CD Reviews

Chick Corea/Eddie Gomez/Paul Motian: “Further Explorations” (Concord 33364)

Culled from 24 sets over a two-week stand at New York’s Blue Note, the new album by Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez and Paul Motian, Further Explorations started out as a tribute to Bill Evans but became an examination of the entire piano trio format. Thomas Cunniffe reviews this stunning double CD.

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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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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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Anat Cohen & Joe Lovano: Reinterpreting the Masters

Tribute albums are nothing new in jazz, but recent releases by Anat Cohen and Joe Lovano offer deep insights into the music of Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker, while also giving us prime examples of jazz in the present tense. Thomas Cunniffe reviews Cohen’s Clarinetwork and Lovano’s Bird Songs.

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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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Amy Cervini: “Digging Me, Digging You” (Anzic 34)

Blossom Dearie’s style was so subtle that it was hard to describe and even harder to imitate. On her new album Digging Me, Digging You, Amy Cervini captures that elusive style. Thomas Cunniffe offers his thoughts on Dearie and Cervini in this CD review.

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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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CD Review Roundup

This month’s new CDs include a solo set by Dena DeRose, a live quintet recording by Lewis Nash, an exploration of jazz and Brazilian music by Monday Michiru, an album of originals by the Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet, a wide-open collection by the Hot Club of Detroit and a tribute to Duke Ellington and his saxophonists by an all-star band led by Mark Masters of the American Jazz Institute. Thomas Cunniffe and Amy Duncan provide the details.

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Bright Vocal Talents

Our vocal CD reviews showcase three remarkable young singers who have mastered the jazz language and could either carry old traditions into the next generation or blaze innovative trails. Thomas Cunniffe discusses impressive new releases by Cyrile Aimée, Gregory Porter and Nicky Schrire.

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Don Braden/Karl Latham: “Big Fun(k) Live” (Creative Perspective 3001)

Recorded live at Cecil’s in West Orange, New Jersey, Big Fun(k) Live is the latest album by saxophonist Don Braden and Karl Latham. Ellen Johnson provides an enthusiastic review, hearing the group’s roots in the music of Weather Report, Miles Davis and Grover Washington, Jr.

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