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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 28, 2016 2 comments
When I first met Luke Manley, proprietor of VTL, he and his father, David, with whom he ran the company at the time, had recently emigrated from the UK to California. I asked Luke how he liked the West Coast. "Great," he replied. "Much better parts availability." This was about 30 years ago, when I was just immersing myself in high-end audio at a high-toned level. Our exchange gave me a taste of the obsessions ahead, though Luke Manley's single-mindedness through the decades since has been more dogged than many—and, at the same time, less dogmatic.
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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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