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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Andy Biskin & 16 Tons: "Songs from the Alan Lomax Collection"

July 2018

Andorfin ANDRF-007
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC download

Musical Performance
*****

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
*****

The world is now so hyperconnected that only those of a certain age can recall a time when essentially any commercially released music was not available at our fingertips. The world still held untapped discoveries, and it was up to stalwart explorers like ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax to open our ears to unknown possibilities by bringing obscure artists into the light.

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Endless Field: "Endless Field"

June 2017

Biophilia BREP0007
Format: 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV download

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
*****

Overall Enjoyment
****

In June 2009, I was speaking backstage at a jazz festival with trumpeter Dave Douglas about how musicians were addressing the changing nature of the music industry. At the time, he was four years into running his own distribution company -- Greenleaf Music -- and was still experimenting with new ways to reach audience members.

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Macy Gray: "Stripped"

November 2016

Chesky 389
Format: 24-bit/192kHz AIFF download

Musical Performance
****

Sound Quality
*****

Overall Enjoyment
****

From Norah Jones to my friend and homegirl Kellylee Evans, there has been a trend among up-and-coming women jazz singers to make the jump to more commercial music as soon as they make their initial breakthrough. Who can blame them? Pop is where the large audiences -- and money -- live.

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