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Denny Zeitlin: Solo Piano: Remembering Miles (Sunnyside)

Arriving on the jazz scene in the mid-’60s while simultaneously practicing and teaching psychiatry, pianist Denny Zeitlin has consistently conducted his musical career on multiple tracks. He has played postbop as well as free improv, veered between electric and acoustic settings, drawn from classical composition and fusion, and played solo when he wasn’t leading duos, … Read More “Denny Zeitlin: Solo Piano: Remembering Miles (Sunnyside)”

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Lage Lund: Terrible Animals (Criss Cross)

Launched in 2014, celebrated guitarist Lage Lund’s quartet with pianist Sullivan Fortner, drummer Tyshawn Sorey, and bassist Matt Brewer has since played occasional engagements in New York. But the group hasn’t been captured on a recording until now. Terrible Animals, with Larry Grenadier rather than Brewer on bass, offers the group’s takes on 10 original … Read More “Lage Lund: Terrible Animals (Criss Cross)”

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Snarky Puppy: Immigrance (GroundUp)

Snarky Puppy’s modus operandi, while drawing from its players’ roots in jazz harmony and improvisation, has always been about musical sprawl, from the oversized personnel to the vibrant colors and textures heard and felt in the group’s sound. Yes, it’s a type of fusion, but, it’s also an ever-shifting synthesis, with bassist-composer Michael League leading … Read More “Snarky Puppy: Immigrance (GroundUp)”

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Ernie Watts Quartet: Home Light (Flying Dolphin)

When the story of this era’s jazz masters is told, West Coast tenor man and bandleader Ernie Watts ought to be prominently featured. Watts, perhaps once underappreciated because of the overtly commercial bent of many of his ’70s and ’80s recordings, has evolved into a saxophonist whose sound is simultaneously brawny and beautiful, an instrumentalist … Read More “Ernie Watts Quartet: Home Light (Flying Dolphin)”

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Marcus Strickland Twi-Life: People of the Sun (Blue Note/Revive)

Saxophonist Marcus Strickland comes by his genre-mashing approach to jazz honestly. Born to a father who did some drumming in R&B and jazz bands, and raised in Miami around Afro-Caribbean rhythms, he worked with the likes of drummer Roy Haynes and trumpeter Dave Douglas before organizing Twi-Life, a concept and band centered on exploring jazz, … Read More “Marcus Strickland Twi-Life: People of the Sun (Blue Note/Revive)”

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Various Artists: A Day in the Life: Impressions of Pepper (Impulse!)

Another Sgt. Pepper’s tribute? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yada, yada, yada. That might be a listener’s first response to yet another take on the iconic Beatles album. Why? Because in addition to a few gem-like covers of the music, there have been plenty of stink bombs over the years: If you’ve ever listened to William Shatner’s … Read More “Various Artists: A Day in the Life: Impressions of Pepper (Impulse!)”

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Jimmy Haslip/Scott Kinsey/Gergö Borlai: Arc Trio (Blue Canoe)

It’s no accident that Joe Zawinul’s sound is writ large throughout portions of Arc Trio: Keyboardist Scott Kinsey, best known for his work with fusion supergroups Tribal Tech and Human Element, was a protégé of the late Weather Report co-founder, and is musical director of the Zawinul Legacy Band. As such, he makes a natural … Read More “Jimmy Haslip/Scott Kinsey/Gergö Borlai: Arc Trio (Blue Canoe)”

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Antonio Adolfo: Encontros – Orquestra Atlantica (AAM)

Brazilian big-band music is relatively rare, at least in comparison with its Afro-Cuban and—obviously—swing kin. With Encontros – Orquestra Atlantica, pianist and composer Antonio Adolfo realizes his dream of recording his music with just such a large ensemble, after more than 25 albums as a leader, including last year’s well-received Hybrido: From Rio to Wayne … Read More “Antonio Adolfo: Encontros – Orquestra Atlantica (AAM)”

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Medeski Martin & Wood with Alarm Will Sound: Omnisphere (Indirecto)

On the provocative Omnisphere, recorded live in 2015, Medeski Martin & Wood venture into contemporary classical music, with the help of 20-piece chamber orchestra Alarm Will Sound. The ambitious program offers a mix of compositions penned by musicians from both ensembles, starting with the suite-like “Kid Tao Mammal (unworldliness weirdo),” by AWS percussionist Payton MacDonald. … Read More “Medeski Martin & Wood with Alarm Will Sound: Omnisphere (Indirecto)”

