Fred Kaplan

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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 23, 2015 1 comments
It's Thanksgiving week, which, in New York City, means that two of the best bands in jazz are playing at two of the best jazz clubs in the world: the Maria Schneider Orchestra at Jazz Standard; Jason Moran and the Bandwagon Trio at the Village Vanguard. Every set is usually packed, so make reservations now and get there early.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 20, 2015 0 comments
I'll need a few more listens to grasp the measure of Darcy James Argue's new big-band piece, Real Enemies, but my first impression—gleaned from its premiere at BAM's Next Wave Festival, in Brooklyn, Wednesday night—is that it's a remarkable work, maybe an oddball masterpiece: riveting, head-spinning, at once spooky and witty, abstrusely complex and foot-tappingly propulsive.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 18, 2015 0 comments
Oscar Pettiford is one of the least-remembered great jazz musicians, a pioneer of bebop who played bass with the top bands of the 1940s, switched to cello after an arm injury at the end of the decade, then plowed on at the top of his game till he died in 1960. The cello never ascended to the mantle of standard jazz instruments (which may account for Pettiford's unjust obscurity), but Erik Friedlander stands as its greatest champion, so no wonder that, for his 18th album as a leader, at the age of 55, he's finally recorded a tribute to the master.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Oct 16, 2015 2 comments
Charlie Haden, the most inventive bassist of his generation, died at the age of 76 a little more than a year ago, but his widow (and producer-manager), Ruth Cameron-Haden, says he left behind many unreleased tapes of live concerts. So it's likely, thankfully, that we haven't heard the last of him. The first nugget from the archive, Tokyo Adagio (on the Impulse! label)—live duets with the pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, taken from a four-night gig in 2005 at the Blue Note jazz club in Tokyo—is a gorgeous album, an auspicious beginning.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Oct 13, 2015 1 comments
Trumpeter-composer Dave Douglas seems to release an album every few months (it helps that he has his own label, Greenleaf Music), and his latest, Brazen Heart, ranks among his best in several years.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Oct 02, 2015 1 comments
Thursday night, I took the F train to Manhattan's Blue Note, the 8pm set, to see Trio 3—the longstanding improv band, consisting of Oliver Lake on alto sax, Reggie Workman on bass, and Andrew Cyrille on drums—joined by Jason Moran on piano . . . Moran, the most inventive pianist on the scene today, can play anything with anybody.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Sep 23, 2015 2 comments
Here comes another audiophile vinyl-reissue house, this one a bit of a head-scratcher. Analog Spark, the creation of Marc Piro (and a successor to his Razor & Tie label), debuted a few months back with The Sound of Music (missed it) and will soon come out with Glenn Gould's renditions of Bach's Goldberg Variations (the 1955 and 1981 versions), then a slew of Broadway cast albums (West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and A Chorus Line, among others). And, for now, it has a jazz album: Dave Brubeck's 1954 Jazz Goes to College.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Aug 29, 2015 2 comments
I've lived in New York City for 20 years, but until last weekend, I'd never visited the Louis Armstrong House and Museum in the borough of Queens. My lapse was inexcusable. The place, which has been opened to the public since 2003, isn't a difficult destination: a nice ride out on the No.7 subway line (to the 103rd Street–Corona station), followed by a five-minute walk. The place is a sheer delight. I plan to go again. You should, too.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Aug 14, 2015 0 comments
News of yet another boxed-set of previously unissued Miles recordings never fails to zap the juices of anticipatory pleasure—and Sony's vaults, in particular, hold a lot of them. The latest, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Miles Davis at Newport, 1955–1975 (Columbia Legacy), contains four CDs chronicling eight sessions from his appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jul 25, 2015 6 comments
Jerome Sabbagh, 41, born and bred in Paris, a low-key staple of the New York jazz scene for the last decade or so, plays tenor sax with a plaintive tone and moody lyricism reminiscent of Stan Getz. And he's a composer, too, wading more in the vibe of early Sonny Rollins or the sinuous modalism of Paul Motian. His new album, The Turn (Sunnyside), is a fine display of Sabbagh as player, composer, and bandleader.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jun 26, 2015 0 comments
We seem to be going through a big-band renaissance. In recent months, I've hailed the latest albums by Maria Schneider's Orchestra, Steve Coleman's Council of Balance, Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project, and now—in some ways, the most adventurous—John Hollenbeck's Songs We Like a Lot (on the Sunnyside label).
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jun 19, 2015 1 comments
Ran Blake may be the most unjustly obscure jazz pianist out there, so it's worth noting—shouting, even—that he has three new albums that rank in the top tier of his career: Cocktails at Dusk (Impulse!), The Road Keeps Winding (Red Piano), and Kitano Noir (Sunnyside).
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jun 12, 2015 2 comments
Ornette Coleman, the great alto saxophonist and composer, died yesterday at the age of 85. His great jazz quartet of the late 1950s and early '60s—with Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, Charlie Haden on bass, and Billy Higgins (sometimes alternating with Ed Blackwell) on drums—revolutionized jazz, shifting it away from chord changes to structures built more around melody, rhythm, and harmonic suggestions not confined by set chord changes. And while some of his followers may have descended into noisy chaos, Ornette himself rarely went that route and, in fact, in the '90s, stepped up to a new level of lyricism, culminating with his 2006 album Sound Grammar, which won that year's Pulitzer Prize for music.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jun 10, 2015 4 comments
Herbie Hancock's 1965 quintet album Maiden Voyage holds a firm place as one of the great jazz records of that transformative decade, and a new vinyl edition on Music Matters Jazz—the LA-based house renowned for its audiophile LP reissues of Blue Note titles, and only Blue Note titles—sounds finer than it has on any pressing in 50 years.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Jun 04, 2015 13 comments
As readers of this space know, I'm a huge admirer of Maria Schneider's music, but her latest, The Thompson Fields (on the ArtistShare label), breaks through to a new level. It's her most ambitious recording, and her most accomplished; it places her in the pantheon of big-band composer-leaders, just below Ellington, Strayhorn, and Gil Evans at his very best; it's a masterpiece...The Maria Schneider Orchestra is playing at Birdland, in Midtown Manhattan, through June 6.


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