Reviews

A Clear Midnight: Kurt Weill and America Julia Hulsmann Quartet with Theo Bleckmann

06/10/15    Albums    By Christopher Loudon

Julia Hulsmann Quartet with Theo Bleckmann
A Clear Midnight: Kurt Weill and America
ECM Records

Whether Bobby Darin, Ella Fitzgerald or Louis Armstrong, one of those names leaps immediately to mind at the mention of “Mack the Knife.” All of their versions are distinctly great, yet none is even remotely sinister, which is odd for a song about a remorseless...

Mockroot Tigran Hamasyan

06/09/15    Albums    By Michael J. West

Tigran Hamasyan
Mockroot
Nonesuch Records

Tigran Hamasyan’s music exists in its own universe, and on Mockroot that means distancing itself even from the pianist’s eccentric self-described “electro-acoustic Armenian rock.” The Armenian-American’s sixth album holds on to the rock trappings in some...

The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington Edited by Edward Green

06/08/15    Books    By Mick Carlon

Edited by Edward Green
The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington

A new collection of essays is indispensable

My Favorite Things Joey Alexander

06/08/15    Albums    By Jeff Tamarkin

Joey Alexander
My Favorite Things
Motema

The only difficult part of writing about pianist Joey Alexander is avoiding the use of the phrase “for a kid.” As we do when we approach any prodigy—and jazz has seen many who’ve continued to grow as childhood faded—those of us with a few years on us naturally...

The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter IV Kirk Whalum

06/07/15    Albums    By David Whiteis

Kirk Whalum
The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapter IV
Top Drawer

Kirk Whalum’s commitment is beyond question. He’s an ordained minister who puts in long, righteous hours as a volunteer at Manna House, an agency in Memphis that serves the homeless. And although his smooth-jazz aesthetic tends toward the less-than-challenging...

Lake Effect David Ake

06/06/15    Albums    By Britt Robson

David Ake
Lake Effect
Posi-Tone

Pianist David Ake’s Bridges was one of the best jazz outings of 2013, featuring a gentle kaleidoscope of taut yet off-kilter compositions for a sextet consisting of his fellow California Institute of the Arts alumni and associates, including Ravi Coltrane...

Yesterday I Had the Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday Jose James

06/05/15    Albums    By Christopher Loudon

Jose James
Yesterday I Had the Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday
Blue Note Records

Once in a great while there comes along an album that you know at first spin is one for the ages. José James’ Yesterday I Had the Blues , his triumphant homage to Billie Holiday at her centenary, numbers among that precious ilk. In the liner notes James...

In the Beginning Wes Montgomery

06/05/15    Albums    By Brad Farberman

Wes Montgomery
In the Beginning
Resonance Records

Near the end of In the Beginning , the stunning new two-CD (or three-LP) set comprising early music from guitarist Wes Montgomery, tenor saxophonist Alonzo “Pookie” Johnson takes a solo on “All the Things You Are.” It’s a live show, the year is 1957, and...

The Hot Sardines The Hot Sardines

06/04/15    Albums    By Steve Greenlee

The Hot Sardines
The Hot Sardines
Decca Records

In the neo-tradition of Squirrel Nut Zippers, 8 ½ Souvenirs and the Puppini Sisters come the Hot Sardines, a band whose record label claims is “reinventing hot jazz for the 21st century.” Reinventing? Not true. Celebrating in high style and with sharp talent...

Collective Portrait Eddie Henderson

06/03/15    Albums    By Jeff Tamarkin

Eddie Henderson
Collective Portrait
Smoke Sessions

In 2014, its first year, Smoke Sessions Records released nine titles recorded live at the Upper West Side club that gave the label its name. Now, with its first two releases of 2015, the fledgling label is setting up its recording equipment outside of its...