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Fred Kaplan Posted: Dec 17, 2015 3 comments
It's that time of the year again. Here are my picks for the 10 Best New Jazz Albums of 2015 and the 3 best reissued/historical albums, with links to reviews that I wrote in this space over the span of the year.
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Fred Kaplan Posted: Nov 30, 2015 0 comments
With Solo, his 49th album as a leader (or co-leader) and 10th as a soloist, Fred Hersch nails his standing as one of the premier jazz musicians of our time, a pianist of subtle touch and propulsive flow, something like Keith Jarrett but more focused, less rhapsodic—Ravel to KJ's Liszt or Rachmaninoff (not that there's anything wrong with either).
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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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