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Posted inArts & Culture

LARRY GRAY TRIO

Someday genetic engineering will create the perfect jazz bassist; until then, Larry Gray will have to do. As a soloist he blows most of his peers away: originally a guitarist, he has a strong tone but a feathery technique, which allows him to construct statements that would sound natural coming from a tenor sax or […]

Posted inArts & Culture

KENDRA SHANK QUARTET

The exquisite vocalist Kendra Shank and her friend and mentor Abbey Lincoln have both released new records this year, each comprising selections from Lincoln’s body of thoroughly distinctive work. Comparing the two is instructive, as here the student outshines the master. On Abbey Sings Abbey Lincoln restyles her compositions in an Americana mode that would […]

Posted inArts & Culture

MINGUS EPITAPH ORCHESTRA

Charles Mingus, the greatest jazz composer since Ellington, presented his masterwork, Epitaph, only once, during a disastrous 1962 Town Hall performance. When conductor, composer, and musicologist Gunther Schuller sought to reprise the piece in 1989, he had to confront a paper trail of misorganized sheet music that required wholesale reconstruction. What he put together was […]

Posted inArts & Culture

JEFF COFFIN MU’TET

Jeff Coffin has made his name as the reeds whiz with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, where his malleable approach perfectly suits the band’s wild range of rhythms and idioms. But for his own group’s sound, Coffin stakes out some prime New Orleans swampland, then uses sonic textures and effects to construct a virtual 21st-century […]

Posted inArts & Culture

OMAR SOSA AFREECANOS QUARTET

Cuban pianist Omar Sosa enjoys a well-deserved reputation for following his own path. Where most of his compatriots attack every chorus with the urgent intensity of a dying man, he incorporates space and light into his virtuosic playing, which links him both to older Cuban forms and to the mysteries of postmodern jazz. And his […]

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JEFF NEWELL’S NEW-TRAD OCTET

It took two decades for reedist Jeff Newell to finally release an album by New-Trad Octet, the inventive band he assembled to revisit trad-jazz classics and recast mainstream jazz tunes with a New Orleans marching band sensibility. But anyone expecting to hear the group tackle Armstrong, Ellington, Mingus, and Parker on the just-released Brownstone (Blujazz) […]

Posted inArts & Culture

PIERRE DORGE & NEW JUNGLE ORCHESTRA

As leader of one of the most improbable, satisfying, and Methuselan operations in all of jazz, Pierre Dorge has spent nearly three decades piling on apparent contradictions. A native of Copenhagen (where, of course, there is no jungle), Dorge studied music in Ghana, where he absorbed the rolling rhythms of West and South Africa and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

JOHN FEDCHOCK & PAUL McKEE

John Fedchock and onetime Chicagoan Paul McKee first met in 1984, when they were two-thirds of the trombone section in the Woody Herman Orchestra. Herman led a galvanic big band that never stopped evolving, thanks to his use of younger musicians and the new arrangements he encouraged them to write. Fedchock was the star arranger […]