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Friday, February 24, 2017

Taylor Ho Bynum salutes his mentors on a rich, sprawling new big-band album

Posted By on 02.24.17 at 02:00 PM

Cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum is tightly connected to the legacy and sound of visionary composer and reedist Anthony Braxton—he studied under Braxton, has played under his leadership for decades, and serves as executive director of the Tri-Centric Arts Foundation, which administers Braxton's prolific output. In his own music, though, Bynum has usually mapped his own path. He's had a fruitful partnership with drummer Tomas Fujiwara, and he's led an evolving number of medium-to-large ensembles, privileging strings in some and brass in others—such as the band on his most recent album, Enter the Plustet (Firehouse 12).

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Friday, February 17, 2017

New York quartet Hush Point deftly modernize west-coast jazz fundamentals

Posted By on 02.17.17 at 02:00 PM

  • Zachariah Kobrinsky
  • Hush Point

My favorite overlooked trumpeter is New York veteran John McNeil, a wry, witty player who adds forward-looking accents to the language of west-coast jazz. Lately he's found simpatico partners half his age—saxophonist Jeremy Udden, bassist Aryeh Kobrinsky, and drummer Anthony Pinciotti—in the quartet Hush Point. Last month they dropped their third album, Hush Point III (Sunnyside), on which they sound more confident and intimate than ever—they seem to be able to anticipate one another's moves via some sort of musical telepathy. Hush Point's version of jazz, while providing a perfect showcase for solos, is rooted in an old-school ensemble mentality—and few experiences in music give me more pleasure than hearing two (or more) skilled improvisers tease out sophisticated melodies together, exploiting their knowledge of harmony to glide across a tightrope without getting tangled up.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Eugene Chadbourne’s paradigm-smashing There’ll Be No Tears Tonight is back in print

Posted By on 02.14.17 at 12:00 PM


In 1980 guitarist Eugene Chadbourne dropped a record that would forever distinguish him from his peers in the pantheon of free improvisation, setting him on the twisted path he's followed more or less ever since. At the time, he was an adherent of the non-idiomatic playing pioneered by British guitarist Derek Bailey—he collaborated regularly with the likes of John Zorn, Tom Cora, Lawrence "Butch" Morris, and Toshinori Kondo. But with There'll Be No Tears Tonight (originally issued on Parachute, a label he formed with Zorn), Chadbourne found an ingenious, funny, and authentic approach to the music closest to his heart. He loved much more than just hard-core free improvisation, and on this mind-melting record he brought it all together. Last fall There'll Be No Tears Tonight got an overdue reissue on compact disc (accompanied by some patience-testing bonus tracks) from Corbett vs. Dempsey.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Saxophonist Anna Webber turns to the Internet to inspire music for her Simple Trio

Posted By on 02.10.17 at 02:00 PM

Matt Mitchell, Anna Webber, and John Hollenbeck - LIZ KOSACK
  • Liz Kosack
  • Matt Mitchell, Anna Webber, and John Hollenbeck
Few younger musicians at work in New York's jazz and improvised music scene have impressed me as consistently as reedist Anna Webber, a native of British Columbia who has demonstrated admirable artistic restlessness since moving to the city in 2008. In recent years she's delivered consistently bracing, rigorous work with an ever-expanding number of working ensembles deftly illuminated by shifting lineups, timbres, concepts, or structural conceits. Last fall she dropped Binary (Skirl), the second album by her Simple Trio—which is anything but simple—with percussionist John Hollenbeck and pianist Matt Mitchell.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dissecting Sublime Frequencies with the folks behind a recent book on the label

Posted By on 02.09.17 at 04:25 PM

The 2016 Sublime Frequencies compilation Burkina Faso: Vol. 2
  • The 2016 Sublime Frequencies compilation Burkina Faso: Vol. 2

On Saturday afternoon at 2 PM, Corbett vs. Dempsey hosts a series of readings from and a panel discussion about the recent book Punk Ethnography: Artists & Scholars Listen to Sublime Frequencies (Wesleyan). Sublime Frequencies is an influential record label founded by Alan and Rick Bishop (both of Sun City Girls fame) and their friend Hisham Mayet, and since its launch in 2003 it's released a fascinating array of previously hard-to-find music from around the globe. Mayet and the Bishops collected many of the recordings released early in the label's history while on their frequent international travels—they would tape stuff from local radio stations, make field recordings of performances, and stockpile regional music found in makeshift kiosks. They often cast light on sounds from the Arab world and Asia that rarely surfaced in the West, and many collections focused on regional pop styles usually passed over by the ethnographic labels Sublime Frequencies cited as inspiration, such as Folkways and Ocora.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

