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Jeff Berlin: In Harmony’s Way

Some of the laudable artists who appear on bassist Jeff Berlin’s In Harmony’s Way were prominent in the fusion movement, but this CD is an agreeable, straightahead swinging session. The CD’s core group contains drummer Danny Gottlieb and pianist/bassist Richard Drexler. Guest appearances are made by guitarist Mike Stern and tenor/soprano saxman Dave Liebman on … Read More “Jeff Berlin: In Harmony’s Way”

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John Butcher/Dylan van der Schyff: Points, Snags and Windings

Butcher’s duo album with percussionist Dylan van der Schyff, Points, Snags and Windings, shows that two men can produce a greater variety of colors and textures than one. They seem to inspire each other to greater degrees of subtlety and intensity. Van der Schyff plays sensitively throughout and he knows when not to play. As … Read More “John Butcher/Dylan van der Schyff: Points, Snags and Windings”

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John Butcher: Fixations (14)

Fixations (14) features material recorded live from 1997 to 2000 on which John Butcher plays soprano and tenor saxes unaccompanied. Some of the pieces on the album, though improvised, resemble studies, in that various musical elements are stressed on them, like a particular extended technique or method of developing a line. Butcher’s a skilled, original … Read More “John Butcher: Fixations (14)”

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Johnny Hodges: The Complete Verve Johnny Hodges: Small Group Sessions ’56-’61

This is the second set of Johnny Hodges Verve reissues on Mosaic, the first covering his 1951 to 1955 work when he was not playing with Duke Ellington. Hodges rejoined Ellington in 1956, however, and has a number of Duke’s sidemen and ex-sidemen with him (as he had between 1951 and 1955, actually). They include … Read More “Johnny Hodges: The Complete Verve Johnny Hodges: Small Group Sessions ’56-’61”

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Cuong Vu: Pure

The outstanding young trumpeter Cuong Vu draws ideas from a wide variety of sources, so that from CD to CD you’re never sure what aspect of his interests he’s going to emphasize. On this live trio album, he and bassist Stomu Takeishi, along with drummer John Hollenbeck, explore electronic effects: Vu employs two delays and … Read More “Cuong Vu: Pure”

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Dave Ballou: Volition

Over the years the instrument most identified with jazz has been the trumpet, yet in recent decades few original trumpeters aside from Dave Douglas have gained much attention. There are some fine, if not well-known, ones out there, however, including Herb Robertson, Cuong Vu, Russ Johnson and Dave Ballou. Like Douglas and Cuong Vu, Ballou … Read More “Dave Ballou: Volition”

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Dave Ballou: The Floating World

On The Floating World, Ballou works with pianist George Colligan, bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Darren Beckett. The disc contains some pretty familiar material: three standards, Bill Evans’ “Time Remembered” and Monk’s “Pannonica.” The album’s not that conservative, though, as Ballou takes liberties with their structures, as on “All the Things You Are.” He opens … Read More “Dave Ballou: The Floating World”

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Bill Evans: The Last Waltz

This eight-CD set was cut at San Francisco’s Keystone Korner from August 31 to September 8, 1980, by Evans, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe LaBarbera. Evans died on September 15, a week later. There is no indication on these recordings, however, that he is ill; in fact, his playing is consistently brilliant, imaginative, vigorous … Read More “Bill Evans: The Last Waltz”

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Stan Getz: My Foolish Heart

My Foolish Heart, recorded in 1975, features the Stan Getz quartet, with pianist Richie Beirach, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Though not Getz’s best recording, it’s plenty good. The tunes, “Invitation,” “My Foolish Heart,” “Spring Is Here,” Ralph Towner’s “Lucifer’s Fall” and Chick Corea’s “Litha” and “Fiesta,” are individually excellent and together constitute … Read More “Stan Getz: My Foolish Heart”

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Fred Anderson: The Milwaukee Tapes Vol. 1

Some 1960s free-jazz players had the technique and harmonic knowledge to play post-bop music well; others didn’t, not knowing enough about harmony and, while they were skilled at honking, screaming and using multiphonics, their conventional chops were rudimentary to the point where they couldn’t swing. Now there are plenty of examples of musicians who were … Read More “Fred Anderson: The Milwaukee Tapes Vol. 1”

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Tony Fruscella: A Night at the Open Door

Not only did trumpeters Tony Fruscella and Chet Baker play similarly, they died as a result of drug abuse after leading tragic lives. Fruscella, who was born in a New Jersey orphanage, died in 1969, at forty-two. He’d developed his lyrical style, in which he featured the middle and lower registers, by 1948 (i.e., before … Read More “Tony Fruscella: A Night at the Open Door”

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Roswell Rudd: Broad Strokes

Trombonist/composer Roswell Rudd has performed in both Dixieland and free-jazz groups. He’s taught ethnomusicology and has more than a passing knowledge of classical music. And he puts what he knows to work, so that you have to be ready for anything when you listen to one of his albums. On Broad Strokes he concentrates on … Read More “Roswell Rudd: Broad Strokes”

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Dennis Sandole: Dennis Sandole Project

The Sandole brothers, pianist Adolphe, who died some years ago, and guitarist Dennis, who still works in Philadelphia, were legendary teachers. Among those who studied with them or attended their workshops were John Coltrane, Art Farmer, James Moody and Tom McIntosh. Previously they’d been represented on record only by their Modern Music From Philadelphia, a … Read More “Dennis Sandole: Dennis Sandole Project”

