Mali Obomsawin: "Sweet Tooth"

November 2022

Out of Your Head Records OOYH 017
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV download

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
****

Indigenous culture of all forms is gaining prominence, particularly in Canada—a country that is in the midst of a process of “truth and reconciliation” with its Indigenous Peoples. In the past, Indigenous musicians from the continent many call Turtle Island, like Link Wray and the members of Redbone, were rare; today, young artists like The Halluci Nation, DJ Shub, and others are receiving widespread exposure.

Read more ...

Various Artists: "Here It Is: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen"

October 2022

Blue Note Records 0602445659920
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV download

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
*****

In September, at a New York City event to promote his new autobiography, Rolling Stone cofounder and longtime publisher Jann Wenner responded to a question posed by host Bruce Springsteen: Who did he regret never interviewing for the magazine? Wenner didn’t hesitate: “Leonard Cohen.” After a pause of a few seconds, he added: “And Elvis.”

Read more ...

Jon Irabagon: "Rising Sun"

September 2022

Irabbagast Records 021
Format: 24-bit/44.1kHz WAV download

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

By rights, tenor saxophonist Jon Irabagon should be as well known to jazz fans as peers Chris Potter, Mark Turner, or Joshua Redman. A 44-year-old Chicagoan who moved to New York City at the turn of this century, Irabagon won the Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition in 2008, played alongside guitarist Mary Halvorson—one of the most-lauded jazz performers of the past decade—and has been a member of trumpeter Dave Douglas’s high-profile quintet for a number of years. Irabagon has a highly recognizable sound, impressive technique, and a broad scope of musical expression, as demonstrated on 13 albums under his own leadership. Yet, he continues to stay just under the radar of many listeners.

Read more ...

Tyshawn Sorey Trio: "Mesmerism"

August 2022

Yeros7 Music 0195269159801
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV download

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
*****

Overall Enjoyment
*****

In an era where digital advertising, social media opinions, and all sorts of other “content” vie for our attention, the ability to disrupt has become a sought-after skill in the 21st century. Composer and multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey is a master of disruption.

Read more ...

I Am: "Beyond"

June 2022

Division 81 Records
Format: 24-bit/96kHz FLAC download

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
****

The late ’80s and early ’90s witnessed a resurrection of sorts for the improvisational musical genre generally lumped under the problematic title “free jazz.” Granted, that term is a bit less confusing than “energy music,” “fire music,” or worst of all, the overgeneralized “avant-garde”—terms favored in the 1960s, when John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and Archie Shepp blew long and hard—but the “free jazz” sobriquet does little to encapsulate the music made by artists like Charles Gayle, David S. Ware, and Ivo Perelman.

Read more ...

Ethan Iverson: "Every Note Is True"

February 2022

Blue Note Records B003473002
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV download

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
***

This year marks a milestone anniversary; I’ve been writing about music on a regular basis for 30 years. Over that time, it’s likely I’ve encountered pianist Ethan Iverson more than any other artist, with the possible exception of trumpeter Dave Douglas. I caught Iverson with The Bad Plus many times during his tenure with the trio, sat on a panel discussion with him at the Portland Jazz Festival, shared the pages of DownBeat with him in his guise as a part-time music critic, and interviewed him for insights on topics as disparate as the late Andrew Hill and the state of jazz education. I’ve even seen him sit in on drums, fuelled by numerous martinis, at a jam session.

Read more ...

Jen Shyu & Jade Tongue: "Zero Grasses: Ritual for the Losses"

May 2021

Pi 88
Format: 24-bit/96kHz FLAC download

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
*****

Overall Enjoyment
*****

The term “art music” is one of the least specific attempts to categorize music. Most broadly, it is applied to all western classical music, while at its least precise it has been used to describe everything from 12-tone serialism to the music Kurt Weill composed for the Berlin stage. Most flagrantly, art music has been used to define any music that is not popular, which runs counter to the enormous success found by Weill, to say nothing of older composers like Beethoven or Bach. The term is also used in opposition to music that employs any type of folk idiom—a snobbish dismissal of anything created by someone who lacks formal training.

Read more ...

Nina Simone: "Fodder on My Wings"

May 2020

Verve 00602508685965
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV download

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
***

Overall Enjoyment
****

Seventeen years after her death -- from breast cancer at the age of 70 -- pianist/singer Nina Simone remains one of the most misunderstood musicians who achieved the peak of their popularity in the 1960s. Posthumous books, films, and articles have shed some light on her bipolar disorder and the rages, rants, and other related behavior that often made headlines. We now understand how the course of her career was altered, and her view of racism hardened, by her inability to step as easily as white peers did from studies at the Juilliard School in New York City into a life as a concert pianist.

Read more ...

Lina Allemano: "Glimmer Glammer" / Lina Allemano's OHRENSCHMAUS: "Rats and Mice"

March 2020

Lina Allemano: “Glimmer Glammer”

Lumo LM 2019-9
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV download

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Lina Allemano’s OHRENSCHMAUS: “Rats and Mice”

Lumo LM 2019-10
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV download

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
*****

Overall Enjoyment
*****

Recently, I moderated a pair of panel discussions featuring jazz promoters, publicists, and artists from Europe and Canada. Our topics focused on how digital technology has changed the international music business, and how those of us who work within it must change the traditional model of getting music to the listening public.

Read more ...

Anthony Braxton: "Quartet (New Haven) 2014"

August 2019

Firehouse 12 FH12-04-02-030
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC download

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
*****

Overall Enjoyment
****

Anthony Braxton loves Merle Haggard.

That’s right. Braxton. The cardigan-wearing, pipe-puffing cypher who plays every reed instrument under the sun and gives obscure titles to his avant-garde compositions. He loves the Okie from Muskogee so much that he and his bandmates -- guitarist Nels Cline, trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum, and drummer Greg Saunier -- devote an entire hour of this four-hour improvised session to him. According to the other dedications on Quartet (New Haven) 2014, he also digs Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and James Brown.

Read more ...