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Tender and Fierce Blessings: Malcolm, Coltrane and My Mentor Nat Hentoff

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Dear Nat,It has been awhile since I wrote. You are heavily on my mind. I must say I miss the ability to reach out to you when I had something magnificent to say about my Kids for Coltrane Project in Education. Sharing other positive news in education such as George Lucas's online magazine Edutopia and the amazing research coming out of Harvard's Project Zero was nourishing. Working out my personal deep frustration with certain aspects of the educational ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joachim Kuhn: Love & Peace

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The German ACT label achieved global recognition when they issued the Esbjorn Svensson Trio album Viaticum (2005) and they warrant broader discovery by U.S. jazz fans. Though their country's best known label casts a global shadow over its competition, the ACT catalog has included Richie Beirach, Lars Danielsson, Vijay Iyer, Manu Katche, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Bugge Wesseltoft, Tore Brunborg and a host of other well-known artists. Among those talents is one the finest--but under-recognized--jazz pianists of the past half-century. Joachim Kühn ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Yazz Ahmed: La Saboteuse

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If Miles Davis was alive today and in the studio recording In A Silent Way, the results might, just might, resemble London-based Yazz Ahmed's La Saboteuse. Other approximate reference points are Jon Hassell and Brian Eno's Dream Theory In Malaya: Fourth World Volume 2 and, during the more rocking-out moments, Davis's Bitches Brew. But Ahmed's album is no knock-off of any of those discs, nor is it built around the kind of shape-shifting production interventions employed by Eno or by ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Gall: Cosmic Playground

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It's easy to hear references to classical music in Chris Gall's style of jazz. After all, he is a trained classical pianist. And those who like a bit of Chopin with their jazz will certainly enjoy Cosmic Playground. Gall's music also incorporates elements of rock and funk. Offering up strong melodic lines, Gall and his fellow musicians (Henning Sieverts on bass and brother Peter Gall on drums) intermix a confluence of styles on seven original tunes and two ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maynard Ferguson: Memories of Maynard

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With the possible exceptions of Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker--both of whose playing influenced the entire genre of jazz--no other jazz performer has had the purely imitative effect on an entire instrument's universe of players than Maynard Ferguson. Ferguson's unique abilities as a trumpet player and individual inspire trumpeters young and old to this day. His most ardent admirers stretched beyond the jazz idiom to Maurice Andre, Adolph “Bud" Herseth--respectively considered the “gold standard" of orchestral and virtuosic trumpeting--to the ...

INTERVIEWS

Paula Shocron: Paths to a New Sound

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When Werner X. Uehlinger, the founder of Hat Hut Records, was asked about a statement on why he liked Argentinian pianist Paula Shocron's music, the answer was clear, short and succinct: “The quality of surprise." Uehlinger discovered Shocron's music through her work with the SLD Trio and he liked their debut Anfitrión so much that the group's second album, Tensegridad, was released on his label, entering the prominent company of pianists like Cecil Taylor, Marc Copland, Matthew Shipp, Myra Melford ...

TAKE FIVE WITH...

Dave Douglas: from Revolution to Revelation

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A bird's eye view of the artistic path carved over the years by Dave Douglas reveals both the density and the breadth of his interests. Like tributaries flowing through a complex maze into a sprawling lake, each one of his countless projects explores a different sonic aspect of contemporary music. Yet, they all move towards a common destination and are pushed by a single force, the quest for a personal synthesis that creates unity out of diversity. Ever the tireless ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tigran Hamasyan: For Gyumri

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Even on this shorter album, Armenian pianist and composer Tigran Hamasyan displays a tireless ambition with his compositions, performances and eclectic approach. Over the course of his career, this young artist has released a wildly diverse stylistic set of releases that portray his eclectic and sometimes contrasting music tastes. The muse knows no borders or limits for this gifted pianist. While his first releases--starting with World Passion (Nocturne Records, 2006), and New Era (Blu Jazz, 2007)--showcased his considerable talent in ...

SOCAL JAZZ

The Michael Landau Liquid Quartet

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Always free flowing and sometimes raging, The Michael Landau Liquid Quartet is currently traversing through Europe. The tour features stops in Austria, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Czech Republic, and Italy.I was quite fortunate to see and hear this powerful blues rock influenced band on January 27th in a pre tour show as part of the NAMM Show festivities at The Baked Potato in North Hollywood.Guitarist extraordinaire Landau was accompanied by bassist Jimmy Johnson, singer/guitarist David ...