British fiddler and recorder player Laura Cannell braids together traditions that span centuries

Posted By on 02.07.17 at 12:00 PM

  • courtesy of the artist
  • Laura Cannell

This month I'd planned to compile my annual list of my 40 favorite albums of the previous year. After I fell behind, I figured I could just do it a bit later than usual, but ever since the inauguration it's been hard to think about ranking records. I do know, though, that the latest album by Laura Cannell, Simultaneous Flight Movement (Brawl), would've landed high on that list. The Brit plays fiddle and recorders, and her exquisite solo recordings connect British folk, contemporary music, drone, and medieval music in ways that I struggle to understand. She seems to erase time, folding centuries-old traditions into something modern and bracing.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

New York drummer Vinnie Sperrazza nudges postbop tradition on his new album

Posted By on 02.03.17 at 02:00 PM

Vinnie Sperrazza - ANNA YATSKEVICH
  • Anna Yatskevich
  • Vinnie Sperrazza

Drummer Vinnie Sperrazza has been part of the New York jazz scene for more than decade, most often working under someone else's leadership. He's nonetheless been exerting his own musical personality, which straddles postbop fundamentals and relatively outward-bound tendencies, in collective efforts with the likes of pianist Jacob Sacks and saxophonist Matt Blostein. Three years ago he dropped his first record as a leader, Apocryphal (Loyal Label), on which he employed bassist Eivind Opsvik to anchor the extroverted machinations of guitarist Brandon Seabrook. Today Sperrazza displays a more "inside" sensibility with the release of Juxtaposition (Posi-Tone), a reserved quartet album that occasionally generates the appealing creative tension suggested by its title.

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Friday, January 27, 2017

The Jazz Record Art Collective celebrates the music of Ornette Coleman onstage

Posted By on 01.27.17 at 02:00 PM

Ornette Coleman - JIMMY KATZ
  • Jimmy Katz
  • Ornette Coleman

Since September 2013, Chris Anderson, a former floor manager at the Green Mill, has been organizing a monthly series that invites local jazz musicians to assemble new groups in order to play a classic and/or overlooked album in its entirety. During its run, his Jazz Record Art Collective project has expanded its range: though the bulk of the albums celebrated have been hard bop at their core, other installments have explored free jazz or more fusion-oriented work. The next concert is on Wednesday, February 1, when a newly convened quartet called Garden of Souls performs two albums by Ornette Coleman at the Fulton Street Collective.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Remembering Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit and his implacable grooves

Posted By on 01.24.17 at 12:00 PM

Jaki Liebezeit in December 2011 - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Jaki Liebezeit in December 2011

On Sunday singular German drummer Jaki Liebezeit died in his sleep at age 78 while suffering a sudden case of pneumonia. He leaves behind a profound musical legacy, the cornerstone of which is his membership in influential art-rock band Can—nearly five decades later, the records he made with that group sound fresher and more original than anything the vast majority of their contemporaries produced. Can were key figures in the Krautrock scene (along with the likes of Kraftwerk, Neu!, Faust, Ash Ra Tempel, and Amon Düül), and their trademark sound relied largely on Liebezeit's loose, massive grooves—a rhythmic armature that gave his bandmates the freedom to shape abstract textures, needling solo lines, and hypnotic chants in constantly shifting combinations.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Winter Jazzfest electrifies a chilly New York weekend

Posted By on 01.13.17 at 02:15 PM

  • Jati Lindsay
  • Marc Ribot

Last weekend I stumbled around Manhattan trying to take in the bonanza of the annual Winter Jazzfest. The event has expanded from two days to six, but its heart remains a two-night marathon spanning Friday and Saturday. This year more than 150 first-rate groups performed downtown at more than a dozen venues. Winter Jazzfest takes place during the annual conference of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, where curators and programmers talk shop and check out artists who want the organization's members to book or hire them. This can make the Winter Jazzfest function something like a bazaar, where browsing is encouraged—sets are sometimes disrupted by crowds entering or exiting during the music. On the plus side, though, there are few other opportunities anywhere in the world to hear so many groups in such a short time.

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Agenda Teaser

Eddie Holman The Promontory
February 26
Performing Arts
The Book of Joseph Chicago Shakespeare Theater
February 02

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