Thomas Conrad

Thomas’s Contributions

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01/03/14    Albums

Unreleased Art: Vol. VIII: Live at the Winery
Art Pepper

Laurie Pepper is Art Pepper’s widow. Her Unreleased Art series has become a unique ongoing homemade documentary, a sequence of postcards in sound and words and pictures, mailed back to us from a rapidly receding past. It preserves moments from a jazz life...

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12/25/13    Albums

39 Steps
John Abercrombie Quartet

When the personnel on a record include John Abercrombie, Marc Copland, Drew Gress and Joey Baron, expectations are high. 39 Steps provides many nice moments when lyricism emerges from the interface of Abercrombie’s guitar and Copland’s piano, like ice crystallizing...

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12/09/13    Albums

March Sublime
Alan Ferber

ALAN FERBER MARCH SUBLIME (Sunnyside) Is it wishful thinking, or is a big-band resurgence happening? It’s not like big jazz bands are out there touring the country in buses, but they keep turning up for recording sessions and concerts. Large ensembles led...

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11/26/13    Albums

Trios
Carla Bley/Andy Sheppard/Steve Swallow

Carla Bley’s reputation as an important composer and arranger is based on her work with larger ensembles. Trios is a glimpse into her aesthetic world stripped to its barest essentials. “Les Trois Lagons (d’après Henri Matisse)” was inspired by three plates...

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11/24/13    Albums

Shadow Man
Tim Berne's Snakeoil

This band’s eponymous ECM debut last year was one of the most acclaimed jazz recordings of 2012. Shadow Man is stronger. It is wilder and deeper, an oceanic extravagance of strange sonic shapes and colors. Yet it coheres according to proprietary logic. The...

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11/11/13    Concerts

Review: Belgrade Jazz Festival 2013

Against all odds, a festival in Serbia has become one of the coolest in Europe

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11/07/13    Albums

Live at "A Space" 1975
Roscoe Mitchell Quartet

Only the most modern of listeners will be able to get with this 38-year-old music. Its barriers to entry are extreme. It comes from two nights in 1975 at A Space, an artist-run gallery in downtown Toronto which, in 2013, is still open for business. Four...

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11/05/13    Albums

Fiction
Matt Mitchell

Matt Mitchell’s name began popping up on jazz radar screens around three years ago. His sideman work is distinctive and strong on notable records like Tim Berne’s Snakeoil and Dave Douglas’ Be Still . In 2011, the New York Times named him one of “Four Young...

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10/28/13    Features

Umbria Jazz Celebrates 40 Years in Transcendent Fashion

Midnight in Perugia

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10/20/13    Solo

The Madness of Keith Jarrett

Will he be remembered more for his arrogance than his art?

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10/05/13    Albums

Lay Down My Heart
Joe Locke

The first album here is a quartet date with modest aspirations. In his liner notes, Joe Locke says it “is meant to provide respite for folks who work hard every day and need an opportunity to slow down...” The second album, with a 65-piece symphony orchestra...

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09/30/13    Albums

Desertico
Paolo Fresu Devil Quartet

Paolo Fresu is a direct descendant of Chet Baker, and one of the most seductive trumpet players in jazz. That he is not better known in the United States shows that, even in the Information Age, the jazz art form remains regionalized. Fresu is a star in...

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09/28/13    Albums

Paul Motian (box set)
Paul Motian

In the second decade of the new millennium, it is not an uncommon occurrence to get up in the morning, turn on your computer and learn of the passing of another significant jazz figure who came up in the ’50s or ’60s. But the death of Paul Motian in 2011...

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09/12/13    Albums

Guided Tour
Gary Burton New Quartet

Guided Tour is the second album by this band. Gary Burton is the preeminent four-mallet vibraphone player in jazz. Julian Lage is an artistically mature, technically immaculate 24-year-old guitarist. He has been making records with Burton since he was 15...

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09/07/13    Albums

The River
Ryan Cohan

The River is composer-arranger Ryan Cohan’s most ambitious and important work to date. It is a suite in 14 movements, inspired by a concert tour in Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe and the Congo. Rhythmically charged tunes like “Call & Response” and “Arrival” convey...

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08/09/13    Albums

Coming Home
Michael Dease

Good new trombone players do not come along as often as, say, good tenor saxophone or trumpet players. Enter Michael Dease. On the very first track, “Solid Gold,” he rockets through a convoluted line like he doesn’t know it’s hard. Then there’s Freddie Hubbard’s...

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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.