Mike Shanley

Mike’s Contributions

Ecstasy_span3

07/29/14    Albums

eCsTaSy
Raoul Björkenheim

“El Pueblo Unido” has a simple, folky melody that could be inspired by guitarist Raoul Björkenheim’s home in Finland. Delivered by an electric guitar and tenor sax and a free-rolling rhythm section, however, it sounds like nothing less than a lost Ornette...

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07/26/14    Albums

Authority Melts From Me
Bobby Avey

Bobby Avey’s visit to Haiti proved to be a life-changing experience. The pianist traveled to the country in 2012 and learned about its struggles with colonialism, slavery and foreign intervention, and his discovery of vodou drumming ensembles became the...

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07/03/14    Albums

Birdland 1953
Bud Powell

Bud Powell biographer Peter Pullman refers to 1953 as the busiest year of the pianist’s career. It didn’t begin in the best of ways: Powell ended 16 months of occupancy in mental institutions. Before the calendar turned again, he would participate in the...

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07/02/14    Albums

New York Concerts
Jimmy Giuffre 3 & 4

Columbia Records dropped Jimmy Giuffre following 1962’s experimental Free Fall , and he didn’t record another album for nine years. The period in-between has been called his “lost decade,” but the clarinetist-saxophonist kept busy. His forward vision fit...

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06/05/14    Albums

High/Red/Center
Jason Roebke Octet

Discussing his octet’s blend of textures and soloists in this album’s liner notes, bassist Jason Roebke states, “It’s a struggle, but that’s sort of the point. It’s all about risk and the tension that working on something just beyond our reach creates.”...

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06/04/14    Albums

Beating the Teens
Ideal Bread

The quartet Ideal Bread toys with listeners’ expectations even on paper, paying tribute to Steve Lacy without employing a soprano saxophone, his instrument of choice. Leader Josh Sinton goes in the opposite direction, using the baritone sax to revitalize...

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06/01/14    Albums

Root of Things
Matthew Shipp Trio

Less than a year after the strong solo disc Piano Sutras , Matthew Shipp returns with his faithful trio mates (bassist Michael Bisio, drummer Whit Dickey) for another solid release. While the pianist has maintained a steadily prolific output for nearly two...

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05/18/14    Albums

Play Blue: Oslo Concert
Paul Bley

Paul Bley’s 1973 album, Open, to Love , set a precedent as both a document of the pianist’s skill in the solo setting and for the rich production that has become an expectation with ECM Records. Despite that artistic success, Bley wouldn’t release another...

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05/12/14    Albums

That Which Is Planted
1032K

Repertory bands tend to be a safe way to gain recognition, since the music of revered masters lures audiences more effectively than original compositions. The trio 1032K toys with that concept because the material they cover comes from Albert Ayler, Charles...

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04/23/14    Albums

Thumbscrew
Thumbscrew

Mary Halvorson (guitar), Michael Formanek (bass) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums) play serious music but don’t take themselves too seriously. A Fujiwara composition, inspired by the angular writing on Formanek’s recent albums, has the self-deprecating title “Cheap...

Cd_don-cherry_span3

03/28/14    Albums

Live In Stockholm
Don Cherry

It would be a few more years before Don Cherry would start playing his version of world music wholeheartedly, but elements of the trumpeter’s all-encompassing vision can be heard on these live recordings, most of them from 1968. This album marks their first...

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03/19/14    Albums

I Hear the Sound
Archie Shepp Attica Blues Orchestra

Upon its original release in 1972, Archie Shepp’s Attica Blues made bold statements politically and musically. It was inspired by the riot at Attica Prison the prior year, where 39 prisoners and hostages were killed. Shepp, who had recorded with groups ranging...

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03/13/14    Albums

Ran Blake Plays Solo Piano
Ran Blake

Although many of the titles in the ESP-Disk’ catalog have been reissued multiple times since their original releases, Ran Blake Plays Solo Piano has been an unfortunate exception. Aside from a rare Italian reissue, the album hasn’t really been seen or heard...

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01/17/14    Albums

A Round Goal
Keefe Jackson's Likely So

Chicago tenor saxophonist Keefe Jackson has worked in groups large and small, among them the all-saxophone 774th Street Quartet. With his unit Likely So, he pushes that concept further. The group consists of a clarinetist and six saxophonists (three doubling...

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01/10/14    Albums

Alchemy
Amir ElSaffar

Trumpeter Amir ElSaffar has made three albums that bring Iraqi maqam music into a jazz setting, including an excellent collaboration with saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh, 2009’s Radif Suite . Here ElSaffar starts with a standard quintet lineup of trumpet, tenor...

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01/07/14    Albums

Stellar Power
Cacaw

With distorted keyboard bass and a heavy backbeat, “Double Dagger” begins Stellar Power somewhere between industrial synth-pop and fusion. However, Landon Knoblock, the visionary keyboardist of the trio CACAW, avoids any potential cheesy pitfalls. He also...

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About Mike Shanley

Shanley_selfportrait_thumb

Mike Shanley wishes there were more hours in the day to just sit and listen to music, probably with some coffee close at hand. A native of Pittsburgh, he served as arts & entertainment editor at two of that city's alternative newsweeklies, InPittsburgh and Pulp. In addition to JazzTimes, he freelances for Pittsburgh City Paper, Blurt and maintains a blog at www.shanleyonmusic.blogspot.com where he rambles on about whatever has landed on the turntable or disc player at that moment. His writing has appeared in Harp, Pittsburgh Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and on the website PopCity.com. He has also played bass guitar in a number of Pittsburgh indie rock bands over the past two decades.