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The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy: The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy

The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy, the drummer/bandleader’s 15-piece collective, is all about big: big band, big sound, the big buzz they’ve generated during their Tuesday-night residency at Yoshi’s in the Bay Area. The band’s self-titled debut recording doesn’t stint on size, either. It’s a bold, brassy collection of R&B and funk-inflected tracks with no shortage … Read More “The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy: The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy”

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Red Garland Trio: Swingin’ on the Korner: Live at Keystone Korner

When discussing jazz’s great pianists, Red Garland usually gets mentioned late in the conversation, if at all. Despite his centrality to the first great Miles Davis quintet, his work with John Coltrane and his successful run as a trio leader, Garland’s star has dimmed considerably since his death in 1984. Swingin’ on the Korner, a … Read More “Red Garland Trio: Swingin’ on the Korner: Live at Keystone Korner”

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Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet: The 21st Century Trad Band

The whimsical artwork for The 21st Century Trad Band depicts vibraphonist Jason Marsalis and his musicians (pianist Austin Johnson, bassist Will Goble and drummer David Potter) as caped musical superheroes, Goble playing a rocket-powered bass, Potter using his sticks on flying saucers instead of cymbals. While it might be an exaggeration to call the accompanying … Read More “Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet: The 21st Century Trad Band”

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Aki Takase/Alexander von Schlippenbach: So Long, Eric!— Homage to Eric Dolphy

Any musician, in celebrating an artist like Eric Dolphy, is stepping onto a minefield. Exploratory and ever-forward-looking, the music of the free-jazz pioneer seems almost designed to resist the sometimes bloodless tribute-recording format. Fortunately, with So Long, Eric!-Homage to Eric Dolphy, the man’s compositions are in the hands of pianists Aki Takase and Alexander von … Read More “Aki Takase/Alexander von Schlippenbach: So Long, Eric!— Homage to Eric Dolphy”

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Michael Musillami: Pride

Is too much of a good thing still a good thing? That is the question posed by Pride, a two-hour-plus, double-disc release from the Michael Musillami Trio that presents the equivalent of two complete LPs plus a bonus EP. Disc one finds the Connecticut-based guitarist’s longtime unit (bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller) joined … Read More “Michael Musillami: Pride”

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Hush Point: Blues and Reds

Hailing as it does from within the notably exploratory Brooklyn scene, an album as appealingly old-school as Hush Point’s Blues and Reds is an unexpected surprise. Substitute a baritone saxophone for Jeremy Udden’s alto, and this sophomore effort from the pianoless quartet could almost be mistaken for a lost recording from the classic Gerry Mulligan/Chet … Read More “Hush Point: Blues and Reds”

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ART: Why I Stuck With a Junkie Jazzman by Laurie Pepper

Art Pepper’s Straight Life is one of the seminal jazz autobiographies, essential for its portrait of the postwar West Coast scene and its pitiless portrayal of the addict’s lifestyle. The book was a collaboration between Art and his wife, Laurie, who shaped and structured hours of taped conversations while preserving Art’s singular perspective. Indeed, from … Read MoreART: Why I Stuck With a Junkie Jazzman by Laurie Pepper”

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Fred Hersch Trio: Floating

The first studio recording in four years from the Fred Hersch Trio, Floating is sequenced like the band’s live gigs. The album commences with an American standard (Dietz and Schwartz’s “You and the Night and the Music”) reimagined with the trio’s idiosyncratic, leaps-and-bounds attack, followed by a selection of originals by pianist Hersch, most dedicated … Read More “Fred Hersch Trio: Floating”

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Get the Blessing: Lope and Antilope

So what is the appropriate course of action? To praise Get the Blessing’s Lope and Antilope for its ambitious synthesis of jazz with rock and electronica inflections? Or simply celebrate the sheer exuberance of this album-length extended improvisation, recorded over four days in an unused pottery studio? Given that choice, one can only gush: Lope … Read More “Get the Blessing: Lope and Antilope”

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Ty Citerman: Bop Kabbalah

If one classifies Bop Kabbalah, the self-titled debut recording of the quartet fronted by Gutbucket founding member Ty Citerman, as “sacred music,” then it is as singular an example of the form as anything Duke Ellington ever composed. The latest installment in Tzadik’s Radical Jewish Culture series, the album’s eight tracks, all written by Citerman, … Read More “Ty Citerman: Bop Kabbalah”

