CD Reviews

Composer-Performers

This month’s instrumental CD reviews spotlight three musicians equally impressive as composers and performers. Trombonist Marshall Gilkes reunites with the WDR Big Band for “Köln”, Pianist Oded Lev-Ari leads a unique 11-piece ensemble on Threading, and Myra Melford’s quintet pay tribute to the late Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano with the suite Snowy Egret. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the compositions and performances.

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Collaborations

The spirit of collaboration is a common thread in this month’s vocal CD reviews. Thomas Cunniffe discusses the latest releases by the Caswell Sisters (with Fred Hersch), New York Voices (and the WDR Big Band of Cologne) and Sandy Stewart (with Bill Charlap).

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Clarinets (Hold the Marmalade)

In the New Orleans, Chicago and Swing Eras, the clarinet was an essential part of any jazz ensemble. But few clarinetists tackled bebop and the instrument lost its dominance in jazz as a solo instrument. The trend may be reversing, with three new clarinet albums released in the past few months. Thomas Cunniffe reviews the new discs by Dave Bennett, Ken Peplowski and Anat Cohen.

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Changing the Tune

A change in repertoire can offer new insights into a musician’s artistry, and introduce them to a new set of fans. This month, Thomas Cunniffe examines new albums by vocalists Jacqui Dankworth, Stacey Kent and Tierney Sutton, and discusses how each singer triumphs with the new material.

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Chamber Jazz

The three instrumental CDs reviewed this month by Thomas Cunniffe feature small groups with unusual instrumentation. The Innovations Trio uses trumpet, piano and cello in fresh combinations; Jonathan Moritz’ trio of sax, bass and drums rethinks each instrument’s role; and the duo of Frank Kimbrough and Scott Robinson spice up their album of improvisations with a wide range of instruments.

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Catching Up 2

In a continuing effort to relieve the overflowing pile of discs for review, Thomas Cunniffe offers reviews of a tribute to David Baker by the Bloomington (IN) Busulli-Walarab Jazz Orchestra, a brilliant piano trio album led by Frank Kimbrough and an exquisite duet recording by vocalist Kendra Shank and pianist Geoff Keezer.

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Ann Hampton Callaway LIVE!

There is quite a difference between Ann Hampton Callaway’s cool, intimate studio recordings and her extroverted live performances. While no record company has yet recorded and released a disc of Callaway’s live jazz shows, two recent releases give a glimpse of Callaway’s live persona. Thomas Cunniffe reviews both albums.

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California Voices

Southern California may be the land of abundant sunshine and insufficient rain, but it is also the home of one of the most vibrant jazz scenes in the US. This month, Thomas Cunniffe reviews new albums by Denise Donatelli, Mark Christian Miller, Carol Welsman, and Mark Winkler which offer superb musicianship (by both the singers and the instrumentalists) and intriguing programs which include unusual song choices alongside the standards and originals.

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