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Regina Carter: Jazz Intuition

From the mid-1980s, when she was spotted in the string section of saxophonist Donald Walden’s Detroit Jazz Orchestra, and in solo roles around her native Motor City with artists like guitarist Spencer Barefield, to her days as star soloist with the band Straight Ahead, to a stint with the String Trio of New York, to … Read More “Regina Carter: Jazz Intuition”

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Irakere Featuring Chucho Valdés: Yemaya

Originally released on the Cuban state label Egrem in 1997, this session likely marks the Irakere swan song for Chucho Valdes. These days Chucho is more heavily invested in his piano work than in leading this stellar aggregation, a task he has relinquished to son and keyboardist Francisco (“Chuchito”). Based on evidence at the nightly … Read More “Irakere Featuring Chucho Valdés: Yemaya”

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Pharoah Sanders : Save Our Children

There are producers who mold and shape recording sessions around the skills of the featured artist or bands. And there are producers who bring an artist onto their own landscape and mold that featured artist to their (the producers’) own whims. Bill Laswell is among the latter, generally engaging a rotating cast of regular collaborators, … Read More “Pharoah Sanders : Save Our Children”

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Steve Turre: Lotus Flower

The ever-restless Steve Turre is not one to rest on his laurels or get caught in a rut. Forever investigating different settings for his music, here Steve unveils the septet environment that proved such an effective vehicle for his music last December at the festival in Havana. What makes this band’s sound so distinctive is … Read More “Steve Turre: Lotus Flower”

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Billy Taylor: Ten Fingers-One Voice

The most eloquent spokesman in jazz here steps to the 88s alone, together with his opulent technique, encyclopedic sense of the jazz piano tradition, and unlimited storehouse of tunes. What ensues is an 11-entry art exhibit of a consummate jazz pianist, one whose accomplishments on behalf of jazz often overshadow his considerable prowess within that … Read More “Billy Taylor: Ten Fingers-One Voice”

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Joe, Jr. Kennedy: Accentuate the Positive

Originally recorded in 1962, it’s curious that it took roughly 37 years for these sessions to see the light of day. Both are eminently agreeable, boasting the work of skilled and often consummate musicians, though perhaps the notion of a jazz violin soloist-despite the obvious precedent of Joe Venuti, Eddie South, Stephane Grappelli, Stuff Smith … Read More “Joe, Jr. Kennedy: Accentuate the Positive”

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Byron Morris and Unity: Live! At the East Coast Jazz Festival

Morris is an alto saxophonist out of the Washington, DC, area who has been largely absent from the record scene over the last of decade, plying his craft as an architect while keenly observing the scene. For this live date he is joined by trumpeter Eddie Allen, trombonist Gerald Reid, pianist Bob Butta, bassist Pepe … Read More “Byron Morris and Unity: Live! At the East Coast Jazz Festival”

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Mark Turner: In This World

From all appearances, tenorist Mark Turner is an extremely thoughtful and cerebral player with a sense of yearning, an almost questioning tone, and a pen prone to sensitivity and quest. Far from the rollicking post-Coltrane tenor mode, Turner is almost calculating in his logic, balanced with a curious sense of freedom. Though the program is … Read More “Mark Turner: In This World”

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Marc Cary: The Antidote

The Antidote is an apt title since throughout his brief recording career young Marc Cary has been an antidote for all those who would dismiss his generation as not saying anything fresh. Cary has infused his music with knotty rhythms, and he insists on largely his own original tunes. In this case Cary has dropped … Read More “Marc Cary: The Antidote”

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Paquito D’Rivera: 100 Years of Latin Love Songs

Initiates certainly know that Paquito can let it rip with the best, but don’t plop this disc into the player looking for blood & guts; the mood here is about heart & soul. Addressing a program of ten classic Latin American love potions, Paquito is laden with strings-laden, not leaden. Bob Belden conducts the strings … Read More “Paquito D’Rivera: 100 Years of Latin Love Songs”

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Randy Weston: Khepera

Fresh from the emotional high of his February realization of Uhuru Africa on Brooklyn’s Majestic Theatre stage, the master Weston entered the studio bent on musically manifesting at least some element of his scholarly pursuit of the documented but little known African presence in ancient China. The vessel through which he portrays this unique cultural … Read More “Randy Weston: Khepera”

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James Williams: Spirits Unbound

Pianist-composer-bandleader James Williams, one of the true gentlemen of jazz, is known as a consummate bandmember and team player. Beyond the bandstand Williams is one of the more astute jazz businessmen and entrepreneurs of his jazz generation. Proprietor of Finas Sound Productions, Inc., a company with a Manhattan office that has produced recordings, annual tribute … Read More “James Williams: Spirits Unbound”

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Marilyn Lerner: Birds Are Returning

