Fred Kaplan

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Fred Kaplan  |  Dec 30, 2009  |  2 comments
With Analogue Productions’ new 45 rpm vinyl pressing of Oliver Nelson’s The Blue and the Abstract Truth, we finally have a reissue of this great album that’s worth buying.
Fred Kaplan  |  Oct 06, 2014  |  7 comments
Joe Ferla is the preeminent jazz recording engineer of our time—or, I should say, was, as he recently decided to retire from the profession, after more than 42 years and nearly 400 albums, to run his attention to playing guitar. (I haven't heard him do that, but I hope he's good.) His last-released album, The New Standard, is out on CD and double-LP on the Rare Noise Records label, and it stands not only as another specimen of superlative sonics but also Ferla's return to analog.
Fred Kaplan  |  Mar 05, 2013  |  13 comments
A little over two years ago, I raved in this space over Rhino's 180-gram vinyl pressing of Ornette Coleman's 1959 album The Shape of Jazz to Come, one of the greatest and most important in all of jazz. Now I'm here to rave louder still (with one frustrating caveat) about another reissue, mastered by Bernie Grundman at 45rpm for the audiophile label ORG.
Fred Kaplan  |  Dec 27, 2010  |  5 comments
The folks at Rhino Records have just released a 180-gram vinyl reissue of The Shape of Jazz to Come, Ornette Coleman’s groundbreaking (and still riveting) album of 1959, mastered at RTI from the original stereo tapes. It sounds in every way better than the original pressing, which itself sounds quite good.

Everything is clearer, highs are extended, bass is more defined, dynamics are wider. Ornette’s white plastic alto sax has more of that palpable whoosh through the reed and horn. Don Cherry’s pocket trumpet has an airier mouthpiece. Charlie Haden’s bass—you can hear the wood vibrate. And Billy Higgins’ drum set has more sizzle and snap.

Fred Kaplan  |  Aug 08, 2012  |  3 comments
In a sense, I understand why Thelonious Monk's albums on Columbia, recorded between 1962 and 1968, have been neglected. His earlier sessions, on Blue Note, Prestige, and Riverside, were the ones where he introduced his classic songs, developed his eccentric style, and played with star-studded rhythm sections. The six quartet albums for Columbia feature a total of just six new Monk songs. And they find him playing with a working band of accompanists—no John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Johnny Griffin, Art Blakey, or Roy Haynes here.
Fred Kaplan  |  Jan 27, 2016  |  5 comments
I wrote about the new audiophile label Analog Spark a few months ago, on its vinyl reissue of Dave Brubeck's oft-overlooked 1954 Jazz Goes to College. Now its proprietor, Mark Piro, has come out with a few Broadway musical soundtracks, the best of which is West Side Story, with its score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim.
Fred Kaplan  |  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. . .
Fred Kaplan  |  Mar 10, 2009  |  1 comments
I have a column in today’s Slate, delving more deeply into the Monk at Town Hall concert that I’ve covered in this blog—and the whole concept, and risk, of jazz tributes.
Fred Kaplan  |  Nov 22, 2014  |  2 comments
Maria Schneider, photographed by Jimmy & Dena Katz

It’s Thanksgiving time, and New York jazz fans know what that means. No, not the Macy’s parade down Broadway or the lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. The really big shows for our crowd—annual traditions for a while now—are the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra at the Jazz Standard and Jason Moran’s Bandwagon Trio at the Village Vanguard.

Fred Kaplan  |  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).
Fred Kaplan  |  Feb 04, 2009  |  4 comments
Keith Jarrett has also just released a trio CD called Yesterdays (on ECM), featuring Gary Peacock on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums, with whom he’s been playing for decades. The album might be described as outtakes from the group’s 2001 concert in Tokyo—portions of which were released the following year on a double-disc recording called Always Let Me Go—except that the new album is dramatically different. Always consisted almost entirely of improvisations; but it turns out the trio also played standards that night (the group is known as Jarrett’s “standards trio”), and they’re all assembled on Yesterdays. Often when a musician releases an album of previously unreleased takes, it’s clear why they didn’t make the original cut. But that’s not the case here. In fact, this is one of Jarrett’s loveliest albums, especially the ballads (“You’ve Changed,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” and “Stella by Starlight,” as well as the title tune). Whatever one might say about the man’s antics and idiosyncrasies, his artistry cannot be disputed. I can’t think of another jazz pianist alive, and only a few from any era, who displays such seamless virtuosity, across so many styles of music, and still conveys the vibrant rhythms and true emotion of a song.
Fred Kaplan  |  Jan 29, 2009  |  4 comments
At its best, there’s a quiet majesty to the music of Abdullah Ibrahim, the South African pianist-composer once known as Dollar Brand, and his new solo CD, Senzo (on the German WDR label’s Cologne Broadcasts series), is his most stirring album in years. He was discovered in 1963, at the age of 30, by no less than Duke Ellington, who produced his first recording, then lured him to the States, where he played with Elvin Jones before going on to form his own bands. In the ‘70s, he found his full voice—a swaying pastiche of jazz, spiritual and Capetown rhythms—and, over the course of a few years, recorded a staggering number of great albums: Live at Sweet Basil, Vol. 1 (there was no Vol. 2) and Duke’s Memories with the saxophonist Carlos Ward, Good News from Africa with the bassist Johnny Dyani, Streams of Consciousness with drummer Max Roach, Duet with saxophonist Archie Shepp (the most lyrical album Shepp ever made), and African Marketplace, The Mountain, and Ekaya with his octet known as Ekaya.
Fred Kaplan  |  Mar 16, 2010  |  14 comments
In the we-all-make-mistakes department:
Fred Kaplan  |  Jun 22, 2009  |  14 comments
What’s the point of having a blog if I can’t occasionally indulge in self-promotion? So if you’ll forgive my blatancy for a moment, today marks the official pub date of my new book, 1959: The Year Everything Changed. Unlike my last book, which was entirely about foreign policy, this one actually might be of some interest to the readers of this space, because it covers not just politics but also culture, society, science, sex—as the title suggests, everything. More to the point, there are three chapters (out of 25) that deal explicitly with jazz. (Key jazz albums of 1959 included Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come, and Dave Brubeck’s Time Out.) There’s also a chapter about the creation of Motown (another 1959 phenomenon), and a jazz-blues vibe infuses the whole book.
Fred Kaplan  |  Jan 30, 2008  |  0 comments
What’s the point of having a blog if you can’t be self-indulgent now and then? So allow me to plug my new book, Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power (Wiley & Sons). As the subtitle may suggest, it is not a biography of the Monkees but rather a journalistic dissection of why the United States’ global adventures and image have gone to hell in recent years. Some of you may know that I write a twice-weekly column in Slate about such matters. My book is not a compilation of my columns; it’s all new stuff. The official pub date is February 4, but it’s already in stock in many bookstores and on amazon.

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