CD Reviews

Straight Ahead!

Swing is a less important factor in the jazz of today, but that doesn’t mean that swing is dead. In this month’s instrumental CD reviews, Thomas Cunniffe examines a quartet of new discs by musicians of several generations that shows the validity of straight-ahead jazz.

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Solo Flights

Performing solo can be both liberating and challenging for a jazz musician. Yet solo performances tend to expose new dimensions of a player’s identity. This month, Ben Markley focuses his attention on new solo releases by guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and pianists John Medeski and Frederick Moyer.

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Worth Waiting For

Years ago, jazz musicians would typically release two or three albums a year, but with the current state of the recording industry, new CDs appear much less regularly. The three instrumental albums reviewed this month by Thomas Cunniffe are by artists who have not released albums as leaders or with their usual groups in several years. However, these recordings by Pat Bianchi, Maria Schneider and Terell Stafford were worth the wait.

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Vocalists at the Edge

The spirit of adventure is omnipresent in the latest albums by vocalists Clare Wheeler, Kaylé Brecher, Sara Serpa, Jay Clayton and Andrea Wolper. Thomas Cunniffe explores the fascinating and unpredictable music of these five talented musicians in this month’s feature CD review.

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Vocal Jazz Roundup 4

This month’s vocal jazz reviews include an intimate solo recording by Andy Bey, a tribute to veteran composer Harry Warren by Jay Clayton and a vocal showcase for trombonist Pete McGuinness. Thomas Cunniffe offers capsule reviews of these three fine recordings.

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Vocal Jazz Roundup 3

This month’s vocal jazz reviews cover a wide range of styles and material. Thomas Cunniffe reviews an elegant collection of standards by Tine Bruhn, an adventurous debut from Molly Holm, a suite of music from Black Orpheus featuring Gretchen Parlato and Leny Andrade, and a humorous tribute to hipsters by Ben Sidran.

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Vocal Intimacy

While many singers are very comfortable singing in front of an orchestra or big band, there’s something special about working with a small group.The five CDs reviewed this month feature vocalists performing in intimate duos, trios and quartets. Thomas Cunniffe discusses these albums by Karrin Allyson, Laurie Antonioli, Sinne Eeg, Elisabeth Lohninger and the New West Guitar Group (featuring Gretchen Parlato, Sara Gazarek, Peter Eldridge, Becca Stevens and Tierney Sutton)

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