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Floratone: Floratone II

A delightfully creative work, Floratone’s second effort presents soundscapes that trigger wonder and a drive to spot the allusion. Guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer-percussionist Matt Chamberlain turn Chinese in “The Bloom Is On” (don’t miss Jon Brion’s weird, echoey keyboard flares), lay down the best instrumental Roxy Music never wrote in “More Pluck,” and stretch … Read More “Floratone: Floratone II”

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Mac Gollehon: Oddyssey of Nostalgia

The one original on this curiously fresh collection is the title track, a brisk, upbeat workout for brass ensemble sparked by bandleader Mac Gollehon’s cutting trumpet and Warren Smith’s driving yet airy drumming. The easy-breathing arrangement and the tune’s placement after the downbeat “Gloomy Sunday” keep the listener guessing, which may be the point of … Read More “Mac Gollehon: Oddyssey of Nostalgia”

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Jeremy Pelt: Soul

This intimate, confident disc worms its way into your head. Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt’s sixth album is an understated affair showcasing supple songwriting, a persuasive way with a phrase and the expert interplay of the band he has led over his past four albums. Pelt and tenor saxophonist JD Allen seem of one mind, harmonizing effortlessly … Read More “Jeremy Pelt: Soul”

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Eddie Gomez Quintet: Per Sempre

Bass player Eddie Gomez weaves a centered, pensive tapestry on this intimate, personal album. An exercise in empathy and implication, Per Sempre is deeply romantic and warm. The tunes, all melodic if not all equally memorable, span Gomez’s “Pops and Alma” (his bass seems to bubble behind pianist Teo Ciavarella), saxman Marco Pignataro’s “Bologna d’Inverno,” … Read More “Eddie Gomez Quintet: Per Sempre”

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Burnt Sugar : All Ya Needs That Negrocity

You have to stretch your vocabulary to parse All Ya Needs That Negrocity, the pointedly titled 12th album from Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber. Burnt Sugar is the sprawling, tribal band Village Voice writer Greg Tate (on guitar, lyrics and laptop) and bassist Jared Michael Nickerson founded in 1999. The New York-based ensemble scrambles genres, … Read More “Burnt Sugar : All Ya Needs That Negrocity”

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Andrew Cyrille & Haitian Fascination: Route De Frères

The core of this lucid, invigorating disc is the title triptych, a musical walk along the brotherhood road of Haiti, drummer Andrew Cyrille’s spiritual homeland. Paced by the burly baritone sax of Hamiet Bluiett and spiced by the pointillistic acoustic guitar of Alix Pascal, the album’s centerpiece begins frantic and jaunty, Pascal digging in as … Read More “Andrew Cyrille & Haitian Fascination: Route De Frères”

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Marilyn Mazur: Celestial Circle

Paced by the gallant, round piano of John Taylor, the austere mezzo-soprano of Josefine Cronholm and Anders Jormin’s space-carving bass, percussionist-composer Marilyn Mazur explores diverse territory on these pellucid 14 tracks. Each member of the band-also called Celestial Circle, and making its recorded debut here-contributes, and there’s no apparent leader. This is a no-drama disc; … Read More “Marilyn Mazur: Celestial Circle”

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Chuck Redd: The Common Thread

Chuck Redd is a deft, subtle vibraphonist who surrounds himself with equally talented and experienced musicians. He’s the equivalent of a midlist author: no blockbuster but dependable and reassuring. The Common Thread is enjoyable for its skillful blend of imagination and modesty. Propelled by similarly light-fingered drummer Mickey Roker and the highly selective bassist Bob … Read More “Chuck Redd: The Common Thread”

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Darius Jones Trio: Big Gurl (Smell My Dream)

Sibilance, onomatopoeia, drawing a fine if sometimes smeared line between the serrated and the silken-all figure into Big Gurl, the equally earthy and avant-garde sophomore effort from the Darius Jones Trio. Sparked by the sonically unpredictable alto saxophone of New York-based composer Jones, this tight-knit group knows its way around free-form jazz, funk, even metal-check … Read More “Darius Jones Trio: Big Gurl (Smell My Dream)”

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Vince Mendoza: Nights on Earth

Vince Mendoza’s freshly textured Nights on Earth testifies to this Renaissance man’s ability to meld different musical cultures. “Everything Is You” is a Latin roundelay; “Lullaby” is grave chamber music; the brooding “Otono” is scalloped, Alan Pasqua’s piano and Larry Goldings’ organ pacing the guitars of Nguyen Le and Louis Winsberg; and “Conchita” is a … Read More “Vince Mendoza: Nights on Earth”

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Peter Erskine New Trio: Joy Luck

Texture is all on Joy Luck, a fine recording that introduces the versatile Vardan Ovsepian on keyboards and arrangements. Buttressed by Erskine’s nephew Damian on bass, this set sparkles, shimmers, provokes and delights. Each of the 11 tracks tells a story or at least implies one. Take the brooding “Dr. Kildare,” a Jerry Goldsmith tune … Read More “Peter Erskine New Trio: Joy Luck”

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Liam Sillery: Priorité

Too much head and not enough heart inform trumpeter Liam Sillery’s fifth outing on OA2. It’s not an easy album to warm up to. Nevertheless, along the way, the smartly tailored Priorité pushes some interesting and engaging intellectual buttons. It’s an angular album featuring Sillery’s bright, direct performing approach, the complementary alto sax of longtime … Read More “Liam Sillery: Priorité”

