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Mahmoud Ahmed: Ethiopiques 19

Alemye is the third disc in Buda Records’ essential Ethiopiques series by Mahmoud Ahmed, the greatest singer in Ethiopia’s modern history. As with most of the records made in the ’70s-the nation’s golden era-the instrumental backing provides a strange mix of stuttering polyrhythms applied to a deeply melancholy mixture of guitar, organ and horns that … Read More “Mahmoud Ahmed: Ethiopiques 19”

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Clusone 3: An Hour With…

Clusone 3-the hyper-malleable Dutch trio of drummer Han Bennink, cellist Ernst Reijseger and reedist Michael Moore-disbanded not long after giving the March, 1998, concert that fills this 62-minute hour because, as John Corbett’s liner notes state, it had run “its natural course.” Sure enough, most of the tunes the trio performed, primarily in medley form, … Read More “Clusone 3: An Hour With…”

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Axel Dörner/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Michael Zerang: Claque

It’s not unusual for free-improvisation sessions to feature extended experiments with pure sound, but rarely is such a task approached with the sort of delightful playfulness that distinguishes Claque, a dynamic meeting between Germany’s Axel Dorner and Chicago’s Fred Lonberg-Holm and Michael Zerang. Dorner is one of the most exciting and broad-minded trumpet players in … Read More “Axel Dörner/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Michael Zerang: Claque”

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Fonda-Stevens Group: Live at the Bunker

A wonderfully inclusive quartet date-recorded live in Germany in 1999-that makes no fuss over its broad range; whether tackling pianist Michael Jefry Steven’s gorgeous, richly lyrical ballad “For Us” or leaping into the freedom of bassist Joe Fonda’s open-ended “Circle,” this group plays with equal precision and passion. The big attraction here may be the … Read More “Fonda-Stevens Group: Live at the Bunker”

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Scott Colley: The Magic Line

In the last few years Scott Colley has become one of New York’s most desired bassists, offering superb, expertly restrained support to combos led by the likes of Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill and Greg Osby, among others. While eight of the 11 compositions on his latest trio album are originals, Colley’s performance remains focused on … Read More “Scott Colley: The Magic Line”

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Ellery Eskelin: Ramifications

Tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin’s trio, with drummer Jim Black and keyboardist/sampler Andrea Parkins, has displayed remarkable resourcefulness over the course of four scrappy, thrilling albums. Despite its stripped-down instrumentation, the group maximizes Eskelin’s tricky, zigzagging compositions, giving them an odd density through acute intuition and sensitive interplay. Each member has found a rare balance of … Read More “Ellery Eskelin: Ramifications”

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David Sanchez: Melaza

Although jazz has always been a glorious polyglot of diverse styles and influences, over the last decade or so there’s been an unmistakable movement afoot to meld it more explicate with the music of other cultures. From the Balkanized jazz created by New Yorkers like Chris Speed and Brad Shepik to the broad array of … Read More “David Sanchez: Melaza”

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Jason Moran: Facing Left

If pianist Jason Moran served notice to the too-easily-satisfied jazz scene with his stunning 1999 debut, Soundtrack to Human Motion, then Facing Left, his remarkable follow-up, is the dynamic delivery of that threat. While ostensibly working within a progressive post-bop tradition, this multitalented protege of saxophonist Greg Osby draws from so many different musical streams, … Read More “Jason Moran: Facing Left”

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International Hashva Orchestra: All’s Well

While it’s hard to miss the pervasive influence of John Coltrane on Berklee-educated tenorist Mark Turner, the traces of Warne Marsh in his beautiful playing are far more arresting and exciting. Like many of his Berklee classmates, Turner draws from countless jazz traditions, from free jazz to cool jazz, but his work consistently reflects a … Read More “International Hashva Orchestra: All’s Well”

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MTB: Consenting Adults

M.T.B. is an ad hoc quintet nominally fronted by pianist Brad Mehldau, Mark Turner and guitarist Peter Bernstein-bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Leon Parker round out the band. Propelled by the drummer’s relentless ride cymbal swing, the album delivers a lively mix of standards from Blue Note’s golden era-Shorter, McLean, Silver-as well as some nice … Read More “MTB: Consenting Adults”

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Mark Turner/Tad Shull: Two Tenor Ballads

Pairing Mark Turner with swing specialist Tad Shull was an inspired idea, but on Two Tenor Ballads their interaction level is virtually nil. Their playing, supported by the fine rhythm section of Grenadier, pianist Kevin Hays and drummer Billy Drummond, is beautiful throughout-Shull’s gorgeous sound borrows from Don Byas and Lucky Thompson to great effect-but … Read More “Mark Turner/Tad Shull: Two Tenor Ballads”

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Larry Coryell/ Tom Coster/ Steve Smith: Cause and Effect

Saxophonist Abraham Burton’s decision to elevate his long-time drumming partner Eric McPherson to co-leader on Cause and Effect is no empty gesture; the album’s spirituality-soaked sound attains its buoyancy and gravity through the group’s striking rhythmic fluency. Rounded out by the superb young pianist James Hurt and bassist Yosuke Inoue, the quartet frequently thrives on … Read More “Larry Coryell/ Tom Coster/ Steve Smith: Cause and Effect”

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Ravi Coltrane: From the Round Box

On his second album as a leader, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane all but erases the stylistic imprint of his former employer Steve Coleman, an instantly recognizable, off-the-beat rhythmic concept that pervaded the music on Coltrane’s 1998 debut Moving Pictures; Coleman produced that disc and played on a few cuts, too. On From the Round Box, Coltrane’s … Read More “Ravi Coltrane: From the Round Box”

