Doug Hamilton's story is amazing in that he didn?t begin playing trombone until age 40. He was, you see, busy being head of surgery for two hospitals! So it was doctor by day and jazz student by night! I might say, right off the bat, that you?re going to enjoy these well-loved standards in this ensemble setting. From ?By Myself? to ?Up Jumped Spring?; from ?Oleo? to ?That's All?; or ?Very Early? to ?My Funny Valentine.? Hamilton's arranging is... read more
Venezuelan-born and classically trained trumpeter Raul Agraz makes an impressive North American debut with Between Brothers, a vibrant album of Latin-oriented jazz whose harmonic and rhythmic quotients are about as strong and steady as one could wish. As is the case in other contexts these days, the term "brothers" is presumably used in a metaphorical sense, as there appear to be no biological brothers among Agraz's ever-changing group of... read more
Since swing jazz is dance music, most swing bands have limitations on how far out on limb they can go. After all, you've got to keep everybody on their feet, right? Svetlana & the Delancey Five are the rare swing band who don't recognize any limits: they're just as fun to sit and listen to as they are for the dancers.
There weren't a lot of people on their feet at the band's sold-out show earlier this month at the Blue Note, but the band... read more
Who likes Bill Holman? Owen has an interesting concept here. The crack arranger also has a day job as an educator. He brought together his other jazzbo pals, who are also educators, to show that there's no dust on them even as they spend more time at the podium than the bandstand. A solidly fine work of sitting down jazz that manages to be musically advanced without losing you along the way. Putting his all into this effort, all that's... read more
Svetlana Shmulyian is a singer with the kind of sweet, lilting voice ideal for the sort of sunny Thirties-style jazz she performs and the Delancey Five combo is also very adept at this style. The songs they play are a combination of period pieces and modern works, including several written by Shmulyian which mix in more advanced elements of strutting jazz like the boisterous horns on "Dance Inbetween The Moments". Then there are treatments of... read more
Young pianist Ben Neumann arrives on the scene with a stirring and surprisingly assured debut. Paying tribute to pianists like Horace Silver ("Peace"), Oscar Levant (the lovely ballad "Blame it on My Youth") and Herbie Hancock ("Riot") the grad student at the U. of Chicago (in philosophy, no less!) announces that his intellect isn't limited to the study of Plato. In fact, Neuman has studied piano with people like the legendary Dr. Billy Taylor... read more
In a city with so many jazz singers, Carrie Wicks somehow manages to stand out. Seattle's Wicks doesn't do a whole lot of gigs or albums. But what she does is concentrated and sure, a heady mix of unorthodox, intelligently chosen covers and deeply wrought originals - wrapped in an unlikely package of quiet solitude. That is, until she steps up to the microphone.
As equal a songwriter as she is a musician's singer, Wicks quietly presents a... read more
Portland pianist/composer Andrew Oliver heads up a two sax-sextet (for wand of a better descriptive term) that is all over the map on 82% Chance of Rain. After their debut disc on a small indie label, their sophomore effort should receive more attention since it appears on Origin's sister label, OA2. Although relatively young, Oliver is well-seasoned (and well-known around the Portland area) with membership in several different groups of... read more
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