Music Review

John Abercrombie: The Third Quartet (ECM)

abercrombie.jpgAbercrombie ascends and transcends on this disc, released earlier this year. The Third Quartet achieves a level of sublimity this ensemble flirted with on their previous two superb outings, Cat 'n Mouse (2002) and Class Trip (2003). Abercrombie, in pursuit of “a more acoustic” sounding band relative to his earlier units (he seems to re-invent his bands about every five years or three to four recordings) has evolved a spatial ambience inclusive of his quietest acoustic musings and the energy of his most bombastic electric playing with a stunning subtlety, with violinist Mark Feldman’s additional intuitive intertwining and creative violin contributing to the overall chamber jazz atmosphere. Read more »

ANNIVERSARIES: Thelonious Monk Born 90 Years Ago

monk-fezBorn October 10, 1917 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Monk was raised in New York City from 1922 on. He started playing piano at age nine and eventually applied his keyboard skills to playing in church and going on tour with an evangelist. His first studio recordings came with Coleman Hawkins in 1944, while his first recordings as a leader came for Blue Note in 1947. By that point Monk had already had a major influence on the development of bebop as the house pianist at Minton's Playhouse. Read more »

Rainbow Sighting

in_rainbows.jpgRadiohead: In Rainbows (online edition)

Expectation can make you crazy. And with the release of their latest effort, via a unique pay-as-you-wish internet scheme, Radiohead announced in more ways than one that they know the stakes. In Rainbows popped into my inbox at 2:22 AM New York time (I had opted for the fixed price deluxe set, which will be delivered in December, including vinyl albums!, but still got my download access) and as soon as I unzipped it I was pulled in by a magnet of sound. Read more »

Charlie Hunter Trio: Mistico (Fantasy)

charlie_hunter.jpgThe guitarist with two brains and four hands is back. Hunter is prolific and a restless advocate of changing things and mixing it up with a humor and skill that’s attracted a diverse fan base including the jam band crowd, jazz guitar buffs, and more. On Mistico, Hunter puts the twang back in the thang with energetic audiokinetics for nine original tracks. The loose, often jangling, borderline psychedelic-dream instrumentals tend to have a strong ’60s throwback vibe via effects and the stripped-down analog recording technique employed. Read more »

Joe Zawinul: A Musical Journey Through His Life (July 7, 1932 - Sept. 11, 2007)

joe_zawinul.jpgJosef Erich Zawinul, who died on Tuesday of skin cancer, was a major pioneer of jazz fusion. His best epitaph was written by Miles Davis in 1970 for the sleeve of the LP Zawinul: "In order to write this type of music you have to be free inside of yourself and be Josef Zawinul with two beige kids, a black wife, two pianos, from Vienna, a Cancer and Cliche-Free."

Born in Vienna, raised playing accordion, Zawinul was classically trained but came to love jazz and moved to the United States in 1959, working with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson (where he met saxophonist Wayne Shorter) and then singer Dinah Washington. Read more »

All-Ages Soul

home_schooledHome Schooled: The ABCs of Kid Soul (Numero)

The soul aficionados at Numero have dug deep into the crates for this one – only experts will recognize any of these artists – and handily matched the glories of their Eccentric Soul series. “Children should be seen and not heard” definitely doesn’t apply to the kiddie acts featured here – more like “you’ve got to hear this to believe it.” Yes, Michael Jackson wasn’t the only prepubescent popster making the scene in the Seventies. Read more »


electric_chubbylandPopa Chubby: Electric Chubbyland, vols 1&2 (Blind Pig)

Let me continue the tradition of virtually every reviewer feeling compelled to mention that Popa Chubby began life as one Ted Horowitz in The Bronx, in the neighborhood, as the promo material points out, “immortalized in Robert DiNiro’s film A Bronx Tale. So, Popa and I actually share the same childhood neighborhood, except I was born almost 20 years earlier than him and actually in the time the movie was set in. Read more »

