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Tony Monaco: Celebration : Life, Love, Music

This two-CD set showcases the fleet-fingered Hammond B3 maven Tony Monaco, who has worked in recent years with Pat Martino and gained notoriety in organ-group circles with six previous releases as a leader. Disc one features Monaco playing originals in a trio setting with drummer Jason Brown (his bandmate in Martino’s organ group) and saxophonist … Read More “Tony Monaco: Celebration : Life, Love, Music”

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Joe “Guido” Welsh: Nothing Left to Say

Joe “Guido” Welsh, the renegade analog synth wiz responsible for 2004’s audacious Thelonious Moog project Yes We Didn’t, switches to guitar for this scorching homage to mid-’70s fusion, with direct references along the way to six-stringers Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck and Al Di Meola. Precise lines and burning unisons predominate on wailing, Minimoog-laden anthems like … Read More “Joe “Guido” Welsh: Nothing Left to Say”

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Chad Wackerman: Dreams, Nightmares and Improvisations

A former member of Frank Zappa’s touring band and longstanding member of guitar hero Allan Holdsworth’s trio, power-precision drummer Chad Wackerman is also an accomplished composer with five albums as a leader to his credit. His latest features Holdsworth (his third time playing sideman to Wackerman), along with the guitarist’s longtime bassist, Jimmy Johnson. The … Read More “Chad Wackerman: Dreams, Nightmares and Improvisations”

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Steve Smith and Vital Information : Live! One Great Night

Drummer Steve Smith, a one-time member of rock supergroup Journey and Jean-Luc Ponty’s fusion group, has kept his hard-hitting Vital Information together for 30 years. A number of stellar players have passed through the ranks during that time, contributing to the band’s organic blend of high-energy jazz, rock and funk. Keyboardist Tom Coster has been … Read More “Steve Smith and Vital Information : Live! One Great Night”

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Bruce Forman Trio: Formanism

A bona fide bopper at heart, guitarist Bruce Forman has long been acknowledged as a harmonically advanced player with an alluring, dark tone and penchant for melodic improvisation. On this excellent trio outing, he most closely resembles classic jazz guitar players Barney Kessel and Barry Galbraith on originals like the Bird-inspired title track, his gorgeous … Read More “Bruce Forman Trio: Formanism”

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Sam Kulik: Escape from Society

The spirit of Frank Zappa hovers over this oddly appealing album that draws from early FZ masterworks like Freak Out! and Absolutely Free while also recalling the smart, experimental pop of Brian Eno circa Here Come the Warm Jets and Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). A multi-instrumental renegade, Sam Kulik’s primary ax is trombone, which … Read More “Sam Kulik: Escape from Society”

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Jakob Bro/Thomas Knak: Bro/Knak

This innovative two-CD set involves two separate versions of the same set of tunes: one CD realized by Danish guitarist-composer Jakob Bro, a former member of Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band, the second CD containing rebuilds of those same tunes by Danish electronic musician-producer Thomas Knak, who also works under the name Opiate. Bro’s recordings … Read More “Jakob Bro/Thomas Knak: Bro/Knak”

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Brooklyn Jazz Underground: A Portrait of Brooklyn

Members of the Brooklyn Jazz Underground, a tightly knit cooperative of bandleaders and composers, join forces on this formidable outing. The quintet features the two tenors of Adam Kolker and Dan Pratt, who exchange furiously on Pratt’s “Buttermilk Channel.” Trumpeter Dan Smith’s irrepressibly swinging “Starr St.” showcases the crisply interactive drumming of Rob Garcia and … Read More “Brooklyn Jazz Underground: A Portrait of Brooklyn”

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Tom Harrell: Number Five

Over the course of five albums in five years, trumpeter Tom Harrell has maintained the same swinging quintet. Number Five shows the formidable group forging ever-tight chemistry on seven Harrell originals and four well-chosen covers. The collection kicks off in unorthodox but stirring fashion with Harrell and young drummer Johnathan Blake in a heated, freewheeling … Read More “Tom Harrell: Number Five”

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Steve Davis: Gettin’ It Done

