Thomas Conrad

Thomas’s Contributions


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...


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...


02/20/13    Albums

Ellington Saxophone Encounters
Mark Masters Ensemble

Mark Masters is an accomplished arranger who comes up with hip, unusual ideas for jazz concerts and recordings, such as repertoire by Steely Dan and Dewey Redman. His new album contains compositions by Ellington’s saxophonists: Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves...


02/01/13    Albums

Live at Kitano
Frank Kimbrough Trio

In a perfect world, all piano trio albums would be recorded live in an intimate club like Kitano in Manhattan. The best studio recordings render a credible imitation of a musical event. Recordings like Live at Kitano contain the thing itself. Of course...


01/11/13    Albums

Satin Doll
Dexter Gordon

When 45-year-old previously unreleased jazz appears, there is always a story. But Mark Gardner’s gushy liner notes here do a poor job of telling it. You have to do your own research into Dexter Gordon’s biography and discography to piece together the narrative...


01/09/13    Albums

Magico: Carta De Amor
Jan Garbarek/Egberto Gismonti/Charlie Haden

The unearthing and release of previously unissued jazz recordings has become its own industry. ECM has gotten into the act. Earlier this year they released Keith Jarrett’s Sleeper , from 1979, and now there is Carta de Amor , a two-CD set by the trio that...


01/05/13    Albums

Triveni II
Avishai Cohen

Most of trumpeter Avishai Cohen’s recorded output has subsumed his trumpet voice within the broader ensemble purposes of composition, multicultural interface and concept albums. Triveni II , his sixth release as a leader, lets him cut loose and blow. The...


01/03/13    Albums

It's All Good
Ed Cherry

The organ trio, whether led by the organist or the guitarist, is a down-and-dirty working-class format rooted in the blues. You don’t go to organ trios for radical stimulation. You go there for reassurance. But all valid jazz genres are endlessly renewable...


12/22/12    Albums

Transparent Heart

Animation is Bob Belden’s project. He is a composer-arranger-producer-saxophonist who thinks big. He has made ambitious concept albums, like Black Dahlia and New Sketches of Spain , with huge ensembles full of famous musicians. But Transparent Heart uses...


12/17/12    Albums

Made Possible
The Bad Plus

The boys are back. Made Possible is the 10th album by the Bad Plus. They are still loud and inappropriate. They are still impulsive and obnoxious and irresistible as street urchins. And they have found some fresh ways to be all these things. The tunes are...


12/12/12    Undertones

Fortune Songs
Jasmine Lovell-Smith’s Towering Poppies

Because of new recording technologies, it is possible to make a CD faster and cheaper than ever before. Jazz albums are flooding the market. Some claim that oversupply is devaluing the music, yet many of these albums need to be heard. Jasmine Lovell-Smith...


12/08/12    Albums

Unreleased Art Pepper Vol. Vii: Sankei Hall—Osaka, Japan
Art Pepper

Laurie Pepper, widow of Art Pepper, launched the Unreleased Art series in 2006. She is now up to seven volumes. All but one contains a single live concert from 1980-1982, the last two years of Pepper’s turbulent life. If you wanted to make a case against...


11/27/12    Albums

Bobo Stenson Trio

Bobo Stenson’s trio with bassist Anders Jormin and drummer Jon Fält belongs on the short list with the great piano trios of our time. But Stenson records less often than the Jarretts, Mehldaus, Bollanis and Morans. Indicum is only his fifth trio release...


10/24/12    Albums

Roberta Piket

Roberta Piket is an under-the-radar pianist who has made some excellent records. Among them are Love and Beauty (2007), an interactive trio session, and Sides, Colors (2011), with an expanded ensemble including woodwinds and strings. Her new album is a departure...


10/09/12    Albums

Mary Lou Williams - The Next 100 Years
Virginia Mayhew Quartet

Virginia Mayhew’s ambitious, labor-intensive research project into the art of Mary Lou Williams began in 2009. She needed a female jazz musician to memorialize for a “Women in Jazz” festival. She chose Williams when she discovered that 2010 would be the...


10/04/12    Albums

Branford Marsalis Quartet
Four MFs Playin' Tunes

Branford Marsalis is onto something here. In press notes, he explains, “We need to quit thinking of songs as vehicles and think of them as songs. ... What we are trying to do is figure out the emotional purpose of each song ... and then play according to...

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About Thomas Conrad


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.