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The O’Farrill Brothers Band: Sensing Flight

Sibling-led jazz bands aren’t particularly rare. The Latin-jazz side of the street alone has recently brought the likes of impressive groups led by brothers with the surnames Rodriguez and Curtis. Now comes the O’Farrill Brothers Band, with trumpeter Adam, 18, and drummer Zack, 21, third-generation jazzers whose accomplished second album makes their first CD, 2011’s … Read More “The O’Farrill Brothers Band: Sensing Flight”

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Sam Newsome: The Art of the Soprano, Vol. 1

The Art of the Soprano, Vol. 1 isn’t Sam Newsome’s first solo soprano saxophone recording, but it may be the most provocative and most complete of a trio of albums including 2009’s Blue Soliloquy and 2007’s Monk Abstractions. Newsome takes an organic, whole-horn approach, using every part of his soprano to create a surprising range … Read More “Sam Newsome: The Art of the Soprano, Vol. 1”

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Gene Bertoncini/Mike Mainieri/ Michael Moore/Joe Corsello: Reunion

Palpable feelings of warmth and intimacy ooze through the sonic pores of Reunion, a relaxed gathering of longtime musical associates led by journeyman guitarist Gene Bertoncini. Those sensations come partly by default, thanks to the acoustic instrumental textures, a gorgeous tonal match between Bertoncini’s agile nylon-string guitar playing and Mike Mainieri’s vigorous four-mallet work on … Read More “Gene Bertoncini/Mike Mainieri/ Michael Moore/Joe Corsello: Reunion”

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Lou Pallo of Les Paul’s Trio with Special Guests: Thank You Les

Several generations of guitarists have been inspired by the playing-and electric guitar and recording inventions-of the late Les Paul. He never really retired, instead spending his golden years playing Monday nights at the Iridium in Manhattan and extending sit-ins to everyone from rising jazzers to pop superstars. A roomful of those notables, including godson Steve … Read More “Lou Pallo of Les Paul’s Trio with Special Guests: Thank You Les”

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Charlie Hunter/Scott Amendola: Not Getting Behind Is the New Getting Ahead

In these undesirable economic times, it’s good that Charlie Hunter can get things done without a lot of fuss. He performed the music for his latest CD live in the studio sans aural enhancements, EQ or overdubs, recording straight to tape in an “almost mono” fashion, as he has described it, and mixing the music … Read More “Charlie Hunter/Scott Amendola: Not Getting Behind Is the New Getting Ahead”

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Javon Jackson with Les McCann: Lucky 13

Javon Jackson’s simultaneously brawny and brainy tenor sound, burly and commanding but also capable of surgical precision, is well featured on Lucky 13, not coincidentally his 13th album as a leader. Having graduated from the schools of Art Blakey, Elvin Jones and Betty Carter before embarking on his solo career, Jackson knows a thing or … Read More “Javon Jackson with Les McCann: Lucky 13”

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Winard Harper and Jeli Posse : Coexist

The drummer gives the saxophonists some on Coexist, another round of sophisticated truth telling from Winard Harper that demonstrates high standards of musical excellence when it comes to expansive compositions, creative arrangements and choice of able bandmates. Leading ensembles ranging from sextets to tentets, the leader taps guest saxophonists on five of the disc’s 12 … Read More “Winard Harper and Jeli Posse : Coexist”

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John Beasley/Darryl Jones/Ndugu Chancler: 3 Brave Souls

What happens when three veterans of Miles’ bands of the early ’70s through late ’80s, all of whom have also supported high-profile pop and rock tours and recordings, join forces for their own project? 3 Brave Souls, featuring the talents of journeyman pianist, organist and keyboards player John Beasley (Chaka Khan, Steely Dan, James Brown), … Read More “John Beasley/Darryl Jones/Ndugu Chancler: 3 Brave Souls”

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Various Artists: GRP 30

Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen officially launched GRP in 1982, applying high standards for audio production to recordings featuring jazz masters (Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan) as well as fast-rising newcomers. The label made an enormous impact on the smooth-jazz format, for a time dominating Billboard‘s Contemporary Jazz chart and developing a reputation for music often … Read More “Various Artists: GRP 30”

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Duduka da Fonseca Quintet: Samba Jazz—Jazz Samba

Duduka Da Fonseca, the Brazilian-born New York drummer and percussionist probably best known as a member of award-winning cooperative Trio da Paz, in recent years has placed a greater emphasis on his quintet with tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Anat Cohen, pianist Helio Alves, guitarist Guilherme Monteiro and bassist Leonardo Cioglia. By default, the group offers … Read More “Duduka da Fonseca Quintet: Samba Jazz—Jazz Samba”

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Marcus Miller: Renaissance

Fastest, most melodic thumb in jazz-funk or not-and on many days, he deserves that title-bassist-producer-composer Marcus Miller wields that digit in a manner that’s impossible to ignore. He does that instantly identifiable thing he does with great panache and high musicality from the get-go on Renaissance, his first studio recording since 2008’s Marcus. Title aside, … Read More “Marcus Miller: Renaissance”

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Roni Ben-Hur/Santi Debriano Featuring Duduka Da Fonseca : Our Thing

