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Houston Person & Ron Carter : Just Between Friends

Just Between Friends, bassist Ron Carter and tenor saxophonist Houston Person’s first studio duo encounter since Dialogues in 2002, boasts a spot-on album title. A palpable sense of intimacy, ease and near-telepathic intuition practically radiates from the disc. A comfort zone is established by way of standards, tunes like “Lover Man,” “Alone Together” and “You’ve … Read More “Houston Person & Ron Carter : Just Between Friends”

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Alec Dankworth : If You’re Passing By…

In an era of hyperbole run riot, modesty can be a most becoming attribute. Alec Dankworth-yes, the son of British saxophonist John Dankworth and vocal icon Cleo Laine-fronts a delightfully restrained trio on If You’re Passing By … that mirrors the bassist’s appealing quiet-as-it’s-kept nature. In contrast to the Generation Big Band that Dankworth has … Read More “Alec Dankworth : If You’re Passing By…”

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Gary Foster/Putter Smith: Perfect Circularity

If, on listening to Perfect Circularity, you aren’t immediately reminded of I Concentrate on You, the 1974 duet recording uniting saxophonist Lee Konitz and bassist Red Mitchell, you’re forgiven. Yet those familiar with the crystalline beauty of that earlier session, or, indeed, many of the other intimate musical encounters that Konitz and Mitchell each favored, … Read More “Gary Foster/Putter Smith: Perfect Circularity”

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Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen : The Unforgettable NHOP Trio Live

Although he spent his entire adult life playing bass with a swath of the most acclaimed jazz musicians of his time, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen also grabbed what opportunities he could to step out as a bandleader. On this posthumous live recording, Pedersen, an unexpected victim of heart failure in 2005, fronts a trio featuring Ulf … Read More “Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen : The Unforgettable NHOP Trio Live”

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Various Artists: Sunnyside Twenty-Fifth Anniversary: Volume 1

It would be difficult, from the evidence provided by the first volume of Sunnyside Records’ quarter-century anniversary collection, to determine if this intrepid indie possesses a label “sound” akin to that of, say, peak-era Blue Note or Impulse!  Sunnyside’s identity may best reveal itself in the consistent smarts that define its artist roster. With disparate personalities rubbing … Read More “Various Artists: Sunnyside Twenty-Fifth Anniversary: Volume 1”

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Stefano Battaglia : Re: Pasolini

In the accompanying notes to Re: Pasolini, pianist Stefano Battaglia clarifies his ingenious musical interpretations of the works of Italian film auteur, poet and political gadfly Pier Paolo Pasolini with eloquence and obvious enthusiasm. But as in all programmatic music, the composer’s own finished project must stand on its own apart from the reflected glory … Read More “Stefano Battaglia : Re: Pasolini”

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Duke Ellington: The Complete 1936-1940 Variety, Vocalion and Okeh Small Group Sessions

The names tell the whole story. Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams, Rex Stewart, Barney Bigard-the principal figures of these seven vital discs, not to mention their indispensable cohorts: drummer Sonny Greer, bassists Billy Taylor and Jimmie Blanton, trombonist Lawrence Brown, baritone saxophonist Harry Carney and pianist-arranger Billy Strayhorn among them-have attained mythic stature, as if each … Read More “Duke Ellington: The Complete 1936-1940 Variety, Vocalion and Okeh Small Group Sessions”

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Hank Jones with Frank Wess: Hank and Frank

Mainstream swing recordings featuring veteran players can carry a special set of deep satisfactions. Musicians who came of age playing in big bands and/or working with legendary leaders who exemplified the small-group-swing style retain a palpable air of poise and relaxation that sets them apart from younger players approximating older music. Take this endearing CD … Read More “Hank Jones with Frank Wess: Hank and Frank”

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Gary Smulyan: Hidden Treasures

Gary Smulyan’s latest album comes with a built-in game sure to please bop-ophiles the world over. Each of the near-to-obscure jazz tunes the baritone saxophonist interprets is based on the harmonies of a preexisting song: the very MO of classic bop. The original songs are even named in the liner notes-it’s up to sharp-eared listeners … Read More “Gary Smulyan: Hidden Treasures”

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Sidney Bechet: Mosaic Select 22

Sidney Bechet was the original saxophone colossus. The New Orleans pioneer displayed such a larger-than-life presence on soprano saxophone and clarinet at such an early juncture in jazz history that his musical significance is nearly comparable to that of Louis Armstrong. This three-CD Mosaic Select set centers on a number of sessions from the 1920s, … Read More “Sidney Bechet: Mosaic Select 22”

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Yuri Yanakov and Ivo Papasov: Together Again

Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Yuri Yunakov and Ivo Papasov. If the latter names don’t carry the historic cachet of the other legendary musical partnerships–in this country, at saxophonist Yunakov and clarinetist Papasov were undisputed giants during the 1970s and ’80s of the Bulgarian wedding music scene, a crazy quilt … Read More “Yuri Yanakov and Ivo Papasov: Together Again”

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Red Mitchell and George Cables: Live at Port Townsend

The final two decades of Red Mitchell’s career might be dubbed “the duo years.” From the start of the ’70s to his death in 1992, the incomparable bassist’s preferred instrumental setting was an intimate get-together with one other player; memorable encounters can be heard with, among others, Jimmy Rowles, Warne Marsh, Jim Hall and Clark … Read More “Red Mitchell and George Cables: Live at Port Townsend”

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Quintet of the Year by Geoffrey Haydon

Geoffrey Haydon wasn’t at Toronto’s Massey Hall back in 1953 when Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell and Max Roach gathered for an all-star concert. Like most who have heard recordings of the performance though, he too was profoundly stirred by the extraordinary music produced that night. Yet the concert itself actually plays … Read More “Quintet of the Year by Geoffrey Haydon”

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Harvey Mason: With All My Heart

Like an unadorned cardboard box that houses a jewel, the cover of drummer Harvey Mason’s latest album doesn’t let on about the hidden riches within. You’d never know it from looking at it, but With All My Heart is a program of trios including pianists Herbie Hancock, Hank Jones, Chick Corea, Kenny Barron, Cedar Walton, … Read More “Harvey Mason: With All My Heart”

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