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Theo Croker Steps Out

Midway through June, trumpeter Theo Croker worked four nights at Manhattan’s Jazz Standard behind Star People Nation, his third release on DDB, Dee Dee Bridgewater’s Sony-licensed imprint. The self-produced, elaborately programmatic recital ran Croker “upwards of $50,000,” topping the $28,000 he spent on its 2017 predecessor, Escape Velocity, produced by drummer Kassa Overall. Both albums comprise … Read More “Theo Croker Steps Out”

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Lionel Loueke’s Winding Journey

In early October, just after concluding two concerts in Kuwait City with Herbie Hancock and two weeks before embarking on a month of European one-nighters with Dave Holland’s Aziza quartet, Lionel Loueke was on the phone from Switzerland. The subject was his 2018 release, The Journey (Aparté), which contains 15 of the guitarist/singer’s compositions. Some are … Read More “Lionel Loueke’s Winding Journey

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Michael Mwenso & the Shakes

On Sept. 30 at the New York Hot Jazz Festival, Michael Mwenso & the Shakes presented The Joint Is Jumpin’, a Fats Waller revue the group debuted in London last year. Wearing a black catsuit, Mwenso emceed, conducted, danced, and sang songs like Waller’s “Thief in the Night,” which he delivered with soulful inflection. Sometimes … Read More “Michael Mwenso & the Shakes”

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Walter Smith III: Playing It Straight

Walter Smith III’s fifth recording as a leader, TWIO (Whirlwind), is a nine-tune date featuring drummer Eric Harland, four tracks apiece with bassists Christian McBride and Harish Raghavan and, on two tunes, saxophonist Joshua Redman. It presents a radically different sound and concept from its four predecessors. The 37-year-old tenor saxophonist’s earlier albums, like III … Read More “Walter Smith III: Playing It Straight”

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Mike Clark: The Double-Edged Sword Called Funk

It is both a blessing and a curse to drum master Mike Clark that his fan base remains interested in the contributions he made to beat language during his mid-1970s tenure with the Headhunters, the popular funk-jazz unit founded by Herbie Hancock. Clark’s bespoke grooves on hits like “Actual Proof” and “God Make Me Funky” … Read More “Mike Clark: The Double-Edged Sword Called Funk”

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Message to Our Folks: The Art Ensemble of Chicago by Paul Steinbeck

With its multifaceted radicalism, the Art Ensemble of Chicago occupies a singular niche in the American music timeline. That creative audacity could be found in the array of sounds the band generated, the philosophical and aesthetic underpinnings of those sounds, the virtuoso instrumentalism of its members, the self-reliant business model by which it operated and … Read MoreMessage to Our Folks: The Art Ensemble of Chicago by Paul Steinbeck”

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The Ballad of Roxy Coss

After playing the second tune at her CD-release party in early April, at Smalls in the West Village, Roxy Coss put her tenor saxophone down. “I’m looking for a microphone,” Coss told the house, packed with 20- and 30-somethings, including a high percentage of young women. “My voice is very soft.” She found the mic … Read More “The Ballad of Roxy Coss”

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Overdue Ovation: John Lindberg

The booklet for Born in an Urban Ruin, the more recently recorded of John Lindberg’s two concurrent, self-produced releases on Clean Feed, includes a photo of the bassist-composer taken in November 2015. He stands in front of a graffitied wall, on a crumbling walkway that overlooks an asphalt space, once a parking lot, now littered … Read More “Overdue Ovation: John Lindberg”

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Clifford Jordan: The Complete Clifford Jordan Strata-East Sessions

Tenor saxophone grandmaster Clifford Jordan, who produced the seven dates that comprise The Complete Clifford Jordan Strata-East Sessions (Mosaic), performs on only three of the six CDs that comprise this box set. But his extreme individualism suffuses the proceedings, a fascinating snapshot of an under-documented period of hardcore jazz expression in New York. The chronology … Read More “Clifford Jordan: The Complete Clifford Jordan Strata-East Sessions”

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