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Sonar with David Torn: Vortex (RareNoise)

Sometimes opposites really do attract. Sonar is an eight-year-old Swiss “post-minimalist” quartet that combines austere, oddly interlocking rhythms with a distinctive tritone bass and guitar tuning, and does so with mathematical precision (their primary songwriter, Stephan Thelen, actually is a mathematician). They proudly proclaimed their first couple of records “live in studio,” without any loops … Read More “Sonar with David Torn: Vortex (RareNoise)”

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Lauren Sevian: Bliss (Posi-Tone)

The appeal of Bliss is simple: Lauren Sevian plays the deep, full-bodied baritone sax with the spry agility of an alto saxophonist. And while there are a few of Sevian’s peers that can claim the same, they aren’t partnered with bassist Christian McBride. Drummer E.J. Strickland and pianist Robert Rodriguez round out the star-spangled quartet. … Read More “Lauren Sevian: Bliss (Posi-Tone)”

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Benjamin Boone/Philip Levine: The Poetry of Jazz (Origin)

It has been a banner time for high-profile jazz-poetry collaborations. Last year saw the release of Matt Wilson’s long-planned tribute to Carl Sandburg, Nicole Mitchell’s teaming with Haki Madhubuti and Jane Ira Bloom’s musical refractions of Emily Dickinson’s terse verse, among other projects. But now there is The Poetry of Jazz, providing us with the … Read More “Benjamin Boone/Philip Levine: The Poetry of Jazz (Origin)”

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Bobby Previte: Rhapsody (RareNoise)

You can always count on Bobby Previte to give you something innovative, something that sews new seams between musical genres. Rhapsody was commissioned by the 2015 Greenfield Prize for Music, enabling the composer-drummer to complete the second part of his trilogy, which began with Terminals in 2014 and is meant to explore the experience of … Read More “Bobby Previte: Rhapsody (RareNoise)”

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Philipp Gerschlauer/David Fiuczynski: Mikrojazz! Neue Expressionistische Musik (RareNoise)

Guitarist Dave “Fuze” Fiuczynski has been knocking down the walls between jazz and microtonal music for over a decade now. But on Mikrojazz, the former Screaming Headless Torsos honcho, now the director of the Planet MicroJam Institute at Berklee, has found some noteworthy collaborators who take this experimental genre to another level—folks like legendary drummer … Read More “Philipp Gerschlauer/David Fiuczynski: Mikrojazz! Neue Expressionistische Musik (RareNoise)”

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Behn Gillece: Walk of Fire (Posi-Tone)

Vibraphonist Behn Gillece thrives on the camaraderie of modern hard-bop. He came to prominence co-leading various ensembles with tenor saxophonist Ken Fowler, frequently changing rhythm sections on their four discs together for Posi-Tone. Walk of Fire is Gillece’s third for the label as the sole leader since then. It might just be the best of … Read More “Behn Gillece: Walk of Fire (Posi-Tone)”

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Jane Ira Bloom: Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson (Outline)

At the risk of courting gender stereotypes, there is a congruence between the way a ballerina moves and the music Jane Ira Bloom derives from her soprano saxophone on Wild Lines. To be able to blend refined grace and tensile strength into such an aesthetically pleasing flow requires both painstaking discipline and intuitive freedom. Bloom … Read More “Jane Ira Bloom: Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson (Outline)”

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Tomas Fujiwara: Triple Double (Firehouse 12)

Tomas Fujiwara’s sextet is named Triple Double for a couple of reasons. It is composed of three instrumental pairings: guitarists Mary Halvorson and Brandon Seabrook, horns Ralph Alessi (trumpet) and Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet) and the drumming duo of Fujiwara and Gerald Cleaver. Then there is the fact that the Tomas Fujiwara Trio includes Seabrook … Read More “Tomas Fujiwara: Triple Double (Firehouse 12)”

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Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition: Agrima (rudreshm.com)

Since the last Indo-Pak Coalition album came out in 2008, saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and guitarist Rez Abbasi have each released a handful of substantial records as bandleaders, and drummer-tabla player Dan Weiss has generated his own strong discography. On this belated follow-up, Agrima, the trio has less to prove and more to flex. The most … Read More “Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition: Agrima (rudreshm.com)”

