Album Reviews

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Alex LoRe And Weirdear: Karol

Read "Karol" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

To simply read about it, Karol—saxophonist Alex Lore's third album in total and first on the Challenge imprint—might seem weighted by its conceptual underpinning. Aiming to integrate “elements from Eurocentric and Black American music traditions," LoRe takes most of his inspirational cues from classical composers. Said ideal, for many, would simply lead to either academic exercise or quaint “swinging the classics" scenarios. LoRe doesn't succumb to either fate. Instead, he operates by his own rules and runes, using the seed ...

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Aki Takase: Thema Prima

Read "Thema Prima" reviewed by Friedrich Kunzmann

Where does one go after having studied the most important composers in jazz history and dedicated entire albums to them in a 40-year career? The answer lies somewhere between nowhere and everywhere, according to what Japanese pianist / composer Aki Takase presents with her new energetic project JAPANIC on Thema Prima. Whilst the aesthetic and energy at hand are steeped in the tradition of late greats, Takase welcomes chaos into her world and, with some help of modern electronic manipulations, ...

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Frode Gjerstad: Day Two

Read "Day Two" reviewed by John Sharpe

Detail was a band ahead of its time. The co-operative trio formed in 1981 by Norwegian reedman Frode Gjerstad and English drummer John Stevens, was completed in its first incarnation by South African bassist Johnny Dyani. Day Two was recorded in Gjerstad's hometown Stavanger, and as the name suggests, it was the result of the second day in the studio, following on from the session which generated Backwards And Forwards (Impetus, 1982). Originally released by Gjerstad as Okhela in cassette ...

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Rich Willey: Down & Dirty

Read "Down & Dirty" reviewed by Nicholas F. Mondello

Back in 2001, trumpeter/composer/educator Rich Willey released a critically acclaimed album titled Gone with the Piggies (CAP Records). As a result, a savvy audience has followed him cult-like ever since. With Down and Dirty, the former Maynard Ferguson standout delivers a bacchanalia presentation both as player and composer, surrounded by a unit of Los Angeles' finest players and world- class arrangers. There are marvelously diverse big band grooves here that Willey and his jazz merchants are selling. ...

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Nicolas Bearde: I Remember You: The Music Of Nat King Cole

Read "I Remember You: The Music Of Nat King Cole" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

In 2019, Cole is king. Feted on record by John Pizzarelli, celebrated with a new seven CD set of his early work from Resonance Records, and praised and reappraised from numerous journalistic angles, Nathaniel Adams Coles--better known as Nat King Cole--is receiving the posthumous plaudits he so richly deserves in this, his centennial year. Now, adding to the chorus, comes this easy-going charmer of a tribute from one of the West Coast's most underrated vocal talents. Completely ...

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Jon Irabagon: Invisible Horizon

Read "Invisible Horizon" reviewed by Mark Corroto

The inexhaustibly adventurist saxophonist Jon Irabagon has repeatedly challenged his listeners with each project he undertakes. The 2008 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition champion and former member of the rebel outfit Mostly Other People Do The Killing can be heard in Mary Halvorson's projects, The Dave Douglas Quintet, and Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor, beside leading his own trio, quartet and quintets. But then again, maybe he is continually challenging himself to expand his music in new directions. Invisible Horizon ...

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Spring Roll: Episodes

Read "Episodes" reviewed by John Sharpe

French flautist Sylvaine Hélary's Spring Roll follow up their ambitious debut Printemps (Ayler, 2015) with another adventurous outing on Episodes. While the first disc incorporated words and voices, the twist this time is that Hélary commissioned works from three of New York City's finest composer-improvisers, pianists Matt Mitchell and Kris Davis, and saxophonist Dan Blake, to supplement two numbers from the band. In addition to the 2018 studio session responsible for most of the recording, Davis appears as a special ...

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Bobby Rush: Sitting on Top of the Blues

Read "Sitting on Top of the Blues" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

There exists a fertile underbelly to American Music. It is music that never experiences the success of a Jay Z or Beyonce, but is infinitely more vital and fecund than any of the synthesized, IPad-generated, “genius" generated sounds that have come out over the past 20 year. Sorry, but “rad beats" is not everything and second-hand rhymes might raise a woody in any number of print critics reviews...but not this humble one. Street cred still reigns big, and ...

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Quentin Collins Sextet: Road Warrior

Read "Road Warrior" reviewed by Chris May

Hard-bop with a modern twist from the British trumpeter Quentin Collins, who is probably best known for his work with the Kyle Eastwood Band and who leads his own transatlantic group on Road Warrior. The frontline is completed by two British-based saxophonists, Leo Richardson on tenor and Meilana Gillard on alto. The rhythm section is out of New York: pianist Dan Nimmer, bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Willie Jones III. The international set-up is reinforced by producer Jean Toussaint, a ...

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Mike Westbrook Orchestra: Catania

Read "Catania" reviewed by Ian Patterson

A major figure in British jazz since the late 1950s, composer-pianist Mike Westbrook continues to write, perform and record at a rate of knots which would leave contenders half his 83 years on the ropes. Four albums since 2016, including--after a gap of forty years—not one but two solo piano recordings, are testament to the creative fire that continues to burn inside him. This previously-unreleased live recording from Sicily in 1992, captures the twenty-three-piece Mike Westbrook Orchestra in truly scintillating ...

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Ernesto Rodrigues / Abdul Moimême / Antez: Magma

Read "Magma" reviewed by Mark Corroto

The question that lingers over Magma, by the trio of violist Ernesto Rodrigues, guitarist Abdul Moimême and percussionist Richard Antez, is whether the artists were conscious of the visual aspects created by their music. Of our five senses—taste, sight, touch, smell and sound—it is, of course, the perception of sound that we attribute to music. This is not about the observation of musicians going about their performance as much as the visuals created by the sound itself. Only the audience ...

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Refraction: The Outsider

Read "The Outsider" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Australian trio Refraction recorded this album just before drummer and bandleader Chris Broomhead's relocation to Nashville, Tennessee (which is now given as the group's home city on their Bandcamp page). As on the last two albums, Inerrant Space (Rare Colour Records, 2016) and Reimagined (Rare Colour Records, 2017), Broomhead is joined by pianist Brenton Foster and bassist Jordan Tarento. There is one major change for this album. The previous ones were all recorded in a traditional recording studio. ...