Jazz Viewpoints (222)

29.01.2011

Resounding Thinking

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A post-it on my computer desktop keeps telling me to write this article. My experiences in life and with music have increased a gazillion (taking this word from NYT columnist, Maureen Dowd) fold in recent years. I suppose it is for the reason that music for me, as it does for many others, serves as a comforting heartbeat existing outside of my own and informs me that I am not alone. Writing about how the music I listen to affects me is an activity which I like to share because I treat each artic …
29.01.2011

Getting a Line on Dave

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It is seldom that a musician can captivate my ears to the point that I do not want to stop listening to the recordings I have of his music. This is true of pianist and composer, Dave Burrell. A while ago, I wrote about a his performance with his new Trio featuring William Parker and Andrew Cyrille. Now I want to write about Dave, and only Dave.

The opening track of RECITAL (a 2000 CIMP recording with bassist, Tyrone Brown), NEVER LET ME GO, reveals more about Burrell in 8 minutes 50 seconds t …

29.01.2011

Fantasy Jazz

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The relationship between record companies and musicians who aspire to be recording artists is a symbiotic one. The levels of success in those affiliations hinge on both the appeal of the artist as well as on the marketing savvy of the label and their pr departments. Giants like Sony/Columbia, BMG, Blue Note, Verve and Telarc are masters of strategy. They know how to entice talented players to their ranks and, more importantly, how to get the word out to print media and radio, and ultimately to t …
One of the more intriguing concepts of music that of an alternate, parallel language more ancient and more starkly emotional than the spoken word apples to those who play avant garde and free forms of music. The musician who plays "free" jazz, music free from, though not especially devoid of, conventional boundaries of harmony, melody and rhythmic form, is perhaps more tuned into the concept of alternate language than others. These are the players who think in terms of growing the music, stretch …
The passing of the great jazz drummer Elvin Jones at the age of 76 on 5/18/04 marked the end of an era for me. I had seen Elvin live at least once a year from 1990 to 2003, because I considered him the greatest living practitioner of the music. He was a man who created his own style of playing that influenced many but no one duplicated, was the driving force behind one of the all time great jazz groups, the John Coltrane Quartet, a man who sold out clubs and concert halls all over the world perf …
The DVD has become an enormously popular and cost efficient way to get music films into consumer homes over the past few years. Music Video Distributors, based out of Oaks, PA, has released an extraordinary collection of classic jazz on this format over the past few months. Most are pretty bare-boned no fat booklets. Most have nothing in the box but a disc, but this is definitely offset by a very affordable price. These are generally lumped under the Jazz Legends and Swing Era series. Among the …
Sarasota, Florida is the home of many a world class musician that one might consider 'unsung.' I have written about several whom I consider 'role model musician types' one in particular is trombonist extraordinaire, Greg Neilsen. There are dozens of things I could suggest positively about this gentle soul, but at the top of the shelf is his commitment to my favorite side of music, the big band idiom. Kudos too, to his 'barrel-house' size chops & prowess at playing his beloved ax, the trombone. < …
29.01.2011

Brubeck, Living Legend

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Honoring the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the allied invasion of Normandy Beach, Telarc releases "Dave Brubeck Remembers," a stunning collection of Brubeck’s solo piano renditions of some of the most popular songs of World War II.

World War II began on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland without warning. By the evening of September 3rd, Britain and France were at war with Germany and within a week, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa had also joined the war. It wasn’t un …

CD Review/Bill Evans/'You Must Believe In Spring'/ Warner Bros/R273719

Even posthumously, Bill Evans still remains the penultimate pivotal jazz pianist innovator of the 20'th century. He & his trio define how the jazz trio should be presented. This CD is and has always been a favorite of this reviewer......

CD Review/Jack McDuff/ 'The Prestige Years'/Prestige 24287-2

B3 colossus McDuff offered his bandstand as a forum to the many 'up & comers,' i.e. Ammons, Jimmy Forrest, Benson, …

Blue Note has been the standard by which most jazz labels have measured themselves since Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff founded the record label in 1939. Blue Note has chronicled some of the most important jazz musicians and movements of the past century, most notably those of the mid-50s to the late 1960s, though certainly they remain vital in the new millennium, as well, as evidenced by a roster that includes such stellar players as Stefon Harris, Medeski Martin and Wood and Norah Jones.

