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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.

Though the Danish multi-instrumentalist Robin Taylor has made a name for himself as a prolific and innovative composer in the progressive rock and jazz-rock fusion realms, many may not be aware of his considerable abilities as a free improvising musician. His free-jazz alter-ego manifests itself most frequently in a musical aggregation he’s called Taylor’s Free Universe, a band comprised of musicians who tend also to be involved in his various prog and fusion efforts.As one might expect, Taylor’
He beckons on the cover, seated at the piano, an imposing figure in a yellow Moroccan shirt and cap. The CD opens to show him grinning and seated at the keys. The liner notes are by the author of the best biography of Thelonious Monk. The recording is a solid set of compositions, all but one written by him and many dating back decades. At 84, Randy is still going strong, after more than a half century of composing and performing. More than 50 CDs and albums in, he still has something to say, as
The significance behind influential guitarist Bill Frisell’s 858 Quartet theme was conceived several years ago when he was appointed to compose music inspired by artist Gerhard Richter’s 858 series of paintings. With the band’s first album in five years, its purveyance of modern Americana elicits lucid imagery via these seventeen endearing works that intertwine like a sequence of vignettes. Frisell’s stylistic nomenclature poses a hybrid breadth of material that toggles between cutting-edge el
Something Quiet is Bob Gluck's second recording following up his 2008 Sideways. This is his first recording as an acoustic jazz player. The trio consists of Gluck, Joe Giardullo on soprano sax, and Christopher Dean Sullivan on bass. On this recording the listener is treated to some intricate compositions, ensemble playing, and improvisation that ranges from the quietest of moments to the cacophony of all out interaction between the musicians. Gluck's compositions are entertaining for their depth
Prior to the 21st Century, Merle Haggard's name did not come up all too often when discussing modern jazz - or jazz of any kind, for that matter. Along with everything else, this seems to have changed. Pretend It's The End Of The World is the product of saxophonist Bryan Murray's quest to bring the name 'Merle Haggard' to the lips of Brooks-Brothers-wearing be-boppers, finger-snapping hipsters, and poetry-reciting beatniks the world over. The tongue-in-cheekiness of the whole concept is fleshed
The word 'fusion' is a pretty good descriptor of a style of music only when you know what sorts of music are being fused. I suppose that one could describe Mercury Falls' impressive debut CD, Quadrangle, as 'fusion' – but that would only be 1/10th of the story (if that!). In today's increasingly chopped-up and micro-pigeonholed landscape of music sub-sub-sub genres, it is well-nigh impossible to describe the Bay Area-based quartet's music without resorting to terms that most jazz fans will not k
This album marks a milestone in revered session drummer Adam Cruz’ career as he celebrates his debut as a leader. And he’s supported by instrumentalists who reside at the forefront of progressive-jazz. As a drummer, Cruz imparts a musicality steeped in subtle dynamics and snappy grooves while offering sensitive accompaniment throughout. He’s an accelerator as well, via the Latin-jazz element, dancing rim-shots, and polyrhythmic fills. From a holistic standpoint, he doesn’t steal the show, an
Judy Wexler looms large in the relatively small world of jazz vocalists, and this recording, Under a Painted Sky, will certainly attest to that. Wexler is accompanied by some of the most talented musicians in the jazz idiom, a perfect assemblage of formidable artists to complete this musical tableau.On "And I Hoped For Your Love" Judy Wexler lays it all on the line as she interprets the lyrics to this song of sorrow with her soul bared. Alan Pasqua adds his magical touch to an already elegant tu
On his debut effort as a solo artist, New York City-based alto saxophonist Curtis MacDonald doesn’t blaze new trails, but offers a holistic agenda that probes the mind and offers a hearty glimpse into his compositional acumen. One of the constants here resides in his penchant for adjusting tonalities and mode of delivery for a particular segment or motif. In essence, these arrangements are designed with firmly planted emotive characteristics.With regal horns choruses and subtle hues, MacDonal
What makes a man a legend in his own time? For Dave Grusin, the task has not been lightly taken. Grusin’s prolific career stands omnipresent amongst America’s musical repertoire as he stands included within the ranks of impressive composers who form what we come to know as The Great American Songbook. As a composer/arranger/pianist/ and serious educator, Grusin excels beyond the heights that most only dare to dream. His Grammy-winning and well known classics of the contemporary jazz genre such
