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


Roger Davidson

REVIEW: Roger Davidson, 'Live At Caffe Vivaldi Volume #3,' Soundbrush Records [REVIEW] >>

When pianist Roger Davidson wraps his fingers around Cole Porter's "I Love You," it's a sterling moment in time. Davidson has a knack for the romantic. His cover of Joseph Kosma's 1945 "Autumn Leaves" ends 'Live At Caffe Vivaldi Volume #3' (Soundbrush) on a similar misty-eyed note but it's his 14 originals that reek of inventive samba stylings that carry this project.

Christopher Zuar

REVIEW: Christopher Zuar Orchestra, 'Musings,' Sunnyside Records >>

Big bands are making a comeback, if not on tour because of the expense, at least on record. There's been a slew of such recently and 'Musings' (Sunnyside Records) by the Christopher Zuar Orchestra, is one of the best.


REVIEW: Yellowjackets, 'Cohearence,' Mack Avenue Records >>

They said it couldn't last. When Yellowjackets came to be, critics scoffed and Yellowjackets seemed doomed from the start. 35 years later, 'Cohearence' (Mack Avenue Records) makes that thought laughable.

John Hart

REVIEW: John Hart, 'Exit From Brooklyn,' Zoho Music >>

Guitarist/composer John Hart spent 30 years in Brooklyn where he met bassist Bill Moring and drummer Tim Horner. The three reconvene on Hart's 'Exit from Brooklyn' (Zoho Music) for their fourth trio outing since 2000 on a beautiful 10-track project.

Iyer and Smith

REVIEW: Vijay Iyer/Wadada Leo Smith, 'A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke,' ECM Records >>

Genius sometimes has its limitations. In the case of brilliant pianist Vijay Iyer and his self-admitted hero, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, you have to turn your insides out to get behind what they're laying down on 'A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke.' Usually, everything, and I mean everything, on this great German label headed by the esteemed Manfred Eicher, is worth worth listening to. Yet I had trouble with this one.

Leslie Pintchik

REVIEW: Leslie Pintchik, 'True North,' Pintch Hard Records >>

Pianist/composer Leslie Pintchik is a unique talent who's been gigging between New York City and Boston with her trio for years. 'True North' (Pintch Hard Records), her seventh, has a samba feel in most of its six originals and four covers, in which she utilizes her expert sidemen in sextet, quartet and trio settings.

Matt Criscuolo

REVIEW: Matt Criscuolo, 'The Dialogue,' Jazzeria Records >>

Sweet. Real sweet. Alto saxophonist/composer Matt Criscuolo's seventh release, 'The Dialogue' (Jazzeria Records) is a straight-up affair of blowing some John Coltrane ("Giant Steps"), Duke Ellington ("Prelude To A Kiss") and Wayne Shorter ("Fall") as well as five originals as played by guitarist Tony Purrone, drummer Will Calhoun and bassist Dave Anderson.

'A Master Speaks'

REVIEW: George Coleman, 'A Master Speaks,' Smoke Sessions Records >>

Tenor sax man George Coleman, 80, doesn't like the studio. He's made that perfectly clear. The last time he was even in a studio was 14 years ago in 2002 for the all-star tribute CD 'Four Generations of Miles.' His last album as a leader was 19 years ago in 1997 ('I Could Write A Book: The Music of Richard Rodgers'). This is why the release of 'A Master Speaks' is such big jazz news.

Marty Elkins

REVIEW: Marty Elkins, 'Walkin' by the River,' Nagel Heyer Records [Germany] >>

It's all in the songs you choose. Early in her career, vocalist Marty Elkins had some help from the legendary New Orleans kingpin Allen Toussaint. Now the native New Yorker has had her third CD, 'Walkin' By The River,' released by German label Nagel Heyer. Backed by a hot band of trumpet, guitar, organ, piano, bass and drums, her 13 songs have some real doozies.

David Krakauer

REVIEW: Krakauer's Ancestral Roots, 'Checkpoint,' Table Pounding Records >>

David Krakauer, a free-thinking clarinet-playing bandleading avant-garde native New Yorker, has paid tribute to his Ancestral Roots by writing, producing, arranging and performing 'Checkpoint' (Table Pounding Records), in tribute to his Berlin trip where his family emigrated. Here, he blows wild and free, almost as a declaration of his family's independence.

Nonch Harpin'

REVIEW: Nonch Harpin', 'Native Sons,' Self-Released >>

Go to the Northern California town of Boonville and the 'Native Sons' there say "nonch harpin'" as slang for "dirty talkin'." So when saxophonist Chinh Tran, bassist Shawn Ellis, drummer Alan Spearot, keyboardist Daniel Raynaud and guitarist Andy Markham jammed at the 150-year old 'Native Sons' Hall in Pescadero to the point where it sounded so good, they formed a band, guess what they named themselves?

Dave Anderson

REVIEW: Dave Anderson, 'Blue Innuendo,' Label 1 >>

Saxophonist Dave Anderson's 'Blue Innuendo' (Label 1), is a sweet funky little affair with plenty of spillage by Hammond B3 organ hotshot Pat Bianchi. Guitarist Tom Guarna mostly stays out of the way except when he comes up for air with some tasty curly-cue soloing. Thus, we're talkin' 10 tracks of all-original lite-jazz-plus. Hint: it's the "plus" that's important.

Alfredo Rodriguez

REVIEW: Alfredo Rodriguez, 'Tocororo,' Mack Avenue Records >>

Pianist/composer Alfredo Rodriguez, 30, has outdone himself. His 2011 'Sounds of Space' debut was promising. His 2014 'The Invasion Parade' dissected his Cuban cultural influences into slivers of modernism. 'Tocororo' (Mack Avenue Records), though, beats all. In purposely collaborating with musicians from France, Lebanon, Cameroon, Spain and India, his new-found world-jazz reaches heights unimaginable for the 15-year old kid so taken with Keith Jarrett's 'The Koln Concert.'

Joe Bonamassa

REVIEW: Joe Bonamassa, 'Blues of Desperation,' J&R Adventures >>

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Joe Bonamassa just keeps getting better. His second collaboration with Beth Hart, 'Seesaw,' was a real corker, as was his 2014 'Different Shades Of Blue.' On 'Blues of Desperation,' he shakes it up a lot, writing with the cream of the Nashville crop on 11 originals produced by Kevin Shirley.


REVIEW: Hiromi, 'Spark,' Telarc >>

She's one of the most stunning piano players in years. Japanese composer Hiromi is back with her newest 'Spark' (Telarc), her tenth CD since her 2003 'Another Mind' debut. She delivers eight super-charged tracks with her Trio Project and one dreamy solo track ("Wake Up and Dream").

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