Reviews

Akua Dixon Akua Dixon

03/11/15    Albums    By Michael J. West

Akua Dixon
Akua Dixon
Akua's Music

Akua Dixon made a baffling choice in self-titling her second album, which features the cellist in a string quartet, plus special guests. It’s a declamatory presentation, but what is she declaiming when she solos exactly three times on the entire album? That...

Sings, Vol. II Franck Amsallem

03/10/15    Albums    By Christopher Loudon

Franck Amsallem
Sings, Vol. II
Fram

Algerian-born, French-raised and Paris-based, Franck Amsallem spent close to three decades establishing himself as a fine pianist with a dense, bright style that suggests equal parts Keith Jarrett and Bill Charlap. Then, five years ago, he decided to follow...

Singer Karla Harris Pays Tribute to Dave and Iola Brubeck

03/09/15    Concerts    By Ken Franckling

Singer Karla Harris Pays Tribute to Dave and Iola Brubeck

Concert one of the highlights of Sarasota Jazz Festival

My Dance Judi Silvano

03/09/15    Albums    By Christopher Loudon

Judi Silvano
My Dance
JSL

Across a kaleidoscopic recording career that recently entered its third decade, vocalist Judi Silvano has worked with pianoless groups, all-female outfits, a vocal ensemble performing a cappella, and even crafted, with husband Joe Lovano, an album of music...

Bird Calls Rudresh Mahanthappa

03/08/15    Albums    By Britt Robson

Rudresh Mahanthappa
Bird Calls
ACT Music + Vision

Alto saxophonist and composer Rudresh Mahanthappa has usually been most riveting when engaged in collaborative projects. While Raw Materials, his duo with pianist Vijay Iyer, is probably most renowned, Mahanthappa’s best creative partnerships have often...

Romance, Swing and the Blues Marcus Roberts and the Modern Jazz Generation

03/07/15    Albums    By Jeff Tamarkin

Marcus Roberts and the Modern Jazz Generation
Romance, Swing and the Blues
J-Master

Marcus Roberts went large with his latest. Financing the project with a Kickstarter campaign, the pianist-composer maintained his loyal trio of bassist Rodney Jordan and drummer Jason Marsalis, called upon tenor saxophonist Stephen Riley, an early cohort...

Mythology Matt Brewer

03/06/15    Albums    By Thomas Conrad

Matt Brewer
Mythology
Criss Cross

Matt Brewer’s recording debut as a leader is an underground all-star project. Underground because the players here are critics’ favorites but not exactly festival draws; all-star because they are heavy hitters on the frontier of the jazz art form. They are...

Round Nina: A Tribute to Nina Simone Various Artists

03/05/15    Albums    By Christopher Loudon

Various Artists
Round Nina: A Tribute to Nina Simone
Verve

A dozen years have passed since Nina Simone left us, yet it’s taken until now for a substantial tribute album to emerge. Making up for lost time, this 10-track import pays superlative homage to the singularly vibrant Simone in all her musical hues. Welcomingly...

The Whisperer Ben Wolfe

03/04/15    Albums    By Thomas Conrad

Ben Wolfe
The Whisperer
Posi-Tone

Perhaps bass players so often make good leaders because they are accustomed to serving the music. Even monsters like Mingus, Dave Holland and Christian McBride have been more interested in calling attention to the ensemble than to themselves. Ben Wolfe rarely...

Children of the Sun Joe Sample & NDR Bigband

03/04/15    Albums    By Michael J. West

Joe Sample & NDR Bigband
Children of the Sun
PRA

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...