Thomas Conrad

Thomas’s Contributions


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”...


05/11/14    Albums

Jimmy Heath Big Band

This album comes from two nights in 2011 at the Blue Note in Greenwich Village, on the occasion of Jimmy Heath’s 85th birthday. There is nothing groundbreaking here. The eight tunes (four by Heath) and the charts (all by Heath) are dead center in the modern...


05/10/14    Albums

Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith
Craig Handy

Craig Handy is one of the strongest saxophone sidemen in jazz. He waited until he had a good reason to make his first record as a leader in 14 years. The idea is this: Get an organ combo together; revisit 10 numbers from the Jimmy Smith songbook; invite...


05/08/14    Albums

It Takes All Kinds
Jon Irabagon

Jon Irabagon’s previous recordings as a leader ( Foxy , Unhinged ) and his sideman work (Mary Halvorson, Dave Douglas, Mostly Other People Do the Killing) have started a buzz. No other current saxophonist encompasses his mix of explosive energy, stylistic...

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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.