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Fred Kaplan Posted: Apr 17, 2017 1 comments
The pianist John Lewis, who died in 2001 at the age of 79, is best known as the leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet, but throughout that group's long life (1952–1992), he also composed, conducted, and played music for many other ensembles, large and small, tinged with influences from swing and the blues to Baroque, Renaissance, and Third Stream avant-garde. The Wonderful World of Jazz, recorded in 1960 on the Atlantic label, is one of his more obscure albums, but it's also one of his freshest.

I'd never heard it, until I received this new 180gm stereo LP, reissued by Pure Pleasure Recordings...

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Fred Kaplan Posted: Mar 06, 2017 1 comments
Labor of Love is one of the most pleasurable albums you're likely to hear all year—and it sounds amazing, too...what we have here is magic: classic blues tunes—"Stagger Lee," "My Creole Bell," Mistreated Blues," "Zanzibar," "John Henry," and more—treated with such love and wit and heartache and (to use a tired term that's appropriate here) authenticity.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Feb 08, 2017 4 comments
The critic Gary Giddins once wrote that Kenny Dorham is "practically synonymous with underrated," so don't feel ashamed if you've never heard of this golden-toned trumpeter, who came up in the 1940s alongside the bebop giants, toiling for a decade as a sideman. Quiet Kenny, a 1960 album on the New Jazz label, is the only Dorham album that features no other horn player. It's just his quartet, and what a quartet—Dorham is accompanied by Tommy Flanagan on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, Art Taylor on drums.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Dec 23, 2016 3 comments
I took another look at the blog I posted on December 21 ("The Best Jazz Albums of 2016"), a few more thoughts came to mind. With one exception (#5, Brad Mehldau Trio, Blues and Ballads, on Nonesuch), the big labels (or even labels big by jazz standards) are absent from the list. . .
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Dec 21, 2016 7 comments
It's that time of the year again. Here are my picks for the 10 best new jazz albums of 2016—and the four best historical releases...
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Dec 16, 2016 3 comments
Last year, Sony released The Complete Concert by the Sea, not just a remaster of Erroll Garner's classic 1955 live album but two extra discs containing the entire, unexpurgated concert, from start to finish casting new light on the pianist's sparkling wonders. It turns out that Garner's agent, Martha Glaser, who died a few years ago, had socked away thousands of tape reels of music—live concerts, studio sessions, rehearsals—and now her niece, Susan Rosenberg, who inherited the estate, is going through the cache, with the aid of a professional archivist. The first bounty of their labor is Ready Take One—previously unknown studio recordings of Garner and his trio from 1967–71.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 22, 2016 0 comments
It's Thanksgiving week, which means that if you're in New York City, you can (and should) go see two of the best jazz bands at two of the best jazz clubs. Maria Schneider's Jazz Orchestra is playing at the Jazz Standard through Sunday (except for Thanksgiving Day). Jason Moran's Bandwagon trio is playing at the Village Vanguard through Sunday (including Thanksgiving Day).
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 08, 2016 1 comments
Tonight (Tuesday, November 8), at the Jazz Standard in New York City (116 East 27th Street), the 7:30 set, along with Brooke Gladstone (co-host & managing editor of public radio's On the Media and, as it happens, my wife), I'll be announcing election updates and analyzing results between tunes (by Ted Nash's Presidential Suite big band).
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Sep 30, 2016 2 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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