Excursions into the Heart of the Matter—Releases from Kate McGarry/Keith Ganz/Gary Versace and from Oliver’s Cinema

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Music can be put to many uses, from washing away the dust of everyday life, as Art Blakey put it, to stirring martial resolve on the battlefield. I submit that its highest calling is to expand our consciousness, elevate our spiritual awareness, foster compassion both for ourselves and others. That requires musicians of exceptional skill and daring who are willing to unmask themselves. The personnel of the two trios reviewed here—Kate McGarry, Keith Ganz, and Gary Versace; and Eric Vloeimans, Tuur Florizoone, and Jörg Brinkmann—meet all the requirements. The two albums—respectively, The Subject Tonight Is Love and Act 2—make excursions deep under the skin, into the heart of the matter. Continue reading

Omar Sosa Goes Big Band, and Kit Downes Goes (Almost) Solo

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Cuban pianist/composer/shaman Omar Sosa has once again teamed up with arranger Jaques Morelenbaum and the formidable NDR Bigband to project his compositions on a wide orchestral screen, and Kit Downes plumbs the orchestral capabilities of three pipe organs on a spacey collection of improvisational performances. Continue reading

Stocking Stuffers

The latest releases from Tom McDermott and Chloe Feoranzo, and from Don Messina deserve consideration for the stockings of friends and family with eclectic musical tastes. Continue reading

Different Strokes: Quintet Releases from Matt Wilson, Taylor Haskins, and Joe Fiedler

Three of the more original voices in the jazz world—drummer Matt Wilson, trumpeter Taylor Haskins, and trombonist Joe Fiedler—have new releases that show three different faces of jazz. Continue reading

Two Quick Hits: Eddie Daniels/Roger Kellaway and Florian Hoefner

Two new releases cover an old but still fresh performance by a classic quartet featuring Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway at the Village Vanguard, and a solo excursion on the shores of Newfoundland by pianist Florian Hoefner. Continue reading