Thomas Conrad

Thomas’s Contributions

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07/01/13    Albums

Exploring the Vibe
Reut Regev's R*Time

The way to hear Reut Regev’s band is how I heard them at the Belgrade Jazz Festival in 2010: after midnight, in a smoky room where you couldn’t move for the writhing bodies. But this record captures most of R*time’s ass-kicking energy. Trombonist Regev and...

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06/24/13    Albums

Life In This World
Will Calhoun

This record lacks meaningful musical substance. It also lacks coherence as an album statement. Pianist Marc Cary is a constant, but alto saxophonist Donald Harrison and trumpeter Wallace Roney come and go. Ensemble configurations and genres shift track-to...

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06/18/13    Albums

Magnetic
Terence Blanchard

Magnetic is Terence Blanchard’s return to the Blue Note label after an absence of six years. Its release coincides with the June 2013 premiere in St. Louis of Blanchard’s first opera, Champion . Magnetic is a small-group recording of uncommon richness, complexity...

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06/01/13    Albums

Nicholas Payton
#BAM Live at Bohemian Caverns

Nicholas Payton, now 40, has been on the short list of major trumpet players for half his life. In 2011, he achieved an incremental 15 minutes of fame when he publicly renounced the word “jazz,” proclaimed it “an oppressive colonialist slave term” and embraced...

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05/21/13    Albums

Live in New York at Jazz Standard
Edward Simon Trio

Edward Simon has been making good records for 20 years, and has released two previous piano trio albums with John Patitucci and Brian Blade. He has recorded all the tunes here before, at least once. But he has never made an album like At Jazz Standard...

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05/17/13    Albums

Gouache
Jacky Terrasson

Between 1994 and 2007, Jacky Terrasson made 10 Blue Note albums. They established him as one of the most talented pianists of his generation. Terrasson’s relationship to a piano was like LeBron James’ relationship to a 10-foot-high basket. They both lived...

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05/13/13    Concerts

Concert Review: Jason Moran & the Bandwagon in La Jolla

Fats Waller on their minds

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05/12/13    Albums

Songways
Stefano Battaglia

The five albums that Stefano Battaglia has made for ECM since 2005 contain the strongest work released by an ECM pianist during that period. That claim will be controversial, given that pianists like Keith Jarrett, Stefano Bollani, Bobo Stenson and Craig...

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04/25/13    Albums

Glass Song
Yelena Eckemoff

Yelena Eckemoff was born in Moscow and studied at the prestigious Gnessin Academy and the Moscow State Conservatory. She has lived in the United States since 1991, and was a classical pianist until about 2009, when she reinvented herself as a jazz musician...

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03/27/13    Gearhead

GearHead: The Moonlighting Jimmy Katz

How an ace jazz photographer became an ace recording engineer

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03/20/13    Albums

Live at Smalls
Grant Stewart

The SmallsLIVE label is unique. It started up in 2010 and already has 31 titles. It exists to document one particular venue, scene and culture: Smalls, at 183 West 10th in Greenwich Village. This tiny, humble basement dive is the nerve center for New Millennium...

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03/16/13    Albums

Lost Tapes: Baden-Baden – June 23, 1958
Zoot Sims

New albums of previously unreleased music have become an important jazz record category, historically and commercially. A new label out of Germany called Jazzhaus claims to be sitting on “probably the biggest collection of unpublished live jazz recordings...

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03/11/13    Features

Crucial Kuhn: Five Essential Albums by Steve Kuhn

Thomas Conrad selects highlights from an extensive discography

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03/11/13    Albums

Without a Net
Wayne Shorter Quartet

I saw five concerts by the Wayne Shorter Quartet between 2005 and 2011, in four countries. I thought every one was a failure. Their chosen format of unbroken improvised suites, Shorter compositions flying by in fragments, put a creative pressure on the ensemble...

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02/27/13    Albums

Matanë Malit
Elina Duni Quartet

Vocal music in a language we don’t understand is normally a partial aesthetic experience, connotation without denotation. Elina Duni left Albania in 1992, when she was 10, moved to Switzerland and only recently rediscovered her country’s traditional songs...

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02/23/13    Albums

Cross Culture
Joe Lovano Us Five

Joe Lovano’s Us Five is a unique, drummer-intensive band, Francisco Mela in the left channel, Otis Brown III in the right. James Weidman and Lionel Loueke (a guest on six tracks) play piano and guitar. Esperanza Spalding, now reconciling sideperson work...

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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.