A stalwart on the scene since the ’90s, when he worked with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Jackie McLean and Chick Corea’s Origin, trombonist Steve Davis has established himself as one of the most accomplished and lyrical improvisers on his instrument as well as a prolific composer. A longstanding member of the co-op band One for … Read More “Steve Davis: Gettin’ It Done”

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The Elvin Jones Project: Michael Feinberg

An Atlanta native and recent New York City transplant, 25-year-old bassist Michael Feinberg explores the relationship that Elvin Jones had with various bass players throughout his illustrious career, including Jimmy Garrison, Gene Perla, George Mraz and Dave Holland. Filling in for the late, great drummer on this exceptional outing is Billy Hart, a close friend … Read More “The Elvin Jones Project: Michael Feinberg”

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Joey DeFrancesco: Wonderful! Wonderful!

One-time Hammond organ prodigy Joey DeFrancesco, now a well-seasoned 41-year-old, has recorded with a number of great jazz guitarists, including his longtime collaborator Paul Bollenback and six-string icons John McLaughlin and Pat Martino. On Wonderful! Wonderful!, his 30th recording overall as a leader and 10th for HighNote, he is joined by guitar great Larry Coryell … Read More “Joey DeFrancesco: Wonderful! Wonderful!”

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Marco Cappelli’s Italian Surf Academy: The American Dream

Since relocating from his native Italy to New York City in 2004, guitarist Marco Cappelli has been active on the extreme-guitar scene inhabited by such likeminded downtown renegades as Elliott Sharp, Nick Didkovsky and Marc Ribot. While he quickly established himself with his extended techniques for acoustic guitar, Cappelli plays strictly electric, with an array … Read More “Marco Cappelli’s Italian Surf Academy: The American Dream”

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Peter Madsen’s Seven Sins Ensemble: Gravity of Love

Pianist-composer Peter Madsen, a mainstay on the New York scene since the early ’80s, made a courageous leap into a new life in 2000 by marrying an Austrian woman and relocating to her rustic hometown of Vorarlberg, nearly 4,000 miles from the Big Apple. But rather than allowing his improv chops to atrophy, Madsen has … Read More “Peter Madsen’s Seven Sins Ensemble: Gravity of Love”

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Jacam Manricks: Cloud Nine

Australian-born, New York-based alto saxophonist-composer Jacam Manricks has been quietly churning out quality recordings as a leader that feature some of the most in-demand players on the NYC scene. Cloud Nine, his fourth, is no exception. With Adam Rogers on guitar, Matt Wilson on drums and Sam Yahel on organ, he has recruited first-class talent. … Read More “Jacam Manricks: Cloud Nine”

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Celebrating Jean Luc-Ponty: Live at Yoshi’s: Mads Tolling Quartet

Danish-born violinist Mads Tolling, a longtime member of both the Stanley Clarke Group and the Turtle Island Quartet, pays tribute to one of his heroes on this live recording from Oakland’s Yoshi’s nightclub. Joined by the explosive electric guitarist Mike Abraham, electric bassist George Ban-Weiss and highly disciplined drummer Eric Garland, Tolling covers a wide … Read More “Celebrating Jean Luc-Ponty: Live at Yoshi’s: Mads Tolling Quartet”

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Russ Lossing: Drum Music

Since the passing of Paul Motian, several tributes have been released that reexamine the iconic drummer’s contributions as a composer. None are more heartfelt and moving than Russ Lossing’s remarkable solo-piano tribute to the late, great Motian. A frequent collaborator over the past 12 years, Lossing understands Motian’s music from the inside out. His renditions … Read More “Russ Lossing: Drum Music”

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Arthur Kell Quartet: Jester

Bassist-composer Arthur Kell fronts a crew of top-shelf improvisers and consummate team players-alto saxophonist Loren Stillman, guitarist Brad Shepik, drummer Mark Ferber-on this winning quartet outing. The riff-based opener, “Quarter Sawn,” recalls the infectious energy and wit of Ornette Coleman’s catchiest avant-groove-oriented writing for his electrified Prime Time, and the moody and mysterious “Ijinna” showcases … Read More “Arthur Kell Quartet: Jester”

