Mark Keresman

Mark Keresman

In place of my usual "Top Ten of 2005" favorites listing, here’s something of a "shoppers’ guide," an overview of some of the most noteworthy CD releases of 2005, accenting some dandy platters off the beaten path/under the radar/etc. Call this "Shopping for Music Fans Made (sort of) Simple!"

For the bebop/hard bop devotees, 2005 has been a very good year. Some of the sharpest entries feature musicians no longer with us Woody Shaw, Stepping Stones (Columbia/Legac …


Top Ten of 2008

Published in Jazz Viewpoints
As one year slowly fades into memory (sort of--still some unfinished business, alas), lots of writers like/need to share their views on the best (and sometimes worst) of 2008...the following is my take on the jazz/creative music of the year that was:

In no particular order:

1. Saxophone Summit, Seraphic Light Three of the (arguably) finest American jazz tenor sax guys alive-Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman, and Ravi Coltrane-pay alternately joyo …

CONCERT PREVIEW: You lucky West Coasters! Coming to your side o’ the country is guitarist Joel Harrison’s Free Country band, which specializes in very creative, sometimes far-in, sometimes far-out reinventions of classic country (and occasionally folk) tunes. Country music and jazz have always been uneasy riders, strange bedfellows, and only occasionally allies, simpatico: there was Fusion decades before the term had been coined and it was called Western Swing (Bob Wills, Milton Brown, Hank Penn …
What becomes a semi-legend most? Jazz trumpeter/composer Eddie Gale is hardly a household name even in jazz households but he’s been a part of some very influential musical events in the post-bop and avant-garde arenas. Gale performed on Cecil Taylor’s Unit Structures and Larry Young’s Of Peace and Love (both on Blue Note) as well as playing in several editions of the Sun Ra Arkestra.

As a leader, he helmed two under-recognized albums that were a fascinating amalgam of soul-jaz …

Like fellow NYC’er John Zorn, trumpeter/composer Frank London has his fingers in so many musical pies it’s a wonder he has time to sleep: Klezmatics, Klezmer Conservatory Band, the big band/Ellington tribute band Ballin’ The Jack, They Might Be Giants, Les Miserables Brass Band, his own Hasidic New Wave and his Klezmer Brass Allstars. For those unfamiliar, Klezmer is an old-world-carried-to-the new-world form of small-band (usually) Jewish/Hebraic/Yiddish folk-oriented dance music in the new wor …

Much progressive/space/Kraut/post-rock can sound so very, if I may be so bold, white, totally filleted of soul. Many jam bands and groove merchants get into urgent, you-gotta-be-there flights/tangents that can veer into unmemorable self-indulgence. The Californian East Bay-based collective Mushroom surmounts these obstacles by being equally at home with both styles, injecting them with playful humor (a hunk o’ funkadelica entitled "The Revolution Will Not Be Telev …

As any regular reader of this site knows, there are many super-fine musicians that soar beneath the discerning radar of even the jazz world. Perhaps they don’t want to move to NYC, Los Angeles, London, or Paris; they’ve no feeling for the "business" side of the music biz, don’t tour much (or at all), or in some cases, a player has a parallel career.

Take Denny Zeitlin-not only is he an aces-back-to-back jazz pianist but also a practicing psychiatrist. Zeitlin also did the electronics-l

Is there anyone that doesn’t know Ornette Coleman is one of the most important jazz musician/composers of the 20th century? For those that don’t, thumbnail sketch: In the late 1950s Coleman developed an alternative method of jazz improvisation, far looser/flexible in terms of harmony and chord progression. His approach was "freer" than other saxophonists yet was based firmly in the blues (the feeling, if not structurally). At the time, some critics, listeners, and musi

In a strange way, violinist/composer/singer/songwriter Jenny Scheinman is something of a throwback to an older American epoch. For as long as America has had borders and divisions, there’ve been people crossing/flouting them with abandon. Bing Crosby, the man that defined pop singing in the first half on the 20th century, recorded Irish ballads, Tin Pan Alley tunes, jazz, Hawaiian songs, and more. The following iconic performers recorded a healthy (or dazzling) variety of styles/genres: Louis Ar

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