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Lew Del Gatto: Katewalk

This wonderfully exuberant session is a reminder of the kind of music that used to set jazz clubs rockin’ back in the 1960s. Yes, there’s a cerebral dimension that’s smart, clever and hip. But when all is said and done, it’s the music’s sensuality, boppish swagger and bluesy hues that carry the day. At the … Read More “Lew Del Gatto: Katewalk”

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Harold Danko: Nightscapes

Nighttime, with its allusions to romantic couplings (“You and the Night and the Music”) and romantic breakups (“The Night We Called It a Day”) to meditations on the vagaries of the human condition (“In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning”), continues to grip our psyches even as we attempt to banish it through 24-hour … Read More “Harold Danko: Nightscapes”

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Larry Goldings Trio: As One

Larry Goldings is one of jazzdom’s truly distinctive organists. Yes, in bluesy tracks like “Mixed Message” there are echoes of the soulful surges of rhythm-n-blues master Jimmy Smith. In romps like the dash through Carla Bley’s “Calls,” one also hears an ethereal angularity reminiscent of Larry Young’s pulsing abstractions with Tony Williams Lifetime. However, what … Read More “Larry Goldings Trio: As One”

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Dado Moroni: Out of the Night

This warmly wrought session is a case study in conversational modern jazz. Like the classic neo-bop groups of the 1950s-’60s helmed by Art Blakey, pianist Moroni’s quartet struts with a swinging mainstream gait. And like Ahmad Jamal, Moroni lets the music breathe. In the ambling mid-tempo stroll through Joe Henderson’s “Out of the Night,” each … Read More “Dado Moroni: Out of the Night”

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Hal Galper: Let’s Call This That

Hal Galper has staying power. Having helped fuel the flights of Chet Baker, Cannonball Adderley and Phil Woods, the Boston-area pianist has been out in front of his own no-nonsense trio for well over a decade. With drummer Steve Ellington, who’s been with the pianist since the trio’s inception, and bassist Jeff Johnson, on board … Read More “Hal Galper: Let’s Call This That”

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Jim Snidero: The Music of Joe Henderson

What a great date. Bold yet restrained, and ranging from the exotically brassy “Punjab” to the contemplative “Serenity,” it provides a fresh look at the compositional span of the great Joe Henderson. The master’s “tunes” are anything but toss-offs. Indeed, they continue to challenge even the most sophisticated players. Here, alto saxophonist Jim Snidero and … Read More “Jim Snidero: The Music of Joe Henderson”

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Ted Curson: Sugar ‘n’ Spice

Ted Curson’s incandescent flame burns bright in this impassioned salute to bebop, the music that inspired the trumpeter to want to play jazz. The underrated Curson, it should be pointed out, is one of modern jazz’s true innovators. In the late 1950s, he was a key participant in the seminal probes of avantgardist Cecil Taylor. … Read More “Ted Curson: Sugar ‘n’ Spice”

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Charlie Haden Quartet West: The Art of the Song

Charlie Haden’s Quartet West is a wonder. A throwback to a more romantic era, at least as far as popular movies and music are concerned, Haden’s foursome has resuscitated a lush yet astringent romanticism whose lyricism, harmonic colors and understated pulse quicken the heart. It’s a romanticism at once timeless and urgent, embodying what philosophers … Read More “Charlie Haden Quartet West: The Art of the Song”

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NDR Big Band: Bravissimo II

Big bands, though enjoying a vogue thanks to the neo-swing revival, survive because they’re unique forums challenging both arrangers and players. For the former, the trick lies in formalizing notated structures surging with sounds of surprise. For the latter, the gauntlet is twofold, to play one’s written part with panache, and then when the spotlight … Read More “NDR Big Band: Bravissimo II”

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Al Belleto Big Jazz Band: Jazznocracy

In the late 1940s, alto saxophonist Al Belletto had to leave his native New Orleans in order to pursue the siren song of bop. At the helm of the Al Belletto Sextet, the altoist found national success. Although previously rejected by the Crescent City’s traditional jazz establishment, Belletto returned home in the 1960s to eventually … Read More “Al Belleto Big Jazz Band: Jazznocracy”

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Adam Makowicz: A Tribute to Art Tatum

Is there a movie lurking here? Consider this. In the mid-1950s Adam Makowicz was a classical pianist living in Poland. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, the young pianist hears an Art Tatum recording. It’s a moment of epiphany. “Angels’ music,” Makowicz exclaims excitedly. It’s also a moment fraught with danger. Indeed, Tatum’s music has been … Read More “Adam Makowicz: A Tribute to Art Tatum”

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Alex Foster/Michael Wolff: Pool of Dreams

Though best known for his gaudy late night gig fronting the studio band for The Arsenio Hall Show, pianist Michael Wolff is also a gifted jazz artist. Here, in a program of striking originals, Wolff teams with saxophonist Alex Foster. It’s a meeting of like minds whose intertwined musings reflect a long friendship and a … Read More “Alex Foster/Michael Wolff: Pool of Dreams”

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Bob Wilber Big Band: Bufadora Blow-Up

Bob Wilber has been an indefatigable champion of the New Orleans and Big Band traditions through associations with Sidney Bechet, Bobby Hackett, Benny Goodman, the World’s Greatest Jazz Band and Smithsonian Jazz Repertory Ensemble. Grabbing an opportunity to finally showcase his own fine writing (and playing) with an all-star band assembled for a March 1966 … Read More “Bob Wilber Big Band: Bufadora Blow-Up”

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Count Basie Orchestra: Live at MCG

This 1996 date marks the onset of yet another edition of the Basie band, this one under the alert ear of conductor/trombonist Grover Mitchell. Though the cast keeps changing, the band still connects to its Kansas City roots. In goldies like Neil Hefti’s swirling “Whirly Bird” and Frank Foster’s palpitating “Down for the Count,” the … Read More “Count Basie Orchestra: Live at MCG”

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Dexter Gordon: The Complete Blue Note Sixties Sessions

Dexter Gordon (1923-1990) was a giant. Playing as a teenager with Lionel Hampton in 1940, and then with Louis Armstrong, Billy Eckstine, Dizzy Gillespie, Tadd Dameron and Wardell Gray, Gordon became a vibrant link connecting the foot-stomping swing of the big band era with the virtuosic flight of bop. Appropriately, Gordon was hailed as the … Read More “Dexter Gordon: The Complete Blue Note Sixties Sessions”

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Andy Laverne and John Abercrombie: Where We Were

Pianist Andy LaVerne and guitarist Abercrombie have been performing duos since their student days in Boston during the late 1960s. Here, we catch the latest installment of their ongoing adventures. Recorded live at the Seelbach in Louisville, LaVerne and Abercrombie thread neon strands through tapestries which pulsate and glow. Looming in the background are the … Read More “Andy Laverne and John Abercrombie: Where We Were”

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Hank Marr: Groovin’ It

Hank Marr, professor of jazz studies at Ohio State University, puts the lie to the adage that those who can, play, and that those who can’t, teach. Marr, born in Columbus (home of the Buckeyes) in 1927, cut his jazz teeth in garage sessions with little Ronnie Kirk (who would later storm the scene as … Read More “Hank Marr: Groovin’ It”

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