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Kneebody: Chapters (Edition)

Moving through disparate meters, genres, and modulations with well-oiled sophistication, Kneebody upends jazz convention, morphing funk, jazz, dance, electronic, chamber, and everything in between. At the root of their sound sit the profound drums of Nate Wood. To hear him live is to understand the genesis of this multi-headed organism that rolls funky drums below … Read More “Kneebody: Chapters (Edition)”

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Petros Klampanis: Irrationalities (Enja)

This delicate yet muscular recording reflects bassist and composer Petros Klampanis’ desire to, according to the liner notes, evoke “living in an imaginary city that combines Greek and European culture and New York culture” and to create music “between having a structure and at the same time breaking free of structure, being open, discovering life.” … Read More “Petros Klampanis: Irrationalities (Enja)”

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Steve Lehman Trio + Craig Taborn: The People I Love (Pi)

Alto saxophonist Steve Lehman’s 14th release is jazz for those tired of rehashing the genre’s past and ready to “be here now,” as ’60s-era spiritual travelers were fond of saying. The People I Love is resolutely modern. With resourceful pianist Craig Taborn joining Lehman’s longstanding trio, the album is intriguing and evocative—and it swings like … Read More “Steve Lehman Trio + Craig Taborn: The People I Love (Pi)”

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Whit Dickey: The Tao Quartets (AUM Fidelity)

There’s always the potential conundrum, when listening to jazz that doesn’t adhere to the usual bop or postbop terrain, that the music will slide off into oblivion, evading both fan and newcomer. But this remarkable two-CD set from veteran drummer/composer Whit Dickey takes the opposite course. Consisting of two quartet performances—one “yin,” in Dickey’s description, … Read More “Whit Dickey: The Tao Quartets (AUM Fidelity)”

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Nérija: Blume (Domino)

The new wave of British jazz has been all the rage for a couple years and shows little sign of letting up. But as with any storm, a calm is sure to move in after the hurricanes and lightning desist. Nérija is a Britjazz supergroup of sorts—Nubya Garcia (tenor saxophone), Sheila Maurice-Grey (trumpet), Cassie Kinoshi … Read More “Nérija: Blume (Domino)”

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JD Allen: Barracoon (Savant)

The history of jazz is in JD Allen’s horn. Barracoon, his 13th release, follows a modest format: the tenor saxophonist lays out a simple melody, which is then cannibalized, regurgitated, and fired by his new rhythm section of drummer Nic Cacioppo and bassist Ian Kenselaar, over which Allen further deconstructs his initial message. It’s a … Read More “JD Allen: Barracoon (Savant)”

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Larry Ochs/Nels Cline/Gerald Cleaver: What Is to Be Done (Clean Feed)

Is there a place for metal bloodletting in your free jazz stew? Nels Cline thinks so. He, drummer Gerald Cleaver, and saxophonist Larry Ochs fall flat on their backs and bark screaming mad in tribute to what sounds like Mastodon impaled on Sunn O)))’s altar of slow-motion disaster. It’s about crunch, calamity, and release—then you … Read More “Larry Ochs/Nels Cline/Gerald Cleaver: What Is to Be Done (Clean Feed)”

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Greg Reitan: West 60th (Sunnyside)

Forty-nine-year-old Los Angeles-based pianist Greg Reitan possesses blazing chops, which are put to excellent purpose on his fifth CD. Titled for inspiration received after his trio performed at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle (closest entrance on West 60th Street), the release builds upon Reitan’s previous CDs (Daybreak, Post No Bills, Some Other Time, … Read More “Greg Reitan: West 60th (Sunnyside)”

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Mark Guiliana: Beat Music! Beat Music! Beat Music! (Motéma)

Of all the musicians who performed on David Bowie’s Blackstar, drummer/composer Mark Guiliana seems to have been the most affected by its insularity; his own subsequent music has split into two separate personalities. Guiliana made electronic music as early as 2012’s Beat Music and 2014’s The Los Angeles Improvisations, but post-Blackstar—as his latest, triple-titled release … Read More “Mark Guiliana: Beat Music! Beat Music! Beat Music! (Motéma)”

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Yotam Silberstein: Future Memories (Jazz & People)

