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35th Annual Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland

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Playhouse Square Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland Cleveland, Ohio June 26-28, 2014 For the first time in 35 years, Cuyahoga Community College's annual jazz festival received a major makeover via the shift from a two week event in April to a three day happening in June. Also key to this paradigm shift was a move of all concerts downtown to the newly rededicated Playhouse Square. With the second most significant theater district in the country next to New York City, Cleveland boasts four beautifully appointed theaters right in the heart of downtown and the twelve ticketed ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Hendrik Meurkens/Misha Tsiganov: Junity

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Junity? No, that's not a misprint. Take “junto," the Brazilian word for together, and marry it with “unity"; that's how you get “junity," a hybridized term that accurately describes the relationship between harmonica master Hendrik Meurkens and pianist Misha Tsiganov. These two men have been playing together for nearly a decade, appearing together on stages across the world and pleasing Meurkens albums like Samba To Go! (Zoho Music, 2009) and Celebrando (Zoho Music, 2012). Junity, a program containing seven harmonica-piano duo tracks and six quartet performances, highlights their simpatico relationship. This record is the first to focus ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Helge Lien Trio: Badgers and Other Beings

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Since he signed to Dagobert Böhm's Ozella Music, Norwegian pianist Helge Lien has reached a new artistic plateau with his trio. Hello Troll (Ozella, 2008) was an immediate success that showcased the group's lyricism and tight interplay and the spacious beauty of Natsukashii (Ozella, 2010) added new colors to a wide musical vocabulary rooted in the Nordic aesthetic. Badgers and Other Beings continues the trio's journey in sound and like the previous releases, it has been superbly sculpted by famous engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug in his Rainbow Studio in Oslo. However, there is a significant change. Drummer ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival 2014

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Saratoga Performing Arts Center Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival Saratoga Springs, NY June 28-29, 2014 Perfect weather accented this years Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival, an event that had an eclectic mix of young musicians with interesting ideas and approaches, and veterans who deliver consistently. The weather is always a factor because it's primarily an outdoor festival for two days, on two stages, at the beautiful Saratoga Performing Arts Center. (There is some covered amphitheater seating). But the most important ingredient, naturally, is what the array of artists bring to the table. Those assembled this ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2014

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Festival International de Jazz de Montréal Ambrose Akinmusire By Invitation Tigran By Invitation Tord Gustavsen Quartet / Brad Mehldau & Mark Guiliana, Mehliana June 26-July 6, 2014 There simply isn't a festival in the world like the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Where else in the world can you find a city where, with a population of well over 1.5 million people, six square blocks are closed down for the entire duration of the festival--in this year's case 11 full days running from June 26 to July 6, 2014? Where can you find ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tommy Andrews Quintet: The Crux

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Saxophonist, clarinetist, composer and rock climber Tommy Andrews is part of a burgeoning British jazz scene, a scene that's notable for its wide range of talented young players. For The Crux, his first album, Andrews joins with four more members of the scene to form his quintet. It proves to be a fine band, sympathetic to Andrews' melodic, accessible, compositions: the result is a promising debut. On the evidence of The Crux Andrews' compositions are characterized by an easy, relaxed, approach: through-composed but with space for improvisation (he wrote these pieces with the quintet's members specifically in mind). ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Suoni Per Il Popolo 2014

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Suoni Per Il Popolo Various venues Montreal, Quebec June 4-22, 2014 Every June, the good folks who run Montreal's Casa del Popolo and Sala Rossa hold an extravaganza of what some call “liberation music" and what they call Suoni Per Il Popolo, or “sounds for the people." Now in its fourteenth year, the Suoni has become a highlight on the Montreal musical calendar, featuring provocative music in a wide variety of genres, including jazz, among which were Die Like a Dog Trio, Bonecrusher, Sun Rooms, From Bacteria to Boys, and the Deciders. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alon Nechustan: Venture Bound

