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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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Chicago Edge Ensemble: Decaying Orbit (Music +) (Lizard Breath)

Chicago Edge Ensemble is an all-terrain vehicle, a quintet equally capable of negotiating the bumpity-smooth contours of swinging postbop, the banked hairpin turns of fusion-funk, the fog and ether of AACM-style intrigue and the tumultuous thicket that awaits if you gleefully careen off the road. Leader-guitarist Dan Phillips writes segmented songs that frequently include at … Read More “Chicago Edge Ensemble: Decaying Orbit (Music +) (Lizard Breath)”

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Tony Moreno Quintet: Short Stories (Mayimba)

Short Stories is burnished by generosity and gratitude. Covering more than two hours of music over two discs and 15 songs, it chronicles a chapter in drummer/educator Tony Moreno’s life after he’d lost his studio, his instruments and a valuable trove of archival material he and his mother, the noted harpist and musicologist Nina Dunkel … Read More “Tony Moreno Quintet: Short Stories (Mayimba)”

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The Claudia Quintet: Super Petite

The title Super Petite refers to the compositions drummer John Hollenbeck penned for the Claudia Quintet’s eighth album. Bucking the trend toward longer and larger works of music and literature, nearly all of them are timed at six minutes or less. The Quintet’s instrumentation of accordion (Red Wierenga), vibraphone (Matt Moran), clarinet/tenor saxophone (Chris Speed), … Read More “The Claudia Quintet: Super Petite”

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Ark Ovrutski Quintet: Intersection

Intersection is an unusual combination of personalities. Ark Ovrutski, originally from the Ukraine, is a bassist given to dark, heavy, solemn solos. But he likes to surround himself with light-footed Brazilians (pianist Helio Alves, drummer Duduka Da Fonseca) and American speed demons (trombonist Michael Dease, saxophonist Michael Thomas). The net effect is exemplified by the … Read More “Ark Ovrutski Quintet: Intersection”

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E.J. Strickland Quintet: The Undying Spirit

There’s a tendency on drummer-led albums for the listener’s ear to focus on the drums no matter what they’re doing. E.J. Strickland turns that tendency into inevitability on his second album, The Undying Spirit. It opens with an unaccompanied virtuoso solo that continues past the minute mark, just one of two drum solos on the … Read More “E.J. Strickland Quintet: The Undying Spirit”

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David Smith Quintet: Anticipation

With Anticipation by the David Smith Quintet comes another release from the Brooklyn Jazz Underground label, “an independent and artist-run label committed to creative and adventurous contemporary improvised music”. True to the label’s namesake, the present release features a number of conventions that have become synonymous with the Brooklyn jazz scene: odd meters, complex forms, … Read More “David Smith Quintet: Anticipation”

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Tomasz Stanko Quintet: Dark Eyes

Tomasz Stanko began his career as an ECM recording artist with 1975’s Balladyna, a post-Ornette outburst that gives little hint of the kind of trumpeter he has become. Taken together, the best of his recent work-2006’s Lontano, 2004’s Suspended Night and 2002’s Soul of Things-represent some of the most evocative, atmospheric jazz this side of … Read More “Tomasz Stanko Quintet: Dark Eyes”

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