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Bob Lark & Friends: Cathy’s Song

For his sixth album as leader, the current four being on Jazzed Media, Bob Lark has seriously spread his producer’s wings and succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Surrounding himself with A-list friends – such as altoist Phil Woods, pianist Jim McNeely, and bassist Rufus Reid; trombonist Thomas Matta, who contributed some key arrangements; Lark’s favorite … Read More “Bob Lark & Friends: Cathy’s Song”

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Dan Gailey Jazz Orchestra: What Did You Dream?

For over two decades, Dan Gailey has directed the jazz program at the University of Kansas where he’s Professor of Music. After enriching the books of many college bands, as well as professional bands, Dan has taken a giant leap out of the Kansas cornfields into the maelstrom of a non-campus environment with the debut … Read More “Dan Gailey Jazz Orchestra: What Did You Dream?”

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Various Artists: New Latin Quarter Presents Jazz & Blues Collection Vol.1

In 1960, the New Latin Quarter — Japan’s largest night club — began booking leading American recording stars for its then newly re-built Tokyo venue. Long after the club closed, the discovery of 47 reel-to-reel tapes, comprising some 300 recorded live performances at the NLQ, renewed interest in the glory years of the New Latin … Read More “Various Artists: New Latin Quarter Presents Jazz & Blues Collection Vol.1”

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Various Artists: Cedar Chest: The Cedar Walton Songbook

“Technique + Taste” would accurately describe the strongest attributes of pianist Cedar Walton, but less is known about his composing talents, or as this new look backward calls it, his “Cedar Chest.” Hard to believe, it apparently marks the first time Walton, now 76, has been so honored: an entire CD devoted to his own … Read More “Various Artists: Cedar Chest: The Cedar Walton Songbook”

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John Lang: Lend Me Your Ears

Pick a club in the Big Apple and chances are John Lang has played there. The busy New York bassist-arranger-composer and occasional singer has released — with lots of help from his friends — his second album: a compilation of nine originals for two quintets and one octet (three tracks by each ) boasting no … Read More “John Lang: Lend Me Your Ears”

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Dave Anderson Quartet: Clarity

In classical music, how you develop material is more important than its source. Simply put, “variations” always trump “themes.” Example: any of Elgar’s elaborately constructed Enigma Variations, as opposed to the original staid tune that gave birth to them. Similarly, in jazz, any improvisation is more interesting than the head, or melody. Which segues to … Read More “Dave Anderson Quartet: Clarity”

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Frank Glover: Abacus

In a recent interview, composer Frank Glover complained about “a giant gap between improvisation and contemporary classical composition…we don’t even have the words to describe the music that falls in that gap.” He seems to have forgotten the Third Stream explorations of the Fifties — Gunther Schuller, John Lewis, Teo Macero, George Russell, Charles Mingus, … Read More “Frank Glover: Abacus”

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Adam Schroeder: A Handful of Stars

It’s so easy to get carried away with a debut; tempting to announce that so-and-so has “burst on the scene.” Well color me “carried away:” I find it both easy and tempting to report that, as a leader, baritonist Adam Schroeder has dutifully exploded as horn soloist and arranger, having sculpted nine inventive concepts out … Read More “Adam Schroeder: A Handful of Stars”

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Marius Nordal: Boomer Jazz

Solo piano is the ultimate challenge: you’re all alone, excerpt for those 88 keys flashing their ivories. No other horn waiting to pick up the melodic slack, no additional rhythm guys keeping time. Yet solo piano is a mixed blessing. You assume full responsibility to call the shots: you set the metronome, fall back on … Read More “Marius Nordal: Boomer Jazz”

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The Jimmy Amadie Trio: Kindred Spirits

No one ever promised life would be fair, but c’mon…Jimmy Amadie keeps getting knocked down after the bell has been sounded. Being an ex-boxer, and a pianist, Philadelphia-born Amadie knows full well he has the right to sing the blues. His career as a keyboardist was interrupted for thirty years by extreme tendonitis in both … Read More “The Jimmy Amadie Trio: Kindred Spirits”

