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INTERVIEWS

Matsuli Music: The Fight Against Forgetting

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Now approaching a decade of operations, Matsuli Music has placed itself at the frontline of reissuing some of South Africa's most influential, important, and yet nevertheless now difficult-to-find albums in pursuit of its stated mission: “The Fight Against Forgetting." Indeed, to that end, founder Matthew Temple has done extraordinary work, as thanks to his efforts, classic 1970s fare like Dick Khoza's Chapita, Ndikho Xaba's Ndikho Xaba and the Natives, Sathima Bea Benjamin's African Songbird, Pacific Express' Black Fire, and others ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Basic Beauty: Arthur Blythe on Columbia

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Back in 2016, BGO Records started reissuing the complete works of alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe (1940-2017) on Columbia. The first volume containing Lenox Avenue Breakdown (1979), In the Tradition (1980), Illusions and Blythe Spirit (1981) has already been reviewed on AAJ. The following two volumes complete the project of putting an important body of work from one of the great, unsung saxophonists in jazz history back into circulation. Arthur Blythe Elaborations/Light Blue: Arthur Blythe Plays Thelonious ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brad Mehldau Trio: Seymour Reads The Constitution!

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The track listing of Seymour Reads The Constitution! is ultimately as deceptive as the album's title (not to mention its cryptic cover image). The ten cuts feature only three compositions written by Brad Mehldau, yet these pieces constitute almost half the record's sixty-plus minutes playing time. As a result, the covers provide exceptional pacing because the pianist and his band explore that material just as deftly, only slightly less intently. And markedly less intensely than, for example, the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Simon Pilbrow with the Brent Fischer Orchestra: Colours of Sound

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Given the unusual circumstances behind its inception, the album Colours of Sound probably never should have made it to a recording studio. The fact that it did is a happenstance for which every big-band lover and jazz enthusiast should be thankful. The odyssey began in 2011 when Australian composer / pianist Simon Pilbrow wrote a letter of appreciation to the celebrated American composer / pianist Clare Fischer. After Clare Fischer passed away in 2012, Pilbrow stayed in touch with and ...

IN PICTURES
CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Downes Open Music: A Blast From The Past

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The only (slight) problem with this album is its rather whimsical title which considerably undersells its significance. In his long career, Bob Downes has made some substantial contributions to jazz and improvised music, and this album is an important addition to his discography. Comprised of previously-unreleased archival pieces dating back to the 1970s, Downes can be heard on a variety of instruments including tenor saxophone, as on “Apparition," where--as on two other tracks--he is accompanied by virtuoso bassist and composer ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bobby Previte: Rhapsody

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Distinguished drummer Bobby Previte is a renaissance man who composed, arranged and penned the lyrics on this impressive program. In addition, he supplements his rhythmic contributions with various percussion implements, guitar, autoharp and harmonica. The premise behind Rhapsody relates to Previte's viewpoint about travel and marks the second in a three-part series that originated in 2011 with Terminals Part I: Departures (Cantaloupe Music). Here, the artist uses an all-star lineup of pioneers accustomed to deviating from conventional norms.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Van Morrison and Joey DeFrancesco: You're Driving Me Crazy

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Van Morrison has been busy, releasing three recordings in quick succession, Roll With the Punches (Exile, 2017), Versatile (Exile, 2017), and presently You're Driving Me Crazy with jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco. At this point in his career, Morrison can pretty well sing what he damn well pleases. On his past several recordings, Morrison has revisited his catalog, recasting some of his older songs in new frames and You're Driving Me Crazy proves no exception. Revisited here are “The Way Young ...

MIXCLOUD

Destination South Africa (Part 1)

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Over the past three weeks we've focused on Africa's influence on jazz music. We played music by international jazz musicians who were inspired by Africa as well as music by jazz musicians from Mali to Tunisia and from Ethiopia to Zimbabwe. Now what about South African Jazz? Well, we left South Africa for last since it requires extensive attention as the country at the southernmost point of the continent is home to the most enduring and wide-ranging jazz ...

FROM FAR AND WIDE

Improvising Where No Man Has Gone Before: Encountering William Shatner, Star Trek, And “The Wrath Of Khan”

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I am a Trekkie. No apologies for that. There are millions of us floating around in the universe. So when I saw that Captain James Tiberius Kirk, aka William Shatner, was going to appear in person and give a talk after a showing of the classic film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, I decided to go. I played a weird hunch that All About Jazz publisher Michael Ricci is also a Trekkie, and he confirmed my worst suspicion. ...