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Hedvig Mollestad Trio: Smells Funny (Rune Grammafon)

The belching, blues-rock mongrel that is the Hedvig Mollestad Trio could emanate only from the Scandinavian music scene and only in this particular time, when vinyl is trending and when the past is ceaselessly reexamined. Performing blues shrapnel improvisations allied to sprawling Frank Zappa-like, fuzzed-out guitar solos and a ZZ Top-worthy rhythm section manhandled into … Read More “Hedvig Mollestad Trio: Smells Funny (Rune Grammafon)”

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Gene Ess: Apotheosis (SIMP)

While several of these songs’ arcs have a triumphant spirit, in keeping with the nature of apotheosis, guitarist Gene Ess isn’t obsessed with peaks and conquest. Reconvening Fractal Attraction, a style-fluid electric quintet with the signature frontline pairing of guitar and (mostly) wordless vocals, Ess continues to build momentum while also digging deeper into the … Read More “Gene Ess: Apotheosis (SIMP)”

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Joel Harrison: Angel Band: Free Country Volume 3 (HighNote)

Joel Harrison has been down the Americana road twice before. In 2003 the guitarist released Free Country, which put a personal spin on tunes by Woody Guthrie, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and others. The following year, he revisited the concept on So Long 2nd Street, this time delving into a couple of Jimmy Webb favorites … Read More “Joel Harrison: Angel Band: Free Country Volume 3 (HighNote)”

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John Scofield: Combo 66 (Verve)

At age 66, guitarist John Scofield has earned heroic jazz/fusion status for his understated style, open mind, and tributaries that include releases with jam-band festival faves Medeski, Martin & Wood and Gov’t Mule. On Combo 66, Scofield adopts a unique, hybrid electric/acoustic improvisational format—in which he’s often the only electric instrumentalist—with a quartet rounded out … Read More “John Scofield: Combo 66 (Verve)”

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Aaron Shragge & Ben Monder: This World of Dew (Human Resource)

Because the dewdrop is both beautiful and fleeting, it has been used in Buddhist teaching as a metaphor for the impermanence of existence. In the haiku that gave This World of Dew its title, the Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa makes a similar point but adds, “and yet, and yet”—a comment that speaks to the sense of … Read More “Aaron Shragge & Ben Monder: This World of Dew (Human Resource)”

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Gilad Hekselman: Ask for Chaos (Hexophonic Music/Motéma)

Despite its title, Gilad Hekselman’s Ask for Chaos has a tuneful gentleness that may tempt some to presume the music is all surface and not listen any deeper. It’s an understandable reaction, given the amount of electronic effects applied here, but equating processing with a lack of depth is a mistake, because there’s quite a lot … Read More “Gilad Hekselman: Ask for Chaos (Hexophonic Music/Motéma)”

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Alex Skolnick Trio: Conundrum (Palmetto/MRI)

Most of those familiar with guitarist Alex Skolnick know of him through Testament, the thrash-metal band with which he’s played for two extended spells, 1983-93 and then again from 2005 to the present. He’s long lived another life, though, leading his own jazz-rooted trio with bassist Nathan Peck and drummer Matt Zebroski. Conundrum is their first … Read More “Alex Skolnick Trio: Conundrum (Palmetto/MRI)”

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Jonathan Kreisberg and Nelson Veras: Kreisberg Meets Veras (New for Now)

The press release for this album references “the guitar community.” At first it sounds odd. There is no “saxophone community” or “trumpet community.” Yet who can doubt that we have been living (at least until recently) in the Guitar Age? If there truly is such a community—populated by guitarists, would-be guitarists, and guitar junkies—it should … Read More “Jonathan Kreisberg and Nelson Veras: Kreisberg Meets Veras (New for Now)”

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Open Land: Meeting John Abercrombie (ECM)

Given guitarist John Abercrombie’s recent passing, you may be inclined to view Open Land, a film by directors Arno Oehri and Oliver Primus, as something it was never intended to be: an elegiac postscript. Instead, the film comes across as a lyrical portrait, quiet, spacious, reflective, and funny. From the outset, Oehri and Primus distill … Read MoreOpen Land: Meeting John Abercrombie (ECM)”

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