Fred Kaplan

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Fred Kaplan Posted: Feb 25, 2010 25 comments
Consider this a wish list from someone who loves owning classic jazz albums reissued on clean, thick slabs of virgin vinyl, preferably cut at 45 rpm—but who’s weary of seeing the same titles pop up over and over again with each slightly new format (180g, 200g, single-sided 45, clarity, etc.). I understand the impulse: certain labels and titles have a mystique (e.g., Blue Note and Blue Train); they’re surefire winners; it’s an uncertain business, so go with the sure thing.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Feb 17, 2010 12 comments
It’s been nearly a week since PBS’ broadcast of the White House concert of music from the civil-rights era, and its sounds and images keep popping up in my brain.
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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: Jan 31, 2010 4 comments
The Jazz Loft Project is one of the most fascinating documents of multiple obsession—an obsession about an obsessive’s obsession—and it’s worth checking out in multiple media.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jan 26, 2010 1 comments
Toward the end of 2009, I read a lot about Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, an 18-piece big band, and its debut CD, Infernal Machines, which was showing up on several best-of-the-year lists. But I never received a copy of the album and couldn’t figure out how to contact the label, New Amsterdam. Finally, I bought a copy from Downtown Music, a terrific alt-jazz record store in Manhattan, and, it turns out, the excitement is justified.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jan 23, 2010 0 comments
I caught Fly—the trio consisting of Mark Turner on tenor and soprano saxophones, Larry Grenadier on bass, and Jeff Ballard on drums—at the Jazz Standard Thursday night.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jan 21, 2010 1 comments
The World Saxophone Quartet and the five-piece percussion group M’Boom play together at Birdland in midtown Manhattan through Sunday. It’s music to make your head sweat and spin.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jan 14, 2010 2 comments
Pianist Fred Hersch plays at the Village Vanguard this week, joined by bassist Drew Gress and drummer Paul Motian. I was at last night’s early set, and it was one of the most bracing I’ve seen in a long while.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Dec 30, 2009 2 comments
With Analogue Productions’ new 45 rpm vinyl pressing of Oliver Nelson’s The Blue and the Abstract Truth, we finally have a reissue of this great album that’s worth buying.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Dec 25, 2009 Published: Dec 26, 2009 1 comments
I’m a little late with this, but if you’re still in holiday spirits, can’t stand to hear Paul McCartney’s ditty or Mel Torme’s jingle one more time, and cringe, thoroughly bummed out, at Bob Dylan’s piss-brew of raspy cheer, take a listen to Charlie Parker’s take of “White Christmas.”
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Dec 20, 2009 5 comments
The jazz book of the year is called, simply,Jazz. Written by Gary Giddins, the best living jazz critic, and Scott DeVeaux, one of the most astute jazz historians, it’s a vital reference for those well versed in the subject and an essential guide for those who get lost in its thickets and want to know how to listen to the music so that it at least makes sense.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Dec 15, 2009 6 comments
My annual piece on the Best Jazz Albums of the Year appears in today’s edition of Slate (for which I write a regular column, though usually on foreign and military policy). This time, I also drew up two lists of the Best Jazz Albums of the Decade—one for new recordings, the other for previously unreleased historical recordings (treasure troves of which were excavated this past 10 years). Readers of this blog may recall reading about most of these albums in this space.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 30, 2009 9 comments
I’ve published two music articles elsewhere in the past couple weeks.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 26, 2009 1 comments
Maria Schneider’s early set last night at the Jazz Standard—part of her 17-piece Jazz Orchestra’s traditional Thanksgiving-week run—reaffirmed and advanced her position as the preeminent big-band composer of our era.
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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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