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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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Ahmad Jamal: Big Byrd

This date is actually part two of Jamal’s prior Verve release, The Essence, which for the first time paired the great piano stylist with a saxophonist. His co-soloist on that occasion was the sympathetic George Coleman. Part two date finds him working a track each with guests Joe Kennedy on violin and Donald Byrd (thus … Read More “Ahmad Jamal: Big Byrd”

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Wynton Marsalis and The Lincoln Center Orchestra: Blood On The Fields

After much fanfare and acclaim, including its 1994 Lincoln Center premiere, subsequent fine tuning and 1997 international tour, and the momentous news that its composer Wynton Marsalis had been granted the coveted 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Music as a sort of crowning achievement for this painstakingly-crafted three-hour oratorio, now comes the real proof in the … Read More “Wynton Marsalis and The Lincoln Center Orchestra: Blood On The Fields”

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Carla Bley Big Band: Goes to Church

Perhaps Bley decided to balance this exceptional new release with the reissued I Hate To Sing, which came out rather simultaneously. In this instance Bley’s largely European big band, augmented with American ringers like drummer Dennis Mackrel, trumpeter Lew Soloff, passion playing trombonist Gary Valente and Carla’s ever-present partner and trailblazing bass guitarist Steve Swallow, … Read More “Carla Bley Big Band: Goes to Church”

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Frank Morgan: Bop!

If anyone currently playing jazz knows how to bop it’s Frank Morgan, and his way with this program of eight bebop chestnuts ranging from “Half Nelson” to “A Night In Tunisia” is clear and sure. However it seems almost a shame to involve the imaginative pianist-composer Rodney Kendrick, whose trio backs Morgan, and not adapt … Read More “Frank Morgan: Bop!”

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Steve Grossman: Bouncing With Mr. A. T.

Tonal metamorphosis is a sure sign of the successful aging process of the good jazz player. If you’ve been around a minute you might recall Steve Grossman breaking into this music as a raw rookie with Miles Davis’ late ’60s-early ’70s electronic melange. At that time he was quaffing feverishly from the cup of John … Read More “Steve Grossman: Bouncing With Mr. A. T.”

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Don Braden: The Open Road

Steadily and rather quietly Don Braden has developed into a formidable and intelligent tenor saxophonist, rich in tone, swift of mind and nimble of finger when called for, subtle and reflective where necessary. Recent live evidence from a band led by the explosive drummer Cecil Brooks revealed that Braden brings often surprising wells of passion … Read More “Don Braden: The Open Road”

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Jimmy Smith: Damn!

The king of the B-3 organ returns to Verve and apropos for that homecoming his producers have surrounded him with the label’s most promising youngsters. Additionally, seven of the nine tracks are lifted by one of Verve’s singular veterans, who it turns out Jimmy never recorded with previously, the late drum master Arthur Taylor. And … Read More “Jimmy Smith: Damn!”

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Leon Parker: Belief

Leon Parker continues to be one of the true originals of the day. Though it’s doubtful if his spare less-is-more approach to the drum kit will be widely influential-it’s likely to remain his exclusive territory-Parker’s effectiveness is certain to give pause to aspiring drummers who take note; and it’s liable to give drum manufacturers the … Read More “Leon Parker: Belief”

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