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Loston Harris: Swingfully Yours

The liner notes for Loston Harris’ Swingfully Yours set a clear agenda. “This recording is all about swing,” declares the pianist and singer, a mainstay at New York’s famed Carlyle Hotel. “No torch songs or ballads, just tunes with tempos that make you wanna tap your toes.” Harris delivers on his promise with this nine-track … Read More “Loston Harris: Swingfully Yours”

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Tim Hegarty: Tribute

Tim Hegarty’s Tribute is framed as a paean to the artists whose teachings and example still inform the veteran saxophonist’s work, most notably Jimmy Heath, with whom Hegarty studied saxophone and composition and who wrote four of Tribute‘s 10 tracks. The result is a worthy testimonial both to the legacy of the musicians that inspired … Read More “Tim Hegarty: Tribute”

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Tord Gustavsen Quartet: Extended Circle

Norwegian pianist-composer Tord Gustavsen creates music like nothing else in jazz today, and his new quartet recording, Extended Circle, is a vivid illustration of the singularity of his take on the form. Throughout the album’s 12 tracks, eight of which are original compositions by the pianist, the pace is customarily languid; solos and anything as … Read More “Tord Gustavsen Quartet: Extended Circle”

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The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: The L.A. Treasures Project

Closing in on its 30th anniversary, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra continues its commitment to straight-off-the-bone swing. The CHJO’s new live recording, The L.A. Treasures Project, is an ebullient collection of tracks, the band taking a set of razor-sharp arrangements from bassist-conductor John Clayton out for a spin. Recorded last September at Alvas music store in … Read More “The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra: The L.A. Treasures Project”

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Learning to Listen: The Jazz Journey of Gary Burton by Gary Burton

In his introduction to Learning to Listen, master vibraphonist Gary Burton offers readers the choice of absorbing his story as either that of “a gay jazz musician or … a jazz-playing gay man, whichever you prefer.” This declaration might potentially put off jazz fans with no particular interest in LGBT issues. But Burton’s book is … Read MoreLearning to Listen: The Jazz Journey of Gary Burton by Gary Burton”

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The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild by Hannah Rothschild

In 2011, David Kastin released the award-winning Nica’s Dream, a jazz journalist’s take on the life of Pannonica de Koenigswarter, the European baroness who gave up home, husband and children to devote herself to jazz. Now, providing another side of the story is The Baroness by Hannah Rothschild, the acclaimed documentarian who happens to be … Read More “The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild by Hannah Rothschild”

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Dameronia: The Life and Music of Tadd Dameron by Paul Combs

Paul Combs set himself a considerable challenge in Dameronia, his new biography of arguably the most influential composer and arranger of the bebop era. By Combs’ own admission, the record of Tadd Dameron’s personal history is a sketchy one. Dameron was “secretive almost to the point of paranoia,” and frequently provided interviewers with false or … Read More “Dameronia: The Life and Music of Tadd Dameron by Paul Combs”

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Why Jazz Happened by Marc Myers

Although Marc Myers begins Why Jazz Happened with an account of the first jazz recording (by the Original Dixieland Jass Band, in 1917), his book is not a comprehensive history of the music. Rather, this study focuses on a 30-year stretch, 1942 to 1972, outlining 10 developments, both within and outside jazz, that were instrumental … Read More “Why Jazz Happened by Marc Myers”

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What It Is: The Life of a Jazz Artist by Dave Liebman in Conversation with Lewis Porter

Dave Liebman has always been one of the smartest and most forthcoming musicians of his generation, and in his new book, What It Is: The Life of a Jazz Artist, the saxophonist and educator holds forth on his art, life and restless creative spirit with effortless candor and lyricism. Compiled from interviews conducted by pianist, … Read More “What It Is: The Life of a Jazz Artist by Dave Liebman in Conversation with Lewis Porter”

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Tito Puente Bio Lacks the Fire of the Music

Sometimes a story is better than its telling. This is sadly the case with Mambo Diablo, Joe Conzo’s biography (written with David A. Pérez) of his longtime friend Tito Puente. This book aims to be the definitive chronicle of arguably the greatest Afro-Cuban jazz pioneer, but instead delivers a rambling account that gives readers both … Read More “Tito Puente Bio Lacks the Fire of the Music”

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