Chris Kelsey

Chris’s Contributions


December 2008    Albums

This We Know
Michael Moore & Fred Hersch

According to the very brief liner notes, Michael Moore and Fred Hersch go back some 30 years, when both were students at Boston’s New England Conservatory. They certainly play like musicians with a conservatory background; both are polished, technically...


December 2008    Albums

Mario Pavone Double Tenor Quintet

A dexterous bassist perhaps best known for his tenure in the late saxophonist Thomas Chapin’s wonderful ’90s trio, Mario Pavone is a splendid composer and bandleader, as well. His group plays a highly evolved postbop, his compositions (arranged by Steven...


September 2008    Overdue Ovation

Jerry Bergonzi : Living and Learning

I’m still here, and I’m not a miserable S.O.B.!” says 58-year-old Jerry Bergonzi with a laugh when asked what he considers his greatest accomplishment. Certainly, the Boston-born-and-bred tenor saxophonist has reason to be content. Not only has he earned...


April 2008    Albums

Amor de Cosmos
Michael Blake Sextet

Michael Blake is one of an all-too-common subset of the jazz community: players who create brilliant music while flying largely under the radar of widespread critical and/or popular acclaim. “Amor de Cosmos” was the name taken by William Alexander Smith...


April 2008    Albums

Live at Café Montmartre 1966
Don Cherry

Recorded by the American trumpeter Cherry with a band that included the German vibist Karl Berger, French/Italian drummer Aldo Romano, Argentine tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri and Danish bassist Bo Stief, this is proof enough that by 1966 free-jazz was...


March 2008    Albums

The Hilversum Session
Albert Ayler

Recorded in 1964 in the Dutch city of Hilversum, this album presents Albert Ayler in all his blowzy, testifying glory, fronting a quartet that includes trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray. The repertoire includes five Ayler...


December 2007    Albums

Vision Towards Essence
Muhal Richard Abrams

At the risk of sounding like an ol’ geezer, it must be said that they don’t make ’em like Muhal Richard Abrams anymore. Few, if any, free-jazz pianists in their 30s and 40s can come within spitting distance of Abrams in terms of skill, originality and spirit...


December 2007    Albums

The Claudia Quintet

John Hollenbeck’s compositions draw upon various types of vernacular and art music, not the least pronounced of which is Reichian minimalism. Good for Hollenbeck. Minimalism shares with certain forms of jazz an obsession with groove-based repetition; too...


December 2007    Albums

Marty Ehrlich and Myra Melford

Saxophonist Ehrlich and pianist Melford are two of the more refined musicians to have come out of the Downtown New York scene of the ’80s and ’90s. In contrast to many of their less-gifted cohorts of that era—for whom irony was a first language and porous...


December 2007    Albums

Two Rivers
Amir Elsaffar

Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar blends the Iraqi maqam (“the music of his father’s ancestral past,” or so it says in the press notes) with jazz, creating some fresh, deep, intensely performed music. ElSaffar’s band (Rudresh Mahanthappa, alto sax;...


December 2007    Albums

The Rempis Percussion Quartet

There are two ways of looking at this recording. On the one hand, it’s great to hear Dave Rempis develop as a saxophonist. At first he appeared to be a promising player, although after his work with the Vandermark Five, that promise dissipated somewhat...


December 2007    Albums

Basement Research: Live in Münster
Gebhard Ullmann

For many years now, the German multi-reedist Gebhard Ullmann has kept fires burning on both sides of the Atlantic, employing some of the finest European and American jazz artists to realize his demanding and stylistically varied music. With Live in Münster...


December 2007    Albums

Rob Wagner Trio
Rob Wagner/Hamid Drake/Nobu Ozaki

Multi-instrumentalist Rob Wagner has lived in New Orleans for 15 years, performing and recording in varying styles, from funk to klezmer to the modal/free jazz he presents here. He’s joined by bassist Nobu Ozaki and drummer Hamid Drake. Wagner seems to take...


November 2007    Albums

Early and Late
Steve Lacy-Roswell Rudd Quartet

Any and all documentation of the Lacy/Rudd partnership is valuable, but listening to this two-CD set is a particularly moving experience, since it captures the two men near the beginning and the end of their time making music together. The album includes...


November 2007    Albums

Corn Meal Dance
William Parker/Raining On The Moon

William Parker’s Raining on the Moon sextet features the talents of vocalist Leena Conquest, alto saxophonist Rob Brown, trumpeter Lewis “Flip” Barnes, pianist Eri Yamamoto and drummer Hamid Drake. Brown and Barnes shine in their solos and ensemble work...


October 2007    Albums

Anything Else
Rosario Giuliani Quintet

Rosario Giuliani proves himself here as a hard-swinging, technically adept post-bop alto and soprano saxophonist. His music is less a personal concept than it is a composite of modern jazz sax and compositional styles—the requisite “old master” touches seem...

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About Chris Kelsey