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Two Albums by Bassist Anne Mette Iversen

ANNE METTE IVERSEN TERNION QUARTET Ternion Quartet (BJU) ANNE METTE IVERSEN QUARTET +1 Round Trip (BJU) Composer-bassist Anne Mette Iversen has been the best reason to pay attention to the Brooklyn Jazz Underground collective the past few years, and these simultaneous releases with two completely separate bands signal another growth spurt in her development and … Read More “Two Albums by Bassist Anne Mette Iversen”

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Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: Find the Common, Shine a Light (Greenleaf)

With Find the Common, Shine a Light, trombonist Ryan Keberle has now issued three albums in five years with his piano-less ensemble Catharsis, each one a thoughtfully conceptual disc boasting Keberle’s superb arrangements. But this latest Catharsis outing sacrifices the prominence of the group’s musical virtues for topical social commentary. The purpose here is to … Read More “Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: Find the Common, Shine a Light (Greenleaf)”

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Chicago Edge Ensemble: Decaying Orbit (Music +) (Lizard Breath)

Chicago Edge Ensemble is an all-terrain vehicle, a quintet equally capable of negotiating the bumpity-smooth contours of swinging postbop, the banked hairpin turns of fusion-funk, the fog and ether of AACM-style intrigue and the tumultuous thicket that awaits if you gleefully careen off the road. Leader-guitarist Dan Phillips writes segmented songs that frequently include at … Read More “Chicago Edge Ensemble: Decaying Orbit (Music +) (Lizard Breath)”

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Abdullah Ibrahim: Ancient Africa (Sackville/Delmark)

Abdullah Ibrahim converted to Islam nearly five years before these solo-piano recordings were captured in Toronto on Feb. 18, 1973. But Ibrahim had just come from a pilgrimage to Mecca, and the gusts of inspiration that sweep through these lengthy solo-piano excursions are from the mind and heart of the recommitted. They are certainly less … Read More “Abdullah Ibrahim: Ancient Africa (Sackville/Delmark)”

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Marc Copland: Better by Far (InnerVoice)

Pianist Marc Copland is the most ECM-friendly musician without a record under his own name on that label. Via his frequent and longstanding engagement with ECM headliners like John Abercrombie and Gary Peacock, and through his prolific recordings on the German Pirouet label, Copland has consistently displayed the harmonic elegance and crystalline intonation that compels … Read More “Marc Copland: Better by Far (InnerVoice)”

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Gerald Cannon: Combinations (Woodneck)

The title of bassist Gerald Cannon’s first disc since 2004 takes note of the fact that none of the 11 songs—five of them Cannon originals—feature the same configuration of musicians. But this is no hodgepodge. Ten cohorts who had previously shared a bandstand with the bassist convened over a two-day period to knock out material … Read More “Gerald Cannon: Combinations (Woodneck)”

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Uri Gurvich: Kinship (Jazz Family)

Kinship is an affable assortment of buoyant bop and international folk music traditions. As with leader Uri Gurvich’s two previous discs (both on Tzadik), the album flexes the virtues of the ensemble’s cosmopolitan lineage—Gurvich the Israeli saxophonist, Argentinian pianist Leo Genovese, Bulgarian bassist Peter Slavov and Cuban drummer Francisco Mela. Two saxophonists not on the … Read More “Uri Gurvich: Kinship (Jazz Family)”

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Theo Hill: Promethean (Posi-Tone)

Theo Hill is a dynamically percussive pianist, so it’s not surprising that the musicians who have inspired him have been primarily drummers and likeminded keyboardists. As its title indicates, Promethean “steals fire” from these demigods—principally Tony Williams, Mulgrew Miller, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Kirkland and Jeff “Tain” Watts—for a bold hard-bop showcase also featuring bassist Yasushi … Read More “Theo Hill: Promethean (Posi-Tone)”

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David S. Ware Trio: Live in New York, 2010 (AUM Fidelity)

