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Keith Jarrett: The Impulse Years: 1973-4

The Jarrett group sessions re-released (with extra tracks) here are marked for excellence by the presence of top-notch sidemen (saxophonist Dewey Redman, drummer Paul Motian, bassist Charlie Haden, percussionists Guillhermo Franco and/or Danny Johnson, and occasional tracks with guitarist Sam Brown). Pianist Jarrett and the band recorded these four albums shortly after he left his … Read More “Keith Jarrett: The Impulse Years: 1973-4”

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Various Artists: Cuba: I Am Time

This little cigar box of four CDs of Cuban music is filled with more fire than smoke, and makes an intriguing, if only vaguely organized, introduction to the incredibly rich musical panoply for Americans rediscovering that fascinating isle’s cultural goldmine. Each disc attempts to focus on a single aspect of Cuba’s music-Invocations (African roots), Song, … Read More “Various Artists: Cuba: I Am Time”

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Ron Carter: The Bass And I

Forget the name, the title, the aura of legend. This is a decent little trio album by a primo rhythm section, with extra added percussion, without bass-clef sturm und drang. Carter doesn’t even give himself a boffo feature, just a low-key extra chorus on “I Remember Clifford.” The set is slowed only by his limp … Read More “Ron Carter: The Bass And I”

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Kronos Quartet: The Complete Landmark Sessions: Music of Monk And Evans

How well jazz translates to string quartet has been demonstrated by Kronos, and precious few other such ensembles, since its inception in 1978. Kronos has exposed wide audiences to not only 20th-century serious (i.e., neither wallpaper-thin nor decibel-proud) jazz and classical music, but the very string quartet format, showing it to be flexible, durable, timely. … Read More “Kronos Quartet: The Complete Landmark Sessions: Music of Monk And Evans”

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Dr. Lonnie Smith: Afro Blue

Whole chapters in The Book of Coltrane have been revisited of late to good effect, e.g., Harold Danko’s Quartet springboarding the momentous Ellington encounter. Dr. Lonnie Smith takes four Trane tunes for a spin on his power organ with John Abercrombie (playing more and more down-home guitar as he ages) and Smitty Smith (a drummer … Read More “Dr. Lonnie Smith: Afro Blue”

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Various Artists: The Debut Records Story

Charles Mingus and Max Roach ignited many a churning, probing rhythm section-for Diz & Bird, for Duke-but who’d have reckoned on them burning, brief but bright, in the realm of the record biz? In fact, Mingus and Roach fired up (OK, their ladies Celia Zaentz and Margo Ferraci lugged most of the firewood) jazz’s first … Read More “Various Artists: The Debut Records Story”

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Return to Zero Featuring Gary Bartz & Harvie Swartz: Stairway to Heaven

Italians play jazz the way they live life: with a certain selfless politeness, suavity and grace, a conservatism that defies chance-taking. Such a modus jocendi is likely to strike American jazz fans as excessively laid-back, lacking in urgency and focus, and-heaven forbid!-swinging listlessly. This session, recorded in Rome (11/94), was produced by pianist/composer Marco Omicini; … Read More “Return to Zero Featuring Gary Bartz & Harvie Swartz: Stairway to Heaven”

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Anthony Braxton: Piano Music (Notated) 1968-1988, Volumes 1 and 2

We’re not talking jazz here: this is Anthony Braxton’s “contemporary” or “serious” music bag, and it has little to do with his work with Circle (1970) or his Creative Orchestra Music (1976) or even his Charlie Parker Project (1993, also on hat ART). It’s closer to Stockhausen and Boulez, contemporary European composers Braxton attuned himself … Read More “Anthony Braxton: Piano Music (Notated) 1968-1988, Volumes 1 and 2”

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Antonio Carlos Jobim: Composer

Tom Jobim, unquestionably one of the great songwriters of our century, fused lyric and melody inseparably, as did Cole Porter. He sang well, with supreme understanding, in a warm, cheroot baritone and played “composer” piano and spidery guitar perfectly passably. He had samba in his blood, created bossa nova as “a hunch,” and loved jazz; … Read More “Antonio Carlos Jobim: Composer”

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Mick Goodrick/Dave Leibman/Woflgang Muthspiel: In the Same Breath

Breathe in, breathe out, breathe out. When Liebs’ sweetly purling soprano saxophone infiltrates the Mick ‘n Wolfie guitar duo, what seemed a perfectly natural process suddenly becomes an out-of-body experience. Goodrick and Muthspiel have honed a mesmerizing mutual plectral hypnosis that levitates and transmigrates with each tune, whirling round and round the globe. They began … Read More “Mick Goodrick/Dave Leibman/Woflgang Muthspiel: In the Same Breath”

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Phillip Johnston’s Big Trouble: Flood at the Ant Farm

Verrry clev-ah! Johnston’s fancy riffs and 30-second drills and hot-shot chop-shop stops-out licks all invade the senses in a dozen turn-on-a-nickel charts. It’s jumpy, quick two-step stuff that Johnston plies, drawing on the tradition of his work with Microscopic Septet and off-Madison Avenue jingles, as well as oblique fascinations with T. Monk and S. Lacy. … Read More “Phillip Johnston’s Big Trouble: Flood at the Ant Farm”

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