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Chick Corea: Acouschick

Chick Corea is from the Miles Davis school: He doesn’t like to look back. Throughout his illustrious career, which got its start in 1962 in the Latin jazz bands of Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo, he has moved forward with single-minded determination from one project to the next. The breadth of Corea’s oeuvre is as … Read More “Chick Corea: Acouschick”

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McCoy Tyner: McCoy Tyner Plays John Coltrane

On Sept. 23, 1997, which would have been John Coltrane’s 71st birthday, McCoy Tyner took the stage at the Village Vanguard with bassist George Mraz and drummer Al Foster. Four years later, we have the results: McCoy Tyner Plays John Coltrane (Impulse 3134 589 183-2; 66:28), which documents a brilliant evening of music. Tyner’s playing … Read More “McCoy Tyner: McCoy Tyner Plays John Coltrane”

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Stan Kenton: Revelations: Repertoire Rarities 1940-1978

There has always been much to admire in and learn from the Kenton orchestra, and Revelations does a great job of presenting the band’s creative evolution. Working largely from airshots and live recordings, the producers have worked hard to capture the character and essence of the band through its protean life span. French horns and … Read More “Stan Kenton: Revelations: Repertoire Rarities 1940-1978”

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Chicago Jazz Ensemble: Kenton a la Russo: Live at the Jazz Showcase

Bill Russo was a prodigious force in the Kenton band in the early ’50s: as chief arranger, he had a significant impact on the sound of the band and on a generation of big-band arrangers. In founding the Chicago Jazz Ensemble, he made himself a large band (20 pieces plus singers) well-suited to his proclivities: … Read More “Chicago Jazz Ensemble: Kenton a la Russo: Live at the Jazz Showcase”

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Oskar Aichinger: Elements of Poetry

On Elements of Poetry, pianist Oskar Aichinger, heard with bassist Achim Tang and drummer Paul Skrepek Jun, builds his performances from multiple musical materials. Their performances are less about composition than group dynamics, and Aichinger and company deliver polished introspective realizations of the various sets of nuclei brought into play. Aichinger makes grand use of … Read More “Oskar Aichinger: Elements of Poetry”

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Franz Koglmann: An Affair With Strauss

On An Affair With Strauss, trumpeter-flugelhornist Franz Koglmann directs the Monoblue Quartet (Tony Coe on clarinet and tenor sax, and one noteworthy vocal; Burkhard Stangl on guitar; and Peter Hubert on bass) and trains their ears on Vienna and the spirit of Johann Strauss the Younger. He borrows themes from the Strauss oeuvre, “thereby enhancing … Read More “Franz Koglmann: An Affair With Strauss”

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Tony Coe/Roger Kellaway: British-American Blue

Tony Coe and pianist Roger Kellaway’s British-American Blue is a set of improvisations, save for a closing blues free from any preconception. They do a fine job of realizing their aim of finding contrapuntal space to share, though finding touchstones for the listener to which they can return is clearly more of a challenge. Coe, … Read More “Tony Coe/Roger Kellaway: British-American Blue”

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John Lindberg Ensemble with Wadada Leo Smith, Larry Ochs, Andrew Cyrille: A Tree Frog Tonality

Bassist John Lindberg takes the honors among this wave of releases. Lindberg opens A Tree Frog Tonality by introducing his ensemble through a set of duets, first with Larry Ochs on sopranino sax; then with Andrew Cyrille on drums and percussion; and finally with Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet. Each sketches out his role for … Read More “John Lindberg Ensemble with Wadada Leo Smith, Larry Ochs, Andrew Cyrille: A Tree Frog Tonality”

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William Parker and the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Mayor of Punkville

Parker tests his leadership skills in the context of the Little Huey aggregation, which comprises seven stations: trombones (Masahiko Kono, Steve Swell and Alex Lodico); trumpets (Roy Campbell, Richard Rodriguez and Lewis Barnes); baritone sax/tuba (Dave Sewelson and Dave Hofstra, respectively); soprano/tenor sax (Chris Jonas and Darryl Foster); alto sax (Rob Brown, Ori Kaplan and … Read More “William Parker and the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra: Mayor of Punkville”

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Steve Swallow: Always Pack Your Uniform on Top

The evidence indicates that Steve Swallow is a travelin’ man: this release was recorded on the road at Ronnie Scott’s venerable club in Soho. To call him a journeyman bassist would fall far short of his due: His is an irrepressible musical personality that suffuses any piece he touches. He has cultivated a unique sound, … Read More “Steve Swallow: Always Pack Your Uniform on Top”

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Painter’s Spring

William Parker holds down the low end on many of the more substantial free-blowing sessions coming out of New York these days. That is, he is a bassist-though the term seems rather limiting in terms of the role that he actually plays. These two releases find him leading two very different ensembles, allowing the listener … Read More “Painter’s Spring”

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Dave Pietro: Now Becoming Then

Saxophonist Pietro has prepared a rich feast for listeners here, writing eight of nine pieces on the CD and arranging them all for an ensemble that includes trumpet and fluegelhorn (Scott Wendholt), trombone (Pete McGuinness), guitar (Pete McCann), piano (Mike Holober), bass (Scott Colley), drums (Brian Blade) and percussion (Todd Isler). The elements he is … Read More “Dave Pietro: Now Becoming Then”

