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Full Blast & Friends: Sketches and Ballads

It sounds like a question the lads from Spinal Tap would have asked: “How do you get more full blast than full blast?” But the trio of multireedist and free-jazz icon Peter Brötzmann, electric bassist Marino Pliakas and drummer Michael Wertmüller offers a deadly serious answer, doubling in size with the addition of Ken Vandermark … Read More “Full Blast & Friends: Sketches and Ballads”

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Jason Kao Hwang/Edge: Crossroads Unseen

The third outing by adventurous violinist Jason Kao Hwang’s avant-chamber-jazz group Edge, Crossroads Unseen, consists of five pieces showcasing the stunning extended vocabulary of each member of the quartet. The seemingly narrow palette of violin/viola, cornet/flugelhorn, bass and percussion thus offers an aesthetic journey through a range of textures and influences on each of the … Read More “Jason Kao Hwang/Edge: Crossroads Unseen”

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Kieran Hebden/Steve Reid/ Mats Gustafsson : Live At the South Bank

It serves as a fitting testament to drummer Steve Reid’s expansive imagination that a career beginning with James Brown and Horace Silver progressed to the point where his final years were spent in intense communication with the novel sounds of a British electronic musician a generation or two his junior. Recorded less than a year … Read More “Kieran Hebden/Steve Reid/ Mats Gustafsson : Live At the South Bank”

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Rez Abbasi’s Invocation: Suno Suno

Don’t get hung up on the fact that Rez Abbasi’s new album is being touted as his attempt to blend jazz and the devotional Qawwali music of his native Pakistan. Suno Suno is hardly another world-music hybrid grafting the surface trappings of one tradition onto the skeletal framework of another. Whatever influence Qawwali-the ecstatic Sufi … Read More “Rez Abbasi’s Invocation: Suno Suno”

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Bruno Chevillon/Tim Berne: Old and Unwise

Tim Berne’s prodigious discography is mostly stocked with collections of his monumentally scaled compositions, sprawling musical roadmaps for laborious treks through ever-changing landscapes. These two new releases, however, are both wholly improvised sessions, revealing that the scope of Berne’s thinking is hardly diminished by the absence of sheet music. Old and Unwise finds Berne keeping … Read More “Bruno Chevillon/Tim Berne: Old and Unwise”

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Ernest Dawkins’ New Horizons Ensemble: The Prairie Prophet

Opening with the brightly hued, somewhat sweet melody of “Hymn for a Hip King,” the latest by Ernest Dawkins’ longstanding New Horizons Ensemble pays apt tribute to the late, great saxophonist Fred Anderson-not coincidentally, the proprietor of the venue where the band’s last release, The Messenger: Live at the Original Velvet Lounge, was recorded. Like … Read More “Ernest Dawkins’ New Horizons Ensemble: The Prairie Prophet”

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Adam Cruz: Milestone

Patience is a virtue of which Adam Cruz is amply possessed. The release of Milestone, the drummer’s debut CD as a leader, coincides with his 40th birthday, which also marks the 10th anniversary of his role alongside bassist Ben Street in pianist Danilo Perez’s trio. The influence of that decade-long stint on Cruz’s writing is … Read More “Adam Cruz: Milestone”

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Sounds for Silence: Jazz & Silent Films

The little man with the toothbrush moustache and the waddling walk looks familiar, but the scheming Judge Perry finds himself in situations that even Charlie Chaplin’s hapless Little Tramp managed to avoid: fathering a child with a New Orleans prostitute, say, or running afoul of a young Louis Armstrong and his street-urchin friends. This odd … Read More “Sounds for Silence: Jazz & Silent Films”

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Fight the Big Bull: All Is Gladness in the Kingdom

No one who caught an earful of Fight the Big Bull’s debut CD, Dying Will Be Easy, will be surprised to learn that Steven Bernstein has come aboard for the band’s sophomore release. Granted, there are few places that the ubiquitous slide trumpeter doesn’t turn up these days, but FTBB’s boisterous mélange of postmodern reference-flexing … Read More “Fight the Big Bull: All Is Gladness in the Kingdom”

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Fred Ho: Naked Truths

Shaun Brady profiles one of jazz’s zaniest figures, who also happens to be one of the music’s most ambitious intellectuals

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Ari Hoenig: Hardcore Bop

If the coining of the term “punk rock” indicated a stripping away of the stodgy habits and bloated fripperies that were plaguing rock music in the 1970s, then “Punk Bop” seems a fitting sobriquet for the band of young trailblazers that accompany Ari Hoenig on Bert’s Playground, his second release for Dreyfus Records. Though the … Read More “Ari Hoenig: Hardcore Bop”

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