Israeli jazz musicians—from Omer Avital and Anat Cohen to Gilad Hekselman and Anat Fort—have something special. Not all reference the folk music of their homeland, but when that “home is where the heart is” feeling is present, it’s undeniable. And it works at different levels with different musicians. Hekselman’s guitar playing is full of blinding … Read More “Yotam Silberstein: Future Memories (Jazz & People)”

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David Dominique is Behind the Mask on Genre-Blending New Album

In an age when music from practically every generation in recorded history is at your fingertips, you’d think that bold cross-genre blending would be much more common among musicians than it is. David Dominique’s second album, Mask, is a rare instance of just such a multistylistic mashup. It seemingly combines everything from Middle Eastern folk … Read More “David Dominique is Behind the Mask on Genre-Blending New Album”

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Herlin Riley: Perpetual Optimism (Mack Avenue)

New Orleans-based drummer Herlin Riley may be best known for his 10-year stint with Wynton Marsalis, during which he often held down a traditional groove with immaculate timing and a raw, sometimes rowdy pulse. A master then and now, Riley has only gotten better, if that’s possible. “Snap Crackle” may be Roy Haynes’ nickname, but … Read More “Herlin Riley: Perpetual Optimism (Mack Avenue)”

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Daniel Szabo: Visionary (Fuzzy Music)

The great jazz soundtracks—The Sweet Smell of Success, Man with the Golden Arm, Anatomy of a Murder, I Want to Live—were performed by a small group or an orchestra, sometimes both at once. Regardless of instrumentation, they were at their core true jazz works, as unmistakable as a swing beat. Along comes self-described “visionary” and … Read More “Daniel Szabo: Visionary (Fuzzy Music)”

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Joe Martin: Into the Luminous

Born to a Kansas City musical family, upright bassist Joe Martin often sees his music career through a familial lens. His third and latest album, Étoilée, was named for his young daughter. “Étoilée was also my [Parisian-born] wife’s grandmother’s name,” Martin explains. “The word literally means starry or luminous. I have more of a personal, … Read More “Joe Martin: Into the Luminous”

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Kendrick Scott Oracle: A Wall Becomes a Bridge (Blue Note)

Culturally aware, historically inclusive, produced by Derrick Hodge with some startling sonic effects, swinging madly and beautifully arranged, A Wall Becomes a Bridge once again confirms Kendrick Scott as one of the finest drummers of his generation, as well as a thoughtful composer with deep reserves and compelling ideas. Three years ago I was lucky … Read More “Kendrick Scott Oracle: A Wall Becomes a Bridge (Blue Note)”

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Brittany Anjou: Enamiĝo Reciprokataj (Origin)

There’s a wonderful sense of becoming, of exploration and playfulness on Minot, North Dakota-born pianist Brittany Anjou’s debut recording. She crams so much talent and energy into the album’s 10 songs that you wonder if she’ll ever come up for air. Enamiĝo Reciprokataj (Esperanto for “reciprocal love”) is the daring work of a 35-year-old visionary. … Read More “Brittany Anjou: Enamiĝo Reciprokataj (Origin)”

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Dave Meder: Passage (Outside In)

Twenty-eight-year-old pianist Dave Meder is a young man with prodigious technique and serious ambitions. In the press release accompanying this originals-heavy debut recording, he states, “Philosophically what I’m after is the lofty goal of being able to do everything.” But Meder does have the credibility, both academically and on the street, to support his dreams. … Read More “Dave Meder: Passage (Outside In)”

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Noah Preminger: Preminger Plays Preminger (Newvelle)

Prolific tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger is also a film buff-cum-history-twisting trickster. Turning his keen lens on the work of director and namesake Otto Preminger, Noah generally de-arranges the scores to some of Otto’s greatest films. Accompanied by Jason Moran on piano, Kim Cass on bass, and Marcus Gilmore on drums, Preminger works his chosen material … Read More “Noah Preminger: Preminger Plays Preminger (Newvelle)”

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Hedvig Mollestad Trio: Smells Funny (Rune Grammafon)

The belching, blues-rock mongrel that is the Hedvig Mollestad Trio could emanate only from the Scandinavian music scene and only in this particular time, when vinyl is trending and when the past is ceaselessly reexamined. Performing blues shrapnel improvisations allied to sprawling Frank Zappa-like, fuzzed-out guitar solos and a ZZ Top-worthy rhythm section manhandled into … Read More “Hedvig Mollestad Trio: Smells Funny (Rune Grammafon)”

