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Showing posts from July, 2018

R+R=NOW Collagically Speaking music for a new era of activism

The genre of jazz is no stranger to super-groups, and there is a new gang making the scene this summer. Led by new vanguard heavyweights Robert Glasper, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, and Terrace Martin; R+R=Now brings a neo-soul feel, poignant spoken-word performances, and A-1 improvisation to their debut recording Collagically Speaking. Those approaching the album expecting “bangers” might leave disappointed, but listeners are sure to be treated to solid grooves rooted in the jazz tradition, designed to respond to the polarized state of today’s society. It must be said from the start that, like all of Glasper’s and Scott’s most-recent projects, there is no dearth of talent. From Glasper’s delicate touch on the piano, to the masterful use of the vocoder and samples by Martin, the entire group functions on a level of synchronicity exhibited by musicians twice their ages. The trumpet work of Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah is evocative of Miles Davis, circa Big Fun or Bitches Brew -- wh

JD Allen's Love Stone is a truly delightful experience

It isn’t often that an artist presents a piece of work that has a quiet introspection, combined with fantastic improvisation. It’s even rarer when that artist puts out an entire album of ballads. With his newest offering, Love Stone, saxophonist JD Allen does exactly this. Balancing intricate improvisation and contemplative melancholy, Allen’s Love Stone is truly a delightful experience. There are many stand-out cuts on the recording, but for my money “You’re My Thrill,” “Someday (You’ll Want Me to Want You),” and “Put on a Happy Face” are truly remarkable. There is a beauty that carries through “You’re My Thrill,” from the first note all the way through to the end; “Put On a Happy Face” has, on a cursory level, a melancholic thread weaving throughout, but upon multiple listens, there is an elegiac joy underscoring the piece giving a strange sense of comfort. However, it is Allen’s interpretation of the Johnny Hodges number “Someday (You’ll Want Me to Want You)” that make this cut th

Marcus Miller balances beauty and the beat.

For some of us, summer music releases are as exciting, if not more so, than summer blockbusters. One such blockbuster is Marcus Miller's second Blue Note date, Laid Black , which was released by the label on June 1. With only two out of nine tracks falling short, and combined with names from the worlds of both jazz and gospel, Miller seamlessly blends heartfelt beauty with crowd-energizing funk. The most striking observation one makes with this release is that Miller has been busy composing, not just performing, in the last 3 years since his previous Blue Note release, Afrodeezia . Miller wrote, or co-wrote, 8 of the cuts on this album, flawlessly evoking quiet contemplation while still exciting the listener into wanting more. Surprisingly, it is the ballads on the album that compel the listener to return to the album. Millers original pieces “Sublimity ‘Bunny’s Dream’,” “Someone to Love,” and “Preacher’s Kid” are earnest, evocative piece that take the listener throu