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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 ...

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 ...

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 ...