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Rhythm Future Quartet: Rhythm Future Quartet And Friends (Magic Fiddle)

When you’ve been reviewing jazz records for almost 30 years, it’s surprisingly rare when a performance hits you on a deep emotional level, when you forget the job and the music whisks you away. But that’s what happened to me while listening to the version of Duke Ellington’s “Solitude” on Rhythm Future Quartet and Friends. … Read More “Rhythm Future Quartet: Rhythm Future Quartet And Friends (Magic Fiddle)”

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Giovanni Mirabassi Trio: Summer’s Gone (CamJazz)

Paris-based pianist Giovanni Mirabassi has been recording since the mid-1990s, his output including tributes to Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré, and Serge Gainsbourg, as well as solo outings and trio journeys. His 21st release, Summer’s Gone, is one of the latter. Joined by bassist Gianluca Renzi and drummer Lukmil Perez, Mirabassi explores terrain familiar to fans … Read More “Giovanni Mirabassi Trio: Summer’s Gone (CamJazz)”

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Bill Stewart: Band Menu (self-released)

For his 11th release, drummer/composer Bill Stewart joins tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III and bassist Larry Grenadier on the ironically titled Band Menu. The literal menu listed on the CD’s inner sleeve offers such dishes as “Hand Rolled Drum Rug with Perspiration Reduction,” “Pickled Jazz Stalwart,” and “Pay Your Dues Fondue.” Stewart is both a … Read More “Bill Stewart: Band Menu (self-released)”

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Jeff Morris: Interfaces (Ravello)

Creative improvisation meets Pro Tooled free-electronica? “Technology performer” Jeff Morris combines tape loops, found sounds, and machine noise with the live performances of renowned German musician Karl Berger (vibes/piano) and Joe Hertenstein (drums). Interfaces is less jazz than rumbling man-machine commentary, like La Monte Young improvising at a DIY shortwave radio convention. More typical instruments figure … Read More “Jeff Morris: Interfaces (Ravello)”

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Makaya McCraven: Universal Beings (International Anthem)

Chicago-based drummer, composer, edit guru, and jazz adventurist Makaya McCraven recorded this splice-and-dice 22-song opus live in four different cities with a cast including saxophonists Shabaka Hutchings and Nubya Garcia, harpist Brandee Younger, cellist Tomeka Reid, and vibraphonist Joel Ross. Working in “pop up” studios in New York, London, Chicago, and Los Angeles, McCraven then … Read More “Makaya McCraven: Universal Beings (International Anthem)”

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MND FLO: From Time (self-released)

Exploring analog synths and a modern production approach, Mnd Flo create one of the greatest amalgams of jazz ability, winning compositions, and stylistic coherence heard in ages. A globally based quartet, they consistently produce compelling, tuneful, forward-thinking jazz. Not often do jazz musicians collaborate in a manner that constitutes a literal group—a term that’s more … Read More “MND FLO: From Time (self-released)”

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Don Ellis: The Lost Tapes, Vol. 2 (Sleepy Night)

As a 1960s and ’70s trumpeter, Don Ellis is practically without parallel. Possessed of a clear, powerful tone, he wrote challenging compositions for his sophisticated big band that frequently employed odd meters. Ellis’ soundtrack for The French Connection took home a Grammy. Eight more soundtracks, including The Seven-Ups and French Connection II, further documented his unique … Read More “Don Ellis: The Lost Tapes, Vol. 2 (Sleepy Night)”

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Dave McMurray: Music Is Life (Blue Note)

Former Was (Not Was) saxophonist Dave McMurray knows how to conjure a party spirit, a jazz spirit, and for some bizarre reason, the spirits of South African saxophonists Basil Coetzee and Dudu Pukwana. Though he’s a Detroit native who’s worked with everyone from the Rolling Stones to Nancy Wilson to Bootsy Collins, his groove-splayed tunes … Read More “Dave McMurray: Music Is Life (Blue Note)”

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Antonio Sánchez: Channels of Energy (CamJazz)

Antonio Sánchez calls his large Yamaha drum set “The Purple Monster.” Isn’t it fitting that a beast of a musician plays a monster of an instrument? For the past 15 years with Pat Metheny and throughout his own ever-growing body of work, Sánchez has proven himself a wizard of the drum set, a dedicated musician … Read More “Antonio Sánchez: Channels of Energy (CamJazz)”

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