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


One For All

REVIEW: One for All, 'The Third Decade,' Smoke Sessions Records >>

As One For All, this most prestigious of all-star sextets, enters into 'The Third Decade' (Smoke Sessions Records) of its illustrious career, all the while remaining viable leaders in their own right, their mission, on this, their 16th album, first in five years, and first to feature compositions by all six members, stays the same: preserving swing.

Henning Sieverts

REVIEW: Henning Sievert, 'Double Quartet,' Pirouet Records Germany >>

For his 16th CD, Henning Sieverts' 'Double Quartet' (Pirouet) reaches back over 600 years to research the history of the Bavarian Irsee Monastery in uncovering a mass written in 1614. He then wrote 15 original pieces of music (shortest 51 seconds; longest 12 minutes) for duo, quartet and octet in a similar style but expanding it into modern jazz. No overdubs.

'Swingin' in the Swamp' by The Kat Kings

REVIEW: The Kat Kings, 'Swingin' in the Swamp,' Self-Released >>

Kat Kings leader Kevin McQuade was on tour supporting 2011's 'The Winning Hand' debut when he got the news that his daughter was near death from a car crash. Leaving the road, he wrote "It Came From The Swamp" while in a hospital waiting room, one of 13 tracks from The Kat Kings' self-released raucous 'Swingin' in the Swamp' follow-up.

Kris Allen

REVIEW: Kris Allen, 'Beloved,' Truth Revolution Records >>

Jackie McLean disciple Kris Allen's 'Beloved' (Truth Revolution Records) proves his writing chops are as etched in stone as his ability to lead a band, and insinuate his sax voice in, over, under and around that of his bandmates. The result is 10 original tracks of startling creativity that underscores his distinct sense of jazz history as he quotes not only from his favorites, but from the favorites of his favorites.

'Sinking Houseboat Confusion' by the Daniel Bennett Group

REVIEW: Daniel Bennett Group, 'Sinking Houseboat Confusion,' Manhattan Daylight Media >>

The finer aspects of both jazz and rock are well-represented in the Daniel Bennett Group's 'Sinking Houseboat Confusion' (Manhattan Daylight Media). This exquisitely talented New York City musician-alto saxophone, flute, clarinet, piano, oboe-is on his seventh all-original CD-produced by MP Kuo-fusing widely disparate elements into a cohesive entertaining whole.

Glauco Venier

REVIEW: Glauco Venier, 'Miniatures,' ECM Records >>

The gongs, bells and metals that are hung by strings next to his piano make Glauco Venier's solo ECM 'Miniatures' debut something of a landmark recording. Solo piano is one thing, and Venier had to be well aware of the iconic performances of such already recorded on this legendary label. Thus, he wanted to add something: his own arsenal of percussive effects.

Jim Suhler

REVIEW: Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat, 'Live at the Kessler,' Underworld Records >>

Longtime guitarist for George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Jim Suhler cuts loose with a raucus set of 15 original jolts of barrelhouse boogie, slam-dunk roots-rock and jump-blues recorded in his Dallas hometown in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd of rabble-rousers. 'Live at the Kessler' (Underworld Records) by Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat is the next best thing to being there.

Miroslav Vitous

REVIEW: Miroslav Vitous, 'The Music Of Weather Report,' ECM Records >>

'The Music Of Weather Report' (ECM) lives on through its original bass player Miroslav Vitous who, with his new sextet, reprises six of his former band's glories, adding "Variations" to their tone, color, time signature, rhythmic thrust and title. In-between each variation are short haunting existential blues moments. Do not expect these reinventions to sound anything like the pioneering template set down by this most courageous of 1970s jazz-rock fusion bands.

Dominique Pifarely

REVIEW: Dominique Pifarely Quartet, 'Trace Provisoire,' ECM Records >>

Somewhere deep in the south of France last summer, French violinist Dominique Pifarely convened with legendary ECM guru Manfred Eicher to make his music more jazz-like. Combining Antonin Rayon's piano, Bruno Chevillon's double-bass and the scattershot drumming of the ingenious Francois Merville, 'Trace Provisoire' was born, the jazz was added, but the esoteric classical refrains lingered on.

Marquis Hill

REVIEW: Marquis Hill, 'The Way We Play,' Concord Music Group >>

Trumpet man Marquis Hill, 29, includes spoken-word passages, hiphop, sweet soul and funkalicious jazz in what he calls his Blacktet. Going on four years now, they're tighter than a mosquito's tweeter. This, then, he likes to say, is 'The Way We Play' on his Concord Music Group debut.

Rolling Stones

REVIEW: The Rolling Stones, 'Totally Stripped,' Eagle Rock Entertainment >>

In 1995, the Stones, after touring in support of 'Voodoo Lounge,' went into studios in Japan and Spain to re-record some classics, stripping them down to their bare essentials -- lyrics and melody. Called 'Stripped,' it also included show snippets from London, Paris and Amsterdam. Twenty-one years later, 'Totally Stripped' (Eagle Rock Entertainment) revisits the same format with similarly spectacular results.

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.'

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