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Concert Reviews (826)

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If there's one thing there's not a shortage of, it's tenor saxophonists. There are many, but few are at all like Branford Marsalis. Many saxophonists can be summed-up in a few glib words, but Branford (I hope he forgives my familiarity) has a style that reflects many styles, many "schools," many eras, yet there's nothing pastiche about him. Classic pre-bop styles (Coleman Hawkins, Georgie Auld, Lester Young, Illinois Jacquet), proto-bop icons (Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon), hard-bop-through-f

Releasing the Rigor

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Dipping into the Meetinghouse in Amherst, MA, on a multi-city tour, reedsman Peter Brötzmann and drummer Han Bennink paired up for a performance that projected a dynamic rarely experienced in the music. A hard-edged European mode of improvisation overcame the acoustically alive room. Tenacity and intensity go hand in hand. Even though such descriptive nouns might imply a network of rules, those rules might also include flexibility fraught with determination and direction. For Brötzmann, the r
Imani Winds: Valerie Coleman - flutes; Toyin Spellman-Diaz - oboe; Mariam Adam - clarinet & bass clarinet; Jeff Scott - French horn; Monica Ellis - bassoon/soprano saxophone Jazz lovers would do well to check out Imani Winds. Officially a classical chamber ensemble, they are opening up new areas of expression for this genre, drawing upon jazz and world music traditions. Along with the standard repertoire for the woodwind quintet, which is itself very rich, they have toured with Paquito

Changing the Seasons

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In a hall that has tripled in size due to the contributions of area jazz enthusiasts, the Vermont Jazz Center hosted The Billy Bang Quartet on a brisk October night at the slippery edge between summer and fall. The Billy Bang Quartet is a group that knows where it is going. Violinist Bang as leader has cast a musical net over his band mates. Each member plays with the acuity, diligence, bravura and sensibility which characteristics Bang himself possesses. The incomparable energy of
Youman Wilder and Weird Stories returned to the Village Land Mark music club Kenny's Castaways for what was a home coming and an Industry showcase for the Music Insiders of New York. The Band which has seemed to perform mostly at high end Jazz Festivals in Europe and Canada was back on it's home turf here in New York. With a packed house that easily over flowed on to the Bleeker Street curbs, the band was back in New York to showoff a show full of original songs. Kenny's
Reviewing smooth jazz related activities is not a very easy endeavor to embark upon; in fact and in all actuality, providing an unbiased perspective on these opportunities often generates a myriad of emotions. On one end of the spectrum I am torn between my ambivalence for smooth jazz radio and my loyalty to jazz as an indigenous American art form. At various times I must admit to being overly critical of certain aspects pertaining to smooth jazz. But I have come to believe that when radi

Meditating on Matt

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No stronger mind-body-spirit nexus exists other than that of meditation. In fact, the essences of all three dissolve into one in the process. The inside becomes the outside, the outside inside. When that becoming is conscious, peace settles. And we and the universe are indistinguishable. Meditation can assume many forms. For Matthew Shipp, that meditation is playing the piano. Shipp opened the fall season on September 22 at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, CT in a solo performance. Th
There they were, on stage Sunday night at the 49th annual Monterey Jazz Festival, three all-time great jazz pianists Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck and Hank Jones being honored before a sell-out crowd. Besides celebrating established jazz giants, the three-day festival presented some of the world’s best young musicians, playing mainstream as well as smooth, blues and cutting-edge jazz in four venues on the Monterey fairgrounds. More good news this year--the MJF set an all-time record of 43,000,

Guitars and Saxes Show

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Jeff Golub became my favorite guitarist after I noticed his Dangerous Curves CD at the local library. I liked the cover picture, so I checked out the CD and took a listen. I loved Golub’s bluesy phrasing and immediately purchased several of his other CDs. So, when I heard he was coming to Sacramento as a member of the "Guitars and Saxes" show at the Radisson Hotel’s Guzzetta Grove, I had to go-even though it meant a 120 mile round trip drive from home. Guzzetta Grove is a ple

