Chris Kelsey

Chris’s Contributions


May 2007    Albums

In the Moment
Bob Mintzer

I find it easy to respect and even admire Bob Mintzer’s skills as a saxophonist and bass clarinetist, yet difficult to embrace his music. He’s a technically gifted musician, certainly, and a fine craftsman, yet he’s never evidenced much of a personality...


May 2007    Albums

Time and Time Again
Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Joe Lovano

Drummer Motian’s long-running trio with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell is a serendipitous assemblage of complementary personalities. Motian and guitarist Frisell are ingenious colorists: Frisell, a thoughtful melodist whose every note is wrought with expression;...


May 2007    Albums

Live Upstairs at Nick’s
New Ghost

New Ghost combines complex Zappa-esque instrumentals and spoken-word vocals with an off-kilter funkiness and anarchic punk expressionism. The result is a crazily inventive music that draws you in at the same time it tells you to go bleep yourself. Recorded...


01/23/07    Concerts

T.O.P. in N.Y.C.

T.O.P. comprises pianist Jacky Terrasson, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Leon Parker. The trio worked together on Terrasson's first couple of Blue Note recordings in the mid-'90s, and they've obviously continued to develop and grow together since then...


January/February 2007    Overdue Ovation

Trudy Pitts: The Godmother

Mention the pipe organ and the average person is more likely to think of Bach than bebop. Mozart called the pipe organ “The King of Instruments”; composers from Sweelinck to Messiaen wrote for it—including, most famously, J.S. Bach himself. Perhaps no other...


January/February 2007    Albums

Sonny, Please
Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins has left Milestone, his label for almost 35 years, and started his own record company. Thus has the newly entrepreneurial saxophone colossus taken control of his own destiny. Lest one worry that starting his own label is a bad sign—that Sonny...


January/February 2007    Albums

4 Compositions (Ulrichsberg) 2005 Phonomanie VIII
Anthony Braxton

At the beginning of his career and for decades to follow, Anthony Braxton made exceptional recordings. Each seemed more inspired than the last, due in no small part to the cohorts he worked with: first, his contemporaries in Chicago’s AACM; later, younger...


January/February 2007    Albums

Celebration for the Comet Kohoutek
Sun Ra

A lot of people I know—serious listeners and musicians whose opinions I respect—absolutely adore Sun Ra. As for me, I tasted but never actually drank the Kool-Aid. While much of his early stuff is undeniably great, I’ve long had reservations about his later...


January/February 2007    Albums

All Versus All

Wasteland is a pair of electronic-music producers: DJ Scud (Toby Reynolds) and I-Sound (Craig Willingham). Reynolds boasts what I gather to be a sterling resume in the realm of dance music; Willingham is apparently more experimentally inclined. Regardless...


12/11/06    Concerts

Miles Davis' Bitches Brew Recreated

The business of paying tribute to this or that classic jazz album/artist/label/floor wax/dessert topping continues unabated, signifying who knows what (my surmise: endemic sentimentality and/or a lack of artistic vision, combined with an understandable desire...


December 2006    Albums

Free Jazz Classics, Vols. 3 & 4
The Vandermark 5

I might not always care for Ken Vandermark’s aesthetic, but there’s no question that he works imaginatively within it. On Free Jazz Classics Vols. 3 and 4, the saxophonist/clarinetist arranges tunes by Sonny Rollins and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. (Neither was...


November 2006    Albums

Stitt’s Bits: The Bebop Recordings, 1949-1952
Sonny Stitt

Charles Mingus once said that the full title of his tune “Gunslinging Bird” was “If Charlie Parker Were a Gunslinger, There’d be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats.” I doubt that Mingus had Sonny Stitt in mind, but who knows? Maybe he did. Stitt sounded a lot...


November 2006    Overdue Ovation

Rashied Ali: Sound Judgement

John Coltrane knew a thing or two about drummers. During his apprenticeship with Miles Davis, he played with Philly Joe Jones, who surely whetted his appetite for percussive petulance—so much so, that when it came time for Coltrane to form his own group...

10/29/06    Concerts

Fusion Revolution: Zawinul Syndicate

In terms of overall cultural significance, Zawinul playing Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater wasn't exactly Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall, 1938. Still, you might forgive jazz's disinherited problem kids—aka its free jazz and fusion heretics—for noting...


10/02/06    Concerts

Wynton and Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives

It's the kind of program that just begs to be shot down by cynical, beard-stroking intellectuals like me—the ultimate expression of Jazz at Lincoln Center's “older is better” ethos. Even the title invites scorn: “Wynton and Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives.”...


October 2006    Overdue Ovation

Ted Curson: More than a Survivor

I’ve got your opening quote for you, right here,” laughs Ted Curson when I say I plan to write about him for JazzTimes. “My life is like a barrel with no bottom. I keep putting stuff in, but it never fills up!” It’s a joke, but a serious joke, the rueful...

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About Chris Kelsey