Ingrid Jensen and Steve Treseler: "Invisible Sounds: For Kenny Wheeler"

December 2018

Whirlwind 4729
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
****

Few significant musician/composers of the past 75 years remain as enigmatic and misunderstood as Kenny Wheeler, the UK-based trumpeter who died at age 84 in 2014. Not only that, but few musicians are as influential. Ask most contemporary trumpeters about their favorite peers, and Wheeler is sure to be on the list.

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Rudy Royston: "Flatbed Buggy"

November 2018

Greenleaf Music 1065
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Few musicians take their geographical influences into the recording studio, and possibly least of all in the jazz realm. To further their careers, young jazz musicians gravitate toward New York City, and to a lesser degree, Los Angeles or Chicago. Whether they’re pursuing advanced education at places like the Manhattan School of Music or chasing gigs with more established players, they usually spend serious time in the big city before gaining the wherewithal to produce a recording. Whatever regionalism they carry with them has generally been erased by the time their music reaches the masses.

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The Band: "Music from Big Pink (50th Anniversary Edition)"

October 2018

Capitol B002842202
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
**
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

“With Music from Big Pink,” wrote musicologist Greil Marcus in his landmark 1975 book, Mystery Train, “the Band presented a rough moral drama. It had none of the mythic clarity of, say, John Ford’s movies; it came through a modern haze, something like Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller, obscure in its plots, dialogue hard to catch, communicating with a blind humor and a cryptic intensity nothing in rock ’n’ roll has ever remotely touched.”

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Mark Turner and Ethan Iverson: "Temporary Kings"

September 2018

ECM 2583
Format: CD

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
*****

Overall Enjoyment
*****

Is music for the whole body or just your brain?

Depends on the day and your mood, I would argue.

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Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore: "Downey to Lubbock"

August 2018

Yep Roc 2587
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
****

Scratch the surface of Americana music -- the top layer that includes Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, and Jason Isbell -- and you’ll find dozens of performers whose career paths have seldom-if-ever taken them to soft-seat concert halls. These are the hardcore singer-songwriters who spend most of each year driving up and down American highways to beer joints, small venues, and the occasional festival. Better-known musicians may cite them as core influences and industry treasures, but chances are the average fan doesn’t know a thing about them.

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Willie Nelson: "Last Man Standing"

June 2018

Legacy 19075827252
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Here’s the thing: Willie Nelson is 85 years old, and I’ve given up on him making another Red Headed Stranger. That’s okay; one album like that 1975 genre-defying masterpiece surpasses what most musicians accomplish in a lifetime -- even one as long and productive as Nelson has lived.

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Miles Davis & John Coltrane: "The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series, Vol.6"

Columbia/Legacy 88985448392
Format: 4 CDs

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
*****

At the dawn of the 1960s, trumpeter Miles Davis -- then 33 -- was on the cusp of reaching a new level in his career. Five years into a lucrative recording contract with Columbia Records, he was, along with Duke Ellington, the only black musician in the upper echelons of the prestigious label’s roster. His band -- featuring saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb -- was a popular attraction throughout the US. Supplemented by saxophonist Cannonball Adderley and pianist Bill Evans, the band had released Kind of Blue four months earlier, and the album was already garnering the critical reception that would eventually make it one of the most respected recordings in the history of jazz. Outside of music, Davis was being cited by cultural observers like Playboy magazine as an icon of sartorial and behavioral style. He wore tailored Italian suits, drove a Ferrari, lived in a three-story brownstone on New York City’s Upper West Side, and was married to an equally fashionable former Broadway dancer.

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Jimi Hendrix: "Both Sides of the Sky"

April 2018

Experience Hendrix/Legacy
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
****

Sometime in the mid-’70s, one of Rolling Stone’s waggish music critics began a review of one of the pastiche post-mortem recordings that surfaced in the decade after Jimi Hendrix’s death on September 18, 1970, with the words “Scrape, scrape.”

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Stephane Wrembel: "The Django Experiment III"

March 2018

Water Is Life 13
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

For an artist with a wholly individual technique and a career that spanned only 25 years, guitarist Django Reinhardt’s posthumous influence on popular music is challenged only by that of Jimi Hendrix and Charlie Parker. Sixty-five years after his death, at the age of 43, Reinhardt’s melodic fluency, harmonic sophistication, and rhythmic flow not only set the bar for jazz guitarists but gave birth to an informal school of followers that flourishes worldwide.

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Joe Satriani: "What Happens Next"

February 2018

Legacy 19075802312
Format: CD

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
****

All hail the riff. From the elemental, slow-motion growl of Link Wray’s “Rumble” through Keith Richards’s just-woke-from-my-coma fuzzy progression of “Satisfaction” onward, guitar-based rock has lived or died on memorable note choices. As advanced as amplification, electronic effects, and recording technology have become, it still comes down to how you make that joyful noise on your six strings.

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More Articles ...

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