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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.

In 1976 Dexter Gordon decided to move back to US after few years in Scandinavia; he got already a contract from CBS records. Gordon started jamming at the Vanguard along with the Louis Hayes/Woody Shaw Quintet and after these live recordings was produced the beautiful double album Homecoming. Michael Cuscuna – the executive producer from Columbia – noticed already Woody's talent and genius on trumpet since the mid 70's: Cuscuna produced for Muse Records all Woody's albums starting from the beautiful The Moontrane in 1974.
11.01.2012

Erb/Baker/Zerang

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Even though this album by Swiss artist Christoph Erb (reeds) and Chicagoans, Jim Baker (synth & piano) and Michael Zerang (percussion) is often centered on avant-garde sound-shaping implementations, their keen use of space looms as an added instrument. Therefore, it's not always what is stated that counts because the trio leaves room for interpretation and as a result, the program isn't clouded with excesses or superfluous content. Indeed, unorthodox and spiked with minimalism, the musicians explore the capabilities of their instruments via this polytonal endeavor that tenders an undulating environment, spawned by buzzing frameworks and laconic tonal swashes.
Keyboardist, composer and arranger Art "Spike" Schloemer is most obviously influenced by musicians like Joe Zawinul and Jan Hammer.  Schloemer is, like Zawinul, a true technical master, and like Hammer, has a lilt in his compositions that make them more than pleasing vehicles.  Schloemer's incredibly nimble fingers fly throughout the recording, and he puts them to good use in this collection of high powered, highly percussive fusion.
There was a time when jazz aficionados waited in high anticipation for new recordings from specific musicians, like Miles Davis and Weather Report.  You always knew there would be something new, fresh and exciting in every one of their releases, and countless people would want to be the first to hear what the direction would be.  Sadly, today this is almost no longer true.  Now the world is full of jazz released on CD that is predictable and staid.   There are, however, two ensembles that continue to delight audiences with something new with every single one of their releases, trumpeter…
The debut album for Housecore Records by this modern psychedelic outfit summons the late 1960's hippie culture, shaded by a modern glean, and strikes a harmonious chord amid the album cover art that at first glance may signify a Sci-Fi western featuring zombies as the outlaws. Maybe an old wine in new bottles thing, but the ensemble's rewarding factors lie within memorable comps. With a touch of progressive-rock amid haunting lyricism, the studio engineering processes embed or perhaps simulate a purist, analog-like soundstage. Featuring psychedelic and hard-rock guitar parts, climactic movements, and a touch of antiquity, the band also embraces…
Andre Caporaso is an independent and determined musician, having self-produced six records for his own Blue Room label. His press kit quotes him: "The music I compose is more important to me than focusing only on the popular markets and record sales the record labels were looking for." Night in a Strange Land testifies to this guitar player's eclectic musical interests along with the chops to masterfully pursue them.
Highly-regarded saxophonist and composer Jack Wilkins morphs a holistic viewpoint derived from Appalachian Mountains culture and spins a hip, Americana vibe into the modern jazz vernacular.  Where other projects of a similar nature fail due to superfluous content or perhaps lean too heavily on one genre, Wilkins' mood-evoking sentiment and zesty arrangements proclaim a well-rounded scenario.
Andrea Fascetti, the Italian electric bassist has a second album as leader, Cinema. His first CD - dedicated to Steve Swallow, entitled Dedicated To Steve 2008 on the Philology label displayed Fascetti's formidable talents as a seven-string bassist.
  Multi-instrumentalist, engineer and producer Joe Blassett's Chillin' Out In Dark Places is a difficult recording to categorize. While it has nice subtle rhythmic grooves in the background of every track, the material placed on top of the smooth waves is multihued, angled, and at times quite disjunct. The layering effect sometimes works well, but at other times the collages are difficult to discern.
Los Angeles based guitarist, composer and producer Brian Hughes, who is best known for his long standing work with vocalist Loreena McKennitt, grew up in Alberta, Canada and studied at Grant McKewan College, the Banff School of Fine Arts and the Guitar Institute. He comes forward again on Fast Train To A Quiet Place with a recording that is full of his unmistakable and ever lovely musical elements.
It's rather ironic to be asked to give this review a label. Why? Because in the liner notes to the wonderful "In My Room", Larry Goldings makes a staunch defence of the music he's selected to play on this CD, describing labels as being "so 1980s." And he's absolutely right.
A winner in the 2008 Downbeat rising star poll, post-bop tenor man Donny McCaslin probably qualifies now as a fully risen star. He's worked with many jazz luminaries and has been a solid part of Dave Douglas's working quintet since 2005. On Declaration, McCaslin proves his chops as a player, composer and arranger...
John Blum is a New York-born free-jazz pianist. On this record you will hear music that is to mainstream jazz what abstract art is to renaissance painting. The same tools are in play: a musical instrument, notes, rhythm, harmony...and you will hear sound bites from time to time that hint at conventional jazz roots, but what ends up on the musical canvas is of a parallel artistic universe. When you hit “play” you will know immediately that you are not in jazz Kansas anymore.
Joe Blessett makes an interesting case for going into the studio and doing your own thing.  His sixth release as a solo artist has him everywhere, laying down music tracks on several instruments, voicing over for effect, mixing, and even marketing his own product.  The result is a pastiche of music that runs from smooth to funk, and tracks that run in and out like a fever dream. 
With inferences to metal-drenched avant-garde jazz, sounds of doom, and crazed electronica based free-jazz; Combat Astronomy's fourth album extends its bizarre, apocalyptic spin on cross-genre stylizations.  With notable British experimentalists and avant-garde perpetrators shaping the crazed vistas, leader, conceptualizer, and five-string electric bassist James Huggett lays down some of the heaviest bass lines known to mankind with guerrilla tactics and calamitous sound-sculpting maneuvers.  Huggett overdubs bass lines within various parts, and needless to say, envelops an ominous undercurrent throughout the broad plane of lower and upper-register tonal contrasts.
One could alternately describe these five young Canadian musicians as a New-Orleans-style brass band, a funk band, an R&B band, or simply an eclectic group who play what pleases them. They're very good, versatile musicians, with a tight, well-rehearsed sound, clearly very much into the music that they're creating. So why has it taken me so much time to warm up to their debut album?
  This is a crazy time for smooth jazz musicians. After plying their art for public recognition via suit-oriented business models on smooth jazz radio stations, the musicians now find themselves in one of three non-mutually exclusive situations. In the first scenario, (1) they are happy smooth jazz radio is dead and can now play the kind of music they had always wanted to but their record companies wouldn't allow, or (2) they are totally lost fearing their audience will leave them as the radio formats change and with it, perhaps, their fans, or (3) they struggle to find relevance…
In a day and age when most musical artists become prisoners of stilted genre-defining labels, Argentinean Florencia Ruiz eschews categorization. On her first U.S. release Luz de La Noche (Light of the Night), a studio recording from Adventure Music, Ruiz blends rock, jazz, and MPB elements to forge a truly original sound. Be forewarned: If you were expecting tango nouveau, then you're on the wrong train.
Avant-garde or free-form improvisation doesn't always need to be austere or devoid of character. Essentially, these U.K., based improvisers reaffirm those notions in vibrant fashion via these invigorating works recorded at a home studio and live performances in London.
It's a modernist's dream band, featuring venerable solo and session artists who are among the top pace-setters in progressive-rock. Here, touch guitarist, bassist Trey Gunn (King Crimson), guitarist Henry Kaiser and drummer Morgan Agren (Mats/Morgan Band) burn holes through solid steel walls and formulate an avant-garde spin on the roads previously traversed.