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John
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Favorite Jazz Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

743 reviews/ratings
LOUIS ARMSTRONG - The Louis Armstrong Story, Volume I: Louis Armstrong And His Hot Five Classic (1920s) Jazz | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Agharta Fusion | review permalink
EARTH WIND & FIRE - Gratitude Jazz Related RnB | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Speak Like a Child Post Bop | review permalink
FRANK ZAPPA - One Size Fits All (as Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention) Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Crossings Fusion | review permalink
PARLIAMENT - Mothership Connection Funk | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Thrust Funk Jazz | review permalink
SUN RA - Angels and Demons at Play Progressive Big Band | review permalink
SUN RA - Atlantis Avant-Garde Jazz | review permalink
SANTANA - Santana Latin Rock/Soul | review permalink
FUNKADELIC - America Eats Its Young Funk | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Live At The Fillmore East Fusion | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - V.S.O.P. Post Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Get Up With It Fusion | review permalink
JIMI HENDRIX - Electric Ladyland (Jimi Hendrix Experience) Jazz Related Rock
MILES DAVIS - Miles Davis Quintet : Miles Smiles Post Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Nefertiti Post Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Big Fun Fusion | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Fusion 98 3.70
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 59 3.99
3 Hard Bop 48 3.84
4 Post Bop 40 4.13
5 Soul Jazz 39 3.40
6 World Fusion 38 3.66
7 Big Band 36 3.85
8 Eclectic Fusion 34 3.75
9 Jazz Related RnB 31 3.60
10 Jazz Related Rock 29 3.78
11 Bop 26 4.04
12 Funk Jazz 24 3.60
13 Progressive Big Band 23 4.09
14 Nu Jazz 22 3.39
15 Funk 21 3.90
16 Jazz Related Pop/Art Song/Folk 20 2.75
17 Exotica 18 3.44
18 Jazz Related DJs/Electronica/Rap 17 3.35
19 Third Stream 15 3.87
20 Cool Jazz 12 3.75
21 Post-Fusion Contemporary 11 3.55
22 Dub/Ska/Reggae 10 4.05
23 Vocal Jazz 9 3.78
24 Jazz Related Blues 9 3.72
25 Jazz Related Soundtracks 9 3.94
26 Latin Jazz 8 3.94
27 Swing 8 4.00
28 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 7 3.43
29 Latin Rock/Soul 6 3.75
30 21st Century Modern 6 4.33
31 Acid Jazz 4 3.50
32 Classic (1920s) Jazz 2 4.50
33 Jazz Education 1 3.50
34 Afro-Cuban Jazz 1 4.50
35 Dixieland 1 3.50
36 Bossa Nova 1 3.50

Latest Albums Reviews

MARIEL AUSTIN Runner in the Rain

Album · 2018 · Progressive Big Band
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You normally wouldn’t expect a debut album to be this ambitious and eclectic, but trombonist and big band arranger Mariel Austin is apparently fearless as she does not hold back on her first outing titled “Runner in the Rain”. This is a big band outing, and a very varied and imaginative one at that. Austin touches on a myriad of styles as her narrative arrangements unfold with multiple twists and turns. Many seasoned listeners will be able to tell right away that these are young players, possibly some not quite professional yet, but don’t let that hold you back from giving this a serious listen, these young cats came to play. Much of this music was written in conjunction with Mariel’s education, and the performers are all friend of hers from Berklee and the New England Conservatory. The youthfulness of the production shows in a sort of lack of glossy sheen, but once again, this should not be a problem, so many great jazz artists, Sun Ra and Charles Mingus for example, purposefully tried to avoid such ‘glossiness’ in their music.

As mentioned earlier, Austin likes to work with a wide variety of musical styles. The CD opens with a pounding punkish odd meterd drum beat and trumpet riff before fading into several semi classical passages and eventually back to the beat. Wayne Shorter’s “Night Dreamer” is given one of the most imaginative arrangements as tone colors shift and morph in organic colors. “Mirrorshift” features a closing section with the woodwind section singing exotica style wordless vocals, while “One Way Journey” is a slow jam funk ballad with missed loved ones in mind. Album closer and title track, “Runner in the Rain” ,is a moving art song about loss with well written lyrics and vocals by Nariel herself. Fans of modern big band, and also fans of today’s youthful eclectic approach will want to check this out. Hopefully there are more big band albums coming soon from Mariel Austin.

