George Kanzler

George’s Contributions

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November 2008    Albums

Plays the Compositions of Thad Jones: Forever Lasting
Scott Robinson

Both a generous sampling of the composing talents of Thad Jones (the album is also Arbors’ Great American Composers Series, Vol. 3; Vol. 1, also by Robinson, honored Louis Armstrong) and the instrumental versatility of Scott Robinson, this album is an enticing...

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October 2008    Albums

I Had the Craziest Dream: The Music of Harry Warren
David Berger Octet

Best known for his Ellington-influenced Sultans of Swing orchestra and for transcribing Ducal works for Jazz at Lincoln Center, composer-arranger Berger here leads a pared-down band in a swingingly captivating tribute to one of the lesser-known lights of...

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October 2008    Albums

A Ride to the Other Side...
Derrick Gardner and The Jazz Prophets

Despite the name, there are no prophecies here, nor is the “other” in the title a reference to futuristic or outside music. The inspiration for trumpeter Derrick Gardner’s band name is Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and like that once-stalwart ensemble, the...

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October 2008    Albums

On the Real Side
Freddie Hubbard & the New Jazz Composers Octet

Major League baseball has found ways to extend the careers of older players. First there was the pinch hitter and now, in the American League, the designated hitter. The key is to match up a PH or DH with the right team so they are good for each other. This...

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09/09/08    Concerts

Detroit International Jazz Festival

Christian McBride admits to growing up in what was “definitely a Motown household,” so it wasn’t much of a stretch for him to be named the artist in residence at the free, outdoor, 29th-annual Detroit Jazz Festival over Labor Day weekend. Especially since...

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September 2008    Books

Miles, Ornette, Cecil: Jazz Beyond Jazz
Howard Mandel

Author Howard Mandel assumes many roles here—elucidating critic and devoted fan, knowledgeable listener and Boswellian acolyte, evangelist and champion of the avant-garde—all taken on with infectious enthusiasm. Of Miles Davis’ last years: “He arrived at...

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September 2008    Albums

It’s About Time!
Chico Hamilton

Who knew that octogenarian (he turns 87 in September) drummer Chico Hamilton’s recordings are current favorites of dance DJs and mixers? Not most jazz fans, surely. The simultaneous release of these EPs (half-hour and three-quarters of an hour long, respectively...

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June 2008    Albums

It’s What I Do
Jack Sheldon

The band is the California Cool Quartet (with a trademark symbol no less!), led by the veteran trumpeter Jack Sheldon, with pianist Joe Bagg, bassist Bruce Lett and drummer Dick Weller. The approach is classical jazz: playing that honors repertoire with...

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June 2008    Albums

Reminiscence
Gary Versace

Until you get to the funky, boogaloo-inflected third track, “Thelonious” (yes, the Monk tune), you might not even realize this is an organ-trio date, in the style of Jimmy Smith’s classic Blue Note sessions. Organist Gary Versace’s is a far cry from the...

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May 2008    Books

Monk’s Music
Gabriel Solis

The “jazz history in the making” part of this book’s title is at least as important as the “Monk’s Music” portion, for as Gabriel Solis sees it, the rise of jazz “historicity” and a self-reflective “discourse” arising about jazz has been instrumental in...

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May 2008    Books

Ask Me Now: Conversations On Jazz & Literature
Sascha Feinstein, editor

These 20 pieces originally appeared in Brilliant Corners: A Journal of Jazz and Literature. They’re long (often 10,000 words-plus), leisurely essays-cum-interviews of a type rarely found in periodicals anymore, even jazz periodicals like this one. All but...

04/21/08    Concerts

Savannah Music Festival

Jazz was a modest component of the 17-day Savannah Music Festival that straddled the last 11 days of March and first five of April in the Historic District of the old port city in Georgia. It constituted 11 events (actually six concert programs, three repeated...

04/18/08    Concerts

Cape May Jazz Festival

The 29th semi-annual Cape May Jazz Festival was billed as “The Next Wave,” but “next” can be a relative thing when applied to a lineup that included the Rippingtons and Winard Harper, Ray Vega and Christian Scott, Rachel Z and, in a sideman role, Houston...

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April 2008    Albums

Bird of Paradise: The Music of Charlie Parker
Marcus Printup

A generation ago, tribute albums to Charlie Parker often featured extended passages of Bird’s solos transcribed for one or more horns, or bands mirroring the traditional Parker bebop small groups of alto sax, trumpet, piano, bass and drums. And musicians...

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April 2008    Albums

It’s Telling ... A Drummer’s Perspective
Jae Sinnett

All the elements for disaster are here: a drummer-leader who’s been told he “should bring the drums more out front”; a program of tunes by that leader written and arranged in a variety of time signatures and tempos, all with “the drums shaping the direction...

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April 2008    DVDs

Norman Granz Presents Improvisation

When the footage of Charlie Parker on the “Gjon Mili Studio Sequence” from 1950 first appeared as a video in 1996 it was like discovering the Holy Grail of jazz. Now that infamous footage is finally being reissued in a more complete format, with a lot of...

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About George Kanzler

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George Kanzler has been a jazz and pop staff writer for 33 years at the Star-Ledger.