Fred Kaplan

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Fred Kaplan  |  Oct 01, 2013  |  1 comments
The world is catching up with Darcy James Argue. Two years ago, he was known mainly for having the strangest name in jazz since Ornette Coleman. Now he's a double winner in Downbeat's 2013 Critics' Poll—the top pick for Best Arranger, and tied with Maria Schneider for Best Big Band Leader.
Fred Kaplan  |  Nov 12, 2011  |  0 comments
Photo: James Matthew Daniel

Darcy James Argue has one of the most original big-band sounds in recent years. His 2009 CD, Infernal Machines, may be the most promising jazz debut of the decade. But his world premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this week—an hour-long suite, accompanying a mix of animation and live painting by graphic-novel artist Danijel Zezelj, called Brooklyn Babylon—puts the composer and his 18-piece big band, Secret Society, on the verge of a quantum leap. . .

Fred Kaplan  |  Sep 30, 2016  |  2 comments
Almost a year ago, I wrote in this space about Darcy James Argue's Real Enemies, a multimedia big-band spectacle making its debut at BAM's New Wave Festival in Brooklyn. The CD of Real Enemies is out now . . . This is creepy fun soulful shiversome stuff.
Fred Kaplan  |  Jan 26, 2010  |  1 comments
Toward the end of 2009, I read a lot about Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, an 18-piece big band, and its debut CD, Infernal Machines, which was showing up on several best-of-the-year lists. But I never received a copy of the album and couldn’t figure out how to contact the label, New Amsterdam. Finally, I bought a copy from Downtown Music, a terrific alt-jazz record store in Manhattan, and, it turns out, the excitement is justified.
Fred Kaplan  |  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.
Fred Kaplan  |  Dec 05, 2012  |  33 comments
Dave Brubeck died today, just short of 92 years old. He was a plodding pianist and a less inventive composer than many obits are suggesting. (It was his alto saxophonist Paul Desmond who wrote the biggest hit "Take Five" in 5/4 time, and while Brubeck wrote many pieces in more exotic times still, they didn't swing or flow like Desmond's.) Still, Brubeck was a colossal figure of modern jazz in many ways.
Fred Kaplan  |  Nov 18, 2010  |  4 comments
Those who follow this space know of my enthusiasm for the music of trumpeter Dave Douglas: his plangent tone, his spine-tingling way with minor-chord intervals, his knack for evoking joy, melancholy, romance, and a host of other emotions—sometimes all at once—without dipping so much as a toe into sentimentalism.
Fred Kaplan  |  Jun 19, 2009  |  0 comments
Trumpeter Dave Douglas’ new album, Spirit Moves, featuring his Brass Ecstasy quintet, is a rouser: hot, cool, raucous, pensive, sometimes all at once, and always a lot of fun. The band’s name is a play on the late Lester Bowie’s Brass Fantasy, and they share a similar hard-blowing vibe—as well as two of the players (Luis Bonilla on trombone and Vincent Chancey on French horn)—but where Bowie used the band to riff on the pop tunes of the day (long before The Bad Plus), Douglas’ sources are mainly original tunes with a zesty swing and a dash of his trademark Mediterranean melancholy.
Fred Kaplan  |  Oct 08, 2012  |  1 comments
Dave Douglas' Be Still (on the trumpeter's own Greenleaf Music label) is his most sheer-gorgeous album since the 1998 Charms of the Night Sky and one of the best-sounding new recordings that I've heard by anybody in quite a while. And it's available on LP as well as CD (more about which, later).
Fred Kaplan  |  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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