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MILES DAVIS Kind of Blue Album Cover Kind of Blue
MILES DAVIS
4.81 | 114 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE A Love Supreme Album Cover A Love Supreme
JOHN COLTRANE
4.79 | 84 ratings
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BILL EVANS (PIANO) Waltz for Debby Album Cover Waltz for Debby
BILL EVANS (PIANO)
4.93 | 11 ratings
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CHARLES MINGUS The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Album Cover The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
CHARLES MINGUS
4.77 | 60 ratings
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BILL EVANS (PIANO) Sunday at the Village Vanguard (aka Live At The Village Vanguard) Album Cover Sunday at the Village Vanguard (aka Live At The Village Vanguard)
BILL EVANS (PIANO)
4.87 | 14 ratings
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WES MONTGOMERY The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery Album Cover The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery
WES MONTGOMERY
4.88 | 10 ratings
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KEITH JARRETT The Köln Concert Album Cover The Köln Concert
KEITH JARRETT
4.73 | 32 ratings
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ESBJÖRN SVENSSON TRIO (E.S.T.) Live in Hamburg Album Cover Live in Hamburg
ESBJÖRN SVENSSON TRIO (E.S.T.)
4.94 | 7 ratings
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HERBIE HANCOCK Empyrean Isles Album Cover Empyrean Isles
HERBIE HANCOCK
4.76 | 21 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE Live at Birdland Album Cover Live at Birdland
JOHN COLTRANE
4.82 | 12 ratings
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MILES DAVIS 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis) Album Cover 'Round About Midnight (aka Miles Davis)
MILES DAVIS
4.72 | 36 ratings
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JOHN COLTRANE My Favorite Things Album Cover My Favorite Things
JOHN COLTRANE
4.70 | 45 ratings
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modern jazz Music Reviews

DWIKI DHARMAWAN Rumah Batu

Album · 2018 · World Fusion
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js
In recent times there have been several artists who have attempted to merge traditional Indonesian music with modern jazz fusion, some have been more successful than others, but possibly the artist who has created the ultimate seamless mix is pianist/composer Dwiki Dharmawan. On his latest album, “Rumah Batu”, Dwiki displays how he builds this unique synthesis. Unlike some others who try to force unlike components against each other, Dharmawan uses the essence of Indonesian music as the foundation for his fusion excursions, hence the two worlds become organically connected in a way that flows naturally. Dwiki takes these jazz and Indonesian elements and creates lengthy tracks with sprawling busy arrangements presented with a big production sound that recalls epic movie soundtracks or equaling epic gatefold album cover classic prog-rock.

The two lengthy opening tracks on “Rumah Batu” contain some of the album’s most exciting fusion jams. Dwiki and his band mate’s approach to fusion is very high energy and over the top as they veer into free jazz territory. Dharmawan’s massive assaults on the piano can recall McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and Vijay Iyer, while guitarist Nguyen Le’s distortion drenched fiery leads may remind some of Larry Coryell or Pete Cosey. After these two openers the band settles into a beautiful vocal number sung by Dewi Gita. The vocal style presented here may be different than what western ears are used to, so maybe its time to open up and try some new things. The first part of “Rumah Batu Suite” is a funky jazz rock jam with some improvised vocalizing, while the second part is an all out free jazz free-for-all. The album closes with the folksy “Selamatkan Orangutan”, a pleasant farewell after the intensity of the previous tracks.

SHABAKA AND THE ANCESTORS Wisdom of Elders

Album · 2016 · World Fusion
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snobb
"Wisdom Of Elders" has been recorded by London's new jazz scenes' leading figure reedist Shabaka Hutchings in one day without rehearsals in Johannesburg, South Africa with leading domestic musicians (stated as Ancestors).

As with Hutching's other projects, music here sounds not nostalgic but very modern. Oppositely different from over-exploited Afro-beat, "African" part of the program comes from what some decades ago was known as "Cape jazz" - relaxed soulful melodic songs well known from Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) music. Half-a-century ago this music reached to England with a wave of South African jazz musicians, running from apartheid(Louis Moholo, Johnny Dyani,etc) and was adapted as part of British avant-garde jazz of the time.

Other significant element of album's music comes from Shabaka's Caribbean background. It's really impressive how organically both parts fit producing beautiful mix of blues, calypso, spiritual jazz and elegant Cape jazz rhythms.

Released three years ago "Wisdom Of Elders" is another cornerstone of burgeoning London's young jazz scene.

