Harvey Pekar

Harvey’s Contributions

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June 2003    Overdue Ovation

John Laporta: Themes and Variations

He's recorded just nine albums as a leader, and only three since 1961, instead spending much of his life developing jazz-education curricula and teaching at Berklee College of Music. He's well-known in education circles and among the "modern jazz cognoscenti...

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July/August 2002    Books

Gil Evans: Out of the Cool
Stephanie Stein Crease

Among the finest 20th-century orchestraters in any musical genre, a unique bandleader and a singular personality, Gil Evans certainly merits more than one biography. Both of these bios are solid works, quite readable and chock full of information. Similarly...

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June 2002    Books

Lester Leaps In: The Life and Times of Lester “Pres” Young
Douglas Henry Daniels

This book about Lester Young is among the more unusual jazz biographies ever written. Author Douglas Henry Daniels teaches history and black studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara; he’s not a musicologist, jazz historian or critic. Daniels...

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April 2002    Albums

The Art of Falling
Jeff Johnson

Jeff Johnson is a skilled, big-toned musical bassist who has worked with Chet Baker, Julian Priester, Billy Hart, Bud Shank and Charlie Rouse. On The Art of Falling he's in a quartet setting with saxman Hans Teuber, drummer Billy Mintz and pianist Randy...

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April 2002    Albums

Op Ed
Mario Pavone/Michael Musillami

The music on Op-Ed is filled with abrupt starts and stops. A lot of this is caused by the quartet's emphasis on rhythmic displacement and shifting accents. Collectively bassist Mario Pavone, guitarist Michael Musillami, pianist Peter Madsen and drummer Michael...

December 2001    Books

Playing It by Ear
John LaPorta

Though best known for his activities as a pioneering jazz educator at Berklee, John LaPorta was for years before that an important figure in jazz’s avant-garde. In addition to cutting albums of his own, LaPorta appeared as a sideman for and in co-op groups...

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December 2001    Books

That Devilin’ Tune: A Jazz History 1900-1950
Allen Lowe

That Devilin’ Tune is a useful antidote to the Ken Burns TV series, CDs and books dealing with jazz history. Where Burns emphasizes his “great man” theory, Lowe, while not neglecting Armstrong, Parker and Ellington, speaks of the evolution of jazz more in...

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December 2001    Albums

In Harmony's Way
Jeff Berlin

Some of the laudable artists who appear on bassist Jeff Berlin's In Harmony's Way were prominent in the fusion movement, but this CD is an agreeable, straightahead swinging session. The CD's core group contains drummer Danny Gottlieb and pianist/bassist...

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December 2001    Albums

Nuclear War
Sun Ra

Nuclear War was recorded in 1982 for Columbia Records, which turned it down. The LP was eventually released by Italy's Y label, but it was poorly distributed; Atavistic deserves all sorts of plaudits for reissuing Nuclear War because it's one of Sun Ra's...

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November 2001    Albums

Sound of Village
Mika Pohjola/Yusuke Yamamoto

By jamming together, keyboardist Mika Pohjola and percussionist/flutist Yusuke Yamamoto (both former Berklee students) were able to establish a style of open improvisation, which they displayed on a 1999 Scandinavian tour. They had access to a Finnish recording...

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November 2001    Albums

Large Music 1
Paul Smoker/Bob Magnuson/KenFiliano/Lou Grassi

The two volumes of Large Music feature the music of a co-op quartet with trumpeter Paul Smoker, alto and tenor saxman Bob Magnuson, bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Lou Grassi. Grassi remarks in the liner notes that the concept behind this date was to "bring...

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November 2001    Albums

Mirabile Dictu
Paul Smoker Trio

The drumless-trio CD Mirabile Dictu ranks in the top echelon of Smoker's recordings. Bassist Ken Filiano and guitarist Steve Salerno join Smoker for the album. There's a great deal of collective improvisation on Mirabile Dictu that varies quite a bit in...

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October 2001    Hearsay

John McNeil

After hearing Louis Armstrong as an eight-year-old, John McNeil decided he wanted to become a jazz trumpeter too. Born in 1948 in the small, Northern California town of Yreka, McNeil eventually migrated to New York in 1975, where he worked with Horace Silver...

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September 2001    Albums

Lucky So and So
Kenny Burrell

Difficult to say whom the title is aimed at: artist or listener. Of the more than 300 recordings guitarist Kenny Burrell has played on, this is his 96th as leader. That lucky so and so. Then consider the treasure trove of laid-back eloquence available to...

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September 2001    Albums

Fixations (14)
John Butcher

Fixations (14) features material recorded live from 1997 to 2000 on which John Butcher plays soprano and tenor saxes unaccompanied. Some of the pieces on the album, though improvised, resemble studies, in that various musical elements are stressed on them...

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September 2001    Albums

Points, Snags and Windings
John Butcher/Dylan van der Schyff

Butcher's duo album with percussionist Dylan van der Schyff, Points, Snags and Windings, shows that two men can produce a greater variety of colors and textures than one. They seem to inspire each other to greater degrees of subtlety and intensity. Van der...

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About Harvey Pekar

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