Montreal-born pianist Marilyn Lerner is an experimenter with an ear and touch for invention on the far edge of convention, as was discovered at the Toronto Jazz Festival in ’96. Two longtime friends, Torontonians and certified Cuba-philes-saxophonist Jane Bunnett and her trumpeter husband Larry Cramer (saxophonist-flutist and producer of the date respectively)-convinced Lerner to take … Read More “Marilyn Lerner: Birds Are Returning”

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Hilario Duran: Killer Tumbao

Hilario Duran has served as a member of bands led by trumpeter Arturo Sandoval as well as saxophonist-flutist Jane Bunnett’s Spirits of Havana. Duran occupies the same rarefied air of Cuban pianists inhabited by Chucho Valdes, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Emiliano Salvador; these are artists who are as comfortable in the Afro-Cuban milieu as in a … Read More “Hilario Duran: Killer Tumbao”

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Kenny Barron: Things Unseen

Kenny Barron’s seasoned crew of drummer Victor Lewis, saxophonist John Stubblefield, trumpeter Eddie Henderson and bassist David Williams, is augmented for this date by John Scofield’s distinctive guitar, percussionist Mino Cinelu-with whom Barron crafted one of ’96’s most rewarding recordings-and newcomer Naoko Terai on violin. Barron, who has achieved something akin to MVP status among … Read More “Kenny Barron: Things Unseen”

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Javon Jackson: Good People

Art Blakey’s youngest tenor sax playing son has evidenced in recent recordings a desire to break free from the often stifling two-horn quintet straightahead hard bop mold. In this instance producer Craig Street has been enlisted, and bebop seems the farthest thing from his oeuvre. Mr. Jackson is a talent of forthright mind, and not … Read More “Javon Jackson: Good People”

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Donal Fox: Gone City

I’m not even sure Donal Fox would agree to his inclusion in a jazz magazine; however, due to his prior duet collaborations with David Murray and Oliver Lake, this sphere is as good a place as any for his work. More in the vein of contemporary chamber music, Fox’s original music is addressed by a … Read More “Donal Fox: Gone City”

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The Heath Brothers: 3 At Last

If swinging good taste and the pursuit of the good groove in service to impeccable compositions and arrangements are to your liking, then clap hands ’cause the Heath Brothers have reunited on the heels of As We Were Saying on Concord Records. One of the first families of jazz, the Heaths of Philadelphia have been … Read More “The Heath Brothers: 3 At Last”

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Roy Haynes: Force of Nature

One of the most powerful natural resources of the jazz world is the kinetic drumming of Roy Haynes. To those veterans of the scene who would have us believe the adage ‘ain’t but a few of ’em left,’ Roy Haynes is certainly one of the classic survivors of bebop, even pre-bop for that matter. At … Read More “Roy Haynes: Force of Nature”

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Courtney Pine: Underground

For his second recorded foray deep into the realm of hip-hop jazz, Courtney Pine experiences a greater degree of success. Given more opportunities to further groove his concept, he could in fact make the most meaningful contribution to a fusion that is more likely than some would like to admit. Yes, he remains a headstrong … Read More “Courtney Pine: Underground”

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Keystone Trio: NewKlear Music

John Hicks, George Mraz and Idris Muhammad certainly make for a cooperative and communicative trio. For their second recording, the trio covers a body of work from one who is much more noted for his Herculean skills as an improviser. Yes, occasionally Sonny Rollins does stand down from Mt. Olympus to take pen to paper … Read More “Keystone Trio: NewKlear Music”

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McBride/Payton/Whitfield: Fingerpainting: The Music of Herbie Hancock

Another Verve special trio project following up the Bird session with Hargrove, McBride and Scott. This time out Pops’ great-grandson Nicholas Payton and spiritual son of George Benson, Mark Whitfield, join the young bass prodigy Christian McBride for another thematic romp. They journey through the rich compositional fields of Herbie Hancock. In true songbook fashion … Read More “McBride/Payton/Whitfield: Fingerpainting: The Music of Herbie Hancock”

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Geri Allen: Eyes… in the back of Your Head

Pianist and composer Geri Allen is certainly one of the more distinguished musicians of her generation. The embodiment of an inside-out philosophy that finds her as comfortable searching new ground as she is trodding familiar firmament, her Blue Note stint (she recently signed with Verve) now finds her traveling from the standards trio project Twenty … Read More “Geri Allen: Eyes… in the back of Your Head”

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Sonny Simmons: American Jungle

Despite the LP time length taken up by but five tracks, this is another rewarding date from someone who has been long overdue for recording opportunities. That this is his second Qwest date in just under three years is astounding, considering the time Simmons spent in enforced obscurity. He is joined here by a peculiar … Read More “Sonny Simmons: American Jungle”

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