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Find full CD and individual track reviews of your favorite jazz artists right here, and hopefully you also discover some new artists to add to your collection as well.

On her new Jazz CD, "Here's To Love," vocalist Carol Nielsson draws from a career in musical theater to add a fresh, yet comfortable spin on old favorites. She recalls the innocent delivery of Doris Day, her voice both sweet and nuanced. She honors the songs by singing them the way they were written, reminding us why we fell in love with this music in the first place. It doesn't hurt that she has assembled some of the finest musicians on the Pacific Northwest Jazz Scene.
A new CD from sonic voyager Matthew Shipp is always a treat. With this new venture, Elastic Aspects on Thirsty Ear, Matt takes us on a sonic journey — one which is reflected by the name of such tracks as Circular Temple and Gamma Ray. Matt's music is meditative, reflective and lyrical yet also assertive, boisterous, celebratory, exploratory, sometimes cacophonous, often percussive and frequently orchestral.  
The opening for "Distance" by Norma Winstone, a laid back groove by bassist Koller and the song falls into place as imagination is set free to roam through miles of melodic space. Lindzon sings beautifully, blending registers from mid range to high end and phrasing that perfectly flows as she incorporates sustain and vibrato in flawless grace.
Having performed in Paquito D'Rivera's group since 2007, Alex Brown (The Pianist, as his album title declares) appropriately records his first album under the aegis of The Clarinetist/The Saxophonist. Indeed, Brown records on D'Rivera's label, Paquito Records, thereby receiving a no-doubt much appreciated boost from his mentor. Though top-notch jazz musicians from Jane Bunnett to Jon Faddis have worked with Brown, not to mention Brown's involvement with D'Rivera's Grammy-Award-winning album, he has escaped wide-spread public awareness. He shouldn't remain under-recognized much longer.
"They Say It's Wonderful," the first track on this marvelous new record from Kirk Whalum, opens cleverly with a sample (or a fresh recording made to sound like a sample, complete with the scratchy LP and old AM radio speaker sound effects), of McCoy Tyner's piano at the top of the classic John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman cut of the same tune from their eponymous 1963 record that serves as Whalum's inspiration.  But following that clip, nothing further is lifted directly from Coltrane and Hartman except the spirit of excellence in musicianship and the mellow, romantic mood. Whereas Coltrane and…
Silent Photographer is an excellent trio recording. The tone is generally hushed and introspective, and the improvisations are searching and cerebral. Though the group does utilize dissonance, space and tense harmony, the music never feels alienating. The musicianship here is first rate, and the group's interplay is equally impressive. Further credit also goes John Stowell (long an underrated and original guitarist) and Jeff Johnson for contributing well crafted and fitting originals to this album. This album is worth seeking out. Highly recommended.
12.04.2012

