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JazzTimes 10: Great Blue Note Tracks from the 1970s

Jazz historians routinely throw Blue Note Records’ 1970s output under the bus. Either they discuss it with tremendous disdain and rote arguments about how the label traded its artistic soul for ill-fated commercial pandering under the direction of Dr. George Butler, or they avoid talking about it altogether. Even Sophie Huber’s commendable documentary, Blue Note … Read More “JazzTimes 10: Great Blue Note Tracks from the 1970s”

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Is Jazz Good for Your Health?

“When I started my career,” Dee Dee Bridgewater says, “thinking about wellness was not a thing.” Don’t get the award-winning vocalist wrong; she has long understood the importance of sleeping properly, drinking plenty of water, eating well, and not smoking for good health. But the concept of health and wellness and its ties to mental … Read More “Is Jazz Good for Your Health?”

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Jazz in the Display Case

A replica of Parliament-Funkadelic’s mid-1970s Mothership tour spacecraft, one of James Brown’s ’70s black wool jumpsuits with the word “sex” in sequined beads around the waist, the lipstick-red ’73 Cadillac Eldorado that Chuck Berry drove in the 1987 documentary, Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll, and Michael Jackson’s black fedora worn during the Jacksons’ 1984 Victory … Read More “Jazz in the Display Case”

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Pete Escovedo: Rhythms of Life

My Life in the Key of E: A Memoir – the new self-released book from famed Latin-jazz percussionist Pete Escovedo – is a case study in sheer determination. Through much of his life, he overcame multiple personal and professional challenges and setbacks: growing up in a dysfunctional home, which eventually led to him and his younger … Read More “Pete Escovedo: Rhythms of Life”

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Gilles Peterson: The Jazz Tastemaker

Even at 52, Gilles Peterson still exudes childlike glee when he plays records. Watching him host his weekly program at BBC Radio 6 Music in early August was inspiring and infectious. Each time the French-born, London-based impresario spun a song, his eyes brightened as if he were hearing the most transformative music for the very … Read More “Gilles Peterson: The Jazz Tastemaker”

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Steve Nelson: The Center of the Music

Despite his stature as one of today’s most revered jazz vibraphonists, Steve Nelson ‘s discography as a leader is criminally small. Still, it’s a potent one built on experience playing with a long list of jazz luminaries, including Kenny Barron, David “Fathead” Newman and, perhaps most significant, Dave Holland. Along his journey from his hometown … Read More “Steve Nelson: The Center of the Music”

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Thundercat: Drinking Songs

In less than a decade, Thundercat has progressed from being an in-demand bassist for the likes of Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, Flying Lotus and the crossover thrash-metal band Suicidal Tendencies to a headlining superstar. In early March, he brought his instrumental virtuosity, charming stage persona and nearly unclassifiable songs to Washington, D.C.’s U Street Music … Read More “Thundercat: Drinking Songs”

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The Producers

This piece originally appeared as a sidebar to our April issue feature on BadBadNotGood.  Karriem Riggins Erykah Badu once called this Detroit native the “clean Dilla” for his contributions to her New Amerykah albums. And like the late hip-hop innovator and fellow Motor City native J Dilla, Riggins (pictured) has worked with hip-hop and R&B … Read More “The Producers”

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Before & After: Tarus Mateen

For 17 years and counting, bassist and composer Tarus Mateen has anchored Jason Moran’s acclaimed trio, the Bandwagon. And while Mateen has also played with such jazz luminaries as Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Art Blakey, Betty Carter, Marc Cary and Terence Blanchard, as well as hip-hop heavyweights like De La Soul, the Roots and Common, his … Read More “Before & After: Tarus Mateen”

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Donny McCaslin: The Gig of a Lifetime

Donny McCaslin’s latest disc, Beyond Now (Motéma), contains colossal emotional weight. The tenor saxophonist composed the album’s original music in the summer of 2015, several months after working on what would become David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar. Given that McCaslin’s bandmates—keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Mark Guiliana—also participated in the Blackstar sessions, … Read More “Donny McCaslin: The Gig of a Lifetime”

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Renee Rosnes: Written in the Rocks

Veteran pianist and composer Renee Rosnes delivers conceptual heft, suspenseful compositions and mesmerizing performances on her first album for the Smoke Sessions label. Evolutionary science, the theories of Charles Darwin and the work of Canadian technology specialist Dino Rosati inform the bulk of the disc, which is largely occupied by the seven-part “The Galapagos Suite.” … Read More “Renee Rosnes: Written in the Rocks”

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Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus: The Distance

Bassist Michael Formanek certainly goes the distance on this grand endeavor, on which he fronts Ensemble Kolossus, an 18-piece band that leans heavily toward a kind of modern Third Stream. He folds in multiple reference points that range from Olivier Messiaen and Ornette Coleman to Charles Mingus and Henry Threadgill. Thanks to Formanek’s deft compositions, … Read More “Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus: The Distance”

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Jane Bunnett and Maqueque: Jane Bunnett and Maqueque

Canadian soprano saxophonist and flutist Jane Bunnett continues to let her love affair with Afro-Latin music guide her. Here she fronts an all-female sextet and showcases some of the brightest young instrumental and vocal talent Cuba has to offer. Often on the disc, Bunnett’s soprano sax or flute passages weave alongside the vocal harmonies of … Read More “Jane Bunnett and Maqueque: Jane Bunnett and Maqueque”

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Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band: Life In the Bubble

Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band returns with its winning combination of impeccable musicianship and pop savvy. Goodwin’s long history of working in the film industry serves him well; he knows how to deliver charts that burst with melodic ingenuity and snazzy rhythms. Goodwin’s Hollywood tenure rears its head most explicitly on his frisky take on … Read More “Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band: Life In the Bubble”

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Alex Garcia’s Afromantra: This Side of Mestizaje

Drummer extraordinaire Alex Garcia deftly balances finesse and fire on this delightful modern-jazz outing. From the very start of the opening cut, “Believe,” it’s obvious that the Chilean-born drummer has virtuosity to spare-check out his precise, intricate cross rhythms between snare, toms and cowbells. But he brings a light touch to the music that enables … Read More “Alex Garcia’s Afromantra: This Side of Mestizaje”

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John Escreet: Sound, Space and Structures

U.K.-born pianist and composer John Escreet has always demonstrated a knack for the adventurous: When he arrived on the New York City jazz scene in 2006, his formidable improvisations resembled those of Jason Moran and Vijay Iyer-searching and explorative yet melodic. This time, though, Escreet heads full-throttle toward the outer reaches of modern free jazz, … Read More “John Escreet: Sound, Space and Structures”

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Jacob Young: Forever Young

Norwegian guitarist Jacob Young continues mapping out his own exquisite path on his third ECM outing. This time, he teams up with the Poland-based Marcin Wasilewski Trio to deliver spellbinding originals that place maximum emphasis on spatial awareness and transfixing melodies. Wasilewski’s piano accompaniment, in particular, works delightfully in tandem with Young’s spidery lines. Fellow … Read More “Jacob Young: Forever Young”

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