John Seroff

John’s Contributions

Delugis_span3

March 2006    Albums

Yo!
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...

Gilfema_gilfema_span3

January/February 2006    Albums

Gilfema
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...

Shimabukuro_dragon_span3

January/February 2006    Albums

Dragon
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...

Coalition-naked_movies_span3

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...

Ry_cooder-chavez_ravine_span3

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...

Hipnosis-carrousel_span3

November 2005    Albums

Carrousel
Hipnosis

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...

Oliver_mtukudzi-nhava_span3

October 2005    Albums

Nhava
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...

Psychograss-now_hear_this_span3

October 2005    Albums

Now Hear This
Psychograss

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...

Various_artists-swing_around_the_world_span3

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...

Erik_truffaz-saloua_span3

July/August 2005    Albums

Saloua
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...

Williams_mary_span3

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;...

Brown_stolen_span3

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

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