Max Roach January 10, 1924 – August 15, 2007

max_roach1.jpgWith the death of Max Roach, we have lost the last of the first generation of bebop innovators from the circle of players who cohered around the core of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk in New York in 1941-45. Roach started playing in jam sessions with Parker in Harlem in 1942, joined Gillespie's band in 1944, and was the drummer on Parker's first recording session as a leader (November 26, 1945 for Savoy), taking a solo on "KoKo," Parker's brilliant and challenging extrapolation from the standard "Cherokee." Even if Roach had never done a session as a leader, his '40s-'50s work in the bands of Gillespie, Parker, Monk, Bud Powell, Miles Davis (including the Birth of the Cool sessions), Dexter Gordon, Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins (Saxophone Colossus and Freedom Suite), and many more would ensure his reputation. Read more »

Max Roach, R.I.P.

max_roach.jpgIf music is the pulse of life, drums are the lifeforce. And with the passing of Max Roach, the earth will be spinning a little slower. Explore everything he made -- his dazzling cymbal work, the bombs he dropped with his bass pedal, the snap of his snare, the way he wove a tapestry that enticed everyone from Bird to Diz to Monk to Clifford Brown and kept musicians of all stripes on their toes practically right up to the end.

Max Lives!

ANNIVERSARIES: David Crosby Born August 14, 1941


David Crosby: Voyage

If I Could Only Remember My Name... (Atlantic/Rhino)

David Crosby's troubled life has overshadowed his brilliant art. Back when Melissa Etheridge and then-partner Julie Cypher picked Crosby to be their sperm donor, my friends would make dumb jokes about it or question why anyone would want their child to have the genes of an obese ex-con ex-crack addict, I would answer along the lines of "he's the best musician in one of the most successful bands of all time," by which I meant Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Read more »

Sviatoslav Richter Top Ten + Four

richterFor a decade now we have been deprived of the physical presence of the man many consider the greatest pianist of the modern age. Fortunately, we can console ourselves by listening to his vast recorded legacy, for he was long perceived as a phenomenon and his performances were documented assiduously, if not always in high fidelity. There have been at least 200 Richter albums released (at least a few against his wishes), which come and go according to the whims and misfortunes of the music biz -- much more than the casual listener can sort out. I'll try to help with that, but first a look at Richter's life and career. Read more »

Bad Title, Good Blues

bishop.jpgElvin Bishop: Booty Bumpin’ (Blind Pig)

Back in 1966 Elvin Bishop was a skinny, guitar-carrying college kid from Tulsa chasing down his blues dream in Chicago. He ran into Paul Butterfield, was endowed with the alias “Pigboy Crabshaw,” and helped make some blues history. By the early '70s Bishop was recording, leading his own bands and establishing his own blues footprint. Over the years, Bishop forged a reputation as a showman who could deliver, had a few hits, recently had deep personal setbacks, and prevailed. Read more »

John Coltrane: An Album Per Year

John Coltrane, considered by many to be the greatest saxophonist in jazz history, had a short recording career. He made his first album as a leader in 1957, when he was already 30 years old; he died of liver cancer on July 17, 1967 -- yes, forty years ago today. We are blessed that he made so many great recordings in those ten-plus years. Here's a walk through some highlights on that timeline, using recording dates rather than release dates. Read more »

Sweet Music from The Summer of Love

summer_of_love.jpg67 from 1967

I ingested the Whitney Art Museum's Summer of Love exhibit a month ago and it left me rather dazed. I wasn't blown away by this nostalgic Baby Boomer's Utopian moment hanging on the walls with psychedelic posters and even framed acid sheets, but rather inspired by the richness of the music and how it permeated the world's culture. So with that in mind I approached our site's editor Steve Holtje and asked him to compile the most essential music from this pivotal year in pop culture.

Take it away, Steve! Read more »

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