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Turtle Island Quartet: Have You Ever Been…?

You can’t say the Turtle Island Quartet lacks ambition. In 68 minutes, Have You Ever Been…? offers both explorations of Jimi Hendrix tunes and an extended, four-movement original by TIQ founder David Balakrishnan. If anything, it’s more ambition than one album can bear. Ostensibly a two-parter, the sequencing divides the eight-track Hendrix portion in half, … Read More “Turtle Island Quartet: Have You Ever Been…?”

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Roland Vazquez Band: The Visitor

With The Visitor, drummer Roland Vazquez joins the ranks of Maria Schneider and Darcy James Argue as a visionary composer of contemporary big-band jazz. This, it’s no surprise, is the Latin version. It’s that flavoring that is Vazquez’s greatest advantage on the disc; the hand percussion and salsa-fied piano licks guarantee its sumptuous beauty. Though … Read More “Roland Vazquez Band: The Visitor”

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Dave Liebman: Hard Work

He is always, always busy, they’ll tell you. Dave Liebman’s inexhaustible work ethic is what makes the most profound impression on his colleagues. “It’s almost as if he’s on a mission,” says Gunnar Mossblad, a saxophonist who plays in and directs the Liebman Big Band. “We’ll work on a whole bunch of things, then we each … Read More “Dave Liebman: Hard Work”

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David S. Ware: Onecept

David S. Ware could never be accused of following trends. If saxophone-led trios are all the rage, his release of a sax/bass/drums album feels coincidental. Either way, though, Onecept is among the best of that recent lot. Backed by bassist William Parker and drummer Warren Smith, the avant-garde icon alternates between tenor sax, stritch and … Read More “David S. Ware: Onecept”

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Ray LeVier: Against All Odds

Drummer Ray LeVier has chops. His Web page includes video of a drum clinic near his home in New York’s Hudson Valley that places his virtuosity beyond question, as do his heavy beats behind singer-songwriter KJ Denhert. But on his postbop-oriented leader debut, Ray’s Way (Origin), LeVier epitomizes understatement; he takes no solos, save for … Read More “Ray LeVier: Against All Odds”

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The Bad Plus: For All I Care

It was inevitable, perhaps, that The Bad Plus would make an all-covers album. Each member of the celebrated Midwestern trio (pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, drummer David King) is an accomplished composer, delivering quirky pieces with new ideas about the boundaries of jazz harmony and rhythm; however, since their 2003 arrival on the international … Read More “The Bad Plus: For All I Care”

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Myriam Alter: Where Is There

Belgian composer Myriam Alter straddles three musical pathways on Where Is There: jazz, chamber classical and European folk. Jazz remains the stronghold, but the other styles create exoticism and delicate, lyrical beauty that lingers in the ear long after the music stops. The classical aspect largely rests on Jaques Morelenbaum’s cello-along with Salvatore Bonafede’s piano, … Read More “Myriam Alter: Where Is There”

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Eliot Zigmund Quartet: Breeze

Drummer Eliot Zigmund is the leader on Breeze, but you’d never know it. Zigmund has the most compositions, and is a prominent and masterful swinger, yet each contributor (saxophonist Mike Lee, pianist Gary Versace and bassist Phil Palombi) is so crucial that to suggest anyone’s dominance is folly. Palombi, for example, is the most engaging … Read More “Eliot Zigmund Quartet: Breeze”

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Ben Allison & Man Size Safe: Little Things Run the World

Little Things Run the World, the nifty new CD from bassist Ben Allison and his band Man Size Safe, offers an Americana that’s hard to put a finger on. Sometimes they mine a multiethnic, Southwestern vein; other times it’s the folk of the Heartland. But the American tradition’s real presence lies in the album’s aura … Read More “Ben Allison & Man Size Safe: Little Things Run the World”

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Matt Chamberlain/Bill Frisell/Tucker Martine/Lee Townsend : Floratone

Floratone has a complicated premise. In 2005, guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Matt Chamberlain, the instrumental half of the Floratone quartet, recorded a free-improv session together. They then gave the tapes to the production half, Tucker Martine and Lee Townsend, who hewed 11 song-length tracks out of them and returned them to Frisell and Chamberlain … Read More “Matt Chamberlain/Bill Frisell/Tucker Martine/Lee Townsend : Floratone”

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