Fred Kaplan

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Fred Kaplan  |  Nov 03, 2008  |  2 comments
One of my favorite jazz bands, Ben Allison’s Medicine Wheel, is playing at the Jazz Standard Nov. 4. Allison is an enticing bassist and composer, agile and inventive, flitting from Herbie Nichols to film noir to raga, ska, funky blues, and straight-ahead jazz without showing a seam, loosening his wit, or abandoning the melody or the swing. The band is first-rate (regular readers will recognize most of them): Frank Kimbrough, piano; Jenny Scheinman, violin; Ted Nash and Michael Blake, reeds; and Michael Sarin, drums.
Fred Kaplan  |  Feb 22, 2013  |  8 comments
Ben Goldberg's Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues (on his self-owned BAG Production label), is an album as seriously playful as its title. There's a deceptive looseness in the music's rhythm, veering toward New Orleans bar stomp, but braced by modern harmonies (Steve Lacy, Monk, and Andrew Hill are heavy influences), and swung from an early Ornette-ish sense of blues (one of Goldberg's 9 originals on the album, "Study of the Blues," is a Cubist riff on the opening bars of "Lonely Woman"), though rooted more in Coleman's deep melody than his Free velocity.
Fred Kaplan  |  Sep 29, 2009  |  5 comments
Ben Webster and Associates is one of the loveliest albums put out in the past couple years by Speakers Corner Records, the German-based audiophile reissue house. (Its LPs are distributed in the U.S. by Chad Kassem’s Acoustic Sounds.) Recorded in 1959 on the Verve label, it features Webster, Coleman Hawkins, and Budd Johnson on tenor saxophones; Roy Eldridge, trumpet; Ray Brown, bass; Jimmy Jones, piano; Leslie Spann, guitar; Jo Jones, drums.
Fred Kaplan  |  Dec 16, 2010  |  4 comments
My column on the best jazz albums of 2010 is in today’s edition of Slate, replete with strategically selected 30-second sound clips, illustrating my points (to the extent—very limited—that 30-second clips can do that). Here’s the list, minus the mini-essays and the sound clips, but I’ve written about all of these albums over the past year in this blog.
Fred Kaplan  |  Dec 13, 2012  |  0 comments
My column on the best jazz albums of 2012 is up on Slate this morning. Here’s the list (readers will note that I’ve written about all the albums in this space over the past 12 months):
Fred Kaplan  |  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.
Fred Kaplan  |  Dec 15, 2009  |  6 comments
My annual piece on the Best Jazz Albums of the Year appears in today’s edition of Slate (for which I write a regular column, though usually on foreign and military policy). This time, I also drew up two lists of the Best Jazz Albums of the Decade—one for new recordings, the other for previously unreleased historical recordings (treasure troves of which were excavated this past 10 years). Readers of this blog may recall reading about most of these albums in this space.
Fred Kaplan  |  May 16, 2011  |  1 comments
Bill Frisell's Sign of Life (Savoy Jazz) is one of the most gorgeous new albums I've heard in a while. It's in the tradition of his "Americana" albums (Disfarmer; History, Mystery; Ghost Town; Gone, Just Like a Train; This Land), but here he burrows deeper into the roots. There are traces of folk, bluegrass, minimalism, western-blues, as well as certain modes and improvisational cadences of jazz. The ensemble is the 858 Quartet. . .
Fred Kaplan  |  Jul 31, 2013  |  2 comments
Bill Frisell’s new CD, Big Sur (Sony Masterworks/OKeh Records), is at once a reprise and a departure. It features the string musicians from his 858 Quartet, last heard two years ago on Sign of Life—Frisell on guitar, Jenny Scheinman on violin, Eyvind Kang on viola, Hank Roberts, cello—this time augmented by the versatile young drummer Rudy Royston. The album also features 19 new Frisell compositions, lithe and lyrical, yet laced with more complex harmonies—subtler, darker, and more sinuous—than anything I’ve heard from him before. . .
Fred Kaplan  |  Oct 09, 2009  |  13 comments
Watching Bobby Bradford and David Murray on the bandstand together at the Jazz Standard Saturday night (see my last blog entry) inspired me to take another listen to the only CD that paired them together, Death of a Sideman, recorded in 1991 under Murray’s name but featuring nothing but Bradford compositions, eight tracks’ worth.

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