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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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