The …

The release of Genius Loves Company would've been a big deal no matter what. Any new release from Ray Charles--the Genius not only of Soul, but also jazz, rock, country and western, gospel and probably a few other genres that I can't think of right now, a man who touched virtually every style of American music and left his own mark on it--would be noteworthy. That Ray's guests include such music royalty as B.B. King & Sir Elton John, rising stars Norah Jones & Diana Krall and fellow grayb …
29.01.2011

2004 Rundown

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Umphrey’s McGee
Anchor Drops
Umphrey’s McGee

This Chicago area progressive rock unit with the Irish sounding moniker is marked by extremely tight workmanship amid a few lighthearted electro-acoustic numbers. The band even ventures into Country-blues territory when it isn’t exploring complex time signatures and blitzing rock grooves. But what makes this outing work is founded within the artists’ focused line of attack where no two songs sound alike. Yet uncan …

29.01.2011

Basking in Artistic Wonder

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This is the second time I have seen Laurie Anderson perform. But when I see her, I feel as though I have known her for years. The reason is that her performance ethic is rich with the material that the avant-garde has been made of since the late sixties. Her work displays the crux of all that art which was based deeply in conceptualism. How her work developed out of that began in the same manner, which was verbal, refined to as close to the non-object as possible, and concerned with life situati …
Wednesday, June 16th, 2004 - I’m nervously tapping my foot as I tell my boss I need to take the next two days off for personal reasons. I’d already decided to book a room, rent a car and buy a flight to the Twin Cities without any guarantee I’d see Prince. My boss gave the okay (but if he asked ‘where I’m going’ I’d tell him ‘Nowhere!’)

Maybe it was the thrill of the unknown, flying in from DC without a ticket to the aftershow, arriving in a city I’ve never been, or just knowing I’m visiting t …

29.01.2011

2004 Rundown

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Keith Jarrett Gary Peacock Jack DeJohnette The Out-of-Towners
ECM Records

It’s partly about class, élan and supreme technical acumen. Twenty plus years and moving forward, this trio continues to brandish a signature sound, still glittering after all these years.

Pianist Keith Jarrett composed the swinging title track, as the band renders standards with a modern jazz, drenched gait. The pianist’s animated mode of execution is akin to the nuance of a seasoned ja …

29.01.2011

A Good Year for Jazz Guitar

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Ah...late fall, when a music critic's thoughts turn to Best of the Year lists. I think it may be just a little premature to write a top ten article just yet, but what I do intend to discuss here is the bumper crop of fine jazz guitar albums that have crossed my desk in 2004. These include worthy offerings from grizzled veterans and recordings by talented newcomers alike. Where appropriate, links are included to reviews of individual titles and homepages for artists and labels discussed herein.

29.01.2011

2004 Rundown

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Lisa Sokolov - Presence
Rainart Productions

On this release, vocalist/keyboardist Lisa Sokolov and her supporting trio including frequent collaborator, drummer Gerry Hemingway communicate gobs of charisma and artistically powerful musical portraitures. Ms Sokolov’s endearing vocal constructions reside in a peerless class, partly due to her ingenious stylizations of pieces by the likes of Cole Porter, Laura Nyro, and original works. It’s sort of like a near flawl …

If you like jazz and you like to take a cruise, there is nothing better than taking the Jazz Party at Sea on Norwegian Cruise Line. My wife and I agreed, so we signed on the fourth annual party on the Norwegian Sun, which left Miami this October for a week's cruise of the Western Caribbean.

This fall's cruise honored the 100th birthday of tenor sax great Coleman Hawkins with a stellar lineup of saxophonists to pay tribute, including Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Lou Donaldson, David "Fathead …

29.01.2011

Rick Stone

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Rick Stone proves to be one of the most inventive jazz guitarists around. His virtuoso guitar technique has much to offer to the adventurous and serious jazz lover. Stone is a passionate, inspired and dedicated guitarist, leader, arranger, writer and composer. A great team of musicians; pianist Tardo Hammer, bassist Yosuke Inoue and drummer Matt Wilson backs him.

It was during the mid-seventies while attending college in Cleveland, Ohio, that guitarists Rick Stone just happen to attend a liv …

As jazz continued this year to solidify its stature as the proverbial little fish in the big sea of corporate conglomeration, more of the same seemed to be the order of the day. Now it’s possible that the older I get the more jaded I become. Still, of the hundreds of discs that came my way this year, the law of diminishing returns seemed to kick in with a vengeance as it had in 2003 and the number of albums of new music that were truly outstanding could definitely be counted on two hands.

Int …