Cosmic Elegance

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Charlie Haden Quartet West Live at the River Run Centre, Guelph, On. Aug. 31, 2006 Defying time or labels with a compassionate and sensitive ear on this world while visiting a world that should be, Haden and friends guided the audience at the River Run Centre on a cosmic journey of peace and harmony. Quartet West, comprised of Allan Broadbent (piano), Ernie Watts (tenor saxophone), Rodney Green (drums) and of course Charlie Haden on acoustic bass. Had
The Long Beach Jazz Festival, always a highlight of Southern California's summer music calendar, convened for the 19th time over the weekend of August 18th. For three days, the ocean adjacent Rainbow Lagoon park was taken over by thousands of jazz fans who were treated to a diverse line up of artists. While the festival is mainly on smooth jazz and R&B, participants and highlights came from all across the spectrum of jazz. These included a funky and f
In her Lincoln Center debut, Jo Thompson smashed the piano keys with ferocious momentum, creating new sounds glittering against the midsummer night. With feline grace, her gossamer voice soared on melodic chords bewitching the audience into nirvana. This lady had more than enough electricity to light the entire north eastern coast for years! Hard to believe this woman, musician, composer, fashion designer, singer is almost eighty years old!! Madonna, Beyonce, and Maria better take
Arkansas rockabilly legend, Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins, rocked Toronto's Massey Hall to its 110-year old rafters, Sat. Dec. 17, 2005. The Hawk's been a fixture on the rock 'n' roll scene in Canada, ever since he arrived here from Arkansas in 1959 with drummer Levon Helm ( then-called Levon & The Hawks), who later became The Band of Last Waltz fame. Hawkins is known far and wide for his quic
Innocence and wonder allow creativity to flow endlessly, without inhibition. Bill Frisell knows and practices innocence in everything he does. He continually changes his sound in relation to the context in which he places himself. What the listener will hear is always Frisell though, abstractions, melodies, and all. Frisell takes away all preconceptions about his task of making music and resultantly produces a distinctive sound that within its own prescribed limits reveals no bounds. P
The Houston International Jazz Festival stands as one of the finest events of its kind in the United States and beyond. Celebrating 16 years of excellence, the Festival has presented jazz entertainment in varying styles that has included Latin, traditional, contemporary and influences from the far-flung corners of the globe. During the Festival’s existence, artists from Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Switzerland, Cuba, Asia and a host of other countries have particip
Chuck Jackson’s Southside Shuffle blues festival is a much-anticipated and appreciated annual blues event. It rolls around like clockwork the first Thursday through Sunday every September. This is why it’s always easy to remember when it’s happening.This consistency is also true with the high standards in blues and jazz excellence that this exciting annual blues fest offers the audiences who attend it in droves every September. One of the most popular
I remember it all as though it were yesterday, the first time I heard Chris Botti's music. It was a typical sunny Bel Air afternoon in October of 2000. It was my freshman year in college and I was studying for my first set of midterms. I went to my laptop computer, and noticed that I had just received an e-mail from my friend, who at the time was a sophomore at the University of California Berkeley. As I opened the e-mail I noticed that there was an attachment in MP3 form, entitled, Drive
In 2002 Bradley Quick created The Cool Change Foundation a non-profit foundation to carry the message of positive change, recovery, motivation, and life enhancement to a broad demographic that might not otherwise receive it. Bradley Quick’s Los Angeles based radio show, Help Your Self, airs weekly on KRLA 870 AM, which often features various celebrity guests, authors, and specialists. On June 1st, I attended the Cool Change Live recovery benefit concert and expo. The amazing lineup for
James Brown, performed to a sold out show at Toronto's Massey Hall on the night of Monday, November 29, 2004. If you've never encountered the man who gave 'soul' its name ... its definition ... raising it to a musical art form -- then you're in for a treat! True musical expression from heart, to ears to soul -- that's what the James Brown 'Experience' is all about! Whatever the man's on -- this writer wants to be on it too!James, al
Buddy Guy is truly a blues legend. His Chicago nightclub, Buddy Guy's Legends is legendary for the fine talent that's performed there. Mr. Guy was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 14, 2005. Congratulations to Buddy behalf of all his blues fans worldwide for this recent and well-deserved honor bestowed upon him.A little over two weeks later, Buddy Guy entertained a packed house of blues fans at Toronto’s Massey Hall o