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Adam Niewood and His Rabble Rousers: Epic Journey Volumes I & II

Niewood is the son of the late Gerry Niewood and has previously recorded one other CD as a leader. This 118 minute double CD set features a crew of young NYC-based musicians performing in a wide variety of post-bop styles, with Niewood playing five different types of saxophones and clarinet and bass clarinet. The musicians … Read More “Adam Niewood and His Rabble Rousers: Epic Journey Volumes I & II”

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Larry McKenna: Profile

Tenor saxophonist McKenna is a long standing fixture of the Philadelphia jazz scene. He presents here eight tunes in standard quartet format and two others featuring vocalist Nancy Reed. The material is mostly familiar, including three tunes by Cole Porter, a blues, “Out Of Nowhere”, “Two For The Road”, “Tres Palabras”, and an original melody … Read More “Larry McKenna: Profile”

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Brad Dutz/Vinny Golia: Duets

Dutz plays over twenty different percussion instruments and Golia over ten different reed instruments on over seventy-three minutes of music. Dutz composed three of the fourteen pieces and the rest were jointly improvised. The musical elements available to two musicians using these instruments is by definition a bit limited, especially harmonically when there is no … Read More “Brad Dutz/Vinny Golia: Duets”

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The Contradictions of Jazz by Paul Rinzler

Rinzler explores “four pairs of opposites in jazz; individualism and interconnectedness, assertion and openness, freedom and responsibility, and creativity and tradition.” He examines each of them in detail in a separate chapter and then discusses how they are opposed. His discussion of the different ways that opposites can be related; mutual exclusion, inverse proportion, gradation, … Read More “The Contradictions of Jazz by Paul Rinzler”

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Gabriel Espinosa: From Yucatan To Rio

Espinosa is from Yucatan and has been drawn artistically to Brazil. The results are generally an update of the Sergio Mendes pre hip hop sound with relatively static (as opposed to interactive) rhythm arrangements, and female vocals on five of the ten tracks. Bassist Espinosa has added trumpeter Claudio Roditi and alto saxophonist George Robert … Read More “Gabriel Espinosa: From Yucatan To Rio”

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Dave Glenn: National Pastime

Trombonist Glenn was inspired by baseball to write and arrange eight tunes for a sextet with the most typical Jazz Messengers’ instrumentation of trumpet, tenor, trombone, piano, bass and drums. All of the titles of the tunes (for example, “Lost in the Sun” and “Bottom of the Ninth”) relate to baseball. The tunes are pleasant … Read More “Dave Glenn: National Pastime”

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Dan Adler: All Things Familiar

Guitarist Adler assembled four other musicians, brothers Grant and Philip Stewart on tenor sax and drums, Richard Samuels on piano and Dmitri Kolesnik on bass, and a ten song, very attractively packaged CD results. The title is appropriate; the forms and many of the specific tunes will be familiar to the hard core jazz audience. … Read More “Dan Adler: All Things Familiar”

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Hank Jones and Frank Wess: Hank and Frank II

Hank Jones and Frank Wess Hank and Frank II Lineage Records Frank Wess Nonet Once Is Not Enough Labeth Music The second meeting of Hank and Frank is built around a menu of “less than” standards and “too” standards and features performances by guitarist Ilya Lushtak and vocalist Marion Cowlings. I was not familiar with … Read More “Hank Jones and Frank Wess: Hank and Frank II”

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The Peter Hand Big Band featuring Houston Person : The Wizard of Jazz: A Tribute to Harold Arlen

Guitarist Hand organized a big band featuring musicians who will be very familiar to jazz fans and arranged Harold Arlen tunes and composed one of his own for a concert at Irvington Town Hall Theater in 2005 commemorating the centennial of Arlen’s birth. The recording documents this concert, which features seemingly perfectly executed performances by … Read More “The Peter Hand Big Band featuring Houston Person : The Wizard of Jazz: A Tribute to Harold Arlen”

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The Jazz Composer: Moving Music Off the Paper by Graham Collier

Bassist/educator/composer/ Collier often states that his mantra is “Jazz happens in real time ,once” and that this represents a challenge for the jazz composer since the composition is but the basis for the performance; what the musicians bring to it is what ultimately determines artistic success. He correctly states that the book emphasizes larger ensembles, … Read More “The Jazz Composer: Moving Music Off the Paper by Graham Collier”

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The Birth (and Death) of the Cool by Ted Gioia

Ted Gioia’s latest book looks at the broader impact of the “cool” aesthetic as first pioneered by jazzers like Miles Davis and Lester Young. JT online contributor John Schu gets a read on the book and thesis.

