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

Mike Greenblatt

Sebastian Noelle

REVIEW: Sebastian Noelle, 'Shelter,' Fresh Sound New Talent >>

Nothing is what it seems on New York City guitarist-composer Sebastian Noelle's 'Shelter' (Fresh Sound New Talent). Its 10 original quintet tracks in 67:43 surprise and delight when they all seem to morph into something different, many in mid-tune! Influences as varied as German literature, Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal and ragas from India butt heads in this free-wheeling montage of sound.

Brian Charette

REVIEW: 'Once & Future,' Brian Charette, Posi-Tone Records >>

Brian Charette knows his B-3 history. His '101 Hammond B-3 Tips' book, his nine CDs plus his new 'Once & Future' (Posi-Tone) where he performs 14 tracks of super-cool B-3 funky jazz by a litany of composers with only guitarist Will Bernard and drummer Steve Fidyk, is only his latest chapter. Charette has dug down deep to benefit us all.

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.


REVIEW: Paul McCartney, 'Pure McCartney,' Concord Music Group >>

From his 1970 self-titled solo debut to last year's "Say Say Say" remix, the four discs of 'Pure McCartney' (Concord Music Group) are testament to 1) Paul's staying power (his most famous band started in 1959); 2) his unerring melodic, harmonic and rhythmic perfection that time has yet to dim; 3) his vocal warmth like hearing an old friend who makes you smile; 4) and his willingness to apply his brand of rock'n'roll flair to just about any genre and still be Paul.

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.


Blogarrhea: Autobahn, Bernie Mora, Fab Sotti, Ken Sharp, Paul Simon and Al Lerman All Rule! >>

It's been a year of Blogarrhea and the words still pour out of me fast. Labels are getting hip: my mailbox has been stuffed to overflowing with music from around the world: Israel, Germany, Austria, Japan, Brazil, Canada, England and the U.S. That's a lot of listening and my vow to hear everything in its entirety has yet to be rescinded. Obviously, one cannot write about it all but here's the best of the rest.

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