Thomas Conrad

Thomas’s Contributions

Anadagair_span3

01/21/15    Albums

T-Duality
Ananda Gari

Since the 1980s, alto saxophonist Tim Berne has been a primary operator in that fertile jazz zone where “in” crosses over into “out.” His discography as a leader is wide and deep, including two acclaimed recent releases on the ECM label. T-Duality is interesting...

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01/17/15    Albums

Urban Folklore
Thomas Marriott

Thomas Marriott would be better known if he had stayed in New York, where he was a respected trumpet player on the scene in the early years of the new millennium. Instead, for quality-of-life reasons, he returned to his hometown of Seattle, where he has...

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01/10/15    Albums

Questioned Answer
Brian Lynch and Emmet Cohen

Brian Lynch met Emmet Cohen in 2011 when he began teaching at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, where Cohen was an undergraduate. Three tracks on this album, all standards, are trumpet/piano duos. Six tracks, all originals, add Boris...

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12/14/14    Albums

Manhattan Stories
Charles Lloyd

The claims that producers make for their own projects cannot always be taken straight to the bank, but Zev Feldman’s remark about Manhattan Stories is provocative: “This just might be the holy grail for longtime Charles Lloyd fans like myself who think they’ve...

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12/09/14    Albums

Mboko
David Virelles

Among young jazz pianists with exceptional technical facility, David Virelles is atypical in his willingness to make chops subservient to an esoteric cause and a minimalist concept. The subtitle of Mbókò is “Sacred Music for Piano, Two Basses, Drum Set and...

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12/08/14    Features

Drummers & Percussionists: What Makes Their Unions Work?

Rhythm squared

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12/01/14    Albums

A Simple Truth
Ernie Watts Quartet

Ernie Watts is one of the strongest tenor saxophone sidemen in jazz. He has enhanced ensembles large (Gerald Wilson Orchestra), small (Charlie Haden’s Quartet West) and rude (the Rolling Stones). He has also made some fine albums as a leader, like 1995’s...

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11/22/14    Albums

Identities Are Changeable
Miguel Zenon

Alto saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón is one of the most decorated jazz musicians of his generation, as measured by Grammy nominations, poll placements and MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships. He is important as a conceptualist. His eight recordings...

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10/01/14    Albums

Venture Bound
Alon Nechushtan

The single most salient fact about current jazz is its ongoing globalization. Jazz is an open-ended, self-renewing art form that draws strength from sources far outside itself. Example: Venture Bound . It is hardcore, up-to-the-minute small-ensemble jazz...

Howardmcghee_span3

09/29/14    Albums

West Coast 1945-1947
Howard McGhee

The Uptown label specializes in reclaiming valuable jazz artifacts from the dustbins of time. Their albums are peepholes into the shadows of history—like Los Angeles in 1945, when Howard McGhee, just in from New York, was playing bebop on Central Avenue...

Azarlawrance_span3

09/10/14    Albums

The Seeker
Azar Lawrence

Jazz fans of a certain age who remember McCoy Tyner’s great 1973 album Enlightenment may have wondered what became of Azar Lawrence. He dropped off jazz radar for most of three decades, but he is back. The Seeker is his fifth record since 2007. He also plays...

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08/10/14    Education

Siena Jazz Summer Workshops 2014

Hang. Eat. Study. Jam.

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08/09/14    Albums

Travel Guide
Ralph Towner/Wolfgang Muthspiel/Slava Grigoryan

On a percentage basis, the ECM catalog does not contain that many guitar players. Yet the ringing of a guitar, resonant in free air, has long been a signature element of the ECM sound. Pat Metheny. John Abercrombie. Bill Frisell. Terje Rypdal. Egberto Gismonti...

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08/01/14    Concerts

Danilo Rea at Umbria Jazz 2014

“The melody is the king”

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07/24/14    Albums

Blue Light 'Til Dawn
Cassandra Wilson

Released in late 1993, Blue Light ’Til Dawn was a game-changer. It did not win Cassandra Wilson a Grammy (those came later), but it sold nearly a million copies. It shot her to the top of the DownBeat Critics Poll in the female vocalist category, where she...

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07/21/14    Albums

Road Shows, Volume 3
Sonny Rollins

Our greatest living jazz musician has not made many great records in recent years. That’s why the first two volumes of Road Shows , in 2008 and 2011, were important. They contained previously unavailable confirmation that the rumors and legends were true...

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About Thomas Conrad

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His day gig notwithstanding (Senior Vice President/COO of Magnolia Hi-Fi, a subsidiary of Best Buy), Thomas Conrad was an active jazz journalist for 20 years, as liner note author, columnist for CD Review, and regular contributor to Downbeat. Beginning in 2005, after foreswearing day gigs forever, he became more prolific. His work currently appears in Stereophile (where he is a Contributing Music Editor), JazzTimes (where he writes the “Eight-Eights” column on piano recordings), and All About Jazz—New York. He travels frequently to international destinations and much of his writing in recent years has dealt with jazz originating outside the borders of the United States. Another recurrent preoccupation in his work has been the audiophile world as it pertains to jazz. Conrad divides his time between Seattle, Washington and Palm Springs, California.