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Vince Norman/Joe McCarthy Big Band: Bright Future

Release number two for the Norman-McCarthy band, and the momentum from its debut album, Words Cannot Express, as well as ten of its key players being intact, lend continuity to this exciting D.C.-based organization. Since Washington seems to have an inexhaustible supply of eager, first-rate sidemen thanks to the profusion of service bands in the … Read More “Vince Norman/Joe McCarthy Big Band: Bright Future”

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Ted Hogarth and the Mulligan Mosaics Big Band: Live at the Jazz Showcase

Back in the early Fifties, when Gerry Mulligan formed his famous quartet with Chet Baker, it was without a piano to provide that front line with the ultimate harmonic freedom. In 1960, when Mulligan expanded his composing and arranging palettes to embrace the 13-member Concert Jazz Band, he again eschewed piano. Four years ago, when … Read More “Ted Hogarth and the Mulligan Mosaics Big Band: Live at the Jazz Showcase”

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Phil Kelly & The Northwest Prevailing Winds: Ballet of the Bouncing Beagles

Phil Kelly — crusader for canines, patriarch of puns, scholar of scoring — has once again assembled an all-star collection of sidemen and soloists who can sight-read and improvise from some of the most complex charts in all Jazzdom. The mere fact that the likes of Pete Christlieb, Bill Ramsay, Jerry Dodgion, Jay Thomas, Grant … Read More “Phil Kelly & The Northwest Prevailing Winds: Ballet of the Bouncing Beagles”

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Johnny Varro featuring Ken Peplowski: Two Legends of Jazz

There are two qualities you can always expect from Arbors’ stable of artists: they unfailingly display compatibility and camaraderie, particularly in the front line. Take this session recorded a couple of years ago featuring two highly compatible comrades: pianist Johnny Varro and clarinetist Ken Peplowski. A generation separates them — Varro was born in 1930; … Read More “Johnny Varro featuring Ken Peplowski: Two Legends of Jazz”

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Nelda Swiggett: This Time

Whenever a new genre manifests itself, the occasion is significant. In the person of Nelda Swiggett, we have what can be accurately labeled “Polite Jazz.” There’s no better way to describe her approach to the keyboard, or her vocalizing, or her writing. Labels aside, this third album by Swiggett, as a leader, is a stunning … Read More “Nelda Swiggett: This Time”

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Bill Anschell/Brent Jensen: We Couldn’t Agree More

The art of intelligent conversation requires intelligent listening, as well as a certain give and take. What we have here is precisely that: unrehearsed, non-arranged, spontaneous conversation between a piano and a soprano sax, or rather, between the fertile minds of Bill Anschell and Brent Jensen. They are in such command of their respective instruments … Read More “Bill Anschell/Brent Jensen: We Couldn’t Agree More”

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Gail Marten: In Love…Again

Not every singer can easily achieve intimacy; Gail Marten has thoroughly mastered the art. Ms Marten is still endeavoring to attain a similar level of perfection with intonation, yet her latest album is a joy to behold. That is mainly due to her knowing approach to ballads. I don’t mean that corny old line about … Read More “Gail Marten: In Love…Again”

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Fred Hess Big Band: Hold On

Fred Hess has never met a re-harmonized chord, or a free exploration, or a wide-open dissonant voicing he didn’t like. On his 14th album as leader, you’ll meet all of the above, and then some. The multi-faceted tenorist/arranger from Denver — where he’s Director of Music Composition at Metro State College — has been itching … Read More “Fred Hess Big Band: Hold On”

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Charito Meets Michel Legrand: Watch What Happens

The decision to partner Philippine-born Charito with French-born Michel Legrand was an inspired move. It not only blends the jazz genre with cabaret; it features two unique vocal timbres and opens our ears to various cultural influences. Charito is now based in Tokyo; Legrand, who has spent considerable time living and working in the USA, … Read More “Charito Meets Michel Legrand: Watch What Happens”