SARATHY KORWAR Sarathy Korwar & The UPAJ Collective : My East Is Your West

Live album · 2018 · World Fusion
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snobb
US-born, India-grown and London-based percussionist and tabla player Sarathy Korwar debuted as leader two years ago with studio album "Day To Day" recorded in India (participating was one of the new British jazz scene's leaders - tenor Shabaka Hutchings) and released on hip Ninja Tune label. The album contained an eclectic mix of Indian music, dialogues, electronics and London sound and was a partially successful debut, hardly more.

"My East Is Your West", Korwar's second release,is a strong improvement. Massive triple-vinyl live set is all-organic and contains all-new material. Band's line-up is slightly modified with British female tenor Tamar Osborn replacing Shabaka Hutchings, additional alto sax player Jesse Bannister and improved Indian instruments section (incl. Santoor/Tabla player John Ball, Mridangam / Kanjira player B.C. Manjunath and Bansuri player Aravindhan Baheerathan).

As a result, the new band (named Upaj Collective) sounds much more "Indian" and recalls Shakti's Indian fusion sound. This is not strange, third album contains a John McLaughlin composition, "Mind Ecology". And that's only for starters - album's songs are covers of renown spiritual jazz, fusion or World fusion songs, just seriously reworked and presented as Indian music scented longish pieces.

Pharoah Sanders' "The Creator Has A Master Plan" lasts almost ten minutes and besides of main theme's intro and some snippets sounds quite different from original. Cover of Alice Coltrane "Journey In Satchidananda" is closer to how it sounded decades ago, as well as Ravi Shankar's "Mishrank". One can find Abdullah Ibrahim's "Hajj", Don Cherry's "Utopia And Visions", and Joe Henderson's "Earth" on a list among others.

With no doubt a significant component of successful result is not only strong material, but HOW the band plays it. Multicultural collective of authentically trained Indian instruments players and Europeans find a unique balance between two cultural traditions. The music is obviously Indian-influenced with characteristic arrangements, techniques and sound, but at the same time it never slips toward esoteric meditative repetitive noodling which undermined some of Shakti's later releases. Instead, the Europeans add more framed structures, rhythmic order (almost groovy in moments), and in general more accessible, slightly "westernized" sound.

A bit conventional for today's fashion, acoustic-only sound makes this album probably a bit less hip but at the same time builds a bridge with spiritual jazz and Indo-fusion of the 60s and 70s producing a music which has bigger value than just a hit of the day. One among stronger world fusion albums of the last couple decades.

THE WAY AHEAD (ROLIGHETEN / ALBERTS / BARNO / ALEKLINT / STAHL / HOYER / OSTVANG) Bells, Ghosts And Other Saints

Album · 2018 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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snobb
The Way Ahead is a new Nordic mini-big band in a tradition of popular co-patriots Angles. Their debut's title says a lot about the source of inspiration - "Bells" and "Ghosts" are well known Albert Ayler compositions, and (Marching)"Saints" are both Ayler spirit and his music roots.

Similarly as "Angles" a decade ago (who grew up from sextet till nonet in few years), "The Way Ahead" are a brass-section centered septet with vibist playing heavy-brass arranged soulful compositions in a manner of marching bands. The main difference is Angles's source of inspiration were Balkan rhythms and Serbian Guča Trumpet Fest folk marching bands style, The Way Ahead are inspired by Albert Ayler interpretation of early New Orleans marching bands jazz.

Both play music without trying to sound authentic - both bands' starting point and interpretation method is free jazz first of all. Similarity in sound isn't accidental though - trombonist Mats Aleklint and vibist Mattias Stahl are members of both projects. Swedish trumpeter Niklas Barnö is a member of another extremely successful and influential modern Swedish progressive big band Fire! Orchestra (led by Mats Gustafsson).

No strange that having such genes new project from their very first release sound as very professional and matured collective. They don't try to sound as raw as Ayler or original early New Orleans marching bands, instead they uses their legacy producing more rounded European sound still having lot of fun but partially attracting more sophisticated listener.

"Bells,Ghosts And Other Saints" doesn't sound revolutionary, it is an evolutionary continuation of Angles/Fire! Orchestra works which most probably will attract fans of both above mentioned bands.

PHILLIP JOHNSTON Phillip Johnston & the Coolerators : Diggin' Bones

Album · 2018 · Fusion
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kev rowland
At the same time as releasing Johnston’s soundtrack album, Asynchronous are also releasing the debut album by Johnston with his band The Coolerators, a band he formed after moving to Australia in 2005. On this album he provides both soprano and alto saxophone, and he has been joined by Alister Spence (organ), Lloyd Swanton (bass) with Nick Cecire (drums). Here we have a band showing that when it comes to playing jazz and blues there is often an overlap, here brought together with a huge amount of swing and funk. Swanton and Cecire do their best to provide a structure for the other two to work on, and then stay out the way while also displaying their own wonderful musical ability. Cecire is the more flamboyant of the two, with an impressive work rate on different areas of the kit, but Swanton keeps it all tied down and doesn’t let the band get too out of control.

