News, Commentary on Classical Music, Jazz, Theater, Dance & More

Mike Greenblatt

Paco & John

REVIEW: Paco de Lucia and John McLaughlin, 'Live At Montreux 1987,' Eagle Rock Entertainment >>

They could've called this one 'When Titans Collide.' But they didn't. It's 'Paco & John Live At Montreux 1987' (Eagle Rock), for on the evening of July 15, 1987, at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, guitarist John McLaughlin teamed up with guitarist Paco de Lucia for a complex stringed evening featuring the kind of chops only the masters can achieve.

Jim Cullum

REVIEW: Jim Cullum Jazz Band, 'Porgy And Bess--Live,' Riverwalk Jazz >>

'Porgy And Bess--Live' (Riverwalk Jazz) has Jim Cullum leading his seven-piece Jazz Band through a roots-reverent rendition of George Gershwin's 1934 folk opera complete with narration by William Warfield, who portrayed Porgy opposite the legendary Leontyne Price as Bess in the definitive 1950s Broadway production.

Cuong Vu

REVIEW: Cuong Vu Trio, 'Meets Pat Metheny,' Nonesuch Records >>

Guitarist/composer Pat Metheny has always loved to jam with those who could match his unending enthusiasm, inventiveness and chops. To that end, he's performed/recorded with the likes of Ornette Coleman, Steve Reich, Charlie Haden and Brad Mehldau. Now, the Cuong Vu Trio 'Meets Pat Metheny' (Nonesuch) on a dense seven-track meandering adventure.

Daniel Meron

REVIEW: Daniel Meron, 'Sky Begins,' Self-Released >>

Daniel Meron, after serving in the Israeli military, won a full scholarship to Berklee in Boston before settling in Brooklyn where he is part of a burgeoning jazz scene. His 2010 'Directions' captured the imagination of the jazz world. Now, with singer wife Maia Karo, Meron has settled into a sophisticated piano-trio-with-vocals-groove. It is here that the 'Sky Begins.'

Dobrek Bistro

REVIEW: Dobrek Bistro, 'Featuring David Krakauer,' DobRecords (Austria) >>

The multi-culti world action on Dobrek Bistro's 'With David Krakauer' (DobRecords, Austria) is a cure for the 2016 rock blahs. The entertainment value, action-packed jamming and Middle Eastern flavor alone will have you speechless after but mere minutes. The first listen alone is worth the price of admission. All repeated listenings are free!

Tommy LiPuma

Blogarrhea: Dr. John, Leon Russell, Diana Krall Honor Famed Producer Tommy LiPuma in Cleveland >>

On June 24, producer Tommy LiPuma was honored in his hometown of Cleveland by Diana Krall, Dr. John and Leon Russell, amid of host of superstars like Elvis Costello, Randy Newman, Herb Alpert, Barbra Streisand, Willie Nelson and Paul McCartney who sent in their congratulations on video. Blogarrhea spoke to the legendary session man just days prior.

Branford Marsalis

REVIEW: Branford Marsalis Quartet with Kurt Elling, 'Upward Spiral,' Marsalis Music/Okeh Records >>

The more passionate fans of saxophonist Branford Marsalis might be disappointed with 'Upward Spiral' (Marsalis Music/Okeh Records) because this could be construed as a Kurt Elling vocalese CD with the quartet merely backing him up. Elling achieves a strong Chet Baker nodding-out-on-heroin style, true, and Branford is still one of today's greats, but the news of a new Branford was more exciting than actually listening to the new Branford.

'It Is What It Is' by Jimmy

REVIEW: Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes, 'It Is What It Is.' Blue Porch Records >>

Jimmy "Duck" Holmes just may be the last of a dying breed. Straight out of the Mississippi Delta, his seventh album, 'It Is What It Is,' is the premiere release on the new Blue Front Records out of Bentonia, MS. It's filled with the real low-down blues, no rock'n'roll here, this one's for purists.

Moreland & Arbuckle

REVIEW: Moreland & Arbuckle, 'Promised Land Or Bust,' Alligator Records >>

Indie-rock garage punk blues may cram too many sub-genres into one lead sentence but when it comes to Moreland & Arbuckle's Alligator Records 'Promised Land Or Bust' debut (the home of "Genuine Houserockin' Music" as it correctly bills itself), it's an apt description.

David Liebman and Richie Beirach

REVIEW: Dave Liebman & Richie Beirach, 'Balladscapes,' Intuition Records (Germany) >>

Just like sibling harmonies, the magic created by Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach has been nurtured, in this case, for almost half a century. They need no rhythm section. Their chemistry is second nature. 'Balladscapes' (Intuition Records, Germany) is so pure and so free that it has, forevermore, cemented these two in time.

Gus Spenos

REVIEW: Gus Spenos, 'If You Were Gold Baby,' Self-Released >>

Time for fun. If you want to jump, jive and wail, you could, of course, turn to Louie Prima. But he's dead. Gus Spenos is alive...wonderfully, wildly alive. This Indiana neurologist has self-released 'If You Were Gold Baby' and he's garnered big-time trombonist Wycliffe Gordon to blow and arrange as the feather in this hat of swing, blues and boogie.

Alchemy Sound Project

REVIEW: Alchemy Sound Project, 'Further Explorations,' Artists Recording Collective >>

To properly distill classical music and jazz music, one must be on intimate terms with both or the experiment will most likely wind up being either one or the other...but not both. Enter Alchemy Sound Project. Its 'Further Explorations' debut (Artists Recording Collective) combines West African folk motifs with European classical and stateside jazz. Does it succeed? In spades!

Matt Wilson

REVIEW: Matt Wilson's Big Happy Family, 'Beginning of a Memory,' Palmetto Records >>

Combining all three of his longstanding bands, drummer Matt Wilson has returned to the studio in full force with a Love Army of family and friends to pay tribute to violinist Felicia Wilson who performed on Matt's 2003 'Humidity,' became his wife and succumbed to leukemia in 2014. The result is a swinging session with moments of tender, bittersweet asides and studio banter. The star here is trumpeter Terell Stafford but the focus is cumulative...a joyous swingfest of epidemic proportions.

Southside Johnny

Blogarrhea: Southside Johnny Revs up His Asbury Jukes for Summer of 2016, Exclusive Interview >>

The phone rings. It's Southside Johnny on the line. One of New Jersey's many homegrown heroes, John Lyon, 67, has done nothing his whole life but sing. Hey, it ain't summer unless Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes tour. 'Soultime!' (Leroy Records) is the best damn album of his long career, although 2013's 'Songs From The Barn sure comes close.

Marcos Varela

REVIEW: Marcos Varela, 'San Ygnacio,' Origin Records >>

Marcos Varela, on 'San Ygnacio' (Origin), bridges the generation gap by having such revered musicians as George Cables, Billy Hart and Clifton Anderson playing beside Varela's contempories. Add Arnold Lee on alto (Spike Lee's brother) and you've got one deeeeeep 11-track trip with plenty of meandering routes and explosive solos.

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