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Josh Lawrence: Triptych (Posi-Tone)

Trumpeter Josh Lawrence is as straight-ahead as it gets—making it seem a little odd at first that he would dedicate a three-part suite to abstract expressionist Wassily Kandinsky. But then, jazz was at its most commercial when, like Kandinsky’s art, it was branded “degenerate” by the Nazi regime. Perhaps it’s appropriate after all. “Lost Works” … Read More “Josh Lawrence: Triptych (Posi-Tone)”

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Tom Harrell: Infinity (HighNote)

A powerful spirituality illuminates Tom Harrell’s work, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything pretentious or dogmatic going on. An irrepressible sense of play also abounds; trumpeter/flugelhornist Harrell sounds both delighted by his musical quest and enraptured by what he discovers. “The Fast,” this set’s opener, might easily have been titled “The Feast”—it’s a veritable … Read More “Tom Harrell: Infinity (HighNote)”

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Dave Douglas: Uplift (Greenleaf)

During his appearance at Winter Jazzfest 2017, saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings implored the audience that “We need new songs, new hymns, new myths.” Uplift, the latest album from the prolific trumpeter Dave Douglas, is, albeit indirectly, a response to Hutchings’ plea. The record’s 12 tracks ring as treatises in musical form rather than popular songs or … Read More “Dave Douglas: Uplift (Greenleaf)”

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Ralph Alessi: Imaginary Friends (ECM)

The musical bond between trumpeter Ralph Alessi and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane is arguably developing into a rapport on par with the highest echelon of trumpet/tenor combinations. Not merely a strong frontline, they’re a unit that creates something greater than the sum of its parts. That power can be heard in “Iram Issela.” After Coltrane’s solo … Read More “Ralph Alessi: Imaginary Friends (ECM)”

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Cuong Vu 4Tet: Change in the Air (RareNoise)

The bracing RareNoise debut from trumpeter Cuong Vu’s 4Tet—2017’s Ballet: The Music of Michael Gibbs—played up a blended dynamism leavened by respect for its honoree. This followup, built around original contributions from within the ranks, has more to do with self-sufficiency fostering the oneness of four. By inviting the project’s musical stakeholders to essentially act … Read More “Cuong Vu 4Tet: Change in the Air (RareNoise)”

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Jonathan Finlayson: 3 Times Round (Pi)

Steve Coleman’s concepts of interlocking melodies and odd time signatures can be enough of a challenge for a musician. Trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson has not only mastered these lessons in the saxophonist’s band, but he’s using his acquired skills to move several steps further and develop an original voice as a writer and improviser. The music … Read More “Jonathan Finlayson: 3 Times Round (Pi)”

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Randy Brecker & Mats Holmquist: Together (MAMA)

Don’t be misled by the billing. Although Randy Brecker’s trumpet is featured throughout this album with Finland’s UMO Jazz Orchestra, the creative force behind the project is clearly composer Mats Holmquist, whose inventive, coloristic arrangements are what ultimately keep Together together. Take “All My Things,” which somehow finds a common thread between Jerome Kern’s “All the … Read More “Randy Brecker & Mats Holmquist: Together (MAMA)”

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Ambrose Akinmusire: Origami Harvest (Blue Note)

It’s become relatively common for jazz artists to incorporate elements of hip-hop into their work, but the fourth studio outing by trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire is one of the more provocative of these mash-up projects to have emerged thus far. Rapper Kool A.D. (late of the alt-hip-hop aggregation Das Racist) juxtaposes a neo-Burroughsian mélange of surrealism, … Read More “Ambrose Akinmusire: Origami Harvest (Blue Note)”

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Marquis Hill: Modern Flows Vol. 2 (Black Unlimited Music Group)

There are some albums you really have to strap in for, lest you get whiplash for all of the various genre components that come whizzing by you. This is one of them. “My lyrics and conversation will make your brain smile,” boasts emcee Brandon Alexander Williams on this set’s intro, and the man has a … Read More “Marquis Hill: Modern Flows Vol. 2 (Black Unlimited Music Group)”

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