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Dan Weiss: Starebaby (Pi)

What can you expect from drummer Dan Weiss’ heavy-metal-inspired quintet Starebaby? An eviscerating, exploratory edge, yes; utter mayhem, no. Weiss brings the same exacting standards to Starebaby that were previously evident in his Indo-jazz hybridizations and sui generis large-ensemble projects. The eight doom-laden tracks presented here are incredibly powerful, but they rarely come off as … Read More “Dan Weiss: Starebaby (Pi)”

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Steve Gadd Band: Steve Gadd Band (BFM)

Drumming icon Steve Gadd has always sounded happiest when laying down golden tracks in the studio and serving as a sideman to the stars, only choosing to assume the mantle of leadership on rare occasions with session-men assemblages like the Gadd Gang or, more recently, the Gaddabouts (fronted by vocalist Edie Brickell). But in forming … Read More “Steve Gadd Band: Steve Gadd Band (BFM)”

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Adam Nussbaum: The Lead Belly Project (Sunnyside)

Aptly enough, this tribute to folk-music legend Lead Belly comes with 12 strings attached, albeit in a thoroughly modern jazz context. Eager to salute one of his earliest and most enduring influences, drummer Adam Nussbaum recently joined tenor saxophonist Ohad Talmor and two electric guitarists—Steve Cardenas and Nate Radley—for a one-day recording session that quickly … Read More “Adam Nussbaum: The Lead Belly Project (Sunnyside)”

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Vector Families: For Those About to Jazz/Rock We Salute You (Sunnyside)

You’re forgiven for thinking this might be a collection of AC/DC covers. Despite the title, For Those About to Jazz/Rock, We Salute You is an album of avant-garde jazz by Bad Plus drummer Dave King’s outfit Vector Families. The quartet, with saxophonist Brandon Wozniak, guitarist Dean Granros and bassist Anthony Cox, makes a hybrid of … Read More “Vector Families: For Those About to Jazz/Rock We Salute You (Sunnyside)”

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Chris Dave and the Drumhedz: Chris Dave and the Drumhedz (Blue Note)

The catch-all term “Black American Music,” or #BAM, may indeed be the only one that fits drummer Chris Dave and the Drumhedz’ eponymous Blue Note debut. But so might “Universal Language,” the album’s second track and manifesto. “From the Drumhedz as a whole/Through your speakers to your soul/On an intergalactic mission, let it take control,” … Read More “Chris Dave and the Drumhedz: Chris Dave and the Drumhedz (Blue Note)”

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Makaya McCraven: Highly Rare (International Anthem)

Highly Rare has something that really is highly rare: danger. It’s in the cassette-tape fidelity, like an old-school audience bootleg, that second-guesses even the digital gatekeepers (and, ironically, enhances the immediacy). It’s in the starkness of drummer Makaya McCraven’s chordless quartet and aggressive attack. Above all, it’s in McCraven’s continuing, brilliant redefinition of live jazz … Read More “Makaya McCraven: Highly Rare (International Anthem)”

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Barry Altschul & the 3Dom Factor: Live in Kraków (Not Two)

Drummer Barry Altschul and saxophonist Jon Irabagon, born 35 years apart, have now collaborated on five trio albums, all ass-kickers. Two were led by Irabagon and three by Altschul in the project he calls the 3Dom Factor. They are both outcats who have sometimes performed in more straight-ahead settings. The fascination of Live in Kraków … Read More “Barry Altschul & the 3Dom Factor: Live in Kraków (Not Two)”

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Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band: Body and Shadow (Blue Note)

This is a light album from the Fellowship band, both artistically and quantitatively. Body and Shadow runs under 32 minutes and doesn’t contain much. Seven of its nine tracks are atmosphere and little else. You keep waiting for something to happen, and nothing does. Brian Blade is one of the finest drummers of his generation—he’s … Read More “Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band: Body and Shadow (Blue Note)”

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