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Dave Anderson: Melting Pot (Label 1)

How best to celebrate the multiculturalism that has long nourished the heart and soul of America? Dave Anderson, a New York-based, Minnesota-born saxophonist looking to provide a musical antidote to signs of xenophobia in the United States, last year organized his Melting Pot band to record five original compositions. The world-jazz group’s music in part … Read More “Dave Anderson: Melting Pot (Label 1)”

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Fred Hersch Trio: Live in Europe (Palmetto)

Fred Hersch had me at the Monk bookends. The pianist draws from one of his favorite composers—a staple of his repertoire—to start and close Live in Europe, recorded with his working trio last fall at an acoustically pristine hall in Brussels. His version of Monk’s infrequently performed “We See” feels likes smartly choreographed leapfrogging: Hersch … Read More “Fred Hersch Trio: Live in Europe (Palmetto)”

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Jeremy Pelt: Noir en Rouge: Live in Paris (HighNote) + Jim Snidero & Jeremy Pelt: Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley (Savant)

If you build it, the muse will come. That was the operating principle behind trumpeter Jeremy Pelt’s latest album as a leader: He brought his working quintet, the same acoustic postbop band heard on 2017’s Make Noise!, to Paris last fall, intent on recording a two-night stand at the intimate Sunset/Sunside club. Three of the … Read More “Jeremy Pelt: Noir en Rouge: Live in Paris (HighNote) + Jim Snidero & Jeremy Pelt: Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley (Savant)”

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Robert Hurst: Black Current Jam (Dot Time)

Nearly two decades after slipping out of the golden handcuffs of the Tonight Show band, Detroit-born Robert Hurst has released what feels like one of his most ambitious recordings. Black Current Jam is an eclectic set of 10 original compositions built around Afrocentric themes and encompassing an eclectic range of jazz-rooted rhythms and textures, bolstered … Read More “Robert Hurst: Black Current Jam (Dot Time)”

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John Patitucci & Jeff Berlin: The Electric Bass in Acoustic Jazz

When it comes to straight-ahead jazz, the upright bass largely remains the low-hertz instrument of choice. Historically, many bass guitarists possessing expertise in walking and swinging got there by way of migrating from the double bass. Take Steve Swallow and the late Bob Cranshaw, for instance: Both played and recorded on the upright before transitioning … Read More “John Patitucci & Jeff Berlin: The Electric Bass in Acoustic Jazz”

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James Weidman: Spiritual Impressions (Inner Circle)

Spiritual Impressions finds journeyman pianist James Weidman wading through the deep waters, alternately troubled and joyful, of African-American spirituals. He imbues these gems with driving grooves, some intriguing reharmonizations and bracing solos. All serve to freshen up enduring pieces that remain deeply meaningful to so many. Weidman, best known as a sideman with the likes … Read More “James Weidman: Spiritual Impressions (Inner Circle)”

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Jason Marsalis and the 21st Century Trad Band: Melody Reimagined: book 1 (Basin Street)

It’s a tradition at least as old as bebop: Attach a new melody and/or a revised arrangement to chord changes from a familiar tune. Jason Marsalis formally explores that approach with an album-length set of such pieces, the latest from the working group he now calls the 21st Century Trad Band. The music is more … Read More “Jason Marsalis and the 21st Century Trad Band: Melody Reimagined: book 1 (Basin Street)”

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Jerry Bergonzi: Dog Star (Savant)

Touring Europe in recent years, Boston-based saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi joined a trio led by Danish pianist Carl Winther, with bassist Johnny Aman and drummer Anders Mogensen. On his latest studio date, Dog Star, Bergonzi’s burnished tenor tone and thoughtful, exploratory approaches to playing, composing and arranging make a natural pairing with Winther’s band and trumpeter … Read More “Jerry Bergonzi: Dog Star (Savant)”

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Sherman Irby & Momentum: Cerulean Canvas (Black Warrior)

Alto saxophonist Sherman Irby, a fluent improviser and ardent carrier of the jazz-tradition torch, toasts his bandmates, favorite saxophonists and other influences with the first recording to feature his regular working group, Momentum. The quintet, with trombonist and fellow JLCO member Vincent Gardner, pianist Eric Reed, bassist Gerald Cannon and drummer Willie Jones III, makes … Read More “Sherman Irby & Momentum: Cerulean Canvas (Black Warrior)”

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Vincent Herring: Hard Times (Smoke Sessions)

