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Herbie Hancock: The Complete Columbia Album Collection 1972-1988

Box sets this colossal should come with roadmaps. At 34 discs, the set will surely intimidate the novice listener. In today’s ADD world, being presented with nearly two decades of material can be paralyzing, especially if the listener’s inclination is to absorb the music chronologically. The upswing, though, is that Hancock’s musical trajectory during his … Read More “Herbie Hancock: The Complete Columbia Album Collection 1972-1988”

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Gerald Clayton: Life Forum

Gerald Clayton switches up his game on this thrilling disc. He ups the conceptual ante and widens his sonic palette to include trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, saxophonists Logan Richardson and Dayna Stephens, and singers Gretchen Parlato and Sachal Vasandani. Immediately you sense the explicit new direction on the somber opening cut, “A Life Forum,” which features … Read More “Gerald Clayton: Life Forum”

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Courtney Pine: House of Legends

Nearly three decades since emerging as a solo artist, Courtney Pine remains a thrilling showman on the saxophone, prone to show off his virtuosity-especially his mastery of circular breathing-even when it’s not necessarily in service of the music. Pine’s expansive musical vocabulary has in the past played to his disadvantage, especially when he mars his … Read More “Courtney Pine: House of Legends”

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George Duke: The Complete 1970s Epic Albums Collection

What perfect timing for two grand box sets of classic jazz-funk and fusion. Whether they realize it or not, current groove-savvy artists like Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, Flying Lotus and Thundercat are indebted to the ’70s work of keyboardist George Duke and bass virtuoso Stanley Clarke. These boxes are ground zero for the meld of … Read More “George Duke: The Complete 1970s Epic Albums Collection”

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Rhapsody in Rainbow: Jazz and the Queer Aesthetic

Evangeline Harris is piquing the curiosity of some pedestrians outside of Mova Lounge, an upscale gay bar in Washington, D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood. It’s a gorgeous Sunday evening in late April, and Harris and her four-piece E & Me band are entertaining a sparse group of patrons. As some people chat and clink martini glasses … Read More “Rhapsody in Rainbow: Jazz and the Queer Aesthetic”

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Dee Dee Bridgewater: Drama Queen

Dee Dee Bridgewater and Billie Holiday share a surprising kinship. But can Bridgewater, a madcap, theatrical vocalist, pay convincing homage to Lady Day, jazz’s most mythologized singer?

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Blue Note Records: Hip-Hop-Hard-Bop

Just as today’s jazzers often yearn for their music’s halcyon years-whether it’s ’30s swing, ’40s bebop or ’50s hard-bop-hip-hop has its own generation gaps, with many aging B-Boys longing for what is commonly referred to as the Golden Age (1987 to 1995). It was during this era that Blue Note Records wielded its strongest influence … Read More “Blue Note Records: Hip-Hop-Hard-Bop”

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Donald Harrison, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham: New York Cool: Live at the Blue Note

This trio struck a nice accord three years ago on Donald Harrison’s CD Heroes (Nagel-Hayer, 2004), and it has since deepened. They excel at giving jazz warhorses tasteful makeovers; such is the case with “Body and Soul,” where drummer Billy Cobham and bassist Ron Carter ignite a tight, bossa nova groove underneath Harrison’s flinty melodicism, … Read More “Donald Harrison, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham: New York Cool: Live at the Blue Note”

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Skalpel: Konfusion

Skapel crafts noirish jazztronica soundscapes, favoring simple, recurring melodies and rhythmic motifs. The Polish duo of Marcin Cichy and Ignor Pudlo culls many of its samples from old Polish jazz LPs, but it’s obvious that the two have studied tons of David Axelrod records. They exhibit the same sort of obsessive attention to drum kick … Read More “Skalpel: Konfusion”

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