“[Iverson and Turner draw] on the austerely cerebral legacy of Lennie Tristano and Warne Marsh as well as the intimate dynamics of chamber music. Hard-swinging it’s not, but neither does it sidestep jazz tradition. Instead, Iverson and Turner employ understatement, suggestion, and artful feints to transform the blues in “Unclaimed Freight” or boil a chord progression down to its essence, as with Marsh’s “Dixie’s Dilemma.” Iverson’s playing draws freely from the classical tradition, but it’s the exquisite sweetness of Turner’s tenor, particularly as it arches into altissimo register, that truly makes this duo sing.
Photo by John Rogers
“Iverson avoids technical excess; his improvisations unfold sparely in his right hand, usually with very little or no emphasis on his left hand. He plays deliberately, nurturing his ideas sometimes in unhurried quarter notes or eighth notes...Iverson stretches tonality through single lines, which grow more adventurous the longer they unfold.
“The bassist and composer Linda May Han Oh makes music that is resolutely of the moment...Her innovative range and stellar improvisations have made Ms. Oh one of the most dynamic rising stars in jazz today.
“Iyer’s compositions are both dazzlingly complex and furiously funky. [He] isn’t stingy with his solos, but overall, he seems more interested in spotlighting his collaborators, especially the way Lehman and Shim’s choppy intensity contrasts with the spacier sound of Haynes’ flugelhorn and cornet.
“In the quest to describe the music of Fred Hersch in a word — a preposterous task, but not a pointless one — you could do a lot worse than “refinement.” Mr. Hersch is a pianist of cultivated taste and erudition; he’s also the sort of jazz musician who brings a lissome elegance to his playing, disinclined to accentuate the effort behind it all. But there’s another definition of refinement that has to do with painstaking progress, the incremental stretch toward an elusive ideal.
“Hard-bopping pianist Harold Mabern made his recording debut in 1959 with drummer Walter Perkins' quintet and led his first session in 1968 for Blue Note, and here he is, at 82, playing with straight-ahead, youthful joie de vivre!
“Mr. Frisell can pen a tender ballad, and wring from it both complex musical ideas and straightforward emotion. He can thrash his way through distortion and feedback without losing his melodic thread. He swings playfully yet forcefully, then sounds as if relaxing around a campfire. And it all fits a single narrative.
Photo by Monica Frisell
“A beautiful new suite of John Zorn music performed by the all-star guitar trio of Bill Frisell, Julian Lage and Gyan Riley! Inspired by the life and thought of the beloved spiritual figure Saint Francis of Assisi these ten lovely compositions sound beautiful on vinyl. An essential release that will appeal to perhaps the widest audience Zorn has ever had, this is truly music of the Angels.
“["The Declaration of Musical Independence" is a] portentous title for an unself-consciously inquisitive, selflessly collective quartet nominally led by the great drummer Andrew Cyrille, an elderly master of unpredictable yet flowing free-jazz momentum, steered by the kind of patience that drummers aren’t always famous for. It all swings without regular swing, sounding fluently melodic, though much of it is cell-like and episodic.
“The first incarnation of Chris Potter’s Underground Quartet in 2006 was a full-volume blast of collective virtuosity and urban grime infused with the spiky bass lines and rhythmic layers of Craig Taborn’s Fender Rhodes piano. [Today] the grit and fluency remains intact and are equally compelling but are delivered at an acoustic level more in keeping with the saxophonist’s current label, ECM. Taborn is replaced by holding-role bassist Fima Ephron, making for a more orthodox sax and rhythm jazz quartet that brings out individual skill as much as crunchy collectivity. And with Potter and guitarist Adam Rogers fully focused and playing at full stretch, skill is in generous supply.