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Tommy Smith: Karma

Everything about Karma, Tommy Smith’s new group and album, is good. Produced to an attention-grabbing level of bash and pop, Karma is exciting, and the veteran Scottish saxophonist never lacks for inspiration. Whether Smith is playing the Japanese bamboo flute known as the shakuhachi-on the lovely, initially pensive “Sun”-or blasting tenor sax strut-funk on the … Read More “Tommy Smith: Karma”

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Larry Goldings: In My Room

How kind of keyboardist Larry Goldings to share such intimate music. A celebration of Americana in such tracks as a baroque “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and a rococo “Beautiful Dreamer,” In My Room works subversive magic on other levels, too. Goldings, a Boston native, launches this sneaky album with the title cut, one … Read More “Larry Goldings: In My Room”

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Monika Herzig: Come With Me

Pianist Monika Herzig’s second Owl Studios album is a supple affair of voicing and taste. The originals by this Indiana musician bespeak her catholic approach, particularly the jaunty “Italian Taxi Ride,” the brooding “Heavy Burden” and the sweeping title track memorializing a trip Herzig and her husband, guitarist Peter Kienle, made to their hometown in … Read More “Monika Herzig: Come With Me”

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Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures with Organic Orchestra Strings: Both/And

Both/And is more world music than jazz, befitting Moving Pictures, a malleable group of improvisers composer and percussionist Adam Rudolph helped form in 1992. The pieces included here are pensive even at their briefest; the clearest antecedent is the dawning fusion of Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way, but there’s more, from the sprung blues … Read More “Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures with Organic Orchestra Strings: Both/And”

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Diego Barber: The Choice

A third of the way into the smoothly pulsating “Chicago,” your ears widen to the singular openness and fluency of Diego Barber’s excellent sophomore disc, The Choice. While saxophonist Mark Turner carries the melodic weight, drummer Ari Hoenig and bassists Larry Grenadier and Johannes Weidenmueller wrangle with the meter, capturing the dynamism of the tune’s … Read More “Diego Barber: The Choice”

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Shane Endsley and the Music Band: Then the Other

Trumpeter Shane Endsley’s Then the Other is a solid solo debut, the work of a mature, satisfied artist comfortable in many styles. The Music Band-pianist Craig Taborn, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Ted Poor-navigates a wide variety of Endsley compositions. All are crafty and catchy. Many are witty. Endsley’s tunes sound as if they were … Read More “Shane Endsley and the Music Band: Then the Other”

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Jared Gold: All Wrapped Up

Hammond B3 organ master Jared Gold wastes no time building a head of steam, launching All Wrapped Up with “My Sentiments Exactly,” one of the more driving tracks on his latest CD. Like the other tunes on this entertaining disc, it gives each player plenty of blowing room. It’s a robust reminder of a time … Read More “Jared Gold: All Wrapped Up”

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Leeann Ledgerwood: Simple Truth

Catalyzed by her recovery from breast cancer, LeeAnn Ledgerwood revitalizes the piano-trio format on Simple Truth, her first SteepleChase disc since 2003’s Walkin’ Up. It interweaves originals such as the respectful homage “Ballade for Bill Evans” and the calm, commanding title cut with inspired takes on such modernist classics as Miles Davis’ “Nardis,” Wayne Shorter’s … Read More “Leeann Ledgerwood: Simple Truth”

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Johnny Mandel: Johnny Mandel: The Man and His Music

How fitting that Johnny Mandel, 84 when he squired this set recorded at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, showcases drummer Sherrie Maricle and her 15-piece, all-female DIVA Jazz Orchestra. This is an informal, delightfully live retrospective spanning Mandel’s work with Count Basie, Woody Herman and in film. That he chose so feminine a vehicle to convey his … Read More “Johnny Mandel: Johnny Mandel: The Man and His Music”

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Omer Klein: Rockets on the Balcony

Dread and beauty coexist on Israeli-born pianist Omer Klein’s third disc, a musical voyage replete with both Weltschmerz and chutzpah. The haunting cover image-“Rockets,” by Israeli artist Dafna Ilan-merges glimpses of Berlin in the 1930s and a contemporary Tel Aviv boulevard. In the spirit of the picture, Klein’s work blends Jewish folksong with contemporary dynamism … Read More “Omer Klein: Rockets on the Balcony”

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BANN: As You Like It

While BANN is decidedly a jazz group, it’s also one that flirts with fusion and occasionally hints at rock. Tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, bassist Jay Anderson, guitarist Oz Noy and drummer Adam Nussbaum-“BANN” combines their surname initials-know their way around all kinds of music, interweaving transformations of tunes by Crosby, Stills & Nash, Thelonious Monk … Read More “BANN: As You Like It”

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Donny McCaslin: Perpetual Motion

The protean tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin touches down on numerous musical platforms on this bristling disc. There’s his probing, modernist “Five Hands Down,” the squirmy space-funk of “Memphis Redux,” and “Firefly,” a deep, pensive cut that begins as a ballad but evolves into something far more churchy thanks to Adam Benjamin’s Fender Rhodes and David … Read More “Donny McCaslin: Perpetual Motion”

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Toots Thielemans: European Quartet Live

The terminally cool, helplessly passionate harmonica icon Toots Thielemans makes beautiful music on this collage of European performances from 2006, 2007 and 2008. The tunes span a ravishing update of Gershwin’s “Summertime,” a haunting version of Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” in which the ageless Thielemans reaffirms his reputation as master of the long line, a romantic … Read More “Toots Thielemans: European Quartet Live”

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