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Gene Perla: Orchestral Tones for Elvin Jones

Of all the recording projects Gene Perla has overseen during his distinguished 40-year career as a musician, producer and record label owner, none has taken a more curious and surprising route to completion than his newly released CD, Bill’s Waltz (PM). It all began as a simple but intriguing notion: In 1986, Perla decided to … Read More “Gene Perla: Orchestral Tones for Elvin Jones”

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Ben Wolfe: No Strangers Here

“This is the record I always wanted to make,” states bassist Ben Wolfe in the liner notes to No Strangers Here, an album that rewards repeat listenings with its imaginative pairing of jazz and string quartets. Wolfe, who established his bona fides in a variety settings-collaborating with Woody Shaw, Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick, Jr. and … Read More “Ben Wolfe: No Strangers Here”

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Philip Catherine: Guitars Two

If the veteran Belgium guitarist’s first solo recording sounds like the product of an intimate collaboration, chalk it up to the finesse he displays as a player, composer, arranger and conceptualist. Multi-tasking is not the least of Catherine’s talents. Though the album’s title refers to a 1975 precedent-Catherine’s Atlantic release Guitars-Guitars Two radiates its own … Read More “Philip Catherine: Guitars Two”

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Jay Azzolina: Local Dialect

Well known for his work with Spyro Gyra and bassist John Patitucci, guitarist Jay Azzolina is clearly in a mood to stretch out on Local Dialect, and Patitucci’s participation is certainly welcome. Indeed, while most of the music here was conceived when Azzolina was experimenting with drum loops, the contributions made by Patitucci, drummer Greg … Read More “Jay Azzolina: Local Dialect”

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Bob DeVos : Playing for Keeps

Playing for Keeps finds veteran guitarist Bob DeVos playing to his strengths once again, favoring the kind of Hammond B3 grooves that he mastered while collaborating with Trudy Pitts, Jack McDuff, Charles Earland and other great jazz organists. No question: DeVos sounds perfectly at home here. “The spiritual source” of inspiration for this 10-tune set, … Read More “Bob DeVos : Playing for Keeps”

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Ronnie Earl: Hope Radio

Guitarist Ronnie Earl doesn’t get around much anymore due to health problems, but that hasn’t prevented him from performing in concert now and then. Hope Radio, a studio session recorded in front of a small crowd, finds Earl and his Broadcasters in a strictly instrumental mode, soulfully paying homage to the likes of Otis Rush, … Read More “Ronnie Earl: Hope Radio”

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Darol Anger & Mike Marshall : Woodshop

According to Darol Anger’s liner notes, he and longtime collaborator Mike Marshall had several aims when they joined some friends in the studio to record Woodshop. Topping the list: one, “To create highly structured orchestral works”; two, “Not to get too hung up on perfection but to communicate a vibe”; and three, “To showcase the … Read More “Darol Anger & Mike Marshall : Woodshop”

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Ella Fitzgerald: Love Letters From Ella

In the wake of celebrations commemorating the 90th anniversary of Ella Fitzgerald’s birth comes this oft-delightful collection of previously unreleased performances made by the legendary vocalist for the Pablo label. The time frame in focus here is from 1973 to 1983, a very good 10 years as it happens. To say that Fitzgerald was keeping … Read More “Ella Fitzgerald: Love Letters From Ella”

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Roni Ben-Hur: Keepin’ It Open

If Roni Ben-Hur views Manhattan as that “isle of joy,” as Lorenz Hart famously put it, chalk it up to a series of life-altering encounters with Walter Booker Jr., Barry Harris and several other jazz greats beginning in the mid-’80s. That’s when the Israeli-born guitarist moved to New York City and came under the influence … Read More “Roni Ben-Hur: Keepin’ It Open”

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Kenny Burrell: 75th Birthday Bash Live!

A memorable night at a concert doesn’t always translate into a recording that holds up over the long haul. But it’s a safe bet this 12-track CD, which captures guitarist Kenny Burrell’s 75th birthday celebration at Yoshi’s in Oakland last summer, will endure. Of course, it helps that there is something inherently timeless about Burrell’s … Read More “Kenny Burrell: 75th Birthday Bash Live!”

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Bobby Broom: Song and Dance

Lennon and McCartney, Leon Russell, Jimmy Webb-don’t let the fine print fool you. For all its ties to contemporary pop tunesmiths, Song and Dance aims to please mainstream jazz fans who are open to fresh and often surprising interpretations, among other pleasures. That much is evident from the outset when veteran guitarist Bobby Broom and … Read More “Bobby Broom: Song and Dance”

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Joe Craven: Django Latino

Like David Grisman, his longtime associate, multi-instrumentalist Joe Craven has no use for the border patrol. Django Latino is testimony to his world view, inspired by Reinhardt’s compositions and recordings, distinguished by an extraordinarily colorful array of Latin textures, rhythms and instruments. Though it’s not a jazz album per se, and will likely leave some … Read More “Joe Craven: Django Latino”

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DeMania Trio: DeMania

Besides being shorthand for acoustic guitarist Alex de Grassi, electric bassist Michael Manring and percussionist Christopher Garcia, De-Mania’s name hints at the nature of this leaderless ensemble and its woven approach to jazz improvisation, world beat and the occasional cross-cultural flashback. Indeed, the trio’s version of the Stones’ “Paint It Black,” rhythmically reconfigured and reverberating … Read More “DeMania Trio: DeMania”

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John Pisano: John Pisano’s Guitar Night

The title of this extraordinary double-disc set might be construed as misleading after scanning the fine print. John Pisano collaborating with George Van Eps, Herb Ellis, Ted Greene, Anthony Wilson, Scott Henderson, Peter Bernstein, Corey Christiansen, Pat Kelley, Joe Diorio, Larry Koonse, Frank Potenza and Barry Zweig? That’s some night, alright. The truth is, these … Read More “John Pisano: John Pisano’s Guitar Night”

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Bucky Pizzarelli: 5 for Freddie: Bucky’s Tribute to Freddie Green

Sure, this is a small-combo session, but Bucky Pizzarelli is nevertheless in a large-ensemble frame of mind here, one big-band veteran guitarist saluting another. A longtime admirer of Green’s work with the Basie band, Pizzarelli evokes the master’s touch with requisite adjustments and economy (favoring heavy strings and three-note chords in which two notes are … Read More “Bucky Pizzarelli: 5 for Freddie: Bucky’s Tribute to Freddie Green”

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MB3 : Jazz Hits Volume 1

Two may be the norm as far as jazz-guitar groupings go, but three swiftly proves a charm on this collection of imaginatively arranged standards performed by world-class plectrists Jimmy Bruno, Vic Juris and Corey Christiansen. With the uncluttered support of bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Danny Gottlieb, the trio fluidly swings and soulfully moves through … Read More “MB3 : Jazz Hits Volume 1”

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Mike Marshall & Hamilton de Holanda: New Words (Novas Palavras)

A meeting of minds, cultures and wizardly techniques, here’s yet another reminder of mandolinist Mike Marshall’s well-documented habit of placing himself in challenging and intriguing settings. This time around, Marshall, who previously has collaborated with the likes of David Grisman, Darol Anger, Béla Fleck and Stéphane Grappelli, teams up with Brazilian virtuoso Hamilton de Holanda, … Read More “Mike Marshall & Hamilton de Holanda: New Words (Novas Palavras)”

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