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Erroll Garner: Now Playing

As this review sees print, it is twenty-five years since Erroll Garner passed away. With him went an approach to the piano and improvisation that remains unique in the history of jazz. Though formally unschooled-he never learned to read music-Garner had a nonpareil sense of harmonic relationships and form, which led to disarmingly different arrangements … Read More “Erroll Garner: Now Playing”

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John Hicks: Nightwind: An Erroll Garner Songbook

In Nightwind, John Hicks, one of the most resourceful and soulful pianists in the idiom, raises tribute to Garner through his compositions. In many respects, this is the only way to go: Garner’s style is that much tougher to emulate, in that it lacks the obvious gestures that Monk, for example, offers the disciple. Hicks … Read More “John Hicks: Nightwind: An Erroll Garner Songbook”

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J.D. Allen: In Search Of

Tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen makes strong impressions on these sessions. Winard Harper’s band matches his intense but tasteful drumming with Abdou Mboup on percussion, the redoubtable George Cables on piano, and the impressive Eric Revis on bass. Trumpeter Patrick Rickman joins Allen in the front line. Essentially a hard bop romp, the players enjoy themselves, … Read More “J.D. Allen: In Search Of”

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The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars: Dizzy’s World

Dizzy’s World comes alive under the leadership of Gillespie protege John Faddis. The band includes James Moody or Don Braden on reeds, Slide Hampton on trombone, Mulgrew Miller on piano, Chuck Loeb on guitar, John Lee on bass, and Ignacio Berroa, Duduka Da Fonseca, and Duke on percussion. Chris White makes a vocal cameo on … Read More “The Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars: Dizzy’s World”

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Oscar Feldman: El Angel

Feldman’s set is graced by some “name” guests, including Paquito D’Rivera, fellow Argentinian Gato Barbieri, trumpeter Claudio Roditi, and Alex Acuna on drums, and a trio of Uruguayan drummers on the deep “Candombe pa’ Los Shakers.” Here, the compositions and arrangements are mostly Feldman’s with a pair by guitarist Richie Zellon and a few others-including … Read More “Oscar Feldman: El Angel”

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Jimmy Bosch: Salsa Dura

Bosch’s aptly named “hard salsa” pulls no punches. The vocal/choral strains of salsa are rendered here with fervor as well as wit. The trumpet work of Felix “Junior” Vega rages wonderfully over the ensemble as the dynamic builds through each piece. As one might expect, the rhythm section is superb, giving Bosch and his colleagues … Read More “Jimmy Bosch: Salsa Dura”

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Ted Nash Double Quartet: Rhyme and Reason

“Chamber music.” The phrase carries with it something of the feel of a high starched collar. Its genteel overtones seem at some remove from the earthy, improvised roil of jazz. So chamber jazz is an oxymoron. Right? This recording demonstrates that the range of what might be called chamber jazz is just as broad as … Read More “Ted Nash Double Quartet: Rhyme and Reason”

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Frank Kimbrough/Joe Locke: Saturn’s Child

Pianist Kimbrough joins with vibraphonist Joe Locke to take on a formidable challenge in their set: not only must they deal with a seminal sound in this music-that of John Lewis and the recently-departed Milt Jackson-but with its latter day saints as well-Chick Corea and Gary Burton. The influence goes beyond mere sound: there is … Read More “Frank Kimbrough/Joe Locke: Saturn’s Child”

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Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Inner Voyage

Cuba seems more and more at the center of America’s musical fascination these days. The Buena Vista Social Club, the well-received film built around Ry Cooder’s adventures, is but the latest example of a popular view of world music that Saul Steinberg would surely have appreciated. Not without reason: Cuba’s contributions to jazz have certainly … Read More “Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Inner Voyage”

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Dave Douglas: Songs for Wandering Souls

The Tiny Bell Trio matches trumpeter Douglas with guitarist Brad Shepik and drummer Jim Black. Douglas has emerged as one of the more prolific-and omniverous-talents on today’s scene; he writes for a broad range of settings, but none is so directly compelling as this. The three phrase as one; they match tone precisely. The richness … Read More “Dave Douglas: Songs for Wandering Souls”

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Wynton Marsalis: At the Octoroon Balls-String Quartet #1

The String Quartet No.1, “At the Octoroon Balls,” is an experiment. To his credit, Marsalis does not seem at all cowed by the quartet tradition: he approaches the setting as a vector for his compositional instincts. There are few surprises here-nor any stylistic peccadilloes. The Orion String Quartet does an admirable job of finding the … Read More “Wynton Marsalis: At the Octoroon Balls-String Quartet #1”

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Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Big Train

Big Train is an extended suite, programmatically keyed to railroads-a vein of imagery as central to America as the Mississippi (and, perhaps not coincidentally, a favorite of Albert Murray). That Ellington wrote in programmatic fashion about “The Happy-Go-Lucky Local” and other trains inevitably begs comparisons, though Marsalis has extended his interpretation imaginatively, including the “Dining … Read More “Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Big Train”

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Wynton Marsalis: Sweet Release and Ghost Story- Two More Ballets

“Sweet Release” and “Ghost Story” are perhaps most interesting in revealing Marsalis’ approach to collaborative forms. Programmatic threads give the choreographer substantial foundations to support their efforts. The former piece, performed by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, offers space, texture, and rhythmic variety. The latter, performed by a quartet including Ted Nash on reeds, Eric … Read More “Wynton Marsalis: Sweet Release and Ghost Story- Two More Ballets”

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