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Harry Allen: Hits by Brits

Tenor saxophonist Harry Allen can evoke Lester Young disciples like Stan Getz or Zoot Sims one minute and the heavier swing-era tenorists the next. On his latest release, Allen’s sound and articulation lean toward the aggressive end of the scale, although on ballads like “You’re Blasé” and “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” he often … Read More “Harry Allen: Hits by Brits”

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Maynard Ferguson and His Big Bop Nouveau Band : The One and Only Maynard Ferguson

When veteran trumpeter-bandleader Maynard Fergu-son entered the recording studio in July 2006 with a stellar group of Big Bop Nouveau Band alumni, he had no idea he would be making his final album. Ferguson was unaware that he was ill, and his death the following month was a great shock to everyone. Happily, his last … Read More “Maynard Ferguson and His Big Bop Nouveau Band : The One and Only Maynard Ferguson”

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The Taylor/Fidyk Big Band: Live at Blues Alley

Eleven out of the 16 musicians on this live recording by the Taylor/Fidyk Big Band are members of the U.S. Army Blues, including co-leader and drummer Steve Fidyk. The Blues is an outstanding group in its own right, and the added presence of local D.C.-area stalwarts like tenorist Tedd Baker just reinforces the Taylor/Fidyk band’s … Read More “The Taylor/Fidyk Big Band: Live at Blues Alley”

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Various Artists: Kenton Portraits: A Loving Salute

Any aficionado of muscular big-band music should be thrilled by this two-CD set, but Stan Kenton fans will be overjoyed. The 15 tracks, most previously released, are the product of 10 aggregations, from English, Canadian and Belgian ensembles to regional American bands to a military big band to Kenton alumni groups. The musicians are all … Read More “Various Artists: Kenton Portraits: A Loving Salute”

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Bobby Lewis: Instant Groove

Longtime Chicago trumpeter-flugelhornist Bobby Lewis enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a lyrical and swinging soloist, and his eighth CD reinforces that assessment. With a third of the album’s tunes from the pens of such wonderfully melodic composers as Johnny Mandel (“The Shining Sea”), Henry Mancini (“Dreamsville” and “Two for the Road”) and Clare Fischer (“Morning”), … Read More “Bobby Lewis: Instant Groove”

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Bob Mintzer Big Band: Old School, New Lessons

Old School, New Lessons presents live performances by saxophonist Bob Mintzer’s large ensemble of top-flight New York musicians augmented by his bandmates the Yellowjackets on two tracks (“Mofongo” and “Mosaic”) and by vocalist Kurt Elling on two others (“My One and Only Love” and Coltrane’s “Resolution”). Except for the latter, the highly melodic compositions are … Read More “Bob Mintzer Big Band: Old School, New Lessons”

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Nick Bisesi: Gemini

Listening to Nick Bisesi’s second recording as a leader, one would hardly suspect that the saxophonist recently switched to tenor after years as an altoist. He sounds every bit the seasoned tenorman, with a tone, mannerisms and overall conception that evoke aural images of, say, Michael Brecker and other post-Coltrane tenorists. But his polished sound … Read More “Nick Bisesi: Gemini”

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David Liebman and Phil Markowitz: Manhattan Dialogues

Saxophonist Dave Liebman and pianist Phil Markowitz have recorded 10 CDs together, and they’ve worked as a duo since the late 1990s. Since they are exceptional performers who combine advanced theoretical knowledge and technical skill with a mature jazz sensibility and a rich musical imagination, all the right elements were in place for this fall … Read More “David Liebman and Phil Markowitz: Manhattan Dialogues”

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Rosario Giuliani: More than Ever

Rosario Giuliani’s third CD for Dreyfus packs every bit as much punch as the previous two, both of which showcased the Italian altoist/sopranoist’s prodigious ability to generate intense passion and excitement in a hard bop manner suggestive of players like Cannonball Adderley and Phil Woods. This time around he supplants his Italian rhythm section with … Read More “Rosario Giuliani: More than Ever”

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Jane Ira Bloom: Like Silver, Like Song

Long an exponent of electronics, soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom has produced yet another imaginative program, this one consisting of her own compositions (plus one standard) that combine jazz or jazz-derived components with other constituents, including an assortment of electronic sounds. She frequently enhances her saxophone with live electronic techniques, while keyboardist Jamie Saft and … Read More “Jane Ira Bloom: Like Silver, Like Song”

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Anat Cohen: Place & Time

Since graduating from the Berklee College of Music, Israeli-born multi-reedist Anat Cohen has impressed listeners throughout the world in numerous and varied contexts, including New York’s Diva Jazz Orchestra, its offshoot the Five Play Quintet and the Brazilian-music group Choro Ensemble. On her first outing as a leader, Place & Time, she’s assisted by a … Read More “Anat Cohen: Place & Time”

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Scott Hamilton: Back in New York

Scott Hamilton’s latest effort, Back in New York, teams him with the Bill Charlap Trio, a match that brings out the best in everyone involved. Hamilton’s polished, mainstream approach to the tenor saxophone fits ideally with the long-standing trio of pianist Charlap, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington. Their collaboration on this nicely varied … Read More “Scott Hamilton: Back in New York”