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Pianist Alon Nechustan is full of surprises. His work with Talat-- The Growl (Tzadik, 2007)--placed him in the alt klezmer jazz category, but he refused to stay put in that area. Nechustan changed gears with Words Beyond (Buckyball Records, 2011), casting aside his allegiance to Hebraic-tinged melodies so he could focus on the modern language of the jazz trio. Then he quickly abandoned that course-on-record, redefining himself as an electro-acoustic outlier with the grim Dark Forces (Creative Sources Recordings, 2011) and re-centering himself with Ritual Fire (Between The Lines, 2013), a ten-part suite for jazz quartet. Nechustan clearly doesn't like ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Jazzmasters: The Jazzmasters VII

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Jazz: noun, often attributive \'jaz\ a type of American music with lively rhythms and melodies that are often made up by musicians as they play Jazz. Say the word. J-A-Z-Z. Paul Hardcastle calls his side project “The Jazzmasters." If he means he plays instrumentals, it is. If he means truly understanding the idiom, it's not. The not-so Secret Sauce of Hardcastle's success is his music is designed, calculated, formulated and manufactured so as not to deviate from the template. There is no discernible difference between a Jazzmasters release and a Hardcastle solo joint. They are interchangeable ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Daniel Ögren: Brev till Kristinehamn

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Swedish guitarist Daniel Ögren continues to offer sonic tributes to the landscapes of Sweden. In his past releases-- Laponia (Hoob, 2011) and Laponia II (Havtorn, 2013)--Ögren, known as a guitarist in singer-songwriter and organist Anna von Hauswolff's band, focused on the scenery of northern Sweden. Brev till Kristinehamn (letter to Kristinehamm} is dedicated to his home town, a railroad and road center situated by the shores of lake Vänern and exactly 250 km away from Stockholm, Gothenburg and Oslo. This intimate and heartfelt tribute is articulated over nine miniature songs. Ögren plays on all the instruments ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Party Knüllers meets Jim Baker: Four Images of Wank

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The duo Party Knüllers--Chicagoan cellist and electronics player Fred Lonberg-Holm and Norwegian drummer Ståle Liavik Solberg--wanted to intensify its already dense mix of sounds and added Lonberg-Holm's frequent comrade, synth player Jim Baker. The trio did a short tour in the United States before recording recording Four Images of Wank in the studio. Apparently, according to the amused liner notes of Baker, presented as a letter from him to Lonberg-Holm and Solberg, Baker was not happy about the recorded outcome of this sonic match. He did not like the bilingual pun in the duo name, the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Andrew Rathbun: Numbers & Letters

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Toronto-born saxophonist/composer Andrew Rathbun is no stranger to pushing the boundaries. He has released a dozen superb modernistic CDs under his own name, perhaps most notable of these his nod to his fellow Canadian, writer Margaret Atwood, Sculptures (Blue Moon, 2002), and 2009's and Where We Are Now (Steeplechase Records). Rathbun, on all of his previous outings, has shown a true talent for putting together great bands. The disc at hand, Number & Letters is right there in that regard, with perhaps his finest and most simpatico group of players on this mostly quartet outing with Phil Markowitz on piano, ...

INTERVIEWS

Orrin Evans: Hot Irons In The Fire

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A pianist with great chops, great touch and an attack that fancies many influences from fierce swing to gospel, Orrin Evans is one of the outstanding creative musicians on the New York City scene. His work, no matter what the context--and he loves different contexts--is downright riveting at times. But for the 38-year-old who hails from jny: Philadelphia, jazz, though a pleasure, was a bit of a mystery when he was first experimenting with it. “I didn't know what improvisation was, to be honest. I didn't know what they were doing," when he listened to records, ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Jeff Cosgrove: Alternating Current

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"Playing music is like doing heart surgery," bassist William Parker told interviewer Radhika Philiip in Being Here: Conversations on Creating Music (Radio.org, 2013). “Every time you hit a note, someone's life is on the line, and so you can't fool around." Serious intent and intense focus are the cornerstones of these playful dialogues between Parker, drummer Jeff Cosgrove and pianist Matthew Shipp. A similar approach is also recommended in approaching this music--background noise it ain't. Drummer Andrew Cyrille--to whom the title track is dedicated--is the link between the three musicians, having taught Cosgrove and collaborated with both Shipp ...



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