More than two hours of molten, visceral, spontaneous improvisation from David S. Ware is contained on Live in New York, 2010, the third posthumous volume of previously unreleased material from AUM Fidelity since the saxophonist’s passing in 2012. While Ware is most widely known and appreciated for his tenor workouts in a quartet setting, this … Read More “David S. Ware Trio: Live in New York, 2010 (AUM Fidelity)”

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Avishai Cohen: Cross My Palm With Silver (ECM)

It’s inevitably tempting to link Cross My Palm With Silver to the first album from Israeli trumpeter Avishai Cohen for ECM, last year’s Into the Silence. Guest saxophonist Bill McHenry is absent, and Cohen’s longtime friend Barak Mori replaces bassist Eric Revis in the core quartet. But the iconic production of Manfred Eicher’s label again … Read More “Avishai Cohen: Cross My Palm With Silver (ECM)”

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Anat Cohen – Two New Albums on Anzic

Clarinetist Anat Cohen continues her fertile embrace of Brazilian music on this pair of simultaneously released records. As with Alegria Da Casa, her 2015 debut collaboration with Trio Brasileiro, Rosa Dos Ventos revels in the lively, ragtime-oriented alacrity of Brazilian choro music. This time, however, the quartet pushes the boundaries, relying on all originals for … Read More “Anat Cohen – Two New Albums on Anzic”

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Ray Mantilla: High Voltage (Savant)

The most adventurous song on High Voltage is the only one 83-year-old Latin-jazz percussion-titan Ray Mantilla composed for the project. Entitled “Lane Change,” it leads with torrid Hindustani tabla beats by Maitreya Padukone, dutifully followed by a similar barrage from Mantilla on cajón. Bassist Cucho Martinez joins in by the second minute, then the wet, … Read More “Ray Mantilla: High Voltage (Savant)”

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Michaël Attias Quartet: Nerve Dance (Clean Feed)

Saxophonist-composer Michaël Attias has studied and played with two masters of structure and space, Anthony Braxton and Paul Motian. To the extent he is a traditionalist, Attias reveres Bird, Coltrane and Ornette not for their place in the firmament, but for their willingness to take risks. On Nerve Dance, Attias has assembled an ideal ensemble … Read More “Michaël Attias Quartet: Nerve Dance (Clean Feed)”

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Nicole Mitchell: Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE)

Recorded live in Chicago and performed in 2015, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary celebration of the AACM, Mandorla Awakening II is a resplendent reminder of why that organization’s ethos remains so invaluable. It is ambitious, adventuresome, defiant of genres and conventional wisdom and wildly dynamic. Its ability to be astral-ethereal and grassroots folky in … Read More “Nicole Mitchell: Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE)”

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Matt Mitchell: Førage (Screwgun)

When Tim Berne played Philadelphia in 2009, the opening act was Matt Mitchell, a then-obscure pianist who blew Berne away by performing an entire set of the saxophonist’s compositions for solo piano. Soon after that gig, Berne enlisted Mitchell for his band Snakeoil, a confident ensemble that has allowed Berne’s writing to become increasingly elliptical … Read More “Matt Mitchell: Førage (Screwgun)”

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John Raymond & Real Feels: Real Feels; Live, Vol. 1 (Shifting Paradigm)

John Raymond’s Foreign Territory was one of the most impressive records of 2015, for its articulation of creativity within the bounds of tradition. Where that disc was composed mostly of originals often inspired by classic songs, Real Feels investigates classics through sly deconstruction and unabashed emotion. Raymond is a trumpeter of bright clarity and subtle … Read More “John Raymond & Real Feels: Real Feels; Live, Vol. 1 (Shifting Paradigm)”

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Tony Moreno Quintet: Short Stories (Mayimba)

Short Stories is burnished by generosity and gratitude. Covering more than two hours of music over two discs and 15 songs, it chronicles a chapter in drummer/educator Tony Moreno’s life after he’d lost his studio, his instruments and a valuable trove of archival material he and his mother, the noted harpist and musicologist Nina Dunkel … Read More “Tony Moreno Quintet: Short Stories (Mayimba)”

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