Scott Verrastro

Scott’s Contributions


10/16/12    Albums

Live At Jazzfestival Saalfelden 2011
David S. Ware/Planetary Unknown

One of the bigger surprises in the avant-jazz world in 2011 was the resurgence of drummer Muhammad Ali in Planetary Unknown, the new quartet led by tenor saxophonist David S. Ware. For the first time since 1983, a recording boasted the thunderous percussion...


09/15/12    Albums

In the Beginning (1963-1964)
Pharoah Sanders

While most of the tenor saxophonist’s landmark recordings on Impulse !—as a leader and as sideman with John Coltrane—have been reissued, Pharoah Sanders’ formative sessions with Don Cherry, Paul Bley and the Sun Ra Arkestra in 1963-64 had lain dormant until...


July/August 2010    Albums

Two Cities
Aram Shelton's Fast Citizens

Perhaps it’s too obvious to focus on geography to preface a review of a jazz album, but the title of Fast Citizens’ new Delmark release begs at least a brief examination of its creators’ locales (alto saxophonist/clarinetist Aram Shelton in Oakland, Calif...


03/10/10    Albums

Teddy Charles & Walter Wolff Trio

Along with Dances With Bulls , Live marks the first time the seminal vibraphonist Teddy Charles has recorded as a leader since 1988, and only the second time since 1963. Mostly retired for the past 46 years, Charles occasionally resurfaces to record or gig...


03/10/10    Albums

Today on Earth
Joe Morris Quartet

To say that Boston-based electric guitarist/upright bassist Joe Morris is prolific would be an obvious understatement. In 2009 alone he released six albums, including this quartet disc. But what’s truly astonishing is the stylistic spectrum he traverses...


January/February 2009    Albums

Khan Jamal

Porter Records is quickly establishing a reputation as a label at the forefront of avant-jazz exploration, illustrated by such recent recordings by Henry Grimes & Rashied Ali and Odean Pope, as well as archival releases by Byard Lancaster and Ted Daniel...


January/February 2009    Albums

Makin’ It
Oliver Lake Organ Trio

If one thing characterizes altoist Oliver Lake as an artist, it may be his perpetual state of flux, or at least his outright dedication to examine all known sub-genres of jazz. From driving hard-bop and high-energy free-skronk to fusion and post-modern chamber...


October 2007    Albums

Above & Beyond
Billy Bang Quintet Featuring Frank Lowe

Not only is Above & Beyond another solid chronicle of violinist Billy Bang’s disparate yet cohesive musical universe, it should be viewed as the generally unheralded Frank Lowe’s swan song. As far as saxophonists in the post-Coltrane/Ayler mold go, Lowe...


September 2007    Albums

Jon Ballantyne 4tets + Dewey Redman
Jon Ballantyne

Although Canadian pianist-composer Jon Ballantyne has recorded seven albums under his own name and appeared live and on record with such luminaries as Roy Haynes, Paul Bley, Billy Hart and Dave Liebman, he still floats around in hard-bop obscurity. Jon Ballantyne...


September 2007    Albums

Cornell 1964
Charles Mingus Septet with Eric Dolphy

Last year, the recovered gem Music Written for Monterey 1965 Not Heard … Played in Its Entirety at UCLA (Sue Mingus Music/Sunnyside) featured Charles Mingus leading a large ensemble through compelling compositions, warts and all. This year’s discovery is...


July/August 2007    Albums

Kahil El’Zabar’s Infinity Orchestra

Essentially the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble (sans guitarist Fareed Haque and trumpeter Corey Wilkes) augmented by a careening 39-piece orchestra in concert, Kahil El’Zabar’s Infinity Orchestra sounds pretty much like what you’d expect it to: dense big-band...


July/August 2007    Albums

Legacy and Music of John Coltrane
Azar Lawrence & Edwin Bayard Quartet

Does the world really need another John Coltrane tribute album? It gets exhausting to choose among the multitudes that already exist. However, if even half of them were as vital and powerful as tenor saxophonist Azar Lawrence’s Legacy and Music of John Coltrane...


July/August 2007    Albums


Voltress’ debut, Antelopes, smacks of high pretention and an everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink aesthetic. However, this Madison, Wis. ensemble makes its brand of postmodern pastiche work just fine, opting for an organic-sounding meld instead of a forced let’s...


July/August 2007    Albums

Mat Maneri & Denman Maroney

In free jazz, the possibilities may seem endless, only grounded by the usually loose framework of swing. In the world of free improvisation, anything goes: Obnoxious bursts of noise and the use of silence and found sound can play just as important a role...


June 2007    News

Ben Sidran: Sidran on CD

Avoiding academic blathering and worshipful reverence, NPR’s Ben Sidran was a deft and effective interviewer. On his program Sidran on Record—which aired from the summer of 1984 to the spring of 1990—he redefined the art of talking shop with jazz musicians...

04/28/07    News

Drummer Ron Jefferson Hospitalized

Ron Jefferson—one of the unheralded, great bop drummers of the ’50s and ’60s—recently became stricken with a debilitating illness. He is currently staying at St. John’s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers, N.Y. A native New Yorker, the 81-year-old Jefferson has...

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About Scott Verrastro

Scott Verrastro joined the JazzTimes community on Feb 12, 2008