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Beaux J Poo Boo: All Things Are New

Beaux J Poo Boo consists of four outstanding musicians-pianist Shelly Berg, guitarist Fred Hamilton, bassist Lou Fischer and drummer Steve Houghton-none of whom is listed as leader. All have led, composed, arranged, taught and accumulated more degrees than any thermometer. Few jazz combos really need a leader–just someone to kick off the tempo. But it … Read More “Beaux J Poo Boo: All Things Are New”

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Brad Mehldau: Live in Tokyo

Few pianists can match Brad Mehldau when it comes to cross-fertilizing jazz, classical and rock. The same applies for technique, taste and intellectual curiosity. All of those qualities are on display in Mehldau’s latest CD-his second solo disc and the first recording for his new label, the appropriately eclectic Nonesuch. “Someone to Watch Over Me” … Read More “Brad Mehldau: Live in Tokyo”

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Duke Ellington and his Orchestra: The Jaywalker

That resource known as Ellingtonia is not finite. Here are four more releases involving previously unissued material, alternate takes and bonus tracks-and there’s more where they came from, thanks to a “stockpile” referred to in The Jaywalker as a vast collection of tapes “recorded at Ellington’s own expense during the last 20-30 years of his … Read More “Duke Ellington and his Orchestra: The Jaywalker”

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Andrew Hill Jazzpar Octet +1: The Day the World Stood Still

When Rossini was asked for his opinion of Wagner, he replied, “Wagner has some beautiful moments, but many boring hours.” At first hearing Andrew Hill’s latest, recorded because he won the Jazzpar Prize, I was tempted to be equally flip about the CD. But there’s an inherent danger in commenting on first hearings, particularly when … Read More “Andrew Hill Jazzpar Octet +1: The Day the World Stood Still”

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Duane Thamm and the Chuck Hedges Swingtet: Tribute to Hamp

Now that vibraphonist Duane Thamm has reached the golden age of 70, he seems to have taken on a Lincolnesque outlook to the occasional bumps in the road to jazz success: “With mallets toward none, with charity toward all.” Consider his career as a percussionist, during which he played, recorded and toured with Frank Sinatra, … Read More “Duane Thamm and the Chuck Hedges Swingtet: Tribute to Hamp”

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Joey DeFrancesco: Plays Sinatra His Way

There isn’t the slightest bit of complication when it comes to Joey DeFrancesco. The guy is a genuine “meat and potatoes jazz-blues organist” (the phrase Joey used in these same pages last September to describe his dad, Papa John DeFrancesco), whose only raison d’etre is to swing his Philly-forged fanny off. The fact that he … Read More “Joey DeFrancesco: Plays Sinatra His Way”

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Thad Jones Danish Radio Big Band: A Good Time Was Had by All

Almost without exception, the sidemen of the Danish Radio Big Band agree the most meaningful music they ever played occurred when Thad Jones was chief conductor in 1977 and ’78, despite the fact that since its inception in 1964 such greats as Bob Brookmeyer and Jim McNeely have also fronted the band. When Jones defected … Read More “Thad Jones Danish Radio Big Band: A Good Time Was Had by All”

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Cal Tjader: Concerts in the Sun

How is this such a mixed bag? Let me count the ways: A juxtaposition of idioms, from straightahead to Latin; alternating bassists, from Victor Venegas to Eddie Coleman; a switching of venues, from Honolulu to Santa Monica; an inevitable change in sound, due to varying recording techniques; and a gap of five months between two … Read More “Cal Tjader: Concerts in the Sun”

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McCoy Tyner/Bobby Hutcherson/Charnett Moffett/Eric Harland: Land of Giants

McCoy Tyner was once quoted as saying, “To me living and music are all the same thing…I play what I live.” Little wonder he has displayed the same tasteful, forceful, bop-flavored keyboard karma that puts him in the land of Kenny Barron, Ahmad Jamal, Benny Green, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Cedar Walton-in other words, among … Read More “McCoy Tyner/Bobby Hutcherson/Charnett Moffett/Eric Harland: Land of Giants”

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Jane Bunnett: Cuban Odyssey

For more than 20 years, soprano saxophonist/flutist Jane Bunnett and her husband, trumpeter Larry Cramer, have made many trips to Cuba, steeping themselves in the local jazz and native-music scenes. In 2000, the couple went to Cuba accompanied by a crew from Canada’s National Film Board, and the trip resulted in the documentary film Spirits … Read More “Jane Bunnett: Cuban Odyssey”

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Bill Evans Trio: Consecration

Around 1970, when Bill Evans was playing at that long-defunct Hollywood landmark Shelly’s Manne-Hole, the drummer-club owner told me, in reference to Evans, “a real jazzman is a guy who never plays the same thing once.” This eight-CD collection, the sister set to The Last Waltz box set, not only epitomizes that definition but also … Read More “Bill Evans Trio: Consecration”

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Dexter Gordon: XXL: Live at the Left Bank

XXL, the title of this album, stands for extra-long tracks, which says it all about LTD-Long Tall Dexter. Recorded live at Baltimore’s Famous Ballroom for the Left Bank Jazz Society in 1969, this session of unreleased material contains just three marathons: Monk’s “Rhythm-a-ning” is 24 minutes long; “Misty,” just over 10; and “Love for Sale” … Read More “Dexter Gordon: XXL: Live at the Left Bank”