Given the way Johnston and Spence combine together, or against one another, mixing in multiple influences and styles that is indeed no mean task. The title song sounds influenced by South America, India, Morocco and the Middle East but somehow all comes together and makes sense as Spence allows Johnston to take a far more prominent role. Two albums released at the same time, but two very different styles indeed, and it is hard to say which one is better, so best say instead that they are both indeed well worth investigating.

modern jazz movie reviews

WEATHER REPORT Live in Germany 1971

Movie · 2010 · Fusion
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Sean Trane
Well if the world still has to find some live recording from the very first studio all-star line-up (not likely, though), at least we've got now something very close to and we can even see the quintet at work with this just-as-famous version in the form of a German TV show called the Beat Club. With only Airto Moreira gone, replaced by Brazilian countryman Um Romao, the other four being Vitous, Shorter, Mouzon and Zawinul, Weather Report embarked on this TV show adventure not knowing that Alphonse Mouzon would leave the band in a while.

As you'd expect this broadcast consisted mainly of tracks from the debut album, but some are fairly different as WR always made improvisation their force. So you'll recognize 'Umbrellas generic structure, but drafted fairly differently, not just because of Romao's constant change of percussions instruments - he's one of the visual focus of the group, who otherwise remains fairly static and even blows a flute (and later some whistles) for a short while. One of the big difference between the studio album and this broadcast is that Miroslav has taken up the electric bass (his contrabass is still very present but mainly played with a bow), thus allowing even more energy to invade the quintet's shared space. The group's steaming-hot improvised fusion is simply awesome and flows naturally from your speakers like a river of fresh lave spewing out from your volcanic woofers.

Clearly the gravitational centre of the band is Zawinul's Rhodes, but it is clear that it is the group's tightness its main force. Morning Lake is much needed breathing space, starting out slowly with Shorter's sax signalling the dawn for Romao's birdsongs. Just past that Dom pulls an Brazilian berimbau . Drummer Alphonse sings funkilly (rather well, too) a rare sung track in the closing medley, but it's will veer into the Dr Honoris Causa - later on the Body Electric album.

A while later, Mouzon would leave the band and be replaced by drummer Erik Gravatt and this line-up would go on to record Body Electric and the Tokyo concert (released in 77, but part of it in the ISTBE album) and in the process become the definitive line-up of the Vitous- era Weather Report But for now, this German TV broadcast is an inestimable witness of the group's almost original line-up, and is just as essential as their debut album, the Tokyo concert or Body Electric.Too bad it's relatively short, though. Run for this baby...

MEDESKI MARTIN AND WOOD Fly In A Bottle

Movie · 2011 · Eclectic Fusion
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js
“Fly in a Bottle” is a documentary that follows Medeski, Martin and Wood while they are on tour developing the music that will become “Radiolarians”, as well as some of the recording sessions for that same album. The music on here is excellent, MM&W have a come a long way over the years. They were always a talented band from the start, but their confidence has grown. The funky tunes are funkier than ever, and the psychedelic jazz-rock tunes are more powerful, imaginative and original. Almost any music fan might enjoy watching their concerts and even some of their recording sessions, but a lot of the rest of this DVD is for hardcore fans only.

Along with the footage of MM&W playing music, you also get a lot of footage of them on tour visiting ecological tourist spots and talking, hanging out etc, which is where I think a lot of non-fans will probably start losing interest. They seem like nice sincere guys, but they aren’t particularly entertaining or charismatic, which is often the case with nice sincere guys. There are also some artsy short videos that follow the main feature, some more entertaining than others. Fans of MM&W may want to pick this up, it’s a well-made video and the music is excellent, but non-fans may find this lacking in substance in places.

DIXIE DREGS Live At The Montreaux Jazz Festival

Movie · 2005 · Fusion
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Slartibartfast
This was the Dixie Dregs lineup that I first come to know live and otherwise. The Montreaux Jazz Festival performance was used for side two of the LP Night of the Living Dregs. I had no idea the concert was filmed. This represents the band at their prime. Keyboardist Mark Parrish, would soon be replaced by T Lavitz, who is a better keyboard player, but this as this performance testifies, he was no slouch either. Oddly enough, the back cover of this DVD shows a band picture with the original keyboardist from Freefall, Steve Davidowski (guess there was only room for one Steve in this band). Steve Morse was at his most inspired around this time, even though he has certainly grown in skill over the years.