Is this disc’s title an apropos description of the current era, with its semi-permanent malaise, and anger seemingly just below the surface of all public discourse? Maybe. Vincent Herring’s response: Gather like-minded musicians and make a joyful noise with a set of muscular blues-tinted jazz. Much of Hard Times feels like a natural extension of … Read More “Vincent Herring: Hard Times (Smoke Sessions)”

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Mark Whitfield: Live & Uncut (Chesky)

The big concept for the latest release from guitarist Mark Whitfield is … no concept. As suggested by the album’s title, it’s a document of a concert recorded earlier this year at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan. Chesky simply rounded up bassist Ben Allison and drummer Billy Drummond, both of whom had previously worked with … Read More “Mark Whitfield: Live & Uncut (Chesky)”

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Charnett Moffett: Music From Our Soul (Motéma)

Charnett Moffett was just 20 and already a veteran of high-profile gigs when he made his debut as a leader. Three decades’ worth of road work and recording sessions later, he’s out with his aptly titled 14th release, Music From Our Soul, which handily demonstrates the free-spirited, groove-intensive approach he’s taken with his music in … Read More “Charnett Moffett: Music From Our Soul (Motéma)”

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Steps Ahead: Steppin’ Out (Sunnyside)

Cofounded by vibraphonist Mike Mainieri and saxophonist Michael Brecker in 1979, Steps and later Steps Ahead saw their bold blend of acoustic-electric fusion and modern jazz draw listeners for the next 25 years or so. Mainieri provided the catchy, steady-grooving tunes, and the group became a launching pad for a long list of top-rank players, … Read More “Steps Ahead: Steppin’ Out (Sunnyside)”

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Steve Davis: Think Ahead (Smoke Sessions)

With high-profile gigs and a long-planned recording date on the near horizon, what should a musician do when a beloved sibling dies suddenly and a dreaded political reality looms? Steve Davis, probably best known as the capable trombonist with Chick Corea’s late-’90s Origin band, and recognized as the last Jazz Messenger hired by Art Blakey, … Read More “Steve Davis: Think Ahead (Smoke Sessions)”

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Howard Johnson and Gravity: Testimony (Tuscarora)

For decades, Howard Johnson has played the tuba with the kind of agility and treble-strafing power seldom associated with the low-register ax. Testimony documents the 75-year-old Johnson’s continuing vitality as a player, and offers yet another testament to his instrument’s viability in modern jazz. Gravity, Johnson’s choir of low-brass horns, turns in appealingly rich and … Read More “Howard Johnson and Gravity: Testimony (Tuscarora)”

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Nicholas Payton: Afro-Caribbean Mixtape (Paytone)

Nicholas Payton burst onto the scene in the early ’90s as the Next Big Thing in jazz trumpet, a man with a horn defined by luminescent tone, technical virtuosity and a demonstrable grounding in the jazz tradition. In recent years, he’s also effectively preached the gospel of what he calls “Black American Music,” or #BAM. … Read More “Nicholas Payton: Afro-Caribbean Mixtape (Paytone)”

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Joey DeFrancesco & The People: Project Freedom (Mack Avenue)

Can jazz, historically a music of freedom, still serve as a salve in troubling times? Joey DeFrancesco, through intent, song selection and the typically effervescent sound of his B-3 organ, strives to offer musical/spiritual encouragement with Project Freedom, the debut release from his new unit. DeFrancesco, guitarist Dan Wilson, drummer Jason Brown and saxophonist Troy … Read More “Joey DeFrancesco & The People: Project Freedom (Mack Avenue)”

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Kurt Rosenwinkel: Caipi (Heartcore/Razdaz)

For the first album on his Heartcore label, Kurt Rosenwinkel, one of the most accomplished and revered jazz guitarists of his generation, plays most of the instruments and boldly ventures into lead singing. Ten years in the making, Caipi is an ambitious project, starting with the modified bossa groove and high-flying synth of the title … Read More “Kurt Rosenwinkel: Caipi (Heartcore/Razdaz)”

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Miami Heat: Snarky Puppy’s GroundUP Music Festival

Devise an infectious, mostly instrumental sound incorporating jazz and other styles, played by an oversized but agile ensemble often numbering nearly a dozen accomplished players. Collaborate on critically acclaimed recordings with guest singers, lately including a revered folk-rocker who played Woodstock. Tour relentlessly all over the world, generating wild enthusiasm at clubs, concert halls and … Read More “Miami Heat: Snarky Puppy’s GroundUP Music Festival”

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