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Remembering Charlie Haden

By Kevin Whitehead, Contributor

Bassist Charlie Haden died at 76 on July 11, surrounded by his singer wife and singer children — a fitting end, considering his start in life. Haden sang and yodeled on an Iowa radio station from the age of 2, with his parents' Haden Family Band. Their hillbilly music might seem a far cry from the adult Haden's jazz, but both prize assertive, vocal string playing, and the Missouri-reared Haden coaxed a peerlessly warm, woody,… more »


Albert Ayler's 'Spiritual Unity' Turns 50

By Kevin Whitehead, Contributor

The first edition's silkscreen cover looked sharp, but by all other indications, the Albert Ayler Trio's Spiritual Unity seemed like an offhand effort. It's not quite half an hour long, has only three tunes (one of them played twice), and was made in a couple of hours at a cheap studio with an engineer so inattentive he recorded it in mono. The first edition had to be recalled, because a wrong tune was accidentally issued… more »


Jose James's Road Out of Jazz

By Dan Ouellette, Contributor

Around the time Jose James's sweetly soulful Blue Note Records debut, No Beginning No End, was released, the singer/songwriter said he didn't want to be a jazz singer anymore. He had recorded a couple of jazz-informed albums, the best-known of which was 2010's For All We Know, a standards duo project with Belgian pianist Jef Neve on Impulse. While it showcased James's distinctive baritone voice, it, disappointingly, was just another album of songs from years… more »

New + Noteworthy

Label Spotlight: Eremite Records

eMusic Reviews View All

The Cellar and Point, Ambit

2014 | Label: Cuneiform Records / The Orchard

Guitarist Christopher Botta and drummer/producer Joseph Branciforte winningly refer to their oddly constructed, oddly named septet as a “garage chamber” group. That group, called the Cellar and Point, includes both acoustic and electric guitars, violin and cello (Christopher Otto and Kevin McFarland, respectively, from the renowned JACK Quartet), bass, vibes (Joe Bergen of Transit and Mantra Percussion) and drums. The band’s debut, Ambit, claims an impressive amount of sonic territory (as the album title implies): Chamber music, rock, jazz, post-rock and electronic all rub elbows, and… more »

Ryan Keberle and Catharsis, Into the Zone

2014 | Label: Greenleaf Music / Entertainment One Distribution

The “zone” of this album’s title refers to the zen-like state of being where one inhabits the creative moment, unimpeded by self-consciousness. It’s an ongoing goal of trombonist-composer Ryan Keberle, who proclaimed that the last record with his band Catharsis, Music is Emotion, was “music from the heart and soul and not from the brain.” As the son and grandson of professional musicians, and one trained and now teaching in musical academia, Keberle seems like an especially paradoxical acolyte for this viewpoint. Fortunately he keeps releasing compelling music that feels… more »

Ken Thomson and Slow/Fast, Settle

2014 | Label: Ncm East / CD Baby

Alto saxophonist, clarinetist and composer Ken Thomson has been a key part of New York’s contemporary music scene for years, and was a founder of the Asphalt Orchestra (otherwise known as the Lincoln Center street marching band that can play Björk, Mingus and Meshuggah). But in recent months, Thomson has become a force of nature. Around the same time he was inducted into the Bang On A Can All-Stars, Thomson’s album with the JACK Quartet, Thaw, drew a rave from Steve Reich.

All that was left for him to… more »