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CD/LP/Track Review

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Thelonious Monk: Mønk

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Summer 2018 has seen the release of previously unknown recordings by two giants of mid-twentieth century jazz. First we had John Coltrane's Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album (Impulse!), and now Thelonious Monk's live album Mønk. Both discs were made in 1963. The breathless hyperbole which greeted the Coltrane was unjustified, if predictable, but the album is nonetheless a valuable addition to the archive. The Monk is, quite simply, among the pianist's strongest quartet recordings. Mønk was ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The South Florida Jazz Orchestra: The Music of Gary Lindsay / Are We Still Dreaming

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When a big band devotes an entire album to the compositions and arrangements of one musician, the obvious opening question is: why? In other words, who is Gary Lindsay and why is the South Florida Jazz Orchestra performing his music? In brief, the answer is that Lindsay, an alto saxophonist and well-respected educator, has written and arranged music for Maynard Ferguson, the U.S. Air Force Airmen of Note and Florida Philharmonic, among others, and was nominated for a Grammy Award ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Soft Machine: Hidden Details

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Following a series of releases for Moonjune Records under the moniker Soft Machine Legacy, beginning with 2005's Live in Zaandam and concluding, most recently, with 2013's Burden of Proof, this quartet consisting largely of members from the classic Canterbury group Soft Machine has finally decided to drop the “Legacy" and go it with the original name alone. And why not? For a group that began in the mid-'60s and, over the next 15 years or so, released eleven ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sam Blakeslee Quintet: Selective Coverage

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Selective Coverage is a remarkable and forward-thinking release by the Sam Blakeslee Quintet. The project reaffirms the group's ability to break the patterns and explore new ideas, while staying true to the aesthetics of contemporary jazz. But beneath the technical precision and creative compositions is the deeper meaning of the album's title; it is inspired by the experiences of minorities, their struggles in how they are portrayed by the media and need for universal health care. One of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marty Elkins: Fat Daddy

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The jazz world is full of singers who deserve a higher profile than they have, and Marty Elkins is most certainly one of them. This trad-jazz true believer and pliantly phrasing charmer has a way with words and an appreciation for the finer things in sound and song. Some might call her an aural antiquarian, but there's nary a speck of dust on the material she chooses to sing. Accompanied by a crack band equally at home with chestnuts of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fabled: Short Stories

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Anyone who has ever pulled pints for a living probably has some stories to tell. Sam Rapley, the leader of Fabled, used to work behind the bar in Manchester's renowned Band On The Wall club. A favoured site during World War II, its jazz acts often played on during air raids. Legend has it that twenty-four thousand beers were sold there one public holiday. Rapley wouldn't know such excess on his latterday shifts, but he surely found the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

UHHM: UHHM

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UHHM's self-titled debut album throws progressive rock and free jazz into a dizzying, heavily improvisational mix of satisfying songs and forgettable avante-garde experiments. Created in 2017, UHHM is a Baltimore-based trio with Nick Sala on guitar, Jack Naden on drums and Chris Frick on keyboards and French horn. Their genre-blending and experimental compositions lead to some dense, striking moments. “Septagon," the only song on the album composed by drummer Jack Naden instead of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

District 5: Decoy

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Without getting too far into the initial spin of this record, it became apparent that the musicians of District 5 emit impressions of youth, armed with a penchant for adventure and unbridled momentum. Soon afterwards, the assumption was confirmed: the Swiss artists are--via information gleaned from a press pitch on Intakt Records website--in their twenties. Heartiness, a willingness to take chances and veer towards an uncommon pathway are attributes that seed the nucleus of the ensemble's operative approach.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Paul Heller: Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller

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Granted, Paul Heller meeting Roman Schwaller isn't such a big deal here in the States. It is, however, quite a big deal in Germany and western Europe as a whole where Heller and Schwaller are among the reigning monarchs of the tenor saxophone, akin to such American twosomes as Ammons / Gordon, Sims / Cohn or, more recently, Harry Allen / Scott Hamilton, among others. Setting aside the country of origin, this is powerful and perceptive post-bop blowing at its ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cuong Vu 4Tet: Change In The Air

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Trumpeter Cuong Vu introduced this particular 4tet in 2017, with Ballet: The Music of Michael Gibbs (RareNoiseRecords). An all star affair that included guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist Luke Bergman and drummer Ted Poor, it seemed to signal something of a gentler Cuong Vu, with a music that had a spaciousness, patience and ruminative quality that didn't show in outings like the in-your-face Agogic (Table and Chairs Music, 2011), the deep space electronics of Vu-tet ( ArtistShare, 2017,) or the eerie ...