Fred Kaplan

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Fred Kaplan Posted: Mar 11, 2008 Published: Mar 12, 2008 1 comments
Bad news. Last June 15, in my first entry of the “Jazz Messengers” blog, I broke the news that three months hence, Sonny Rollins, the world’s greatest living tenor saxophone player, would be playing a rare trio concert at Carnegie Hall—with Roy Haynes (one of the two greatest living drummers) and Christian McBride (an outstanding young bassist)—and that his own record label, Doxy, would release the results on CD along with a similar, recently unearthed, never-before-heard trio session that Rollins played at Carnegie 50 years earlier.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Apr 09, 2008 2 comments
About a month ago, I lamented that Sonny Rollins, the greatest living tenor saxophone player, had decided not to put out a CD of his Carnegie Hall concert of last year with Roy Haynes and Christian McBride. Rollins was dissatisfied with his playing and so he canceled his release-plans.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jun 13, 2014 5 comments
I guess I'm going to have to start listening to Stacey Kent. At her early set at Birdland in midtown Manhattan Wednesday night, I sat down a skeptic and came away charmed.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jun 10, 2010 0 comments
A trend of sorts has taken hold the past few years: albums (in most cases, multi-disc boxed sets) capturing not just the highlights of a jazz concert but the whole concert—or a whole week’s worth of concerts, the entire run of a gig at a nightclub—every note of it.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Aug 24, 2013 1 comments
Alto saxophonist Steve Coleman's new CD, Functional Arrhythmias (Pi Recordings), is his best in many years.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 24, 2009 1 comments
Smalls is, well, a small jazz club in New York City’s West Village and, while far from the most comfortable establishment in town, it’s certainly among the most authentic and dedicated. The cover is cheap, the audience is youthful (two facts that are probably related), the musicians are usually the best up-and-coming players, and established masters sit in now and then too. (Last week, Albert “Tootie” Heath played drums with the Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson.)
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jul 10, 2009 0 comments
Steve Kuhn’s new CD, Mostly Coltrane (on the ECM label), has no business working, but it does, for the most part really well.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Feb 25, 2008 1 comments
Disaspora Suite is the 4th in a series of albums recorded by trumpeter-composer Steven Bernstein for John Zorn’s Tzadik label (the others were Diaspora Soul, Diaspora Blues, and Diaspora Hollywood). It’s also the most ambitious, far-flung, and satisfying. The band is a nonet that includes the versatile Nels Cline on electric guitar (strumming, plucking, and occasionally wailing), Peter Apfelbaum on saxes, and Ben Goldberg on clarinet. This is by no means simply “Jewish music.” The sounds and influences drift in from everywhere. The first track starts with an electric guitar riff and bongos back-up that’s straight out of Marvin Gaye. Horns enter, blowing slightly dissonant intervals. Two minutes in, the clarinet rolls in with those punchy klezmer chords, but it doesn’t overwhelm the other spices; they all mix and meld, play in and out and around one another. It’s dark, bluesy, danceable (in your head and on the floor). It careens off in unexpected directions, all of them worth following.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Oct 25, 2007 0 comments
Audiophiles well know the glories of a 12-inch slab of 180-gram virgin vinyl cut for 45-rpm playback. Compared with a normal LP’s 33-1/3 revolutions per minute, the grooves on a 45 are stretched out over a wider space, allowing the stylus to track them more accurately and to give voice to the music’s minutest details. The non-‘philes among you may be shaking your heads (Oh, no, Is this guy a nutball?) but, believe me, it’s true. A few years back, Classic Records, Mike Hobson’s L.A.-based audiophile label, put out a series of limited-edition single-sided 45 rpm LPs, one album stretched out on four slabs of vinyl, each of which had grooves on one side but nothing, just plain black vinyl, on the other. The theory was that a perfectly flat bottom surface would couple more firmly to the turntable’s mat, eliminating the distortion of vinyl resonances. That may sound nuttier still, but, believe me, it’s true, too. (I’ve compared single-sided and double-sided 45 rpms of several albums that Hobson released in both formats—especially Sonny Rollins’ Our Man in Jazz and the Chicago Symphony’s performance of Prokofiev’s Lt. Kije, conducted by Fritz Reiner. The differences were not subtle. I value those albums as much as any in my collection, for musical and sonic reasons.)
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Feb 03, 2010 2 comments
Many composers, jazz and otherwise, have tried to write pieces inspired by famous artworks, but Ted Nash is one of the few who pulls it off.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 30, 2012 1 comments
Ted Nash and Frank Kimbrough—co-founders of the Jazz Composers Collective, which I recently wrote about in this space—have new albums, and they're both among the year's best.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 21, 2012 3 comments
Photo: http://jasonmoran.com/look.html

Those of you in the New York area for the holidays (or for all times) should know that two of the best jazz groups around are playing at the two best jazz clubs: Maria Schneider and her Jazz Orchestra make their traditional Thanksgiving-week appearance at the Jazz Standard, and Jason Moran and his Bandwagon trio are at the Village Vanguard.

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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 24, 2008 2 comments
Maria Schneider and her 18-piece orchestra play their annual Thanksgiving week gig at the Jazz Standard starting Nov. 25 and continuing till the 30th (except for Thursday, when the club is closed), and if you’re in the tri-State area, you should reserve seats now, as her shows usually sell out. Regular readers of this blog may recall my previous ravings about Schneider. A former student of Gil Evans and Bob Bookmeyer, she is the most sumptuous jazz arranger on the jazz scene today, having absorbed her teachers’ penchant for lush stacked harmonies and added a flair for Latin rhythms, a propulsive sway, and a dry wit. Her pieces are lyrical, even rhapsodic, but also taut, even muscular. Much of the band has been playing with her for over a decade, to the point where they’re nearly Basie-tight. Her most recent CD, Sky Blue, topped my 2007 list of best jazz albums (except for Charles Mingus’ previously unreleased Cornell 1964 concert-recording). I’m told she’ll be playing many songs from it and from her 1996 album, Coming About, which she’s just re-mastered and re-released. All of her albums are on the ArtistShare label, the artist-owned music collective, and are available only through her website, mariaschneider.com.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Apr 16, 2014 5 comments
The Jazz Journalists’ Association announced its 2014 awards this week. I don’t think I’ve disagreed with so many of its picks. In most cases, I’d simply rank others higher than the JJA balloteers; in some cases, though, I part from their judgment pretty vigorously. Here are some of the JJA winners, followed by my choices...
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Oct 31, 2010 7 comments
Never Stop (on the E1 label) is the album from The Bad Plus that many of us have been waiting for—the first of their albums to consist entirely of original material.

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