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Igor Butman Big Band: Moscow @ 3 A.M.

Casting a welcome spotlight on the underexposed Russian jazz scene, star saxophonist Igor Butman reunites with a longtime friend and collaborator, composer/arranger Nick Levinovsky, to co-lead a bright, swinging 16-piece ensemble on Moscow @ 3 A.M. Both men are important figures in their nation’s jazz history: In the 1980s, Butman and Levinovsky formed the core … Read More “Igor Butman Big Band: Moscow @ 3 A.M.”

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Oleg Butman: Passion

Although released under drummer (and Igor’s brother) Oleg Butman’s name, Passion really documents the ongoing partnership between the ebullient Butman and the equally aggressive Natalia Smirnova on piano. For the past few years the pair has operated as a free-floating unit, engaging in short-term collaborations with a string of other musicians in Russia and the … Read More “Oleg Butman: Passion”

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Grupa Janke Randalu: Live

Kristjan Randalu and Bodek Janke are all but unknown to American jazz fans. But the visceral excitement and engrossing interplay captured on this duet CD argue for a place in the top rank of jazz innovators. The brilliant, acrobatic “Confidance” blasts off as Randalu’s piano, somewhere between Chick Corea and McCoy Tyner, meshes seamlessly with … Read More “Grupa Janke Randalu: Live”

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Tain & the Ebonix : Folk’s Songs

The turning point in drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts’ latest CD comes about 26 minutes in, right between the powerhouse “Seed of Blakzilla” and the ballad “Laura Elizabeth.” In the first four tracks, Watts’ loaded quartet turns out a string of dazzling postbop gems. The opening “Samo” is a study in opposing forces, with saxophonist Marcus … Read More “Tain & the Ebonix : Folk’s Songs”

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Norman Hedman’s Tropique: Garden of Forbidden Fruit

This fifth album by conguero Norman Hedman and his Tropique ensemble shows promise at several points but unfortunately lacks the punch to follow through. The disc alternates between two styles. On one hand are middle-of-the-road Latin-jazz tunes, featuring pleasant, hummable melodies and rendered at measured medium tempos; on the other, a series of R&B-tinged vocal … Read More “Norman Hedman’s Tropique: Garden of Forbidden Fruit”

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Horace Tapscott: Live at Lobero, Vol. 1

Seven years after his premature death, the tirelessly innovative pianist Horace Tapscott remains something of a secret. This long-awaited reissue of a 1981 performance will undoubtedly please his modest yet ardent fan base. But the highly charged atmosphere and outstanding trio interplay also make this disc an easy recommendation for adventurous listeners of all stripes. … Read More “Horace Tapscott: Live at Lobero, Vol. 1”

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Grismore/Scea Group: Well Behaved Fish

Remember those old cartoons in which the protagonist, sleeping Rip van Winkle-like into the next century, awakened to find an atomic funhouse world of flying cars, smell-o-vision and outlandish creatures? Such are the images brought to mind by Well Behaved Fish, the third album (and first in nearly a decade) by Iowan guitarist Steve Grismore … Read More “Grismore/Scea Group: Well Behaved Fish”

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Eddie Henderson Project: Precious Moment

At first glance, Eddie Hen-derson’s latest might look like a toss-off: a set of standards (plus two tunes by Hender-son’s wife, Natsuko), none of which rises above a medium tempo, mostly waltzing along in 3/4 time. But look closer: Precious Moment is a pearl. Henderson works in a quartet for all nine tracks, giving his … Read More “Eddie Henderson Project: Precious Moment”

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David Liebman/Steve Swallow/Adam Nussbaum: We Three: Three For All

Dave Liebman, Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum have moved in the same circles for nearly four decades. But surprisingly, the three of them have never all worked together in the same band. Until now. With Three for All, the newly minted trio wastes no time in catching up. The disc is relaxed and playful, a … Read More “David Liebman/Steve Swallow/Adam Nussbaum: We Three: Three For All”

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