The Great Lakes Suite Wadada Leo Smith

12/18/14    Albums    By Britt Robson

Wadada Leo Smith
The Great Lakes Suite

Composer-trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith has set an impossibly high bar for himself recently with a pair of politically trenchant, inventively knotty large ensemble projects, his magnum opus Ten Freedom Summers (2012) and Occupy the World (2013). The Great Lakes...

Live at Smalls David Berkman

12/17/14    Albums    By Brad Farberman

David Berkman
Live at Smalls

The five releases covered in this review—albums from pianist David Berkman, guitarist Peter Bernstein, drummer Rodney Green, tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton and singer-pianist Johnny O’Neal—were all recorded at the New York club Smalls in 2012 or 2013...

Still Casual Walter Smith III

12/16/14    Albums    By Sharonne Cohen

Walter Smith III
Still Casual
Walter Smith III

Tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III assembles a stellar cast of collaborators here, all of whom he has played with in various constellations: Taylor Eigsti (piano), Matthew Stevens (guitar), Harish Raghavan (bass), Kendrick Scott (drums) and guest Ambrose...

In the Mood Herb Alpert

12/15/14    Albums    By Christopher Loudon

Herb Alpert
In the Mood
Shout Factory

Among the 14 selections that fill Herb Alpert’s latest, his 38th career album, the Glenn Miller-associated title tune is not included. Which begs an obvious question: In the mood for what? Love? Nostalgia? Patriotism? The correct answer is all of the above...

Manhattan Stories Charles Lloyd

12/14/14    Albums    By Thomas Conrad

Charles Lloyd
Manhattan Stories
Resonance Records

The claims that producers make for their own projects cannot always be taken straight to the bank, but Zev Feldman’s remark about Manhattan Stories is provocative: “This just might be the holy grail for longtime Charles Lloyd fans like myself who think they’ve...

Cheek to Cheek Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga

12/14/14    Albums    By Christopher Loudon

Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
Cheek to Cheek

When Tony Bennett released Duets II in 2011, the lion’s share of praise focused on his teaming with the late Amy Winehouse on “Body and Soul.” But the album’s true highpoint was Bennett’s joyous romp across “The Lady Is a Tramp” alongside Lady Gaga. So it...

I Like Men Rebecca Kilgore

12/13/14    Albums    By Christopher Loudon

Rebecca Kilgore
I Like Men
Arbors Records

The concept, a female singer paying album-length homage to the male of the species, is hardly new. That well-worn path has been trod by Peggy Lee, Julie London and countless others. But Rebecca Kilgore manages, in her deceptively effortless way, to make...

Red Hill Wadada Leo Smith

12/12/14    Albums    By Steve Greenlee

Wadada Leo Smith
Red Hill

Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith’s devotion to the avant-garde has remained steadfast over the decades, but his new effort, Red Hill , is even freer than much of what has preceded it. There are no rhythms, meters, melodies, chord progressions, basslines or structures...

Numbers & Letters Andrew Rathbun Quartet

12/11/14    Albums    By David Whiteis

Andrew Rathbun Quartet
Numbers & Letters

Saxophonist Andrew Rathbun and his compatriots tap into powerful emotions without succumbing to them. Rathbun remains resolutely in control (and coherent) at even the fastest tempos, and his balladry resonates with hard-won peace as well as pathos. His interplay...

Interview: James Gavin, Author of New Peggy Lee Bio

12/10/14    Books    By Jeff Tamarkin

Interview: James Gavin, Author of New Peggy Lee Bio

“Is That All There Is?” is a comprehensive portrait of a troubled, brilliant artist