The May 2011 edition of Jazz Times is a solid effort - ad heavy, with several glossy full color advertisements, but considering that the magazine was practically insolvent a few months ago, perhaps this is what it takes to keep the ship afloat. Eminent bassist Charlie Haden is on the cover on the occasion of his 25th anniversary with his Quartet West group and their recent album with pop and jazz singers. That didn't interest me all that much, but I found Haden's attempt to lure Ornette Coleman into another album together very exciting and hope that comes to pass. Nate Chinen has an interesting take on the releasing of the updated version of Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology, wondering if a project like this is still worthwhile, considering the changing times in jazz and the amount of criticism the original edition received for who was left in and out. Among their other short articles was an interesting piece about the return of the Haitian jazz festival, an inspiring development after the recent devastating earthquake the country suffered. Their before and after (their version of the blindfold test format) session is with the legendary saxophonist Jimmy Heath, and that is very entertaining and enlightening. Heath comes across as a witty, thoughtful man, whose autobiography I Walked With Giants is well worth reading. The lead article on Haden focuses on his project with the vocalists, but also has some gems about his time with the Coleman quartet and his personal musical philosophy. Pianist Lynn Arriale is the focus of a feature article, detailing her switch from classical music to jazz, while the profile of up and coming trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire is quite interesting as it details his approach to music, gaining inspiration for his approach from many sources including film. Interesting quote: "I want to be with people who aren't comfortable where they are as people or as musicians. So they keep rehearsing, keep pushing themselves..." There is a very interesting article on pianist Orrin Evans and the Captian Black Big Band, where Evans talks about the changing nature of Philadelphia's famous jazz scene and the challenge of keeping a big band going during the modern economic calamity. The review section has an eclectic mix of albums featured: a double review of the new Matthew Shipp releases was cool, along with new albums from David Binney, Endangered Blood, and one from Billy Hart that looks particularly good (Sixty-Eight on Steeplechase). Ending with Nat Hentoff's column about the imminent end of the NEA Jazz Masters program, this marks a solid issue that covers quite a bit of ground.
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Nick Fraser Quartet - Starer (s/r, 2016) ****
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