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G. Calvin Weston and the Phoenix Orchestra: Dust and Ash (577)

With all due respect to Makaya McCraven, G. Calvin Weston is the original beat scientist. As a fledgling teenage drummer in Prime Time, Weston helped put Ornette Coleman’s revolutionary harmolodics aesthetic on the map, and his stretches with James “Blood” Ulmer, John Lurie, Marc Ribot, and James Carter have also yielded much fruit. The quality … Read More “G. Calvin Weston and the Phoenix Orchestra: Dust and Ash (577)”

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Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom: Glitter Wolf (Royal Potato Family)

You could almost see it coming. Boom Tic Boom’s four previous records were like bread crumbs leading longtime listeners to this new jewel. On its 2010 debut the band documented itself as a trio (albeit with a one-track visit from fellow traveler Jenny Scheinman). Bassist Todd Sickafoose and pianist Myra Melford were all drummer Allison … Read More “Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom: Glitter Wolf (Royal Potato Family)”

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Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop: Abundance (Anzic)

On paper, Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop looks like nothing so much as Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers—a drummer-led sextet fronted by three horns. But where Blakey’s leadership focused heavily on rhythmic drive, Cervini takes a more nuanced approach. It isn’t just that he routinely scales his patterns to fit what bassist Dan Loomis and pianist Adrean Farrugia … Read More “Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop: Abundance (Anzic)”

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Andrew Cyrille: Lebroba (ECM)

It is profoundly satisfying to hear drummer Andrew Cyrille—who helped shepherd the tornado of Cecil Taylor through Unit Structures, among many others, more than 50 years ago—now in regal equipoise with a pair of esteemed elder peers, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and guitarist Bill Frisell. Lebroba relaxes you like a landscape painting, allowing your senses to … Read More “Andrew Cyrille: Lebroba (ECM)”

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Bill Stewart: Band Menu (self-released)

For his 11th release, drummer/composer Bill Stewart joins tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III and bassist Larry Grenadier on the ironically titled Band Menu. The literal menu listed on the CD’s inner sleeve offers such dishes as “Hand Rolled Drum Rug with Perspiration Reduction,” “Pickled Jazz Stalwart,” and “Pay Your Dues Fondue.” Stewart is both a … Read More “Bill Stewart: Band Menu (self-released)”

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Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band: West Side Story Reimagined (Jazzheads)

Drummer Bobby Sanabria was born in the South Bronx in 1957, the same year West Side Story opened on Broadway. As a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent who first experienced that musical through its 1961 film adaptation, Sanabria was most transfixed by how well composer Leonard Bernstein’s instrumental themes captured the Puerto Rican … Read More “Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band: West Side Story Reimagined (Jazzheads)”

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Duduka da Fonseca Trio: Plays Dom Salvador (Sunnyside)

Samba jazz and bossa nova are two parallel streams of Brazilian music. Both emerged around 1960. Samba jazz hits harder. The Brazilian musicians who invented it loved American players like Art Blakey and John Coltrane. Rio 65 Trio, by pianist/composer Dom Salvador, is one of the seminal recordings of samba jazz. When it was released, … Read More “Duduka da Fonseca Trio: Plays Dom Salvador (Sunnyside)”

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Devin Gray: Dirigo Rataplan II (Rataplan)

Who says creative improvisation is for grownups only? Devin Gray’s Dirigo Rataplan I was party improvisation suitable for 4H Clubs, county fairs, and dancing toddlers. Dirigo Rataplan II dials back the merriment, but not the joy of improvising over compelling themes. Again accompanied by tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, trumpeter Dave Ballou, and bassist Michael Formanek, Gray the drummer … Read More “Devin Gray: Dirigo Rataplan II (Rataplan)”

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