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Photos: 2019 Montreal International Jazz Festival

When Alain Simard and André Ménard founded the Montreal International Jazz Festival in 1979, it consisted of two concerts at one theater. Forty years later, the fest takes over much of Montreal for 10 days, presenting a dizzying array of performers and music styles in multiple venues, and its growth shows no sign of ceasing. … Read More “Photos: 2019 Montreal International Jazz Festival”

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Live Review: 2019 Montreal Jazz Festival, Week 2

A jam-packed weekend opened the 40th edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival, with inspiring performances by luminaries and rising stars such as pianists Chucho Valdés and Brad Mehldau, and saxophonist Melissa Aldana (see JazzTimes review here). With six more days ahead, July 1—Canada Day—was a microcosm of what was to come, with music for every palate: … Read More “Live Review: 2019 Montreal Jazz Festival, Week 2”

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Concert Review: 2017 Montreal Jazz Festival

Running from June 28 to July 8, with over two-thirds of its 500-plus concerts taking place on several outdoor stages and free to the public, the 38th edition of Festival International de Jazz de Montréal was loaded with high-voltage star power and creative energy, presenting jazz in all its forms (and everything else from pop … Read More “Concert Review: 2017 Montreal Jazz Festival”

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Petros Klampanis: Minor Dispute

The follow-up to bassist Petros Klampanis’ 2011 debut, Contextual, Minor Dispute further explores his unique compositional vision and delivers a set with a strong emotional core. Released on Greg Osby’s Inner Circle Music and inspired by “how we embrace and express the bright and dark aspects of our character during the process of becoming better … Read More “Petros Klampanis: Minor Dispute”

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Johnathan Blake: Gone, But Not Forgotten

Inspired by jazz luminaries who have recently departed, Johnathan Blake’s second album as a leader explores material by Cedar Walton, Jim Hall, Mulgrew Miller, Paul Motian, Frank Foster, Frank Wess and Eddie Harris. The NYC-based, Philly-born drummer also pays tribute to three of Philadelphia’s finest musicians: Charles Fambrough, Trudy Pitts and James “Sid” Simmons, and … Read More “Johnathan Blake: Gone, But Not Forgotten”

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Walter Smith III: Still Casual

Tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III assembles a stellar cast of collaborators here, all of whom he has played with in various constellations: Taylor Eigsti (piano), Matthew Stevens (guitar), Harish Raghavan (bass), Kendrick Scott (drums) and guest Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), who appears on three tracks. Focused on composition, the album consists of 10 originals written with … Read More “Walter Smith III: Still Casual”

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Tom Guarna: Rush

The title of New York guitarist-composer Tom Guarna’s sixth recording alludes to the rush of creativity and excitement that provides the impetus for these eight new compositions. Ranging from fiery to elegiac, the material is interpreted by a formidable, tight group consisting of Danny Grissett on piano and Fender Rhodes, Joel Frahm on soprano and … Read More “Tom Guarna: Rush”

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Yosvany Terry: New Throned King

Mentored and initiated into the West African Dahomeyan tradition in Matanzas, Cuba (where it is known as Arará Sabalú), saxophonist and composer Yosvany Terry set out to document a repertoire of sacred music and ceremony faithfully preserved since the 19th century. The result is an ambitious and valuable addition to Afro-Cuban jazz, uniquely honoring venerated … Read More “Yosvany Terry: New Throned King”

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David Weiss: When Words Fail

The title for this recording evokes Hans Christian Andersen’s commentary on the power of music: “Where words fail, music speaks.” Words indeed fail here, and this instrumental album reflects on the theme of loss-the pain, grief and sense of hopelessness-but also the ability of music to uplift, offering solace and hope. Returning to a sextet … Read More “David Weiss: When Words Fail”

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Stanton Moore: Conversations

Veteran drummer Stanton Moore, of New Orleans funk masters Galactic, returns to his jazz beginnings with a spirited piano-trio recording. Setting out to explore his straight-ahead jazz influences, Moore went into woodshed mode, taking lessons with drummer Kenny Washington and studying the work of Philly Joe Jones. His trio with two Crescent City staples, pianist … Read More “Stanton Moore: Conversations”

