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Marty Ehrlich: The Long View

The Long View is a seven-movement suite inspired by the paintings of Oliver Jackson. It’s abstraction upon abstraction, as reedist Marty Ehrlich attempts to create the sonic equivalent of Jackson’s abstract visual images-but the art of music is already inherently abstract. In fact the two paintings in the liner foldout are complex, highly detailed, very … Read More “Marty Ehrlich: The Long View”

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Tom Harrell: Wise Children

Pitfalls loom everywhere on this disc. Busy charts full of seemingly incongruous effects, accordion, a string quartet, French horns, Latin and rock-fusion rhythms, burbling electric bass, static harmonies, faintly haunting echoes, four famous vocalists singing bland lyrics-it’s a glossy, heavily produced album that should please jazz radio programmers who shun straightahead jazz. But swinging Tom … Read More “Tom Harrell: Wise Children”

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Bill Cole Untempered Ensemble: Seasoning the Greens

The music starts with long, very low sounds-didgeridoo, tuba, bowed bass together-that is guaranteed to shake your bricks and rattle your insides. The program is a medley of exotic settings, each with its distinctive fetching rhythms, textures and instrumental colors, and you can file Seasoning the Greens under jazz/world music. With track titles like “South … Read More “Bill Cole Untempered Ensemble: Seasoning the Greens”

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John Coltrane: Live Trane: The European Tours

Over half of the music on the box set Live Trane: The European Tours was never released until now. It comes from two-week tours of Europe that the classic quartet took in three successive autumns between 1961 and 1963. Along with the creative turmoil, especially in the leader’s soloing, a sense of exultation in shared … Read More “John Coltrane: Live Trane: The European Tours”

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Avishai Cohen with the International Vamp Band: Unity

An aptly named sextet-three musicians from Israel, the others from Argentina, Mexico and Cuba, and they play lots of uneventful vamps. The preponderance of one-chord tunes, peppy Latin rhythms and Cohen’s history of playing bass with Chick Corea’s groups might suggest this album is a Corea offshoot. To the contrary, Cohen is only a modestly … Read More “Avishai Cohen with the International Vamp Band: Unity”

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Kahil El’Zabar/Billy Bang: Spirits Entering

Here’s an album of violin-percussion duets, and once you adjust to the unusual instrumentation, the music proves engaging, often charming and clever. Bang is an attractive violinist with genuine melodic gifts and a sophisticated feeling for improvised form. Like fellow violinist Leroy Jenkins, there’s a strain of folk music in his phrasing (his long-toned lines … Read More “Kahil El’Zabar/Billy Bang: Spirits Entering”

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Anthony Braxton: Composition N. 247

Och, the bagpipes, “those deep and plaintive sounds which have done much to imprint upon the characters of those who hear them a melancholy and resigned despair,” as Stephen Leacock wrote long ago. Composition N. 247 is McBraxton’s long piece for a trio o’ bagpipes (Matthew Welch) an’ twa multiwoodwind tooters (James Fei an’ the … Read More “Anthony Braxton: Composition N. 247”

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Anthony Braxton with Alex Horwitz: Four Compositions (Duets) 2000

Four Compositions consists of Horwitz reading from newspapers and books and occasionally commenting while Braxton plays saxes and clarinets. The CD is divided into 15 similar tracks, and it is impossible to tell from the liners which composition is heard at any time. Horwitz’s monologues were randomly chosen; at three separate times he noisily wads … Read More “Anthony Braxton with Alex Horwitz: Four Compositions (Duets) 2000”

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Don Braden: Presents the Contemporary Standards Ensemble

Four selections in this program are latter-day pop songs that, argues saxophonist Don Braden, should become jazz standards. In fact, Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne” works okay in a jazz arrangement, but this band fails to make a case for themes by Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder and Roberta Flack: the melodies are not interesting, the chord … Read More “Don Braden: Presents the Contemporary Standards Ensemble”

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