Fred Kaplan

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Fred Kaplan Posted: Sep 30, 2016 0 comments
Almost a year ago, I wrote in this space about Darcy James Argue's Real Enemies, a multimedia big-band spectacle making its debut at BAM's New Wave Festival in Brooklyn. The CD of Real Enemies is out now . . . This is creepy fun soulful shiversome stuff.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Sep 22, 2016 3 comments
Resonance Records has put out some of the most vital, previously unreleased (in some cases, unknown) historical jazz sessions in recent years, and the latest is one of the sweetest: Shirley Horn, Live at the 4 Queens, recorded at a now-defunct Las Vegas hotel-casino of that name in 1988. It's Horn's best live album, and one of her top few albums, period—which says a lot.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Sep 09, 2016 3 comments
How the hell could I have missed Cecile McLorin Salvant? It's not as if she's been toiling in obscurity. She won the Thelonious Monk award in 2010, the Downbeat Critics' Prize for best jazz album (WomanChild) in 2014, and a Grammy for best jazz vocal album ( For One to Love) just this year. She's been singing with her trio at the Village Vanguard this past week, and every set has been sold out or nearly so. Again, how did I—someone who's supposed to follow this sort of thing—miss the boat?
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Aug 26, 2016 4 comments
Rudy Van Gelder, pioneer recording engineer, creator of "the Blue Note sound" (and the many sounds that imitated it through the years), died at the age of 91 this week. Every true jazz fan and true audiophile has grown to venerate Van Gelder—at least the work he did in the 1950s and '60s for the innovative labels of the day: not just Blue Note but also Prestige, Impulse!, Riverside, New Jazz, and scattered others.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jul 20, 2016 3 comments
Two of the great jazz pianists on the scene have just released two of their greatest trio albums: Fred Hersch, Sunday Night at the Vanguard (Palmetto); and Brad Mehldau, Blues and Ballads (Nonesuch).
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jul 08, 2016 1 comments
The August 2016 issue of Downbeat includes the results of its 64th annual Critics Poll, and, as usual, I'm in accord with some picks, in discord with others. (I should say, I started to cast my votes in the poll, but something went wrong with the server halfway through and I never got back on.)

Many of the results are strange, as democratic theory would predict of any poll that involves many candidates. (It's conceivable, for instance, that the winner of a category might be someone who was nobody's #1 choice: maybe this musician was everyone's #2, but the picks for #1 were so split, among so many other candidates, that the universal #2 rose to the top.)

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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jun 18, 2016 0 comments
Checkpoint, the new CD from David Krakauer's latest band, Krakauer's Ancestral Groove, a jazz quartet occasionally expanded into a septet, digs deep in the rock-jazz-klezmer-hip-hop sediment.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: May 29, 2016 0 comments
Matt Wilson is one of the most versatile and inventive jazz drummers on the scene, and Beginning of a Memory (on the Palmetto label) is, I think, his best album in his 20 years as a leader.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: May 23, 2016 5 comments
On the heels of its revelatory release of long-lost sessions by Larry Young in Paris during the mid-1960s, Resonance Records pulls another treasure from the archives—Sarah Vaughan's appearance at Rosy's, a now-defunct New Orleans jazz club, in May 1978.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: May 16, 2016 Published: May 17, 2016 1 comments
I've listened to this album several times now, and it's growing on me with each play. A duet session with pianist Vijay Iyer, 44, and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, 74, both master musicians, immersed in avant-garde composition but comfortable with basking in lyrical ballads too, A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke (on the ECM label) is spacey without devolving into New Age goo, intense (sometimes simmering, sometimes bursting to a boil) without losing the theme or pulse of a piece.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: May 05, 2016 5 comments
Perfection (on the Motema Music label) shows David Murray in his finest form, and playing in his most simpatico band, in a decade, maybe longer. The bandmates are Geri Allen on piano, Terri Lyne Carrington on drums, and that's it—no bass: odd, and possibly unprecedented for a Murray trio, but Allen's left hand and Carrington's foot pedal are so deft and strong, you scarcely notice its absence.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: May 03, 2016 1 comments
Some jazz musicians whose albums I've recently praised in this space are playing in New York jazz clubs these next couple of weeks . . .
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Apr 30, 2016 2 comments
Kenny Barron's Book of Intuition (on the revived Impulse! label) is an infectiously joyous album, bursting with riffs and vamps and sparkling chords over head-swaying melodies, some infused with a Latin tinge, others crooning with lyrical balladry, all of them propelled by a forceful forward motion, whatever the tempo.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Apr 22, 2016 1 comments
Henry Threadgill won the Pulitzer Prize this year for his 2015 album, In for a Penny, In for a Pound, but his latest album, Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (just out this month on the Pi Recordings label), is better still. It's his true career milestone, one of the great jazz compositions of the past several years, a musical masterpiece beyond category.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Apr 16, 2016 2 comments
First things first. Yes, Dave Douglas named his new album, Dark Territory, after my new book of the same title. This may seem odd: my book is about the history of cyber war; Douglas' album is a deep-dive exploration of improvisation, composition, and technology in the risky corners of jazz and electronica. But in an email sent out by his self-owned label, Greenleaf Music, he explains that both works are about "similarly mysterious murky waters of underground activity" and that he found my title fitting because, like the characters in my book, he and his band are "playing through a similar territory without rules where the dangers and challenges of technology are much greater than normal."

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