This quartet provides a many-sided viewpoint, where freedom of expression is laconically aligned with the avant-garde strata. Stationed in Chicago, the quartet led by alto saxophonist Aram Shelton offers a program consisting of subtle hooks, detours and focused theme-building exercises. Engineered upon straightforward bop, capacious improvisation, and numerous subplots, the quartet throttles the intensity level throughout. Shelton and vibist Jason Adasiewicz are strong foils, whether they gen
Vertical starts out with "Some Days," a light-hearted fast samba featuring fluffy flute and romantic guitar. Not a big surprise; guitarist Sandro Albert was born in Brazil and singer Milton Nascimento is a major influence. But as the session proceeds, though Albert remains in South America, he's not always on Rio's sunny beach. Turns out Heitor Villa Lobos was another major influence, and this album owes as much to that classical composer as to Nascimento or Antonio Carlos Jobim. Track six is "O
Light My Fire is Eliane Elias at her best and perfectly reflects her great talent as a composer, singer, songwriter and pianist. There are twelve songs on this excellent collection. Among the songs are found "Rosa Morena," "Stay Cool," "Aquele Abraco," "Light My Fire," "Silver Sandal," "My Cherie Amour," "Toda Menina Baiana," "Bananeira," "Made in Moonlight," "Turn To Me," "Take Five," and "What About the Heart."Having followed the musical career of Eliane Elias since the late 1980s, she has a
Guitarist Sheryl Bailey has a well-earned reputation for delivering distinctive, soulful playing and For All Those Living more than lives up to this stature. The tunes range from uptempo bop to mellow waltz, and Bailey imbues each track with her compelling instrumental imagination. Together with a superlative trio of musicians, Bailey delivers an outstanding set of infectiously arranged tunes that pop out of the speakers with ear-catching soul and dexterous musical vision.Each of the eight tunes
A future progressive-jazz and improvising icon, British saxophonist John Surman’s 1969 NDR workshop session for a German broadcast equates to previously unreleased material featuring other rising stars. With Canadian trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and British saxophonist Mike Osborne on hand, the large ensemble casts an exciting aural glimpse of the burgeoning European jazz movement. Moreover, Surman’s signature compositional acumen shines radiantly throughout, which in a sense, typifies the British
I must confess, I have never heard of Cinzia Spata. While I have been broadening my horizons with respect to international talent lately, and Italy has been a source of some fine musicians, vocalists, jazz vocalists have not been a major find. Until now that is! Cinzia Spata's voice is beyond my writing capability to describe here. On her KOINÃ records release, Into the Moment, I discovered that she is a jazz vocalist extraordinaire. The opening track is a piece by Keith Jarrett entitled "Questa
Choose One, the self-released, first jazz record by Denver guitarist Ryan Fourt, is a charming collection of straight-ahead, bop-oriented jazz. Of the eight tunes, Fourt composed three, sideman Shilo Stroman one, and the rest are a mix of standards.The title track, “Choose One,” opens the record with light-hearted bop. While the title connects well with the cover art, showing Fourt with guitar in hand at a fork in a wooded road, the title for this tune could also come from the fact that alto s
Jane Stuart, a New Jersey vocalist, has released her second CD Don't Look Back on JSM records. This multi-talented performer has been singing for a long time, since the age of five. The maturity of her instrument is evidenced by her skilled phrasing and overall command of the genre of jazz. Stuart worked with her long-time collaborator Rave Tesar (arranging, keyboards, engineering, mixing, and mastering) to produce this collection of notable tunes from composers such as Cole Porter, the Gershwin
Returning is the third CD for FMR Records from Bob Gluck. I fully enjoyed his previous effort Something Quiet which came out earlier this year. While the similarities are there, this latest effort in my mind, is a step farther for Gluck. The trio format features Gluck's virtuoso piano work, the tight supportive punctuation of Michael Bisio's bass work and the incredible dynamics of Dean Sharp on drums. This configuration drives the relationships of dynamics and rhythm and the interchange that mu
Sir Roland Hanna (1932 - 2003) was one of the finest jazz pianists to ever grace a bandstand. His legacy of compositions, recordings, and students is a testament to his significant contribution to the jazz world. So many of the community who knew him speak so highly of him. But, it is the spirit of the man in his music that, for me, confirms his royalty. Colors From A Giant's Kit is a release of the late pianists recordings of a variety of compositions of his own and others. Hanna treats the lis