Chico & Rita

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The music on Chico & Rita is absolutely superb. The soundtrack is captured in a perfect way and performed by Cuban pianist, bandleader and composer Bebo Valdes. It features music by Thelonious Monk, Cole Porter, Dizzy Gillespie and Freddy Cole. Chico & Rita was nominated for a 2012 academy award in the category of Best Animated Feature Film, including Premio Goya in 2011 for Best Animated Movie and an EFA from the European Film Academy among others.
Renowned vibraphonist and improviser Karl Berger often serves as the centralizing entity on this curiously interesting date. A multinational trio, the music is often patterned with sublime textures, ethereal subtleties, and methodical song-forms, occasionally grounded on succinct pulses and steadily moving waves of sound. Here, Berger is the elder statement via his historic alignments with the crème de la crème of modern jazz stylists and cutting-edge improvisers.
Three veritable jazz heavyweights align for a briskly moving and thoroughly modern program, steeped in galvanizing thematic encounters. Trombonist Conrad Herwig, heralded for his hip 'Latinizations' of jazz standards amid a progressive outline, exercises ample doses of pop and sizzle throughout many of these oscillating pieces. And the lack of a bassist engenders a musical climate that offers a loose, open-air foundation for improvisation, sparked by all-universe drummer Jack DeJohnette's sweeping rolls and polyrhythmic timekeeping.
Neil Tesser, who wrote the notes for this release, calls Kizer's music "chamber jazz." Well, okay, that's one element of what the Kevin Kizer Quintet is doing. They have a violin, and there are some introspective moments that suggest at times a classical approach to jazz. But there's a lot more going on that ranges from bop to fusion to gypsy jazz, and it seems as if Kizer is out to show just how versatile he is. He succeeds admirably.
The second recording by drummer Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up follows the heralded Actionspeak (2010, 482 Music), and continues upon a course, teeming with unanticipated shifts in strategy, but not executed in shock-therapy mode. With a superfine support system of revered improvisers, including guitarist Mary Halvorson who seems to be showing up everywhere these days, Fujiwara reaps the benefits of a distinctly fresh musical climate. With off-kilter patterns, cunning geometric architectures and sudden paradigm shifts, the band merges a search and conquer tactical component with an acutely balanced mix of structure and free-form dialogues.
James Taylor once sang, "The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time/Any fool can do it/There ain't nothin' to it..." Well, for pianist Richard Kimball, the secret of life, as exhibited on his unaccompanied solo release, The Art of Aging, is to push forward with a bright resolve, even when life's low notes threaten to pull you down. In this 10-song performance, Kimball promotes an approach where cooperation between hands and, at times, voice, results in a synergistic, one-man symphony.
Trumpeter Bruce Friedman lays out the rules of engagement for these improvisations by setting a limit for sonic resources "to just two elements, sustained pitches and silences." And for Motoko Honda's synthesizer work, "the rules are similar, with chords and timbre shifts allowable." It's an interesting conceptual approach, yet rather unwavering throughout the horizontal plane of ideas, encountered within the three duet pieces. With an air of minimalism surrounding the moving parts, Friedman cites Christian Wolff as an influence. Wolf was associated with avant-gardist John Cage and considered a pioneer of the 1960's expressionistic 'New York School.' He also penned…
Pianist and composer Chris Donnelly teaches at the University of Toronto and has previous teaching experience as a faculty member at the Humber College Community Music School, Prairielands Jazz Camp and the National Music Camp of Canada.  Holding Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the University of Toronto, where he studied with David Braid, Gary Williamson, Paul Read, Kirk MacDonald Alexander Rapoport and Russell Hartenberger, Donnelly was awarded The Tecumseh Sherman Rogers Graduating Award for students "deemed to have the greatest potential to make an important contribution to the field of music."
Mike Melito's The Right Time features nine songs that come squarely from the bop and hard bop traditions. The set is an interesting one from the standpoint of compositions, featuring a mix of standards, orignals and two lesser known songs from the pen of John Coltrane.
Business executive for D'Addario & Company (strings) and drummer, Rick Drumm equates the album moniker and band name to his survival and ordeal with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. And 25% of all proceeds from the album will be donated to the "Strike A Chord" foundation: www.strikeachordforchildren.org. A largely upbeat album, featuring prominent jazz artists lending their wares, the program circles back to the infancy of jazz-fusion, performed with a contemporary sound and approach sans any overcooked technical gymnastics.
Business executive for D\\\'Addario & Company (strings) and drummer, the album moniker and band name emanates from Rick Drumm\\\'s survival and ordeal with non-Hodgkin\\\'s lymphoma. And 25% of all proceeds from the album will be donated to the \\\"Strike A Chord\\\" foundation: www.strikeachordforchildren.org. A largely upbeat album, featuring prominent jazz artists lending their wares, the program circles back to the infancy of jazz-fusion, performed with a contemporary sound and approach sans any overcooked technical gymnastics. As a drummer, Drumm focuses on leadership, textural slants and acutely placed dynamics. You won\\\'t hear Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra) type polyrhythmic bombs as the…
Since the 1980s recordings Fulton Street Maul and Sanctified Dreams for mainstream Columbia Records, New York City alto saxophonist Tim Berne has carved an iconic career as a non-conforming pioneer of the 'new' jazz. A prominent exponent of New York City's trailblazing downtown scene, Berne's numerous alliances, high-impact solo outings and legendary Bloodcount band, featuring fellow woodwind ace Chris Speed, paint a picture of innovation. His work with French guitar stylist Marc Ducret and global presence, consisting of alliances with young upstarts, and proven improvising warriors loom as a continuing saga paralleling his incessant creative sparks.
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