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Tag: Ben Monder

Roll Call: January 7, 2022

It’s been a minute since I’ve done one of these, choosing to concentrate instead on previewing live music events in Northeast Ohio. With few of those on the horizon, and needing to get into a posting groove, here’s a look at some interesting new releases that dropped in the past week. Note: my review of Fred Herschs “Breath By Breath,” will be published at AllAboutJazz.com. I’ll post a link when it’s available.

Taru Alexander: Echoes of the Masters coverIn jazz, bloodlines often count for something. Drummer Taru Alexander is the son of Boston-born saxophonist Roland Alexander. Though he was never a star and didn’t record widely, the elder Alexander has played with a wide range of high-profile musicians, the kind of player who forms the essential¬† connective tissue of a vibrant scene. Alexander the younger (he’s 54) seems to be following in his father’s footsteps; All Music lists 11 sideman appearances with artists as varied as Fred Ho and Abbey Lincoln, but Echoes of the Masters” (Sunnyside Records) seems to be his debut as a leader. Like a lot of debut recordings, it’s eager to make an assertive first impression, and shows off an athletic, hard-charging band. Behind the kit, Alexander throws down in forceful, post-Tony-Williams style. Antoine Roney is the only horn, but his dry, forthright tone on tenor saxophone gives this session a gritty, cinema-verit√© edge. Rashaan Carter is mountain-strong as always, but the revelation for me is pianist James Hurt, originally from Memphis, who summons Tyneresque thunder with his left hand while spinning florid runs with his right. He’s a postbop Phineas Newborn by way of Mulgrew Miller, and full of surprises.

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Roll Call: November 30, 2020

I get a lot of music for my consideration, more than 450 new releases so far this year. Almost all of them are notable for something, and I’d like to give them their due. So every week, I’ll do quick hits on the releases of the preceding seven days. it’s a great writing exercise, and a lot of fun, too.

Jeff Ellwood The Sounds Around the House coverYou never get a second chance to make a first impression, the old saying goes. So, when you’re planning your debut CD release, why not surround yourself with some highly accomplished A-listers? That’s what Jeff Ellwood did on “The Sounds Around the House,” and it pays off

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Roll Call: Big Band Edition, Sept. 3, 2020

I get a lot of music for my consideration, more than 325 new releases so far this year. Almost all of them are notable for something, and I’d like to give them their due. So every week, I’ll do quick hits on the releases of the preceding seven days. it’s a great writing exercise, and a lot of fun, too.

Labor Day is this weekend and the prospect of hearing ensemble jazz of any kind seems very far away. When the ensemble crowds more than a dozen players onto the bandstand, most of them playing instruments activated by the breath, big band performances are likely to be the last to return.

Yet at a moment when things couldn’t get much stranger or more ironic, here comes one of the richest crops of big band recordings in a long time.

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