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Monty Alexander: My America

This is his America, all right, but Monty Alexander captures its essence by relying on his Jamaican roots. What emerges is a very personal paean to Alexander’s adopted country in a context he has often employed: Caribjazz. It amounts to a party that gives Alexander a dozen opportunities to pay tribute to those artists who … Read More “Monty Alexander: My America”

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Ron Carter: Stardust

The ubiquitous Ron Carter is rumored to have participated in more than 3,000 recordings. The source for that estimate, Blue Note Records, confirms that the bass virtuoso has recorded over 50 albums as a leader. Both figures are impressive, and his latest, Stardust, goes a long way toward explaining why he is constantly in demand … Read More “Ron Carter: Stardust”

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Ray Brown: Some of My Best Friends Are… Guitarists

If it’s true you can judge people by the friends they keep, Ray Brown has to be the best-loved cat in the galaxy. On the heels of CDs proclaiming some of his best friends are pianists, sax players, singers and trumpeters, going back to ’94, Brown is now embracing guitarists. The latest collection is a … Read More “Ray Brown: Some of My Best Friends Are… Guitarists”

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Michel Camilo: Triangulo

Since Michel Camilo has the Midas touch in everything pianistic and musical, his latest release must refer to an equilateral triangle: all sides equal. From his meteoric career as child prodigy who joined the National Symphony Orchestra in his native Santo Domingo at 16 to studying at Juilliard to earning a Grammy and an Emmy, … Read More “Michel Camilo: Triangulo”

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Ray Brown Trio: Live at Starbucks

Live at Starbucks took place in Seattle in 1999, when pianist Geoff Keezer and drummer Karriem Riggins backed bassist Ray Brown. An unusual thing happened during that coffee klatch: another master class, aside from the one Brown gives, developed with Keezer. It begins with the muscular tremolos that end the first chorus of the second … Read More “Ray Brown Trio: Live at Starbucks”

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Ray Brown/John Clayton/Christian McBride: SuperBass 2

The first Super Bass took place in 1996 and the enthusiasm of a long-overdue reunion is evident, not only by the musical and instrumental compatibility, but by the constant chatter and obvious love these bassists have for each other. If you have any doubt that a trio of basses-Brown, John Clayton, Christian McBride-can form a … Read More “Ray Brown/John Clayton/Christian McBride: SuperBass 2”

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Aaron Goldberg: Unfolding

There is no title track on Unfolding. Instead of choosing one cut from the album, someone chose a descriptive word about the session. What is unfolding here are the thoughts of pianist Aaron Goldberg. Based on his music, those thoughts are intellectual, but uncluttered-someone of impeccable taste. Annotator Ira Gitler had enough space to get … Read More “Aaron Goldberg: Unfolding”

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Roy Haynes: Birds of a Feather: A Tribute to Charlie Parker

To say that drummer Roy Haynes is the driving force behind this session is an understatement verging on insult. Haynes has been at the forefront of bop long enough to have earned membership in that elite of founding fathers: Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Clifford Brown, John Coltrane, Miles Davis-all of whom … Read More “Roy Haynes: Birds of a Feather: A Tribute to Charlie Parker”

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Warren Bernhardt with Jay Anderson and Peter Erskine: So Real

There are two ways of explaining the CD title, So Real: It’s the only original tune by pianist Bernhardt, or the fact that not one edit exists on the album. Eight of the nine cuts were first takes. Bernhardt recorded “Autumn Leaves” again because he was dissatisfied with the tempo. Considering the “time is money” … Read More “Warren Bernhardt with Jay Anderson and Peter Erskine: So Real”

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David Chevan/Warren Byrd: Let Us Break Bread Together

When jazz comes with extra philosophical baggage-no matter how noble the sentiment-that added dimension should not detract from the intrinsic message of the music. Having said that, buyer beware: this album succeeds on a brotherhood level, but falls short on its musical raison d’etre. Bassist David Chevan and pianist Warren Byrd are based in Connecticut … Read More “David Chevan/Warren Byrd: Let Us Break Bread Together”

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Kenny Hing: The Little King

Neat. If there has to be a one-word summation to Kenny Hing’s The Little King, “neat” captures it. The quintet is as tight as it is loose: your standard bop complement of tenor (Hing) and trumpet (Bob Ojeda), whose collective timbre is as singular as there solo statements are individual. The support they receive from … Read More “Kenny Hing: The Little King”

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Benny Green: Naturally

Heir apparent to Oscar Peterson, Benny Green has proven his staying power as a bop-flavored pianist, having paid his dues with Betty Carter, Freddie Hubbard, Art Blakey and Ray Brown. Now just 36, his 10th album as a leader marks his debut for Telarc and he has chosen sidemen-guitarist Russell Malone and bassist Christian McBride-carefully. … Read More “Benny Green: Naturally”

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Warren Vache: Swingtime!

The ability to swing must be in the genes; it certainly is in the Vaches (beginning with their dad, bassist Warren Sr.) The older bro, Warren, puts his cornet through various formats here and shines in all of them. Swing is the key word; Warren swings in any style he chooses, and in his three … Read More “Warren Vache: Swingtime!”

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Warren Vache Quintet: Warren Plays Warren

Warren’s best moments fairly leap out of Warren Plays Warren. Not that Vache is beside himself (these standards by Harry Warren are filled with the kinds of changes instrumentalists relish). Sparks fly because trumpeter Randy Sandke is blowing alongside of him. Their phrasing is instinctive (check out “Jeepers Creepers” and “Nagasaki”) and the chemistry is … Read More “Warren Vache Quintet: Warren Plays Warren”

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