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

Mike Greenblatt

Carol Saboya

REVIEW: Carol Saboya, 'Carolina,' AAM Music >>

When Brazilian vocalist Carol Saboya turned stateside heads with her lovely 2012 'Belezas,' no one thought it would be four years until her next CD. 'Carolina' (AAM Music) has been nurtured by her mentor Antonio Adolfo who plays piano, produces and arranges. The result is a stunningly gorgeous bossa-nova supreme where samba meets up with its progenitors in new and surprising ways plus meets some strangers along the way (Lennon/McCartney and Sting) to provide some syncopated surprise.


REVIEW: Jim Self and the Tricky Lix Latin Jazz Band, 'Yo!,' Bassett Hound Records >>

I do love a tuba. I also love hot spicy Latin music of any variety. But, heretofore, my tuba-lust, and my yearning for Latin, have been diametrically opposed vernaculars. Until now. Enter 'Yo!' (Bassett Hound Music) by Jim Self and the Tricky Lix Latin Jazz Band.

Antonio Adolfo

REVIEW: Antonio Adolfo, 'Tropical Infinito,' AAM Music >>

Last year, Antonio Adolfo's 'Tema' was an alternative to actually traveling to Rio de Janeiro and soaking up Brazilian samba. This year, his 'Tropical Infinito' (AAM Music), with his new octet, pinpoints an early 1960s samba groove revitalized and reimagined but keeping the essential DNA that makes this music so earthy, swaying, satisfying and sensual.

Dan Pratt

REVIEW: Dan Pratt, 'Hymn For The Happy Man,' Same Island Music >>

'Hymn for the Happy Man' (Same Island) by sax man Dan Pratt is buoyed by the presence of bassist Christian McBride who seems to be everywhere at once these days. McBride plays here with an ever-charging enthusiasm and groove-laden bump that accentuates the proceedings and moves the music in directions unforeseen. He sounds hungry, as does the rest of the band.

Spike Wilner

REVIEW: Spike Wilner, 'Koan,' Posi-Tone Records >>

Man, those guys at Posi-Tone are on a roll! Spike Wilner's 'Koan' is as engaging a piano trio CD as you'll hope to hear. I thought I was done with basic piano trios but Wilner is so inventive, his originals so, uh, original, his covers so well-picked and performed, that if you have to hear yet another piano trio, let it be he.

Ivas John

REVIEW: Ivas John, 'Good Days a Comin',' Right Side Up Records >>

If you didn't know any better, you might think, after hearing 'Good Days a Comin' (Right Side Up), that you're digging some itinerant flat- and finger-picking folk singer who rides the rails 1940s hobo-style like Woody Guthrie. Then you'd realize it's a Southern Illinois University graduate named Ivas John whose mastery of both Appalachian mountain music and Mississippi Delta blues coalesces within the soul of this one mighty fine singer-songwriter.

Ihan Ersahin's Istanbul Sessions

REVIEW: Ilhan Ersahin's Istanbul Sessions, 'Istanbul Underground,' Nublu Records >>

East meets West in this delicious fusion of jazz, world, rock, prog, soundtrack (for a movie that doesn't exist) and engaging instrumental Euro-Pop. There's no telling where it will take you until you go there...and you find yourself wanting to return. 'Istanbul Underground' (Nublu Records), by Ilhan Ersahin's Istanbul Sessions, is like walking out of your hotel room onto the main thoroughfare of the Turkish metropolis, closing your eyes and breathing it all in.


REVIEW: Jack DeJohnette/Ravi Coltrane/Matthew Garrison, 'In Movement,' ECM Records >>

Drummer Jack DeJohnette, 73, has played on more ECM records than any other musician. Why, then, is the 'In Movement' ECM debut of his new trio with tenor/soprano/sopranino saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and electric bassist/electronics master Matthew Garrison major jazz news?


REVIEW: Carla Bley/Andy Sheppard/Steve Swallow, 'Andando el Tiempo, ECM Records >>

Last year, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) proclaimed Carla Bley, 80, a Jazz Master. This year sees the release of her highly-anticipated trio CD, 'Andando el Tiempo' (ECM) with bassist Steve Swallow and saxophonist Andy Sheppard, two leaders in their own right, who have kept this trio functioning for 20 years as Bley's main outlet for her compositions and piano playing.

The Mighty Orq

REVIEW: The Mighty Orq, 'Love in a Hurricane,' Connor Ray Music >>

Josh Davidson is The Mighty Orq. The Houston-based singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer/arranger/bandleader has been at it for 13 years. On his Connor Ray Music debut, he leads his band-drummer/percussionist/mandolinist Jimmy Rose, organist/pianist/accordionist Barry Seelen and bassist Terry Dry right smack dab into 'Love In A Hurricane.'

Mark May

REVIEW: Mark May Band, 'Blues Heaven,' Connor Ray Music >>

The Mark May Band just might take you to 'Blues Heaven' (Connor Ray Music). May's a ball-buster. His licks were honed by playing with Dickey Betts. Add The Soul Satyr Horns and a few special guests and 'Blues Heaven' is definitely a place you want to be.

Darryl Purpose

Blogarrhea: The Long Strange Trip of Darryl Purpose Results in a Modern Masterpiece >>

Darryl Purpose, on 'Still The Birds' (Blue Rock) sounds like James Taylor. He co-writes with Paul Zollo like Paul Simon or Leonard Cohen on subjects as wide-ranging as Edgar Allan Poe ("Baltimore"), Dylan Thomas ("Prince Of The Apple Towns"), L.A. gangs ("Evergreen Avenue"), Vietnam war draft dodgers ("Hours In A Day"), Buddah ("When Buddha Smiled At The Elephant") and the Civil War ("Shiloh"). But it's his life story that's even more fascinating.

The Blind Boys of Alabama

REVIEW: Blind Boys of Alabama, 'Spirit of the Century,' 'Higher Ground,' Omnivore Recordings >>

The Blind Boys Of Alabama had been at it for 57 years before 'Spirit Of The Century' garnered them their first Grammy Award as 2001's "Best Traditional Soul Gospel Performance." Taking such popular fare as "Just Wanna See His Face" (Rolling Stones), "Way Down In The Hole" (the Tom Waits theme to "The Wire"), "Give A Man A Home" (Ben Harper) as well as classics like "Amazing Grace" and "Motherless Child," the 10-track album was a jewel, a long out-of-print jewel. Until now.


REVIEW: Restroy, 'Saturn Return,' Milk Factory Productions >>

Restroy is a 10-headed monster of epic proportions. Their 'Saturn Return' (Milk Factory Productions) is an exquisite trip through modernistic experimentation that always seems to gel and come out on top. Nothing goes awry. Recorded in Chicago and Virginia, it features local players from both geographical locales. Call it pop-chamber music.

Noah Preminger

Blogarrhea: A Trip Through the Delta Blues Via the Lens of Sax Man Noah Preminger >>

When Blind Willie Johnson recorded "Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground" in 1927, he couldn't have known that 50 years later, in 1977, it would be launched into space with 26 other songs just in case any aliens wanted to know about our culture. Thirty-nine years after that, in 2016, 'Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground' is also the sound of a Connecticut sax man, Noah Preminger, getting real.

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