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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

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Remembering Charlie Haden

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Matthew Shipp, I’ve Been to Many Places

2014 | Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings / Thirsty Ear Records

Matthew Shipp is a valuable rejoinder to the seemingly inescapable question of whether, in terms of what constitutes its fitness as a contemporary genre, jazz is somehow “dead.” A pianist for the ages, he has demonstrated unflagging faith in the form and impatience for its limitations, too. Since the late 1980s, he has played in conventional jazz configurations and numerous other incarnations as well (see his dalliances with electronic musicians Flam and DJ Spooky, plus his work with underground hip-hop boss El-P). Through it all, he answers to a sense… more »

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Bop ’til you stop: Bebop, Hard Bop and Post Bop

By Britt Robson, Contributor

Bebop is the fundamental vehicle by which the carbohydrates of modern jazz—harmony, melody and rhythm (starch, sugar and fiber) — are churned and burned into the fuel of life. Since it first emerged nearly 70 years ago, bop has become pervasive, spouting various hybrids that include West Coast jazz, hard bop, and soul jazz. All of this is wrapped up in Bop 'til you stop, our celebration of bebop in all its permutations and splendor. We'll keep… more »

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