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Frank Morgan: City Nights

After taking the West Coast jazz scene by storm in the mid-’50s, altoist Frank Morgan was out of the studios for some 30 years, after which he recorded 14 albums in an 11-year span. But after 1996, Morgan’s recording career again experienced a dry spell that lasted until this taping at New York’s Jazz Standard … Read More “Frank Morgan: City Nights”

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Vincent Herring: Mr. Wizard

Vincent Herring’s third album for HighNote demonstrates once again the altoist/sopranoist’s prodigious skill as an improviser in the hard bop/modal tradition. A follower of Cannonball Adderley who’s managed to forge a personal style out of that and other influences, Herring possesses a virtuoso technique and an acute ear that allow him to execute long, melodically … Read More “Vincent Herring: Mr. Wizard”

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Dr. Michael White: Dancing in the Sky

Dancing in the Sky is about as close to old-time New Orleans jazz and its closely related forms as you can get these days. Dr. Michael White, a professor of African-American music and Spanish and a long-time performer of New Orleans-style clarinet, enlisted some of the Crescent City’s finest classic players, along with the modernist … Read More “Dr. Michael White: Dancing in the Sky”

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Scott Hamilton Quartet: Live in London

The stylistically eclectic tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton, whose playing reflects the inspiration of such swing tenorists as Ben Webster and Illinois Jacquet as well as of Lester Young disciples like Zoot Sims and Al Cohn, blows up a storm on his new album. Recording before a live audience at London’s Pizza Express jazz club and … Read More “Scott Hamilton Quartet: Live in London”

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Stan Getz: Bossas and Ballads: The Lost Sessions

Beginning with Voyage in 1986 and ending with 1991’s People Time, Stan Getz recorded some of his finest music with pianist Kenny Barron, whom he called “the other half of my musical heart.” Up until now, there have been five superb albums documenting that special relationship. The recent release of Bossas and Ballads: The Lost … Read More “Stan Getz: Bossas and Ballads: The Lost Sessions”

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Ralph Bowen Quartet: A Morning View

It’s evident that the masterful saxophonist Ralph Bowen spends a lot of time practicing and dealing with the basics of the instrument. His full, focused tone maintains its quality with impeccable intonation throughout all registers and his technical facility approaches perfection. You can follow one of his intricate melodic patterns measure after measure without witnessing … Read More “Ralph Bowen Quartet: A Morning View”

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David Kikoski with John Patitucci and Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts: Almost Twilight

December of 1999 was a busy month for pianist David Kikoski. He recorded as leader of his own trio, as a member of a trio with Ralph Peterson and Gerald Cannon, and as a sideman in Conrad Herwig’s quintet. While all three of the resulting CDs display his rich, inventive improvising style, the first also … Read More “David Kikoski with John Patitucci and Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts: Almost Twilight”

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David Azarian: Hope

Armenian by birth, Bostonian by choice, this 47-year-old pianist/composer offers music that is pleasingly challenging while remaining grounded in the modern mainstream tradition. Although the classically-trained Azarian’s playing shows a debt to Keith Jarrett (including the occasional vocal punctuations), the latter’s influence is assimilated with that of other pianists, certain classical approaches and Armenian sources … Read More “David Azarian: Hope”

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Paul Kendall Quartet: Rhapsody

Rhapsody is filled with straightahead, post-Coltrane tenor playing with hints of Joe Henderson. Kendall is at his best on the up-tempo tracks, where he sails through the program of popular songs (“If I Should Lose You,” “My Romance”), jazz standards (“Impressions,” “Recordame,” Horace Silver’s “Barbara,” Cedar Walton’s “Firm Roots”) and a Matthew Fries original with … Read More “Paul Kendall Quartet: Rhapsody”

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Nuclear Whales Saxophone Orchestra: Fathom This

The six members of the Whales orchestra play soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxes, augmented by the tiny sopranino, the bass, and the massive contrabass. Their repertory is broad enough to embrace “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” “Alabamy Bound,” and a Duke Ellington medley. Fathom This contains diverse tracks from each of their five previous … Read More “Nuclear Whales Saxophone Orchestra: Fathom This”

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Hard-Bop Saxophone Quartet: Don’t Step on Your Neck

The Hard Bop Quartet of soprano, alto, tenor, and bari perfectly executes intense, no-nonsense jazz charts (complemented by a bit of prodigious chamber-style wizardry) written or inspired by the likes of Charlie Parker, Kenny Dorham, Joe Zawinul and Chick Corea. The band employs clever, inventive arrangements, and many of the improvised solos by the quartet … Read More “Hard-Bop Saxophone Quartet: Don’t Step on Your Neck”

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Gary and Friends Burton: Departure

How nice to hear the practiced, fertile imaginations of such seasoned musicians at work on a set of familiar standards. Although vibraphonist Burton, pianist Fred Hersh, guitarist John Scofield, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Peter Erskine have applied their improvisatory skills in a number of idioms over the years, here they return to two of … Read More “Gary and Friends Burton: Departure”

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