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Tatiana Mayfield Quintet & the Erskine Hawkins Band: From All Directions

Fresh out of the University of North Texas music department, Ms Mayfield makes quite a splash with her debut album. Sounding more like a veteran than an ingénue, the 22-year old displays confidence bordering on swagger as she fearlessly tackles jazz standards like “Cottontail” and “There Will Never Be Another You” and breathes new life … Read More “Tatiana Mayfield Quintet & the Erskine Hawkins Band: From All Directions”

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Eddie Erickson Live With His International Swing Band: I’m Old Fashioned

This septet is truly international: they represent the USA, Germany, Finland, The Netherlands and Italy. Fortunately, they all speak fluent jazz. The concert took place in Germany, September 2007, and included rare gems and great standards from the 20s through the 40s. The gem that sparkles brightest is Eddie Erickson. He could make it as … Read More “Eddie Erickson Live With His International Swing Band: I’m Old Fashioned”

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Lew Green & Joe Muranyi: Together

“If you can feel your pancreas dancing, the music is swinging.” The quote comes from Bob Leary, banjoist/guitarist on this session. The visceral aspect is hard to prove, but his musical assessment is quite accurate. Cornetist Lew Green and clarinetist Joe Muranyi, who have individually accumulated many decades of touring and recording world-wide, even working … Read More “Lew Green & Joe Muranyi: Together”

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Mark Buselli: An Old Soul

Six years and five CDs ago, Mark Buselli and Brent Wallarab decided to pool their charts and chops and function on either side of a hyphen. Based in Indiana, the co-leaders and their 16 sidemen are forcing educators and jazz departments everywhere to take them seriously: one leader at a time. This album features Buselli … Read More “Mark Buselli: An Old Soul”

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Rosana Eckert: Small Hotel

Six years have elapsed since Rosana Eckert released her ensemble debut, At the End of the Day. Seems like an eternity if you can’t get enough of her unique talent. Finally the second chapter has been issued in the journey of self-discovery by the multi-faceted singer, pianist, French hornist, composer, arranger and currently teacher of … Read More “Rosana Eckert: Small Hotel”

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Greg Caputo Big Band: Classic Swing with a Modern Drive

It’s comforting to know there are still devotees of the big band genre willing to rehearse, travel, and record what they believe in. One such “keeper of the flame” is drummer Greg Caputo, based in Springfield, MA. Greg has toured with the Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Count Basie and Harry James bands, but his own … Read More “Greg Caputo Big Band: Classic Swing with a Modern Drive”

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Dave Bennett: Dave Bennett Celebrates 100 Years of Benny

The fact that Dave Bennett never met his idol, Benny Goodman, is sad, but totally plausible; Dave was all of two when Benny checked out in 1986. Since then, with only minimal professional help, Bennett taught himself how to play clarinet, adding other reeds and guitar along the way. Whatever influences Bennett absorbed can be … Read More “Dave Bennett: Dave Bennett Celebrates 100 Years of Benny”

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The Mike Barone Big Band: Class of ’68

Mike Barone has long been an institution in the Los Angeles jazz scene as a band leader, trombonist and composer/arranger. He led his own big band at Donte’s, in North Hollywood, from 1966 to 1969. When Doc Severinsen heard Mike’s charts, what followed was a 23-year relationship between Barone and the “Tonight Show” band. More … Read More “The Mike Barone Big Band: Class of ’68”

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Daryl Sherman: Johnny Mercer: A Centennial Tribute

Six years ago, Arbors Records released Daryl Sherman’s centennial tribute to Richard Rodgers, A Hundred Million Miracles, with the focus, naturally, on the music. Ms Sherman is back with another loving tribute, this one concentrating on the witty, sophisticated words of Johnny Mercer. That says volumes about Daryl in matters of taste, curiosity and the … Read More “Daryl Sherman: Johnny Mercer: A Centennial Tribute”

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