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Roy Haynes Trio: Featuring Danilo Perez and John Patitucci

Seeking to capitalize on the fact that, at age 75, drummer Roy Haynes is a walking repository of modern jazz history, this new concept album cleverly finds him revisiting his storied past. The six studio cuts and four live performances-recorded at Scullers in Cambridge, Mass., near the drummer’s Boston birthplace-explore some of his most important … Read More “Roy Haynes Trio: Featuring Danilo Perez and John Patitucci”

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Jon Raskin Quartet: The Bass and the Bird Pond

Jon Raskin, a founding member of San Francisco’s ROVA Saxophone Quartet, shifts gears away from that group’s elaborately written and meticulously arranged investigations of color and movement to lock horns with New York alto saxophone maverick Tim Berne. Rounded out by bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Elliot Kavee, this record is no mere blowing session. … Read More “Jon Raskin Quartet: The Bass and the Bird Pond”

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Equal Interest: Equal Interest

Rarely has the phrase “sum of its parts” applied so accurately to an all-star jazz gathering as it does to Equal Interest, the trio of violinist Leroy Jenkins, pianist Myra Melford and reedist Joseph Jarman. On its eponymous debut the group doesn’t merely pool its collective experience-and with Jenkins and Jarman being key members of … Read More “Equal Interest: Equal Interest”

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Joe Morris with DKV Trio: Deep Telling

Guitarist Joe Morris knows something about packing loads of information into his music, too, but as frenetic and wiry as his playing gets at times, it’s never as extroverted as DKV’s. It follows, then, that on Deep Telling the two parties try to bridge that gap. The blend works best on more contemplative, bluesy numbers … Read More “Joe Morris with DKV Trio: Deep Telling”

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Test: Test

This New York quartet willfully and aggressively seeks to dissolve its four individual voices into one collectively improvised sound. Eschewing standard leadership roles, pre-written tunes and usually even conventional gig locations-its most frequent performance haunt is the Astor Place subway stop-while embracing an anonymous moniker, Test attempts to put all of its focus on a … Read More “Test: Test”

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Ivo Perelman: Brazilian Watercolour

Both the prolific recorded output of Brazilian-born saxophonist Ivo Perelman and the way his breathless, full-throated and ecstatic melodies pile up in each of his performances suggest that he’s full of uncontained energy. As a hungry 20-year-old he moved to the U.S. to study music back in 1981, but it took nearly a decade of … Read More “Ivo Perelman: Brazilian Watercolour”

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Ivo Perelman: Sieiro

This quartet outing features C.T.S.Q. members Dominic Duval and Tomas Ulrich along with drummer Jay Rosen operating in a more typical free jazz vein, Perelman’s high-octane solos met blow for blow by the frenetic, rapid-motion rhythm section. But instead of bonding with Duval’s wild arco machinations Ulrich tends to occupy the frontline along with Perelman, … Read More “Ivo Perelman: Sieiro”

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Greg Osby: The Invisible Hand

The “black book” on the cover of Greg Osby’s 1995 Blue Note album of the same name was spiral bound-a student’s notebook, not an insider’s secret list of phone numbers. That self-produced collection of hip hop-driven jazz made clear how much Osby had learned about the genre, as he programmed all of the album’s terse … Read More “Greg Osby: The Invisible Hand”

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Bill Dixon with Tony Oxley: Papyrus Volume 1

In the album notes to Papyrus Volume 1, drummer Tony Oxley is given credit for “background sound ambience” while trumpeter Bill Dixon is responsible for “linear configuration.” Despite its accuracy, in no way does this oversimplified abstraction convey the richness, complexity or interactivity of these beautiful performances. Both Dixon and Oxley-who first met and worked … Read More “Bill Dixon with Tony Oxley: Papyrus Volume 1”

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Matt Renzi/Jimmy Weinstein/Masa Kamaguchi: Lines and Ballads

This New York-based trio’s collective spirit goes further than the joint leadership suggested by the equal billing on the album cover. Stylistically, tenor saxophonist Matt Renzi, drummer Jimmy Weinstein and bassist Masa Kamaguchi cover familiar post-bop turf, both in repertoire and instrumental format, but they’re fond of subverting their expected roles. On a romp through … Read More “Matt Renzi/Jimmy Weinstein/Masa Kamaguchi: Lines and Ballads”

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DKV Trio: Live in Wels and Chicago

Although the DKV Trio’s stunning musical telepathy often belies the fact, none of reedist Ken Vandermark’s regular groups play with the more all-out freedom. Flanked by bassist Kent Kessler and percussionist Hamid Drake, this is a power trio with a capital “P,” and fueled by a sublime level of intuition and empathy the group turns … Read More “DKV Trio: Live in Wels and Chicago”

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Dave Douglas: Leap of Faith

Very few jazz musicians get to be media darlings-I use the term loosely-but trumpeter Dave Douglas has certainly achieved such status in the last couple of years; just a few months back he even graced the cover of this very magazine as “Artist of the Year.” It’s particularly noteworthy because he doesn’t post the kind … Read More “Dave Douglas: Leap of Faith”

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Dave Douglas: Soul on Soul: Celebrating Mary Lou Williams

The music on Soul on Soul-the initial fruit of a four-album deal Douglas inked with RCA last year, its title nabbed from Duke Ellington’s description of Williams-is considerably diverse. As usual, Douglas celebrates the spirit of the artist he’s feting more than their specific body of work, and the diversity of the pianist’s criminally underrated … Read More “Dave Douglas: Soul on Soul: Celebrating Mary Lou Williams”

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