Category Archives: Reviews

Monk Unearthed

Thelonious Monk Quintet
Les liaisons dangereuses 1960 (Sam Records and Saga)
A review

In 1958, iconic jazz pianist/composer Thelonious Monk, whose centenary we are celebrating this year (and no one more happily than I), was approached to provide music for Roger Vadim’s film Les liaisons dangereuses 1960. For a variety of personal and professional reasons, Monk resisted scoring new music for the project, but in July 1959, he did go into the studio in New York to record his current repertoire with a short-lived but very effective quintet that included Charlie Rouse (alto), Barney Wilen (tenor), Sam Jones (bass), and Art Taylor (drums). The use of this music in the film stirred critical controversy, but there was little doubt as to its quality. Unfortunately, the only way to hear the music since 1960 has been to watch the 101-minute film, which includes 33 minutes of Monk’s music under the film’s dialogue. Until now. That music—and much more— is now available on this two-LP or two-CD set (and as a download). Continue reading

Four Jazz Reviews

Just about every jazz fan should be able to find something they like among these four very different recordings from the Ted Brown Quartet, Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan, the Anyaa Arts Quartet, and Fabian Almazan and Rhizome. Continue reading

Masters at Play

Two new releases spotlight masters of different territories in the musical universe, pianist Marc Copland and flutist Nicole Mitchell. Continue reading

New Releases from Sexmob, and Red Planet with Bill Carrothers

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Two new releases offer a rambunctious romp from Sexmob, and an elegant pairing of electric guitar trio (Red Planet) and acoustic piano (Bill Carrothers). Continue reading

Four Masters of Improvisation: Crothers and Payne, Mann and Krachy

The late pianist Connie Crothers, who lives on the same trunk of the jazz tree as pianist Lennie Tristano, with whom she studied, has been the center of gravity for a number of impressive musicians who have flourished under her watch. Among those Crothers colleagues are clarinetist Bill Payne and saxophonist Charley Krachy, who appear on three albums reviewed here. Each of the albums features what drummer Carol Tristano, Lennie’s daughter, thought might well be described as organic improvisation. You might also call it spontaneous improvisation (but not free). The first two recordings are The Stone Set/Conversations, a double album that pairs Payne with Crothers. Released in 2011, it is still as fresh now as then. The second is Conversations, a brand-new release that pairs Krachy with renowned blues/jazz/Americana guitarist Woody Mann, who himself studied with Tristano. The albums couldn’t be more different, but the two duos share one thing: they live as comfortably and joyously in musical improvisation as dolphins do in the sea. Continue reading