Fred Kaplan

Fred Kaplan  |  Oct 31, 2019  |  12 comments
There has never been a record producer like Manfred Eicher, founder and sole proprietor of ECM records, the German-based jazz (and sometimes classical) label that celebrates its 50th anniversary this month.

Eicher doesn't quite win the all-time prize for longevity. Edward Lewis started Decca (UK) in 1929 and owned it until 1980. David Sarnoff controlled RCA from 1919–1970. William Paley did the same at Columbia from 1938-1988. But unlike those other, financially heftier titans, who deferred to department heads and studio producers, Eicher has supervised every single one of ECM's albums—more than 1600 of them.

Fred Kaplan  |  Dec 17, 2018  |  4 comments
Sorry I've been away from this space for so long. My day gig (national-security columnist for Slate) has kept me busy (as you can imagine), and I've got a tight deadline on a new book. Still, as Congreve observed, "Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast," and there's plenty of breast-beating savagery out there, so I've continued to listen, and here is my dispatch on the Best Jazz Albums (10 new and two historical discoveries) of 2018.
Fred Kaplan  |  May 23, 2018  |  5 comments
At age 62, pianist Fred Hersch is playing as rousingly and rivetingly as ever. His latest disc, Live in Europe (on the Palmetto label), may be his best trio album to date.
Fred Kaplan  |  May 02, 2018  |  6 comments
The Final Tour, Volume 6 of Columbia Legacy's Miles Davis Bootleg Series—documenting Miles' quintet, featuring John Coltrane, live in Europe in March 1960—is one of the most revelatory new-old jazz albums in recent years. Of the five concerts on the 4-CD boxed set, one of them—the March 24 date in Copenhagen—is now out on 180-gram LP, and not only is the music thrilling, the sound quality is extraordinary: as vibrant as just about any live album in the Miles catalog.
Fred Kaplan  |  Apr 07, 2018  |  3 comments
Sound Prints, the quintet co-led by trumpeter Dave Douglas and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, is one of the most exciting small jazz bands around. You wouldn't know it, necessarily, from their first, eponymously titled album, recorded live at the 2013 Monterey Jazz Festival and released on Blue Note, which has long been Lovano's label. Mediocre sound doesn't always suck the life out of a recording if the music is good, but that's what happened here. However, the group's second album, Scandal (just out on Greenleaf Music, Douglas' self-owned label), tells a different tale entirely.
Fred Kaplan  |  Dec 16, 2017  |  2 comments
It's that time of the year when I shift away from the world's calamities to some of its finest achievements (for a minute anyway), which is to say, here is my list of the best jazz albums of 2017. Elaborations, with sound clips (often links to entire tracks) can be found in the version that I've written of this for my main gig at Slate, though followers of this blog will note—and will be reminded in some of the links below—that I've covered some of these albums in this space over the year.
Fred Kaplan  |  Nov 23, 2017  |  1 comments
For 13 years now, Maria Schneider and her Jazz Orchestra have played Thanksgiving week at the Jazz Standard in New York City, and, judging from the late set on Tuesday, they just keep getting better and better.
Fred Kaplan  |  Nov 01, 2017  |  8 comments
For all the stir over newly excavated tapes by Bill Evans (and the stir is justified), the heart of his discography—the stuff for which he's most celebrated now and will likely be for eons to come—beats in the albums he recorded on the Riverside label from 1956–62. All 10 of Evans' albums from this period, plus a Cannonball Adderley album featuring him as sideman, are included in a limited-edition boxed set by Analogue Productions—Chad Kassem's audiophile reissue house in Salina, Kansas—mastered at 45rpm (so the 11 albums are spread out on 22 discs).
Fred Kaplan  |  Sep 29, 2017  |  5 comments
It was almost exactly a year ago that I first heard Cecile McLorin Salvant at the Village Vanguard. I came home and wrote a blog for this space, wondering how I could have missed her ascent (she'd already won a Grammy and other prizes) and deeming her the best jazz singer around, standing among the greats of all time. I went back to see her, dragging along my wife and two friends, the following Sunday—the late set, the final set of his week-long stint—and she was better still . . .
Fred Kaplan  |  Sep 20, 2017  |  14 comments
Resonance Records is emerging as the most vital jazz reissue house around—or, rather, not "reissue," for the music they put out has never been issued before: the producer Zev Feldman (or someone who contacts him) has found it in an unexamined vault, back room, or collectors' cove. Resonance is now filling in some blanks from Evans' middle years, the 1960s, for which there's also a paucity of albums, or at least of very good ones. The best of the new stack is the latest, Another Time, recorded before a live audience in the studio of Netherlands Radio Union in Hilversum, outside Amsterdam, on June 22, 1968. Until this release, no one ever knew the tapes of this performance existed.

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