Children of the Sun Joe Sample & NDR Bigband

03/04/15    Albums    By Michael J. West

Joe Sample & NDR Bigband
Children of the Sun

The late pianist Joe Sample’s final work is also easily his most ambitious: an album-length suite exploring the emotional landscape of slaves in the Middle Passage, written for Germany’s 20-plus-piece NDR Bigband. At times the ambition is too much for its...

Intents and Purposes Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet

03/03/15    Albums    By Michael J. West

Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet
Intents and Purposes
Enja Records

The conceit behind Intents and Purposes is a nifty one: seminal fusion tunes, rendered in the gentler textures of acoustic guitar (Rez Abbasi), vibraphone (Bill Ware), bass (Stephan Crump) and drums (Eric McPherson). Abbasi’s Acoustic Quartet makes its point...

Hamburg '72 Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian

03/01/15    Albums    By Thomas Conrad

Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian
Hamburg '72
ECM Records

Reissues and previously unreleased “vault” recordings are crucial to the jazz record industry. Since the start of the compact disc era in 1983, both have abounded. The steady stream of important previously unreleased old recordings has necessitated a new...

Sonic Halo Tineke Postma/Greg Osby

02/28/15    Albums    By Thomas Conrad

Tineke Postma/Greg Osby
Sonic Halo
Challenge Records

Everyone who reads this magazine has friends who hate jazz. To them it sounds discordant, cacophonous, nervous and willfully abstract. Don’t play them this record. Not that it will sound that way to experienced, committed jazz listeners. They will hear the...

Imagine Bill O'Connell and the Latin Jazz Allstars

02/26/15    Albums    By Jeff Tamarkin

Bill O'Connell and the Latin Jazz Allstars

It’s curious that Bill O’Connell’s 11th album as a leader is titled after the revered John Lennon anthem covered within, because it’s atypical of most of his work. O’Connell’s stock-in-trade is bop-tempered Afro-Cuban rhythm, and few traces of such surface...

Review: Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band at the Met

02/23/15    Concerts    By Jeff Tamarkin

Review: Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band at the Met

“A Musical Tribute to Thomas Hart Benton”

We Make the Rules Jochen Rueckert

02/23/15    Albums    By Mike Shanley

Jochen Rueckert
We Make the Rules

Drummer Jochen Rueckert has published three volumes of short stories entitled Read the Rueckert , which chronicle the life of a touring jazz musician, dirty hotel rooms and all. It’s earned at least one comparison to the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson...

Rob Mazurek and Black Cube SP Return the Tides: Ascension Suite and Holy Ghost

02/20/15    Albums    By David Whiteis

Return the Tides: Ascension Suite and Holy Ghost
Rob Mazurek and Black Cube SP
Cuneiform Records

Cornetist Rob Mazurek and his Black Cube SP recorded this disc in May 2013, two weeks after the death of Mazurek’s mother. The suite was conceived in her memory; the titles of the selections are taken from a poem Mazurek wrote for her shortly after her passing...

The 21st Century Trad Band Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet

02/17/15    Albums    By Matt R. Lohr

Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet
The 21st Century Trad Band
Basin Street Records

The whimsical artwork for The 21st Century Trad Band depicts vibraphonist Jason Marsalis and his musicians (pianist Austin Johnson, bassist Will Goble and drummer David Potter) as caped musical superheroes, Goble playing a rocket-powered bass, Potter using...

What Is This Thing Called? Jean-Michel Pilc

02/16/15    Albums    By Thomas Conrad

Jean-Michel Pilc
What Is This Thing Called?

In the vast archives of solo jazz piano recordings, this one has few precedents. Its 68 minutes contain 31 tracks, many under a minute, most under two. With one exception, all are completely improvised. The album is a challenging listening experience. By...