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CD/LP/Track Review

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Darrell Katz and the JCA Orchestra: Rats Live on No Evil Star

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It's a pretty sure bet that appraising any album whose title is also a palindrome isn't going to be a stroll in the park, even more so when the orchestra in question is the Jazz Composers Alliance (rule of thumb: the longer the name, the more abstruse the music) and the instrumentation includes voice, marimba, EWI, sopranino sax and five-string violin. Such is the nature of Rats Live on No Evil Star (try reading it backward), the most recent recording ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dmitry Baevsky / Jeb Patton: We Two

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Alto saxophonist Dmitry Baevsky and pianist Jeb Patton constitute a crackerjack, precision jazz instrument, stretching and bending the fundamentals of bebop into full-blown statements that render the absence of a bassist and drummer superfluous. The individual heroics that one expects of bop are in evidence, but it's the ways in which the duo maneuvers as a unit that really matters. Baevsky and Patton are middle-aged jazzmen with a wealth of experience working in bands, together and separately, all over the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joel Harrison: Angel Band: Free Country Vol. 3

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Possessed of restless creativity and a desire not to repeat himself, guitarist/vocalist Joel Harrison took a 14-year hiatus between albums in his Free Country series to release over a dozen other efforts before returning with Angel Band: Free Country Volume 3. Building on the foundation set by the first two albums, he recruits a few returning musicians as well as a menagerie of new talent, including a handful of vocalists. Harrison takes an amalgamation of folk, country, bluegrass ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Don Rendell / Ian Carr Quintet: The Complete Lansdowne Recordings 1965-1969 (Vinyl box set)

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Make no mistake, this vinyl box set reissue of the entire EMI Columbia oeuvre of the Rendell Carr Quintet is the British jazz equivalent of resurrecting the Dead Sea Scrolls(*). Although not the first time these ultra rare albums have been reissued (BGO Records obliged fans with these on CD, mostly as two-fers, in 2004) this is however a first for vinyl--legitimately that is. It took Gerald Short, owner of Jazzman Records a mere twenty years to persuade Universal Music ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ed Pettersen - Martin Küchen - Roger Turner: The End of the Universe

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It may be a matter of semantics, but does the album title imply the physical end to the universe where all matter is extinguished, or is the trio at the edge of the universe and framing their collective improvisational skills on that notion? Either way, the music iterated here musters a cosmic reference point for these experimental gurus, performing together for the first time. Saxophonist Martin Küchen (Sweden), guitarist Ed Pettersen (USA) and drummer/percussionist Roger Turner (UK) possess ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Aaron Parks: Little Big

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The press release for highly praised keyboard/composer Aaron Parks's (Kurt Rosenwinke, Terence Blanchard) latest album states: “after experimenting with various lineups and sessions, Parks landed on three musicians ideally suited for this atmospheric, genre-bending new work." And after listening to this inspiring session it's easy to discern why Parks needed time and a bit of prudence to fulfil his personalized mission of original genre-hopping compositions, that gel to a synergistic group-focused vibe. Here, it seems that the artist has reached ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alyn Cosker: KPF

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The music of Alyn Cosker--the resident drummer of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra--is neither here nor there. While his work firmly rests in the miles-wide jazz camp, its synthesis of disparate styles and identities offers it shielding from easy labels within. Take “Serenity," the album's lead-off track, for example. Augmenting an electrified quintet with mandolin, accordion, fiddle, and alto saxophone, Cosker creates a powerful and uncategorizable blend that sits, swirls, storms, and dances around a stabilizing piano beacon. It's a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Medeski: John Medeski's Mad Skillet

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Steeped in, but hardly a slave to, the milieu of the Crescent City, John Medeski (of Medeski, Martin & Wood fame) recorded in The Big Easy with sousaphonist Kirk Joseph and drummer Terence Higgins (both natives of New Orleans and members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band), along with guitarist Will Bernard, one of the unsung heroes of modern jazz. On the opening track titled “Man About Town," as with the like-minded closer book-ending the nine tracks, “The Heart of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Don Byron/Aruan Ortiz: Random Dances And (A)Tonalities

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Jazz albums have a history of featuring cool cover art, from drummer Chico Hamilton's Ellington Suite (World Pacific, 1959) and bassist Charles Mingus' Ah Um (Columbia, 1959) to almost all of the ECM Records catalog. Maybe grabbing the music-shopper's eye helps in the pulling of the wallet out the pocket or the purse. On the terrific duo album, Random Dances And (A)tonalities, from reedman Don Byron and pianist Aruan Ortiz, that visual introduction is four squares set together to make ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Daughters: You Won't Get What You Want

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You Won't Get What You Want, the fourth album from Rhode Island noise rock outfit Daughters, is one of the year's most engrossing and terrifying albums, despite a few underwhelming tracks and a disappointing finale. Vocalist Alexis Marshall, guitarist Nick Sadler, bassist Sam Walker and drummer Jon Syverson released Daughters' debut, Canada Songs, in 2003, establishing their talent for composing tiny and gritty songs with dark guitars, pounding drums and raspy screams. With 2006's Hell Songs and 2010's self-titled album, ...