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Bruce Eisenbeil: Mural

Eisenbeil’s very impressive on Mural, his second CIMP CD, and is one of the most unique jazz guitarists to emerge in decades. He uses a polytonal tetrachordal technique-e.g., on “Caesar” he employs three different modes from three different tonal centers simultaneously. Note also his use of resonant intervals, double-stops in contrary motion and frequent playing … Read More “Bruce Eisenbeil: Mural”

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Jan Garbarek: Rites

Garbarek plays soprano and tenor sax, synthesizers, samplers and percussion here, and is joined on this two CD set by Bugge Wesseltoft, synthesizer and electronic effects, keyboardist Rainer Bruninghaus, bassist Eberhard Weber and drummer Marilyn Mazur. A boys choir appears with Garbarek on “We are the Stars.” “The Moon Over Mtatsminda” is done by Georgian … Read More “Jan Garbarek: Rites”

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Ron Enyard/Paul Plummer: Driving Music Vol. 2

Five of the six tracks on this CD are by a quintet including Al Kiger, flugelhorn; Paul Plummer, tenor sax; Charlie Wilson, piano; Lou Lausche, bass; and Ron Enyard, drums. They were cut live in 1991, along with other selections issued on an earlier volume. The other cut is a 28-minute unaccompanied performance by Wilson. … Read More “Ron Enyard/Paul Plummer: Driving Music Vol. 2”

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Greg Osby: Banned in New York

Those who view Wynton Marsalis and the young lions as mainstream jazzmen rather than the reactionaries they are will probably consider Osby some kind of avant gardist. Actually he’s a creative but pretty traditional alto sax player whose style is rooted in the playing of boppers and post-boppers. He doesn’t sound quite like anyone else, … Read More “Greg Osby: Banned in New York”

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David Liebman: The Elements: Water, Giver of Life

In the ’70s Liebman established himself as a top saxophonist but he’s also been a provocative composer for some time. This CD and three others that hopefully will follow (Earth, Air and Fire) were inspired by Leibman’s reaction to the natural world and represent his most ambitious compositional project to date. The opening theme on … Read More “David Liebman: The Elements: Water, Giver of Life”

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Joe Morris: A Cloud of Blackbirds

Members of guitarist Morris’ quartet here include violinist Mat Maneri, bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Jerome Deupree. They play free jazz with passion and discipline. Among the most original guitarists to emerge since 1980, Morris’ solos have an angular quality. He plays both flurries of notes and spare phrases during which he’s thinking from interval … Read More “Joe Morris: A Cloud of Blackbirds”

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Django Bates: Quiet Nights

Here Bates, on keyboards and peckhorn, appears with his band Human Chain, including sax, lipo sax and bass harmonica player Iain Ballamy, bass gui-tarist Michael Mondesir and wood and electric drummer Michael French. They work with Swedish vocalist Josefine Cronholm, who sings mostly standards. “And the Mermaid Laughed” is a tone poem on which all … Read More “Django Bates: Quiet Nights”

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Joe Maneri: In Full Cry

It’s scary to think that reedman and pianist Maneri, one of the most innovative improvisers to emerge in decades, almost slipped by us unnoticed. He’d just about given up on performing live when his violinist son, Mat, got him to play in clubs about ten years ago. A New England Conservatory of Music teacher since … Read More “Joe Maneri: In Full Cry”

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Cecil Taylor: Qu’a: Live at the Irridium Vol. 1

Qu’a: Live at the Tridium Volume 1 contains one long performance during which Taylor plays unaccompanied as well as improvising collectively with his 1998 quartet, including Harri Sjostrom, soprano sax, Dominic Duval, bass and Jackson Krall, drums. Sjostrom turns in angular, unpredictably fragmented lines, which is to be expected of any saxophonist who’s with Cecil, … Read More “Cecil Taylor: Qu’a: Live at the Irridium Vol. 1”

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Cecil Taylor: The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life dates from a 1991 Berlin concert during which Cecil plays unaccompanied. Tree consists of five sections, ranging from 1:08 to 44:28 in length, and ranks among Cecil’s more impressive albums. One of the most important and original of jazz pianists, he can be counted on to play inventively, but at times … Read More “Cecil Taylor: The Tree of Life”

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Billy Bang/Dennis Charles: Bangception Willisau 1982

Recorded live at Jazz Festival Willisau in 1982, the Charles/Bang duo performs Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman,” and Thelonious Monk’ s “Thelonious” is a feature for Charles’ soloing. Other works are by Bang, Bang and Charles and Bilal A. Rahman. Charles is no junior partner here. In addition to having “Thelonious” to himself, he and Bang … Read More “Billy Bang/Dennis Charles: Bangception Willisau 1982”

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Hamiet Bluiett: Saying Something For All

Among the major saxophonists to emerge in the past 25 years, Hamiet Bluiett’s also becoming one of the most ubiquitous, as these four recently re-leased CDs indicate. They illustrate his ability to work in varied settings too. Most of Saying Something was cut in 1977 with a duo including pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, although there … Read More “Hamiet Bluiett: Saying Something For All”

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Dizzy Gillespie: Dizzy Gillespie 1945-6

Essential stuff, including Gillespie’s small group work with Charlie Parker, Al Haig, Milt Jackson, Don Byas, Lucky Thompson and Bill DeArango, originally recorded on Guild, Dial and Victor. Also included are four tracks Dizzy did with a Johnny Richards band including strings and woodwinds. A bonus is four 1946 selections by Wilbert Baranco’s big band … Read More “Dizzy Gillespie: Dizzy Gillespie 1945-6”

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