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Ambient Jazz - CD Reviews (71)

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.
With such a geographically visual image for an album title, vibraphonist Tim Collins leads his quartet through six original compositions and two covers where one's mental imagery can conjure various sublime locations through the tonal colors that this ensemble strives for and attains. Collins' quartet – pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Matt Clohesy, and drummer Tommy Crane – assert their energy immediately on "TNT," the very energetic and appropriately- named opener.  Collins' sound benefits from Grissett's accompaniment, which propels the melody while Crane explores his entire kit.  Crane's tom-tom runs and cymbal splashes help evoke a scene of being at sea. …
The scrolling notes of pianist of Yelena Echemoff embroider imagery soundscapes that soothe, excite and entrap the listener in an experience beyond earthly dimensions. Her latest album Flying Steps features Peter Erskine on drums and Darek Oleszkiewicz on double bass, and establishes Echemoff as an engaging pianist and composer of ambient bliss.
  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.
Fjordne (given name, Shunichiro Fujimoto) produces music that is adventurous, expansive and a bit other-worldly, yet highly listenable and absorbing. His approach is to feature the piano as the melodic centerpiece and have electronic sounds create various moods around it. The effects change from track to track, but are sometimes wistful, other times nostalgic and occasionally mysterious.
Rarely does an ensemble come along that has its own vision, one that is rooted in the music the members heard around them and grew up with, yet is still original in conception. That is truly the case with the Montalban Quintet. One of the first to incorporate indie music conceptualizations placed within jazz frameworks, this ensemble has staked out a unique path.

The Dark by EEA

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EEA is constructed of three members from the Program for Improvisational Music at the University of Nevada-Reno. Saxophonist Peter Epstein earned his Bachelor’s degree a…

Bespoken by Bespoken

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On their eponymous debut disc, the Italian duo Bespoken artfully straddles the worlds of ambient music and free improvisation. Though I am not familiar with either of the m…
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