The occasion that produced Our Thing, a set of exquisitely played originals, jazz standards and Jobim tunes, must have been darn picturesque: Guitarist Roni Ben-Hur and bassist Santi Debriano played in a 12th-century church at Festi Jazz, the summer festival the two founded in the village of Saint Cezaire near the French Riviera. Those of … Read More “Roni Ben-Hur/Santi Debriano Featuring Duduka Da Fonseca : Our Thing”

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Kenny Wheeler Big Band: The Long Waiting

More than two decades have passed since the great England-based brass man and composer Kenny Wheeler last led his own big-band recording. But neither time nor encroaching age-Wheeler turned 82 in January-have dimmed the Canadian-born master’s passion for creating large-ensemble compositions marked by a wide range of emotions and a high degree of musical intelligence. … Read More “Kenny Wheeler Big Band: The Long Waiting”

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Hendrik Meurkens/Gabriel Espinosa : Celebrando

There’s something light, airy and, well, deceptively breezy about the aptly titled Celebrando, an alluring set of Brazilian jazz compositions simmered to perfection by German-born harmonica man Hendrik Meurkens and bassist Gabriel Espinosa, a native of Mexico. An international cast of players, including clarinetist and saxophonist Anat Cohen and drummer Antonio Sanchez, supports the co-leaders. … Read More “Hendrik Meurkens/Gabriel Espinosa : Celebrando”

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Wayman Tisdale: The Wayman Tisdale Story

If not for the unhappy ending, The Wayman Tisdale Story (Mack Avenue), a film included in the CD/DVD package of the same name, would make for a terrific inspirational feature film: Oklahoma kid from meager means plays in the band at his preacher father’s church, finds his way to Olympics and NBA basketball fame, quits … Read More “Wayman Tisdale: The Wayman Tisdale Story”

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Wallace Roney: Home

Old-school funk and fusion? Contemporary R&B? Straight-ahead jazz? Open-air modal music? One never quite knows what to expect from a new Wallace Roney project-that is, aside from impressive blowing and a tone that, while still sometimes evocative of Miles, is its own thing of beauty: full, resonant, deftly shaded, often moving in unpredictable and mysterious … Read More “Wallace Roney: Home”

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Jeff Hamilton Trio: Red Sparkle

Cymbal taps, tumbling toms, a dancing bass figure, pastel piano overlays, an ambling groove and then-could it be?-a familiar melody straight out of ’70s pop radio. That drummer Jeff Hamilton, leading a trio with pianist Tamir Hendelman and bassist Christoph Luty, can transform Stephen Bishop’s once-forgettable ’70s radio hit “On and On” into a nuanced … Read More “Jeff Hamilton Trio: Red Sparkle”

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Kevin Hays: Variations

The artist’s intent aside, the most direct path to hearing how each of the solo piano miniatures on Variations varies from its successors is to listen to each cycle in sequence, rather than how Kevin Hays has ordered these compositions. For example, the simplicity and stateliness of the opening “Variations on a Theme by Schumann … Read More “Kevin Hays: Variations”

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Jeff Lorber Fusion: Galaxy

On his last record, 2010’s Now Is the Time, Jeff Lorber reclaimed the long-lost “fusion” part of his band name and brand identity. With Bobby Colomby and Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip co-producing, the keyboardist and composer deemphasized smooth-jazz values in favor of his old approach, which split the difference between vintage jazz-rock fusion and punchy … Read More “Jeff Lorber Fusion: Galaxy”

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Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood: MSMW Live: In Case the World Changes Its Mind

MSMW, in the studio and onstage, everywhere from Bear Creek Music Festival in the north Florida woods to the Montreal Jazz Festival, always sounds like a natural-born partnership-the deep jazz-funk and experimental genius of Medeski, Martin and Wood running smack into the similarly tinted explorations of guitar master John Scofield. The particular pleasures of the … Read More “Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood: MSMW Live: In Case the World Changes Its Mind”

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SFJAZZ Collective: Music of Stevie Wonder and New Compositions: Live in New York 2011, Season 8

There are lots of advantages to a musical collective, at least the way such an entity is operated by SFJAZZ, the organization behind multiple inspired jazz initiatives in San Francisco. SFJAZZ Collective has an occasionally shifting lineup, sometimes gaining and losing high-profile members as they enter and exit other projects. The group regularly shifts its … Read More “SFJAZZ Collective: Music of Stevie Wonder and New Compositions: Live in New York 2011, Season 8”

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Kyle Eastwood: Songs From the Chateau

Listeners unexcited by the glossy, beat-heavy, smoothness of 2005’s Paris Blue and its two successors will be pleasantly surprised by the direction Kyle Eastwood takes on Songs From the Chateau, his fifth album as a leader. The virtuoso bass doubler and his regular bandmates holed up on a 15th-century estate in the French countryside and … Read More “Kyle Eastwood: Songs From the Chateau”

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Human Element: Human Element

With the Zawinul Syndicate gone following the 2007 passing of its leader, and guitarist Fareed Haque exiting Garaj Mahal, who will carry the torch for the variety of fusion that blends organically with world music? One candidate for the job is Human Element, a band essentially born as an outgrowth of pianist, synth wizard and … Read More “Human Element: Human Element”

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