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Ryan Meagher: Tone

Guitarist-composer Ryan Meagher has recruited a group of fellow musical renegades for his sophomore outing. Like last year’s impressive Atroefy, this one falls into the “modern jazz for the indie rocker” camp. Trumpeter and Kneebody co-founder Shane Endsley and saxophonist Matt Blostein enliven the proceedings with their bristling, thoughtful solos on affecting Meagher originals like … Read More “Ryan Meagher: Tone”

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Human Spirit: Dialogue

Trumpeter Thomas Marriott joins alto saxophonist Mark Taylor, pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Essiet Essiet and drummer (and Origin label head) Matt Jorgensen on this solid, cooperative live album. Marriott and Taylor make a formidable frontline on such modernist fare as Jorgensen’s turbulent “Ridgecrest,” Marriott’s uptempo “Song for Samuel” and his blistering hard-boppish romp “Pelham Gardens.” … Read More “Human Spirit: Dialogue”

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Giacomo Merega: Watch the Walls Instead

There’s something chilling and distinctly sci-fi about the atmospheric improvisations by bassist Giacomo Merega, guitarist Marco Cappelli and saxophonist Noah Kaplan on this stark, freewheeling affair. Add the minimalist, atonal piano tinkling of Anthony Coleman (“White With Clouds,” “Blue on Blue,” “Still Yellow,” “Absence of Color”) and two dissonant tracks featuring violinist Mauro Pagani (“Forgotten … Read More “Giacomo Merega: Watch the Walls Instead”

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Aruán Ortiz Quartet: Orbiting

The gifted pianist-composer-arranger Aruán Ortiz, a native of Santiago de Cuba, showcases different aspects of his abundant musicality on these two disparate releases. The folkloric Santiarican Blues Suite , originally written for the ballet Pagan or Not and performed by the José Mateo Ballet Theatre in Cuba, is a stirring confluence of Spanish, French, Afro-Haitian … Read More “Aruán Ortiz Quartet: Orbiting”

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Christian Escoudé : Christian Escoudé Plays Brassens: Au Bois de Mon Coeur

The late poet, musician and political activist George Brassens began performing his affecting songs after World War II and was a beloved cultural hero in France at the time of his death in 1981. Here, veteran French guitarist Christian Escoudé interprets Brassens’ tunes in a Gypsy-jazz vein with a core trio of bassist Pierre Boussanuet … Read More “Christian Escoudé : Christian Escoudé Plays Brassens: Au Bois de Mon Coeur”

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Dino & Franco Piana Septet: Seven

This all-star aggregation features some of the most prominent names on Italy’s modern jazz scene, including trumpeters Enrico Rava and Fabrizio Bosso, drummer Roberto Gatto, superb pianist Enrico Pieranunzi and the father-son team of valve trombonist Dino Piana and his gifted offspring, the trumpeter-composer-arranger Franco Piana. The four-movement Open Dialogues bears the harmonically rich stamp … Read More “Dino & Franco Piana Septet: Seven”

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Jeff Denson: Secret World

A founding member of Minsarah, the Brooklyn-based trio probably best known for its collaborations with Lee Konitz, accomplished bassist-composer Jeff Denson delivers 10 original gems on this precious quartet offering. The kindred personnel here are heavy: Ralph Alessi on trumpet, drummer Dan Weiss and Minsarah’s Florian Weber on piano. From the driving opener, “Rise,” with … Read More “Jeff Denson: Secret World”

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Gianni Bardaro: Soul Blueprint

Italian alto saxophonist-composer Gianni Bardaro showcases his considerable chops and penchant for writing difficult material on his fifth project as a leader. The turbulent “Neffertiti” (not the Wayne Shorter composition) exhibits his laser-sharp precision on challenging unisons with pianist Francesco Cali and bassist Andreas Hatholt, along with a freeblowing solo that swings forcefully as it … Read More “Gianni Bardaro: Soul Blueprint”

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John Yao Quintet: In the Now

Trombonist-composer John Yao, a protégé of Luis Bonilla, makes an auspicious debut as a leader here, joined by saxophonist Jon Irabagon, keyboardist Randy Ingram, bassist Leon Boykins and drummer Will Clark. Together they enjoy a copasetic rapport on potent offerings like “Divisions,” which shifts in and out of a churning 12/8 Afro-Caribbean groove and double-timed … Read More “John Yao Quintet: In the Now”

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