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Dan Weiss Trio Plus 1: Utica Box (Sunnyside)

The unusual instrumentation of the new album from drummer Dan Weiss brings to mind Smokestack, Andrew Hill’s 1966 Blue Note classic, as both recordings employ a drums/piano/two-basses lineup, but Weiss didn’t intend the comparison. For him, this was simply an outgrowth of the trio with bassist Thomas Morgan and pianist Jacob Sacks that he showcased on … Read More “Dan Weiss Trio Plus 1: Utica Box (Sunnyside)”

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Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise (International Anthem)

Trumpeter and composer Jaimie Branch pulls no punches. A raw, in-your-face sensibility runs through Fly or Die, her stunning 2017 debut, as well as the 2018 disc Kudu by her side project Anteloper (which, in a nod to her time in the Windy City and the influence of Rob Mazurek, she nicknames the New York Underground Duo). Her … Read More “Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise (International Anthem)”

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The Ezra Weiss Big Band: We Limit Not the Truth of God (Origin)

Portland, Oregon-based composer/arranger Ezra Weiss means well with his latest recording. He leads a 17-piece big band that is joined by a nine-member choir in a program of originals and a sterling cover of the Wayne Shorter classic “Footprints,” and the pieces are strung together as a suite written as a letter to his young children … Read More “The Ezra Weiss Big Band: We Limit Not the Truth of God (Origin)”

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Chrissie Hynde: Valve Bone Woe (BMG)

News that rock legend Chrissie Hynde had a jazz recording in the works seemed equal parts cringeworthy and intriguing. The track record of rock stars enhancing their own considerable nostalgia by mining the classic American songbook has yielded some treacly results. On the other hand, Hynde belongs to a group of veteran iconoclasts like Tom Waits, … Read More “Chrissie Hynde: Valve Bone Woe (BMG)”

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Ernest Dawkins’ Chicago 12: Misconceptions of a Delusion, Shades of a Charade Celebrating the 35th Annivesary of the Chicago 7 Trial

Lush orchestration, pithy, even angry solos and fiercely declaimed poetry highlight Ernest Dawkins’ new recording. Reedist Dawkins is a veteran member of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and here he addresses the Chicago 7 conspiracy trial, which followed the massive unrest during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. For Dawkins, the … Read More “Ernest Dawkins’ Chicago 12: Misconceptions of a Delusion, Shades of a Charade Celebrating the 35th Annivesary of the Chicago 7 Trial”

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Javon Jackson: Have You Heard

The soul-jazz record has a long history, and on his second Palmetto disc, tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson provides a randomly ordered survey of the style. As was true of his 2003 effort, Easy Does It, Jackson is joined by organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and guitarist Mark Whitfield, both of whom give the proceedings a funky … Read More “Javon Jackson: Have You Heard”

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Khan Jamal Quintet: Black Awareness

Lean, loose-limbed and deceptively powerful, the Khan Jamal Quintet recalls the sound of New York City in the early ’80s, particularly in those clubs like Soundscape, Jazz Forum and the Tin Palace that were remnants of the New York City loft-jazz scene. It was at those clubs that several musicians began reviving the freer, posthard-bop … Read More “Khan Jamal Quintet: Black Awareness”

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Roy Ayers: Virgin Ubiquity

For most of the early ’70s, Roy Ayers’ Ubiquity made state-of-the-art jazz-funk. The cool, mellow grooves were in stark contrast to the more aggressive fusions of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock and they were less diffuse than Weather Report’s. In 1976, vibraphonist Ayers scored a pop hit with the jazz-funk classic “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” … Read More “Roy Ayers: Virgin Ubiquity”

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