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The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide by Scott Yanow

It is almost inevitable that a knowledgeable person will question the exclusion and inclusion of artists in any list of, for example, jazz singers, even in a list of as many as the top 500 of them. This book provides good, concise bios and CD recommendations for 521 singers, 30 vocal groups and also provides … Read More “The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide by Scott Yanow”

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Maynard! by Ralph Jungheim

Maynard Ferguson was a trumpeter who possessed astonishing technique, particularly in the upper register, and also played trombone and reed instruments and led a successful big band for many years. Author Jungheim interviewed 30 of Ferguson´s associates in 1978, most of whom were musicians who worked with or for Ferguson. Each musician´s interview is given … Read More “Maynard! by Ralph Jungheim”

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Forward Groove: Jazz and the Real World from Louis Armstrong to Gilad Atzmon by Chris Searle

Searle begins this work with an entertaining account of his introductory jazz learning experiences in the UK and then states his main purpose in writing this work: to show “brilliant jazz performances….(that) sometimes very obviously, and other times less obviously, allude to a real and specific situation in social or political history that shows how … Read More “Forward Groove: Jazz and the Real World from Louis Armstrong to Gilad Atzmon by Chris Searle”

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Jazz Greats Speak: Interviews with Master Musicians by Roland Baggenaes

Baggenaes is a Danish writer whose interviews with seventeen musicians between 1972 and 1987 have now been collected and published in book form. Baggenaes’ questioning is good. Many of Bagganaes’ subjects are European musicians or musicians who spent a substantial amount of time on the continent and many of the musicians’ responses are well worth the reader’s time. The book contains the best interviews with Dexter Gordon and Warne Marsh that I recall and the interviews with Mary Lou Williams, Red Rodney, and Jackie McLean are particularly valuable. The book dates itself by the inclusion of interviews with Howard King, Marie-Ange Martin, and Marc Levin, none of whom would probably be have been chosen as a subject after the late 1970s.

Both of these books barely weigh in at book length and are somewhat European centric. The value of the contribution of Europeans to jazz will probably be debated throughout all of our lives. While these books make a case for the contribution of financing of music on the continent and the quality of some Europeans’ musical output, most of their content will be only of great interest to those with very specialized taste or curiosity. Carr’s book might generate interest in some good musicians of a particular time and place whose work is now not easily heard. The best of Baggenaes’ interviews could interest any jazz fan, but like Carr’s book, much of the content will best function as a reference source in a well stocked university library.

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In Love With Voices: A Jazz Memoir by Brian Q. Torff

Veteran bassist Torff states early in his memoir that he is “the last of the young players who came of professional age in the 1970s who had the incalculable honor of working with older giants of blues, Dixieland, swing, bop, cool and beyond.”, which serves as a very good summary of his recorded career. Torff’s … Read More “In Love With Voices: A Jazz Memoir by Brian Q. Torff”

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Music Outside: Contemporary Jazz in Britain by Ian Carr

Ian Carr, who died this February and is best known for biographies of Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett, was as good a writer as anyone who has written about jazz. He was also at least as good a musician as any writer with substantial output on the subject. This book, Carr’s first, was first published … Read More “Music Outside: Contemporary Jazz in Britain by Ian Carr”

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Avery Sharpe Trio: Autumn Moonlight

Most jazz fans are familiar with bassist Sharpe through his long association with McCoy Tyner, but Sharpe has also been making his own records with varied instrumentation for many years and has established a substantial catalog as a leader. Sharpe does not vary the instrumentation here; every tune is performed in the classic piano trio … Read More “Avery Sharpe Trio: Autumn Moonlight”

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