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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.
Fred Kaplan Posted: Jul 30, 2015 10 comments
In the May 2015 issue, I fairly raved about Simaudio's Moon Evolution 740P line-stage preamplifier, and now here I am confronting its Moon Evolution 860A power amp. The two are companion models of sorts, with prices of $9500 for the 740P, $15,000 for the 860A—and for much of the time I spent listening to the 740P it was hooked up to the 860A, so some of the descriptions of sound in this review will seem familiar. The two components are both products of the same design shop—Simaudio, Ltd., of Quebec, which has been a prominent brand in high-end audio for 35 years—and are often marketed as a pair, so it should be no surprise if they have a common sound.
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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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