DON CHERRY Complete Communion

Album · 1966 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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Recorded in 1966, “Complete Communion” was Don Cherry’s first album as sole leader. Having already spent time as co-leader with the likes of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler and Sonny Rollins, Cherry was more than ripe for his turn to lead things. On board with him is Gato Barbieri, who had met Don in Rome and was interested in trying out this ‘new thing’ called free jazz. Rounding out the band is Henry Grimes on bass and Edward Blackwell on drums. Right off the bat this album bears a strong resemblance to Cherry’s early 60s work with Ornette, which is no big surprise since Blackwell is on drums. Eddie’s drumming with Ornette and Don had helped define the group since he joined them in 1960, and likewise his unique skills also help define this outing giving it some Ornette quartet similarity. Yes, there are those similarities in basic style, but “Complete Communion” is hardly a facsimile as both Cherry and Gato spin their unique take on what can happen within this 60s free bop framework.

The whole album was recorded in one take with every tune butted up against each other without break. In fact its not often exactly clear where one song starts and the other ends, which is a good thing. This one take approach makes for a very imaginative arrangement and it is one of this album’s big pluses. The various tunes that come and go owe a large debt to the work of Bird and Diz, which is also a very good thing. Once the players dig into their solos, they often have a four way conversation going, but also there are times where any one of the performers might step to the forefront, particularly Don and Gato. While Cherry is mostly melodic on here, Gato often goes for an Archie Shepp style barrage of notes and above the normal range high pitched excursions. Despite how well he handles all of this, Gato did not stay in the avant-garde scene for long, which is another feature that makes this album unique.

This is an excellent album that, much like what Miles was playing live at this time, rides that border between free jazz and really out there post bop. Fans of Don’s early work with Ornette will dig hearing another possibility of where that music could end up. It also helps that the recording quality on ‘Communion’ is very good. Some are critical of this album claiming that Cherry will find his true voice as a leader when he starts working with African and Asian influences, but taken on its own merit, this album is one hep far out be-bop trip.

THE ODD DOGS Beneath the Surface

Album · 2018 · Fusion
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If you think jazz fusion practitioners are still just playing the same styles we heard back in the 70s, then new group Odd Dogs is a band you should check out, particularly their debut album, “Beneath the Surface”. This is a new band experimenting with some new fusion combinations, but the members of this band carry a lot of history with them, particularly drummer Ralph Humphrey. Many will recognize Ralph’s name from the earliest days of jazz fusion when he was playing with pioneers such as Don Ellis and Frank Zappa. Not one to rest on what he already knows, Ralph’s early work was a stepping stone to the sort of rhythmic complexities he works with on “Surface”. The other members of the band, Steve Billman on bass, Jeff Miley on guitar, Andy Suzuki on woodwinds and keyboards, and Billy Hulting on percussion also come from a long history of working with A-list performers.

Billman and Riley started the band as a power trio with Ralph as they wrote contemporary jazz tunes with a decided prog rock influence, but not prog in a cliché pompous heavy handed sort of way, but more in the way that each track often has multiple sections and rhythmic changeups in various odd-metered rhythms. There are some rock-out sections here and there, but mostly this is a jazz record with plenty of syncopated Latin and funk rhythms and some straight up contemporary swing feel too. The various sections of these compositions cover a myriad of jazz and rock styles, but never in a contrived way, all of the tracks have a nice organic flow to them.

Some highlights on “Beneath the Surface” include the fast paced post bop hustle and rapid solos on “Title 5”, the gritty rockin guitar on “The Beast”, and the ear candy folk tune melody of “A Simple Word”. Looking for something new in the world of fusion, the Odd Dogs carry some elements familiar to the long time fusion fan, but ‘beneath the surface’, they are working with subtle and creative new ideas, especially in the realms of rhythm and arrangement.

PUBLIC ENEMY It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back

Album · 1988 · Jazz Related DJs/Electronica/Rap
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Very few albums have hit with the nuclear thunderclap impact of Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back”. Although their first album had hinted at greatness, nothing could have prepared the world of popular music for the intense power of “It Takes a Nation …”. What Coltrane did to jazz and Hendrix did to rock, Public Enemy did to rap and hip-hop. Not only was the rap game affected by this release, but also the worlds of electronica, RnB, heavy rock and industrial music too. Bands and artists from many genres began to realize how much they could bring to their music with some creative sampling and production. Possibly even more important though, lead rapper Chuck D brought consciousness of what it meant to be a black man in the US to many people who probably would not have picked up this knowledge any other way. It wasn’t only the city youth who knew every word of these songs by heart, but many suburban kids were digging this too. Both musically and lyrically, this was one of the most influential albums of its time in any genre.

