jazz Archive

Album Review: Mel Henke — 77 Sunset Strip-per

For a lot of Americans in the late 1950s and ‘60s, jazz wasn’t something they went to clubs to hear. If they heard it at all, jazz was often presented in the context of television and film theme music. The brash, hard-swinging sounds of big band jazz lent an exuberant (and wordlessly carefree) vibe to

Jazz Great Henry Threadgill on Accessibility, Artistry and Expectations

Henry Threadgill has a well-deserved reputation as a jazz innovator. Working with unusual ensembles that included instrumental combinations not often thought of in a jazz context, Threadgill has made a series of boundary-pushing albums beginning in the 1970s and continuing to present-day. For his efforts, the composer/saxophonist/flautist has earned many accolades and awards, including the

Album Review: Disaster Relief — s/t

Nominally classified as jazz, the Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Disaster Relief occupies a musical space halfway between Leeds and New Orleans. The Leeds connection is the band’s funky like-mindedness to New Mastersounds, reliable purveyors of soulful boogaloo. The Crescent City vibe comes from the group’s deep-groove jazz sensibility. Honking saxophone dialogue atop a rubbery

Hundred-word Reviews for May 2018

There’s so much great new music that it’s difficult to keep up with it all. I’m here to help, but it’s tough for me to keep pace as well. To streamline things a bit, I do these occasional blocks of brief reviews, limiting myself to 100 words for each. Think of it as the music

Album Review: Miles Davis & John Coltrane — The Final Tour

Miles Davis’ 1960 tour with John Coltrane ranks among the most historically significant series of concerts by either of those artists. And that’s saying something, in light of each musician’s landmark importance. The Davis estate has, in recent years, been releasing sets of recordings under the banner of “The Bootleg Series,” because many of these

Album Review: Joan Torres’ All is Fused — Of the Musical

The golden age of jazz-rock fusion was a relatively brief period; arguably it began with Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way, released in 1969. The new form enjoyed a number of highlights: Davis’ Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson, Larry Coryell’s albums with Eleventh House, as well several albums from Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, Weather

Album Review: Bunk Johnson — Rare & Unissued Masters Volume One

Bunk Johnson was a New Orleans jazz trumpeter who exemplified the pre-war jazz style closer to Louis Armstrong than, say, Miles Davis. Though the style was well past the apex of its popularity, it remained (and remains) of significant historical interest. And so in 1943, ’44 and ’45, folklorist Bill Russell embarked on a mission

Album Review: Sun Ra — Standards

Jazz great Sun Ra (born Herman Blount) has an imposing reputation as the iconoclastic purveyor of wildly unusual and unconventional music. His influence is felt far beyond the confines of jazz, and that influence encompasses more than music: his attitude, his onstage sartorial choices and his self-mythologizing were all part of what made Sun Ra

Album Review: An Evening with Ornette Coleman, Part 2

No one would ever accuse Ornette Coleman of making “easy listening” music. One of the acclaimed and innovative jazz musician’s few forays into what could loosely –very loosely – termed pop music was his session work on Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band in 1970. And when your grounding in pop is Yoko, it’s safe

Album Review: Jean-Michel Bernard Plays Lalo Schifrin

Viewers of American film and television in the late ’60s and early 1970s were weaned on a steady diet of jazz, though they might not have noticed it happening. Especially in the action and crime drama genres, jazz (or jazz-flavored) music was often a foundation of the programs’ soundtrack. And no composer’s work more exemplifies