Thomas Conrad

Thomas’s Contributions


05/13/16    Albums

Gregoire Maret

Given all the first-rate musicians here, Wanted is a major disappointment. Grégoire Maret hit with a splash a decade ago, because of his talent but also because of his vehicle. He plays the chromatic harmonica, an instrument rare in jazz, whose haunting...


05/12/16    Albums

Power of 10

NYSQ is for New York Standards Quartet; the 10 is for their duration as a band, in years. Perhaps they like the acronym because, as drummer Gene Jackson says in his liner notes, the Modern Jazz Quartet is one of the band’s models. MJQ is a paradigm, not...


05/11/16    Albums

Jon Balke

Jon Balke is probably best known for his Magnetic North Orchestra, a project dedicated to exploring (or erasing) the boundaries between form and freedom in large-ensemble jazz. Warp is a solo piano record that continues Balke’s interest in extending formats...


05/05/16    Albums

Ballads and Standards
Marc Mommaas/Nikolaj Hess

Marc Mommaas belongs to a special society of tenor saxophone players who are revered by other tenor players but not famous. (Rich Perry and Adam Kolker are also members.) Mommaas is probably best known for his work with pianist Amina Figarova, where his...


03/30/16    Albums

The Bell
Ches Smith

Perhaps the principal difference between the jazz audience and followers of popular music is that the latter crave the reassurance of the familiar and the former are junkies for the new. Even for the most esoteric jazz listeners, The Bell will meet the need...


03/22/16    Albums

Enrico Pieranunzi

Like the other great piano players of our time, Enrico Pieranunzi mostly performs and records in trio and solo formats. Tales From the Unexpected comes from a concert in Gütersloh, Germany, in 2015, and is a valuable addition to his large, rich trio discography...


03/13/16    Features

Francesco Cafiso: New Sax, New Sound, New Song

A tradition-focused former prodigy reinvents himself


03/11/16    Albums

Space Squid
Bill Stewart

Bill Stewart is the furthest thing from a basher. His taste and intelligence and counterintuitive relationships to time have made him a favorite drummer of people like John Scofield and Pat Metheny. In press notes, the genesis of Space Squid is described...


02/27/16    Albums

Archive Selections Volume 2
Creative Music Studio

The extensive liner notes to this three-CD set compare the Creative Music Studio to other musical collectives of the ’60s and ’70s, such as the AACM in Chicago and the Black Artists Group in St. Louis. Like those organizations, CMS was a command post in...


02/15/16    Albums

I Long to See You
Charles Lloyd & the Marvels

In 2015, after 25 years with ECM, where he created one of the lasting bodies of work in modern jazz, Charles Lloyd moved to Blue Note. His first Blue Note release, Wild Man Dance , was well received. His second will initially cause concern in some quarters...


12/28/15    Albums

Guilhem Flouzat

Perhaps it is the diminishing importance of the compact disc as a medium for music that has led so many record labels to provide minimal information with CDs. There is a backstory to Portraits , but the CD has no liner notes, so you have to go online to...


12/23/15    Albums

Behind the Sky
Jon Irabagon

There is no one in jazz like Jon Irabagon. He has mastered at least six reed instruments, and he plays them in so many styles you might think he suffers from dissociative identity disorder. In fact, all of his choices are deliberate. He is at home in left...


12/17/15    Albums

For Once in My Life
Ben Paterson

The jazz audience contains people, present company not necessarily excepted, who are resistant to the charms of the Hammond B-3. They find it a somewhat vulgar instrument, with unpleasant, artificial sonorities. They all need to meet Ben Paterson. He may...


11/30/15    Albums

Ben Monder

Ben Monder’s ECM debut as a leader was produced by Sun Chung, not Manfred Eicher. But from the opening solo guitar track, “Tendrils,” it is clear that Amorphae is entirely consistent with the ECM aesthetic. Few other labels trust their artists to work within...


11/29/15    Albums

Yelena Eckemoff Quartet

Yelena Eckemoff has a story and a discography unique in jazz. She was classically trained during her childhood in Moscow, emigrated to the United States in 1991 and began making jazz records in 2010. She uses the best studios, the best engineers and the...


11/27/15    Albums

Live in Cuba
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

Live in Cuba arrives as a “big” record. Wynton Marsalis is a celebrity even outside the jazz community. The band is the repertory orchestra of a unique and powerful jazz institution. The album is the debut release of the Blue Engine label, intended as a...

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About Thomas Conrad