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Francisco Mela & Cuban Safari: Tree of Life

Francisco Mela and his Cuban Safari take us on a journey from progressive postbop to fusion, Afro-Cuban and beyond. The drummer’s third album as a leader features a solid core group with guest appearances enhancing his diverse compositions and interpretations and a timeless Chilean folk tune. Jason Moran’s kinetic “Retrograde” opens with Mela’s characteristically propulsive, … Read More “Francisco Mela & Cuban Safari: Tree of Life”

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Tigran Hamasyan: A Fable

Tigran Hamasyan’s fourth album, a vibrant solo recording drawing from the music and poetry of his native Armenia, further solidifies the acclaim the 24-year-old pianist has garnered since his teens. While demonstrating his monster chops, the emphasis here is on simple, captivating melodies-both traditional songs and original compositions, imbued with a sense of veneration and … Read More “Tigran Hamasyan: A Fable”

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Harold López-Nussa Trio: El País de las Maravillas

On his second U.S. recording, 26-year-old Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa leads his trio-bassist Felipe Cabrera and drummer (and younger brother) Ruy Adrian López-Nussa-through a set composed mostly of the leader’s fresh originals, merging jazz with his European classical training and the rhythms of his homeland. Born into a musical family and educated at the prestigious … Read More “Harold López-Nussa Trio: El País de las Maravillas”

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Etienne Charles: Kaiso

Trumpeter and flugelhorn player Etienne Charles’ third recording marks another chapter in his engagement with the music and culture of his homeland, Trinidad. Kaiso-a term originating in Nigeria as a form of encouragement to artists-is a style that has come to be identified with calypso. The album delves into classic calypso, focusing on three prominent … Read More “Etienne Charles: Kaiso”

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Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Fé

On Fé, Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s debut for his new label, 5Passion, the Cuban pianist and composer once again bridges the worlds of jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban music, delivering a stunning collection with dexterity, passion and spirit. Faith (the title translated) is the underlying impetus for this album, notes the artist, as are tolerance and inclusiveness. With … Read More “Gonzalo Rubalcaba: Fé”

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Jean-Michel Pilc: Essential

This intimate solo album, recorded live at the Fazioli Piano Loft of the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, N.J., captures pianist Jean-Michel Pilc during two nights of pure improvisation. The former Parisian, a New Yorker since 1995, made his name with his acclaimed trio featuring bassist François Moutin and drummer Ari Hoenig. Here, … Read More “Jean-Michel Pilc: Essential”

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Shauli Einav: Opus One

The second leader project by Israeli saxophonist Shauli Einav, an NYC city resident since 2008 and a year shy of 30, attests to his immersion in the bebop tradition while revealing a fresh and original voice. Accompanied by a formidable, tight-knit group consisting of pianist Shai Maestro, trombonist Andy Hunter, bassist Joseph Lepore and drummer … Read More “Shauli Einav: Opus One”

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Ben Allison: Action-Refraction

A departure for bassist and composer Ben Allison, whose nine previous recordings featured mostly original material, this album focuses on covers, tackling material by artists as diverse as PJ Harvey, Donny Hathaway, Neil Young and Samuel Barber. Also included are a Monk tune, the Williams-Nichols pop standard “We’ve Only Just Begun” and a reworked original … Read More “Ben Allison: Action-Refraction”

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Chris Minh Doky: Scenes From a Dream

Bassist Chris Minh Doky’s 11th album presents a trio, with drummer Larry Goldings and drummer Peter Erskine, joined on most tracks by the Dutch Metropole Orchestra conducted by Vince Mendoza. Melancholy yet inspiring in tone and cinematic in quality, the music vividly depicts scenes and emotions with subtlety and sensitivity. Opening the set is a … Read More “Chris Minh Doky: Scenes From a Dream”

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Trilok Gurtu wtih Simon Phillips & NDR Big Band: 21 Spices

The disparate musical roots of master percussionist Trilok Gurtu and renowned rock/jazz/fusion drummer Simon Phillips come together on 21 Spices, an East-West drummer’s summit backed by the 21-piece NDR Big Band. The album documents the pair’s long-awaited collaboration both in the studio and during two German festivals in May 2010. Gurtu, steeped in the musical … Read More “Trilok Gurtu wtih Simon Phillips & NDR Big Band: 21 Spices”

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Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra: Treelines

Treelines, from Montreal-based saxophonist-composer Christine Jensen and her Jazz Orchestra, is a dynamic recording inspired by eclectic sources-the landscapes of her native British Columbia, Canadian literature and visual art and the songs of Joni Mitchell among them. The project, the Juno winner for Jazz Album of the Year, offers large-ensemble arrangements of compositions (seven by … Read More “Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra: Treelines”

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Ari Hoenig Punk Bop: Live at Smalls

Drummer Ari Hoenig’s regular Monday night gig at Smalls has enabled him to explore different ensembles, among them a trio with pianist Jean-Michel Pilc and bassist Francois Moutin, a quartet and other projects. Featured on this live recording is Punk Bop, with Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar, Will Vinson on alto saxophone, Tigran Hamasyan on piano … Read More “Ari Hoenig Punk Bop: Live at Smalls”

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Omer Avital Quintet: Live at Smalls

The ever-evolving groups led by Israeli-born, NYC-based bassist Omer Avital are entwined with the institution that is Smalls. A member of the now-legendary Jason Lindner Big Band, its seven-year Smalls residency serving as a hotbed for a host of up-and-coming musicians, Avital co-led the Smalls jam session for a time, in addition to his own … Read More “Omer Avital Quintet: Live at Smalls”

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Sameer Gupta: Namaskar

Namaskar, a Sanskrit salutation expressing reverence and respect, is the name of the debut solo recording of gifted drummer and tabla player Sameer Gupta. A member of Marc Cary’s Focus Trio, Gupta has studied with tabla masters Zakir Hussain and Anindo Chatterjee (who appears on the album), and collaborated with Western jazz musicians and Indian … Read More “Sameer Gupta: Namaskar”

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Gerald Clayton: Two-Shade

The title of this recording implies a dissolving duality; a single, new color emerging when two are blended. Indeed, Gerald Clayton’s debut as a leader, following stints with Lewis Nash, Al Foster, Clark Terry and Roy Hargrove, among others, reflects the importance he places on honoring tradition while finding his own voice and direction. The … Read More “Gerald Clayton: Two-Shade”

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