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Tigran: Shadow Theater

On this, his fifth album, Armenian-born pianist, keyboardist and sometime singer Tigran Hamasyan is inspired by traditional Armenian shadow theater, exploring the power of ambiguity and the multiplicity of meaning found in the art form. Principally through-composed, this album continues Tigran’s exploration of Armenian folk music, synthesizing metal, prog and electronic music into a unique, … Read More “Tigran: Shadow Theater”

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Eli Degibri: Twelve

“Music is like a fairytale: ageless, immortal. And we musicians are eternally Peter Pan, no matter if we are 16, 18, 35 or 80 years old,” reflects saxophonist Eli Degibri in the notes to Twelve, his sixth recording. Featuring two emerging young talents-18-year-old drummer Ofri Nehemya and 16-year-old pianist Gadi Lehavi-it is anchored by the … Read More “Eli Degibri: Twelve”

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Jaimeo Brown Transcendence: Work Songs

Drummer-composer-sonic conceptualist Jaimeo Brown delivers a compelling offering on this, his debut recording, weaving seemingly incongruous elements-Southern spirituals, East Indian music, jazz, blues and electronica-into a seamless patchwork. In pursuit of his expressed intention to transform pain and deliverance into art, Brown assembles the core ensemble of tenor saxophonist JD Allen and guitarist and producer … Read More “Jaimeo Brown Transcendence: Work Songs”

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Billy Martin’s Wicked Knee: Heels Over Head

Here, drummer Billy Martin, of the inimitable Medeski Martin & Wood, leads his compact avant-brass group through its second release. Its name derived from Shake Your Wicked Knees (a compilation of piano rags, blues and stomps of the ’20s and ’30s), the quartet includes fellow Lounge Lizard Steven Bernstein on trumpets, tuba player Marcus Rojas … Read More “Billy Martin’s Wicked Knee: Heels Over Head”

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Houston Person: Naturally

Active on the scene for decades, 78-year-old tenor saxophonist Houston Person still seems to be a discovery for some. Both newcomers to his music and longtime fans will no doubt enjoy this latest recording featuring a formidable group: veteran pianist Cedar Walton (with whom Person first collaborated in the 1960s), bassist Ray Drummond and drummer … Read More “Houston Person: Naturally”

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Andy Statman <i>Old Brooklyn</i>

This two-CD set by clarinetist and mandolinist Andy Statman blends progressive bluegrass, jazz, country, traditional Jewish music, folk and rock, all coming together through a unique, unifying aesthetic testifying to the ways in which these genres intertwine. The 25 tracks feature a variety of configurations, from duets to ensemble playing, with Statman’s longtime core trio … Read More “Andy Statman <i>Old Brooklyn</i>”

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Elio Villafranca/Arturo Stable : Dos y Mas

While pianist Elio Villafranca and percussionist Arturo Stable are both classically trained and steeped in the music of their Cuban roots, they also explore Middle Eastern and African forms on this duo session featuring 10 co-written originals. Villafranca’s spirited “Saghezi,” inspired by an Iranian rhythm played on the daf (a frame drum), is marked by … Read More “Elio Villafranca/Arturo Stable : Dos y Mas”

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Dred Scott Trio: Going Nowhere

This hard-hitting self-produced album by pianist Dred Scott’s trio, released alongside an experimental solo recording entitled Prepared Piano, features seven original tracks penned by the leader and an adventurous take on Miles Davis and Victor Feldman’s “Seven Steps to Heaven.” The compositions and performances balance heady modernism with accessibility, demonstrating a cheeky playfulness in the … Read More “Dred Scott Trio: Going Nowhere”

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Ted Rosenthal Trio: Out of This World

Pianist Ted Rosenthal devotes his 13th recording exclusively to staples of the Great American Songbook, with the expressed intention of “presenting (or deranging)” them in a way that will engage listeners. Mission accomplished: Rosenthal’s harmonic and rhythmic re-imaginings demonstrate how familiar standards can (still) be treated with verve and vibrancy. His bandmates-Noriko Ueda on bass … Read More “Ted Rosenthal Trio: Out of This World”

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