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Bill O’Connell: Jazz Latin (Savant)

The latest release from pianist Bill O’Connell is generic in name only. In many ways, it’s a distinctly personal statement, inspired by the recent passing of flutist Dave Valentin and drummer Kim Plainfield, the legacy of significant influences (Monk and Jobim, as well as O’Connell’s mother), and the opportunity to cast a seasoned trio, featuring … Read More “Bill O’Connell: Jazz Latin (Savant)”

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Bill O’Connell: Monk’s Cha Cha (Savant)

The Latin-jazz world is a parallel universe to “pure” jazz. Many important musicians cross back and forth between the two (some of them several times a day). Yet many hardcore jazz people quietly assume that jazz is art and Latin is party music. Bill O’Connell has been one of the leading non-Latino practitioners of Latin … Read More “Bill O’Connell: Monk’s Cha Cha (Savant)”

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Bill O’Connell and the Latin Jazz All-Stars: Heart Beat

At both its fieriest and gentlest, Bill O’Connell’s music exudes sophistication, savvy and steam-never more so, perhaps, than on Heart Beat. As always, O’Connell leans Latin on his latest, a set of seven original works bolstered by tunes from Jobim and Wayne Shorter. The pianist utilizes the same core team with which he’s recorded for … Read More “Bill O’Connell and the Latin Jazz All-Stars: Heart Beat”

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Steve Slagle & Bill O’Connell: The Power of Two

You’ve heard the expression about there being “strength in numbers.” In the case of Steve Slagle and Bill O’Connell’s The Power of Two, two is quite enough, which is to say that alto saxophonist and flutist Slagle and pianist O’Connell are an ensemble-and a powerful, forthright one at that. Both play aggressively and with secure … Read More “Steve Slagle & Bill O’Connell: The Power of Two”

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Bill O’Connell and the Latin Jazz Allstars: Imagine

It’s curious that Bill O’Connell’s 11th album as a leader is titled after the revered John Lennon anthem covered within, because it’s atypical of most of his work. O’Connell’s stock-in-trade is bop-tempered Afro-Cuban rhythm, and few traces of such surface during the elegant float through the song. But what the pianist and his sextet do … Read More “Bill O’Connell and the Latin Jazz Allstars: Imagine”

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Bill O’Connell: Triple Play Plus Three

Apparently pianist Bill O’Connell can’t get enough of the reconfigured trio format he explored on his 2008 release Triple Play, a bass-less session with conguero Richie Flores and flutist Dave Valentin. On Triple Play Plus Three, Flores and Valentin join two seasoned recruits: clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera and vibraphonist Dave Samuels. Still, save for one duo … Read More “Bill O’Connell: Triple Play Plus Three”

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