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Todd Marcus: Trio+ (Stricker Street)

Todd Marcus, one of the few bass clarinetists in modern jazz, has almost made a point of understating his skill as a player throughout his recording career. His first albums aimed to incorporate his ethnic heritage into his art, wedding Egyptian music theory with big-band jazz. On These Streets, his 2018 release, was an immersive, … Read More “Todd Marcus: Trio+ (Stricker Street)”

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Simone Baron & Arco Belo: The Space Between Disguises (GenreFluid)

Streaming, especially on non-conventional platforms like YouTube, has become the dominant mode for disseminating music in 2019. With decades of recordings of centuries of music at our fingertips, musicians have access to a seemingly infinite wellspring of inspiration. So why does more of their work not reflect that? Why not make music that truly synthesizes … Read More “Simone Baron & Arco Belo: The Space Between Disguises (GenreFluid)”

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Ramsey Lewis & Urban Knights: VII (Ropeadope)

Twenty-four years have passed between the release of the first, self-titled Urban Knights album and the group’s latest recording, VII. The project began as an all-star collective, featuring fusion masters like Victor Bailey alongside voices from the smoother jazz vanguard like Grover Washington, Jr. and dexterous veterans like trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and pianist Ramsey Lewis. … Read More “Ramsey Lewis & Urban Knights: VII (Ropeadope)”

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Poncho Sanchez: Trane’s Delight (Concord Picante)

Will we ever truly know the extent of the shadow John Coltrane casts over the jazz world? We’ve seen over the last two years how the jazz community converges around the news of his unearthed recordings, but we don’t always get to see the smaller instances of influence, where another young player hears the call … Read More “Poncho Sanchez: Trane’s Delight (Concord Picante)”

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Ronin Arkestra: Sonkei (Albert’s Favorites)

The Ronin Arkestra makes dense music that cuts through the air with spryness, like the layered steel-forged blades wielded by its namesake. Under the direction of keyboardist and producer Mark de Clive-Lowe, the Arkestra draws members from a broad coalition of artists, like the hard-bop classicists Kyoto Jazz Sextet, acid-jazz outfit Cro-Magnon, and electronic music … Read More “Ronin Arkestra: Sonkei (Albert’s Favorites)”

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Preservation Hall Jazz Band: A Tuba to Cuba (Sub Pop)

New Orleans is one of the great cities of the American South, but many also consider it to be the northernmost point of the Caribbean. That influence extends into every aspect of the Big Easy’s culture, from religion to cuisine to music. Maybe that’s why in the film A Tuba to Cuba, a documentary of … Read More “Preservation Hall Jazz Band: A Tuba to Cuba (Sub Pop)”

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Paul Bley/Gary Peacock/Paul Motian: When Will the Blues Leave (ECM)

An album’s credits can speak volumes, not just about who plays on a record but how the weight of creation is divided across artists. On When Will the Blues Leave, captured at a 1999 live concert at the Aula Magna di Trevano in Switzerland, the equal billing of Paul Bley, Gary Peacock and Paul Motian … Read More “Paul Bley/Gary Peacock/Paul Motian: When Will the Blues Leave (ECM)”

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Brad Mehldau: Finding Gabriel (Nonesuch)

In the beginning, Brad Mehldau plays a simple synthesizer melody, ringing with felicity and melancholy, like church bells celebrating simultaneous marital and funereal rites. Over the next seven minutes the song builds as instruments and voices join the repeated phrase until the music crescendos into glorious, frantic chaos. “The Garden,” the first track on the … Read More “Brad Mehldau: Finding Gabriel (Nonesuch)”

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Satoyama: Magic Forest (Auand)

Listening to the four members of Satoyama flesh out each track on their third album, Magic Forest, is like watching four skilled painters at work. You can hear that most clearly on numbers like “One Part Per Million,” the second track on the disc, on which the musicians employ their distinct voices to achieve strong … Read More “Satoyama: Magic Forest (Auand)”

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Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet: Metamodal (ECM)

“Lament,” the first number on Greek lyra player Sokratis Sinopoulos’ new album Metamodal, unfolds like a perfect pastoral sunrise: the warm tones of light mix with the cooler colors of the retreating night. In this context, it’s easy to call Sinopoulos a painter, one who employs an arsenal of well-honed musicians and methodically selected scales like … Read More “Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet: Metamodal (ECM)”

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