Thomas Conrad

Thomas’s Contributions


12/09/14    Albums

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...


12/08/14    Features

Drummers & Percussionists: What Makes Their Unions Work?

Rhythm squared


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


08/10/14    Education

Siena Jazz Summer Workshops 2014

Hang. Eat. Study. Jam.


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...


08/01/14    Concerts

Danilo Rea at Umbria Jazz 2014

“The melody is the king”


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...


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...


06/30/14    Albums

Breathing In Unison
Claudio Filippini Trio

It should no longer be news that there are so many world-class Italian piano players. But in the United States, we keep getting startled when yet another hits the radar, usually when they move from record labels distributed only in Europe to companies like...


06/10/14    Albums

Live at Smalls
Frank Lacy & the Smalls Legacy Band

There has never been a jazz label quite like SmallsLIVE, now up to 40 titles and counting, all exclusively dedicated to documenting one club and scene. In this tiny basement dive at 183 West 10th in Greenwich Village, the culture is new-generation bop, and...


05/27/14    Albums

Black Elk's Dream
Matt Slocum

Black Elk’s Dream is a concept album. Its storyline belongs to the Lakota Sioux medicine man and visionary who relayed his life’s narrative to John G. Neihardt for the book Black Elk Speaks , published in 1932. Through drummer and composer Matt Slocum, 82...


05/26/14    Albums

Jared Gold

Since Jimmy Smith emerged in the ’50s, the organ has been the most overtly erotic jazz instrument. Nothing can get people shaking their asses like a Hammond B-3. Jared Gold understands this cultural history. He teases out Cannonball Adderley’s “Sermonette”...

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About Thomas Conrad