Thomas Conrad

Thomas’s Contributions

Hiromi_spark_span3

06/28/16    Albums

Spark
Hiromi

Rock musicians get that they are entertainers. Too often, jazz musicians don’t. Hiromi gets it. “All the people I respect in music have been aware of producing themselves: Miles Davis. Herbie Hancock. Pat Metheny,” she has said. “They are very focused on...

Arkovrutski_span3

06/20/16    Albums

Intersection
Ark Ovrutski Quintet

Intersection is an unusual combination of personalities. Ark Ovrutski, originally from the Ukraine, is a bassist given to dark, heavy, solemn solos. But he likes to surround himself with light-footed Brazilians (pianist Helio Alves, drummer Duduka Da Fonseca...

Henrythreadgill_oldlocks_span3

06/16/16    Albums

Old Locks and Irregular Verbs
Henry Threadgill Ensemble Double Up

Recent Pulitzer winner Henry Threadgill only makes important records. In the jazz avant-garde, he is both revered elder statesman and active agent provocateur. Old Locks and Irregular Verbs is momentous in at least three aspects. Threadgill, a major multireed...

Peterbernstein_letloose_span3

06/16/16    Albums

Let Loose
Peter Bernstein

Peter Bernstein has built a career in the service of others, especially saxophone players and organists. He was in Sonny Rollins’ best working band of the new millennium, and has been crucial to Lou Donaldson and Dr. Lonnie Smith. On Let Loose he slips seamlessly...

Lafaro_span3

05/29/16    Features

Five Invaluable Recordings by Bill Evans’ Trios

Elegance incarnate

Todd_coolman__span3

05/19/16    Albums

Collectables
Todd Coolman & Trifecta

Since piano trios are almost always led by pianists, it is reasonable to ask, “What is different about a piano trio led by the bassist?” Collectables is a textbook answer. Not that Todd Coolman is an overbearing presence here. He does not give himself an...

Gregoiremaret_wanted_span3

05/13/16    Albums

Wanted
Gregoire Maret

Given all the first-rate musicians here, Wanted is a major disappointment. Grégoire Maret hit with a splash a decade ago, because of his talent but also because of his vehicle. He plays the chromatic harmonica, an instrument rare in jazz, whose haunting...

Nysq_powerof10_span3

05/12/16    Albums

Power of 10
NYSQ

NYSQ is for New York Standards Quartet; the 10 is for their duration as a band, in years. Perhaps they like the acronym because, as drummer Gene Jackson says in his liner notes, the Modern Jazz Quartet is one of the band’s models. MJQ is a paradigm, not...

Jonbalke_warp_span3

05/11/16    Albums

Warp
Jon Balke

Jon Balke is probably best known for his Magnetic North Orchestra, a project dedicated to exploring (or erasing) the boundaries between form and freedom in large-ensemble jazz. Warp is a solo piano record that continues Balke’s interest in extending formats...

Marcmommas_span3

05/05/16    Albums

Ballads and Standards
Marc Mommaas/Nikolaj Hess

Marc Mommaas belongs to a special society of tenor saxophone players who are revered by other tenor players but not famous. (Rich Perry and Adam Kolker are also members.) Mommaas is probably best known for his work with pianist Amina Figarova, where his...

Chessmith_thebell_span3

03/30/16    Albums

The Bell
Ches Smith

Perhaps the principal difference between the jazz audience and followers of popular music is that the latter crave the reassurance of the familiar and the former are junkies for the new. Even for the most esoteric jazz listeners, The Bell will meet the need...

Enricopiernunzi_proximity_span3

03/22/16    Albums

Proximity
Enrico Pieranunzi

Like the other great piano players of our time, Enrico Pieranunzi mostly performs and records in trio and solo formats. Tales From the Unexpected comes from a concert in Gütersloh, Germany, in 2015, and is a valuable addition to his large, rich trio discography...

Cafiso_span3

03/13/16    Features

Francesco Cafiso: New Sax, New Sound, New Song

A tradition-focused former prodigy reinvents himself

Bill_stewart-space_squid-pit3089-cover_span3

03/11/16    Albums

Space Squid
Bill Stewart

Bill Stewart is the furthest thing from a basher. His taste and intelligence and counterintuitive relationships to time have made him a favorite drummer of people like John Scofield and Pat Metheny. In press notes, the genesis of Space Squid is described...

Creativemusicstudio_vol2_span3

02/27/16    Albums

Archive Selections Volume 2
Creative Music Studio

The extensive liner notes to this three-CD set compare the Creative Music Studio to other musical collectives of the ’60s and ’70s, such as the AACM in Chicago and the Black Artists Group in St. Louis. Like those organizations, CMS was a command post in...

Charlesllyod_ilongtoseeyou_cover_span3

02/15/16    Albums

I Long to See You
Charles Lloyd & the Marvels

In 2015, after 25 years with ECM, where he created one of the lasting bodies of work in modern jazz, Charles Lloyd moved to Blue Note. His first Blue Note release, Wild Man Dance , was well received. His second will initially cause concern in some quarters...

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About Thomas Conrad

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