Steely Dan UHQR Series

Music Reviews: Jazz

December 26th, 2022

The Aural Equivalent of Watching The Blue Angels Air Show

Uptempo Pepper and Baker in their prime leave a vapor trail

By: Michael Fremer

Despite the inherent lightness and breeze of "West Coast" jazz, this set recorded Halloween day 1956 is simultaneously cool and blazing hot, with Art Pepper and Chet Baker at their youthful peak navigating a set of intricately written and charted tunes, five of the seven by Jimmy Heath, hence the album's title, plus two by Pepper.If you're of a certain age, some of the uptempo vibe here will remind you of 50s and 60s era television show theme songs... Read More

genre Jazz Cool Jazz format Vinyl

December 26th, 2022

Is That Jazz? Lil B’s ‘Afrikantis’

The most fascinating avant-garde jazz album in recent times

By: Malachi Lui

Anyone who predicted this is either a time traveler or is clinically insane (probably both). It’s December 2022, everyone’s “best albums of 2022” lists are out, and Lil B has dropped a jazz album.That’s right: Lil B The Based God, the rapper and motivational speaker who’s perhaps the most detrimentally prolific artist of our time (did anyone actually listen to all eight volumes of his 855 Song Based Freestyle Mixtape?), has made what can loosely be considered a jazz... Read More

December 24th, 2022

John Zorn Keeps Evolving

The impresario of New York new music's new piano quartet

By: Fred Kaplan

Years (it feels like eons) have passed since John Zorn filled his bill as the Angry Young Man of New York’s Downtown jazz scene. (In a bit of etymology right out of a Terry Southern novel, "Zorn" in German means “anger.”) Nearly a decade ago, on the occasion of his 60th birthday, he was touted in tributes and concerts by such exemplars of Uptown culture as the Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum, the Guggenheim, and Columbia University. Now recognized as... Read More

genre Jazz format CD

December 2nd, 2022

The Last (and Least) of Columbia Legacy’s Miles Davis “Bootleg Series”

Miles Gets Freaky Deaky

By: Fred Kaplan

I saw Miles Davis’ pop-rock band a half dozen times in the 1980s and loved the music each time. The concert-recordings from that period—"Miles Live Around the World" and the relevant discs from the 20-CD "Complete Miles Davis at Montreux", both released posthumously on Warner Brothers—were also wondrous, a departure from his discography (as every new phase of his was from the phase before) but still ranking high. His famous covers of Michael... Read More

genre Jazz Jazz Fusion format CD

December 1st, 2022

"Boss Organ"s Vinyl Debut Makes For a Mighty Worthy Spin

Melvin Rhyne was playing with Wes at the Missile Room and in walks Cannonball

By: Michael Fremer

There's so much to like about this reissue of a 1994 Criss Cross release, here for the first time on vinyl, especially if you dig jazz organ. The title plays off of Wes Montgomery's 1993 Riverside album "Boss Guitar" on which Rhyne played in a trio with Jimmy Cobb on drums.That fun set mostly consisting of covers was Montgomery's 9th for Riverside and not exactly a collection necessity. Both Rhyne and Montgomery were Indianapolis natives who... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl

December 1st, 2022

Ahmad Jamal’s “Emerald” Treasures

Newly discovered live concerts from the ‘60s show the silky pianist was always an adventurer

By: Fred Kaplan

Ahmad Jamal has long been known for his stately swing. He emerged as an innovative pianist, and a best-selling trio leader, in 1958, with his live album, "At the Pershing: But Not for Me". Even before then, Miles Davis touted him as a major influence on his own ballad style, citing his spacious phrasing and soft touch. Miles told his pianist of the era, Red Garland, to play like Jamal.I confess I didn’t follow Jamal much between his lyrical late-‘50s... Read More

genre Jazz format Vinyl