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CD/LP/Track Review

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg: Dirt...And More Dirt

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One of only three jazz musicians to win a Pulitzer Prize in Music, for his 2015 Pi Recordings release In for a Penny, In for a Pound, Henry Threadgill is the avant-garde member of a triumvirate that includes the mainstream in Wynton Marsalis and free jazz with legend Ornette Coleman. A musical illusionist, Threadgill can create a scope of orchestration that is disproportionate to the size of its source. He can generate tremendous power and emotion without pyrotechnics or mawkishness, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jean Toussaint Allstar 6tet: Brother Raymond

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Jean Toussaint, a graduate of Berklee College of Music and an alumnus of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers has assembled a veritable all-star cast for his follow-up to Tate Song (Lyte Records, 2014). Even more remarkable is the permutation of personnel, which, other than Toussaint himself, changes on most tracks, affording a different perspective to the selections. The boisterous opener “Amabo (I Shall Love)" is a keenly-swinging number which betrays some Caribbean / Latin-esque influences. There are some great ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lee Konitz: Frescalalto

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For over seven decades, since his participation in Miles Davis's 1949-1950 Birth of the Cool sessions, Lee Konitz has carved out a tireless path as one of jazz's most illuminating improvisers. Recorded at the tail end of 2015, when he was already 87 years old, Frescalalto sees Konitz in a straight-ahead session effectively marshalled by the trio of Kenny Barron, Peter Washington and Kenny Washington, who provide bags of rhythmic momentum. Standards and Konitz originals make for familiar fare, with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Hughes Smith Quintet: Motion

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The Hughes Smith Quintet is an amalgamation of saxophonist James Hughes and trumpeter Jimmy Smith, not only in namesake, but also in compositional approach. Their latest album Motion, the third in a catalog featuring original compositions, focuses on the straight-ahead sound of the seventies, popular in the Detroit scene, blended with hard-hitting energy, deep grooves, vibrant colors, and textures of this period in jazz, with their own modern sensibilities. The group is rounded out with Phil Kelly, a mainstay Detroit ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Diogo Vida: El Duende

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El Duende derives from the duende of Spanish mythology, an elf or magic creature. When the term is used in connection with music, especially flamenco, it means “having soul," something that gives you chills, makes you smile, or even cry, in response to an artistic performance. The Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca described it thus: “The duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of your feet." Portuguese pianist Diogo Vida says it describes the feeling he ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Jonathan Greenstein: Vol II

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The title is plain as can be, the vaguely ECM-ish cover is pretty in its simplicity, and the playing follows suit--not plain as in bland or boring, but in an honestly straightforward manner with a minimum of fuss. Jonathan Greenstein ascribes an “anti-hero nature" to his voice on saxophone, which simply means that he's not a big, colorful, out-in-front presence. This is a player who takes after the John Coltrane of “Naima" rather than the Coltrane of “Impressions."

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yoni Kretzmer's New Dilemma: Months, Weeks and Days

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Tenor saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer is not one to rest on his laurels or pursue straight and narrow musical paths as his discography consists of various ensemble configurations and objectives. With this hybrid chamber jazz and improvisation-based sextet, the musicians interpret the leader's compositions, structures and outlines via improvisational means. The ensemble delves into the experimental scheme of things, although these pieces do project semi-structured vibes, topped with gradual buildups, streaming strings passages and elongated unison choruses. Along with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sun Ra: Space Is The Place

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He was a solar flare, a surge of energy that rocketed across great distances and divides, bestowing all he encountered with unforgettable memories and disrupting radio transmissions. Science-fiction, transcendentalism, and jazz coalesced in the being called Sun Ra. A radical concoction, sky-bound and heaven-sent. Ra's music was always stratospheric, always reaching above and beyond. His constant striving resulted in an abundance of stellar records. But as a sonic statement and philosophical manifesto, 1973's Space Is The Place (Blue ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Najee: Poetry in Motion

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On Najee's 15th studio release, and fourth project for the Shanachie label, the Jamaica Queens, N.Y. native delivers an inviting, feel-good album on which he is joined by such diverse talents as pianist/keyboardist Bobby Lyle, multi-instrumentalist/producer/composer/arranger Barry Eastmond, multi-instrumentalist/composer/producer Jean-Paul “Bluey" Maunick, vocalists Will Downing, Maysa and Eric Roberson, and guitarist Blake Aaron. The multi-reedman's 1986 debut, Najee's Theme (EMI), was reflective of its time--an era when modern R & B grooves with jazzy inflections and rhythmic ambiance ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Siereveld's Organic Quintet: Walk The Walk

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Trumpeter/flugelhornist Eric Siereveld returned to New York after teaching in Madison, Wisconsin for three years. The debut recording of his Organic Quintet includes musicians from New York City and the Midwest. Tenor saxophonist Tony Barba is based in Madison; B3 organist Steve Snyder is the head of jazz studies at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and drummer Mitch Shiner hails from Milwaukee. Guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg is probably best known for his association with legendary organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, which makes ...