There are many who will probably never forget the first time they heard “Bring the Noise” blasting out of a pair of speakers. This album is no longer the shock it once was because so many have imitated it, but when it first came out, nothing sounded like this. Along with Chuck’s booming voice, fellow rapper Flava Flav’s humorous asides, and Terminator X’s funky sampled beats and sax riffs, you got this barrage of pure chaotic noise that worked perfectly with the music. The crescendoing cauldron of sounds that threaten to drown out Chuck only made his voice and words more powerful and urgent.

There is no dead air on here, every cut is dynamite. Some highlights include, "Night of the Living Baseheads", which has Chuck raging against crack addiction, “Cold Lampin with Flavor”, on which Flav spouts free wheelin nonsense over a funky beat, and the heavy rock drive of “She Watch Channel Zero”, which inspired both Slayer and Anthrax to perform this track with Chuck. After being in the forefront during the late 60s, politically driven African-American consciousness had taken a back seat during the me first materialistic 80s. With this album, Chuck D and his crew changed all that and brought their message of no sell out to cars, homes, parties and clubs all around the world.

MATTHEW SHIPP Zero

Album · 2018 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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Despite the many albums he has put out, its hard to think of one bum one from Matthew Shipp. The consistent quality is always there, but if you really want to hear what Shipp is capable of, you’ll want to go with his solo works. The group albums are usually good, and often great, but the music on these albums tends to be very busy and full, and Matthew’s voice has to compete against saxophones, drums and all manner of noise. On his solo albums, the runway is all clear and all we hear is how much space Shipp can fill up all by himself. Matthew comes from that old school two-fisted piano tradition of Art Tatum in which the piano is made to replicate an orchestra complete with many intertwining lines and big thick harmonies. To that foundation Shipp adds Cecil Taylor influenced atonal excursions as well as elements from the world of classical music ranging from Chopin to Charles Ives and Stockhausen.

“Zero” is Shipp’s latest solo recoding and finds him sitting in a studio and knocking out eleven improvisations that are presented on the CD without much break. Each track tends to be in a distinctly different style, so if you are listening closely, you will probably notice when a new track is on. If this CD is just playing in the background, then it will probably sound like one long piece. Matthew’s playing is somewhat different on “Zero“, more relaxed and less harsh or busy. Many passages contain material that may sound familiar, including elements of bop, blues and classical music. The end result is that this is a CD where its easier to follow how brilliant Matthew is at working ideas inside and out in mind boggling variations and just taking a strain of logic about as far as it can go. Instead of bombarding us with just how much he can be, Matthew instead gives us something to latch on to, something that takes our minds on a ride.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 3 hours ago in What are You Listening II
    ^ If you play a blues gig in Memphis, no matter who the performer is, there's a very good chance you will be playing "The Sky is Crying". Meanwhile, Exotica Metal!?!  :[TUBE]TWYZIw-IQZ4[/TUBE]
  • Posted 4 hours ago in What are You Listening II
    Oh good, then the instructions work. I couldn't actually show the placement of the letters because if you do that, it automatically turns into a video link. It was hard trying to explain it without being able to show the actual configuration.Glad it worked out.
  • Posted 22 hours ago in What are You Listening II
    [QUOTE=Matt][QUOTE=js]^ Sounds interesting, Anthony is a long time favorite of mine.[/QUOTE] It has Mary Halvorson and Taylor Ho Bynum plus others in the ensemble. I found composition 377 almost a sound collage. The three comps go for just under an hour each and the entire album is there John. He has the entire band wearing IPods playing to them with what is coming through. Although it is a crazy cacophony I strangely want to  keep hearing it. Here is the address for the entire three comps Johnhttps://firehouse12records.com/album/3-compositions-eemhm-2011 [/QUOTE] You're right, this is excellent, Anthony Braxton is a genius once again. I made a live link in case our listening audience wants to check it out:https://firehouse12records.com/album/3-compositions-eemhm-2011 js2018-11-16 20:22:14

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Warthur wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Hey dude,

You've banned me from the forums but I can still access the review submission system and site interactions.

If that is intentional then fair enough but if not I thought it'd only be honest to give you a heads up.

Warthur wrote:
more than 2 years ago
js - please clear some space in your PM inbox, I'm trying to send you something.

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