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Matt Mitchell: Phalanx Ambassadors (Pi)

Matt Mitchell’s vision is a model of wonky brilliance. The magnitude of his personal and artistic ambition has been stated clearly enough on previous Pi productions and through many other wildly unique associations, but recordings like this remind us that he’s always brewing something fresh.  Leading a quintet through hyper-specific hinterlands, Mitchell revels in the act … Read More “Matt Mitchell: Phalanx Ambassadors (Pi)”

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Brad Mehldau: Finding Gabriel (Nonesuch)

In the beginning, Brad Mehldau plays a simple synthesizer melody, ringing with felicity and melancholy, like church bells celebrating simultaneous marital and funereal rites. Over the next seven minutes the song builds as instruments and voices join the repeated phrase until the music crescendos into glorious, frantic chaos. “The Garden,” the first track on the … Read More “Brad Mehldau: Finding Gabriel (Nonesuch)”

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Andy LaVerne: Shangri-La (SteepleChase)

The previous recording in Andy LaVerne’s large SteepleChase discography (Faith, 2017) featured trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, bassist Mike Richmond, and drummer Jason Tiemann. This new album adds Jerry Bergonzi on tenor saxophone. Some good news about Shangri-La: Sipiagin and Bergonzi are special players. Sipiagin’s solos are complete bold statements and his tone on both trumpet and … Read More “Andy LaVerne: Shangri-La (SteepleChase)”

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Greg Reitan: West 60th (Sunnyside)

Forty-nine-year-old Los Angeles-based pianist Greg Reitan possesses blazing chops, which are put to excellent purpose on his fifth CD. Titled for inspiration received after his trio performed at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle (closest entrance on West 60th Street), the release builds upon Reitan’s previous CDs (Daybreak, Post No Bills, Some Other Time, … Read More “Greg Reitan: West 60th (Sunnyside)”

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Charlie Dennard: Deep Blue (self-released)

As a longtime musical director for Cirque du Soleil productions, pianist Charlie Dennard has become well-versed in playing to texture, nuance, and emotion in varied environments. And as a resident of New Orleans with a performer’s passion for everything from blues to jazz to world music, he continually displays openness to disparate influences and a … Read More “Charlie Dennard: Deep Blue (self-released)”

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Dave Meder: Passage (Outside In)

Twenty-eight-year-old pianist Dave Meder is a young man with prodigious technique and serious ambitions. In the press release accompanying this originals-heavy debut recording, he states, “Philosophically what I’m after is the lofty goal of being able to do everything.” But Meder does have the credibility, both academically and on the street, to support his dreams. … Read More “Dave Meder: Passage (Outside In)”

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Giovanni Mirabassi Trio: Summer’s Gone (CamJazz)

Paris-based pianist Giovanni Mirabassi has been recording since the mid-1990s, his output including tributes to Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré, and Serge Gainsbourg, as well as solo outings and trio journeys. His 21st release, Summer’s Gone, is one of the latter. Joined by bassist Gianluca Renzi and drummer Lukmil Perez, Mirabassi explores terrain familiar to fans … Read More “Giovanni Mirabassi Trio: Summer’s Gone (CamJazz)”

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Yonathan Avishai: Joys and Solitudes (ECM)

Israeli-French pianist Yonathan Avishai’s ECM debut begins with five seconds of silence. It’s exhilarating on first listen, as a whole universe of notes, phrases, melodies, and rhythms hang in the air, unsure of whether to fall into an orderly line or scatter across the aural canvas like a Jackson Pollock original. Avishai knows the allure … Read More “Yonathan Avishai: Joys and Solitudes (ECM)”

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Lisa Hilton: Oasis (Ruby Slippers)

Oasis is a trio recording that follows a quintet set that followed a solo effort. Throughout her two-decade recording career, pianist/composer Lisa Hilton has zig-zagged in her approach to configuration; it keeps things lively for her and allows her to demonstrate her adaptability. Regardless of her chosen setting, though, the level of Hilton’s artistry never … Read More “Lisa Hilton: Oasis (Ruby Slippers)”

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