The set list is a little disappointing as it lacks some of the prime cuts from What If (Night Meets Light, Odyssey, Travel Tunes, What If), but I'm not complaining. Now I have something more than just memories of the many Dregs shows I saw back then. It is more of a forward looking set which includes Attila The Hun, that didn't show up on an album until three years later. Also of note, but of less interest to progressive rock fans, is the bluegrass style ditty, Kathreen, never released on a regular album, but only showed up on their demo album, The Great Spectacular, from 1975. If you have a copy of that album, you have something rare, indeed.

Thrown in for bonus are two live TV appearances, one on American Can'tstand (Bandstand) and one on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert. On the former, you get to see them both try out a vocalist, in an attempt to appeal to a more mainstream audience, and with Mark O'Connor, who only played with them for one album, but a few great live shows before the band disbanded for a few years.

As great as the band studio albums were, the live shows took things to an even higher level. Now you can see what you missed, unless you didn't.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN Abstract Logix Live! / The New Universe Music Festival 2010

Movie · 2011 · Fusion
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js
Abstract Logix’s New Universe Festival of 2010 was probably one of the more significant fusion concerts in recent history, and it is all captured in excellent form on this concert video. Many of the top names in current fusion are here and what a great varied and colorful approach they all bring to this music that will always be associated with its 70s roots. Ranjit Barot fuses fusion with Indian flavors and orchestral music, Human Element bring back the beautiful noise and chaos that has been absent since the early days of jazz-rock, Wayne Krantz takes on the modern NYC flavor with his harsh jarring free funk, Jimmy Herring plays sentimental, sometimes delicate, progressive rock flavored fusion, and of course the great John McLaughlin rounds it all up with high speed post bop mixed with funk and contemporary fusion. Every single performance is top notch and very convincing in letting us know that there is still plenty of life left in this sometimes maligned genre.

The music on here is great, but the video itself is even better. Its amazing how far concert videos have come over the years. This one is clear as a bell and features lots of accurate close-ups of the musicians as they display their virtuoso skills. They say that fusion is a musician’s music, if that is the case, then this video is a great learning tool for the aspiring player. Much of the footage on here goes right to the source and features the musician’s hands as they work their scales and fret boards. Any aspiring fusionist can pick up a lifetime of high speed licks and extended technique by studying this video and even stop-starting it it frame by frame. Long gone are the days of vague camera angles from way far away and pointless shots of musicians grimacing while they play, this video is all about accuracy and showing you exactly how this music goes down. This is a spirited and enthusiastic concert and highly recommended for fans of modern fusion.

MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA Live At Montreux 74/84

Movie · 2007 · Fusion
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Slartibartfast
The 1984 appearance of the MO was a lineup that didn't have any of the previous MO lineup of musicians except for John. Still there was a pretty impressive roster. Jonas Hellborg, on bass, steals the show. I suspect he's been rather influenced by Jaco at this point. Also, we also have Bill Evans, fairly fresh out of his stint saxing with Miles Davis. There's also a fine drummer, Danny Gottlieb, who'd played with Pat Metheny prior. Don't know much about Mitchell Forman. With John experimenting with the Synclavier Guitar so much, the keyboards are almost redundant in this ensemble. I had a hard time sitting through this at first. It definitely has that '80's taint, if you know what I mean. But I've warmed up to it. It's a bit like an attempt to return to the magic of the original lineup that doesn't quite get there. Still, if you judge it in the context of the time, it's not too bad.

I got this for one reason and one reason only, it was the two video bits from the Apocalypse lineup of Mahavishu Orchestra. Actually calling them bits isn't quite accurate. Wings of Karma and Hymn to Him are actually decently long pieces. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had some actual orchestra musicians with them there at Montreaux. The first inkling I got that there was some live footage from this MO lineup was a poor quality video of Smile of the Beyond on a certain video clip web site many of us know of. It's very disappointing that we only get two clips from the show with video and the rest are audio only. I'm guessing the rest of the original footage has been lost. One can only hope that it will resurface. The performance is a bit more structured than the more compact MO's could be live, but that's to be expected due to the larger number of musician's involved. Still the core band does get to work in some improvisation, McLaughlin in particular.

This release is all in all a pleasant surprise for 2007, but there's more video out there from the older Mahavishu Orchestras, and I hope to see that material surface soon. It gets a four on the round up.

Artists with Modern Jazz release(s)

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
MILES DAVIS
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A Love Supreme Post Bop
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The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band
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My Favorite Things Hard Bop
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