John Seroff

John’s Contributions


March 2006    Albums

Silvana Deluigi

The recent renaissance of nueva tango has yet to acquire an American mainstream figurehead, someone both talented and accessible enough to attract the attention of an audience unfamiliar with the style and tradition of the genre. But with any luck, Silvana...


January/February 2006    Albums

Lionel Loueke, Ferenc Nemeth, Massimo Biolcati

Gilfema, the eponymous debut album from the multi-culti trio of Hungarian percussionist Ferenc Nemeth, Swedish bassist Massimo Biolcati and acclaimed Beninese guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke isn't in any way bad. If this reads as scant praise, it is...


January/February 2006    Albums

Jake Shimabukuro

The humble ukulele needed a man like Jake Shimabukuro, the 28-year-old string virtuoso determined to turn all your "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" preconceptions on their ear. Shimabukuro's unconventional approach to the instrument produces a sound and a complexity...


November 2005    Albums

Naked Movies
The Coalition

Young listeners once looked to experimental instrumental music for relaxation and entertainment, but with most new releases edging ever further to the poles of outre obscurantism or hyperstructured neoclassical, modern jazz has lost considerable relevancy...


November 2005    Albums

Chavez Ravine
Ry Cooder

In the early '50s, the Los Angeles city government, under the auspices of "public improvement," evicted the residents of the tightly knit communities of Bishop, La Loma and Palo Verde from a plot of land amounting to something more than 300 acres. The area...


November 2005    Albums


This German quintet draws clear inspiration from the hepcat sound of late-'50s and early-'60s postbop, as the influence of Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Lee Morgan, Dexter Gordon and Ahmad Jamal's bands of this period are baldly evident. If Hipnosis was content...


October 2005    Albums

Oliver Mtukidzi

Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi's expert hand at guitar and his gruff, grandfatherly bluesman's voice have served him well over the past 30 years. Nhava, the elder statesman's 48th release, does not find Tuku taking many chances, but when the music sounds this effortlessly...


October 2005    Albums

Now Hear This

Much ink has been spilled as to the cementing of jazz into "America's Classical Music," but these arguments neglect the obvious: America already has a homegrown classical music in bluegrass. The idiom and structure of bluegrass have been set in stone for...


October 2005    Albums

Swing Around the World
Various Artists

Putumayo's latest global compilation suggests that swing music might not travel that well after all. Leastways many of the "world swing" songs that made the cut on this album don't: The Zimbabwean hot jazz of the Cool Crooners of Bulawayo is polished to...


July/August 2005    Albums

Erik Truffaz

Saloua is a big, heavy snake of an album; a salmagundi of fusion that hits more often than it misses. Trumpeter Erik Truffaz's willingness to take chances recalls late-era Miles Davis, who's explicitly referenced on "Tantrik," a funk-drenched wailing echo...


July/August 2005    Albums

Mary Lou's Mass
Mary Lou Williams

Over the course of her nearly 60-year career, Mary Lou Williams was like a Swiss army knife of jazz, having a go at just about every movement between ragtime and free jazz. This lifelong musical exploration culminated in a devotion to ecclesiastical music;...


July/August 2005    Albums

Stolen Moments
Alison Brown

Written and performed in the "stolen moments" between her work as the head of American roots label Compass and as a new mother, banjoist Alison Brown's new album offers 11 sweet and precisely metered slices of contemporary bluegrass, Celtic traditional music...

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About John Seroff