Florian Weber, also...


12/11/12    Albums

Casting for Gravity
Donny McCaslin

Donny McCaslin always comes across as a tenor saxophonist with a strong musical personality that he uses to push himself into creative situations. For his 10th album as a leader, he absorbed influence from two electronica acts, Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada...


11/28/12    Albums

Small Places
Michael Formanek Quartet

Michael Formanek’s The Rub and Spare Change became one of 2010’s critical sleeper hits, garnering massive praise. The real revelation was that the bassist’s ease and strength as a leader wasn’t already known on a wider level. Formanek actually released albums...


11/08/12    Albums

Blues For Albert Ayler
Frank Wright Quartet

ESP-Disk’ performed an honorable service by documenting many of the musicians associated with 1960s New Thing, but not everything in the underground label’s back catalog has the force of something like Albert Ayler’s Spiritual Unity . Two newly discovered...


10/31/12    Albums

Post-Chromodal Out!
Hafez Modirzadeh

Post-Chromodal Out! continues on the path that Hafez Modirzadeh (tenor, alto) started down two years ago with Amir ElSaffar (trumpet). Irani-American and Iraqi-American, respectively, both men incorporated the music of those countries with jazz on the innovative...


10/29/12    Features

Positive Catastrophe: Playing with Genre

Connects Salsa and the Avant-Garde, Music and Literature, Brains and Brawn


10/21/12    Albums

There Now
Josh Berman & His Gang

The name of cornetist Josh Berman’s newest group refers back to the “gangs” led by Bix Beiderbecke or to Chicago’s Austin High Gang, which existed close to a century ago. Although Berman formed this octet under the influence of that era, tackling standards...


08/02/12    Albums

Super Eight
Secret Keeper

On Stephan Crump’s last effort for Intakt, he and alto saxophonist Steve Lehman took a series of spontaneous duets and edited them into two extended pieces, resulting in the album Kaleidoscope and Collage . It was an intriguing concept in which the worlds...


07/27/12    Albums

Tomorrow Sunny/The Revelry, SPP
Henry Threadgill Zooid

While the previous two Zooid albums, This Brings Us To, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 , provided a revealing portrait of Henry Threadgill as a composer and bandleader, one aspect of the AACM veteran seemed to be lacking: Threadgill the soloist. Especially on the second...


07/26/12    Albums


The members of Ballister are all prolific musicians who are well acquainted with each other, personally and musically. Cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and saxophonist Dave Rempis both reside in the fertile Chicago improvisation scene and have shared the stage...


07/01/12    Albums

The Air is Different
Tomas Fujiwara & the Hook Up

It’s not surprising nowadays to hear a modern jazz composer combine several divergent movements into one piece, turning a corner with little or no transition. Drummer Tomas Fujiwara fits this composer profile. But what makes the Hook Up’s sophomore release...

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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.