Glenn Astarita

Glenn Astarita

Business executive for D'Addario & Company (strings) and drummer, Rick Drumm equates the album moniker and band name to his survival and ordeal with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. And 25% of all proceeds from the album will be donated to the "Strike A Chord" foundation: www.strikeachordforchildren.org. A largely upbeat album, featuring prominent jazz artists lending their wares, the program circles back to the infancy of jazz-fusion, performed with a contemporary sound and approach sans any overcooked technical gymnastics.

Since the 1980s recordings Fulton Street Maul and Sanctified Dreams for mainstream Columbia Records, New York City alto saxophonist Tim Berne has carved an iconic career as a non-conforming pioneer of the 'new' jazz. A prominent exponent of New York City's trailblazing downtown scene, Berne's numerous alliances, high-impact solo outings and legendary Bloodcount band, featuring fellow woodwind ace Chris Speed, paint a picture of innovation. His work with French guitar stylist Marc Ducret and global presence, consisting of alliances with young upstarts, and proven improvising warriors loom as a continuing saga paralleling his incessant creative sparks.

Versatile alto saxophonist Pete Robbins enjoys recording his ensembles within the live format. His sixth album as a leader also represents his third consecutive live recording, influenced by his residence and subsequent visits to Copenhagen. Moreover, his European band aka the Transatlantic Quartet, imparts the open-air architectures often evidenced by the Scandinavian progressive-jazz contingents amid slight inferences to the breadth and lightness of folk music. However, Robbins' previous outings lean more towards the high-octane strata, including knotty funk grooves and tricky time signatures. And he's a superb technician, possessing a fertile imagination.

One of the more exciting and inventive improvising artists, Slovenian guitarist Samo Salamon's stylistic modus operandi, coupled with massive chops has earned him prominence within global, progressive-jazz circles. He seems comfortable with the flexibility of smaller ensembles, highlighted here with the dual bass-less trio formats, performing with like-minded and revered US and European musicians.

The Italian band names itself after a popular plum brandy, to correlate the refined or perhaps slick components that augment its broad repertoire. With its third album, the artists' continue on a path that integrates memorable storylines within a homogeneous old school/new school line of attack, where Eastern and Western folk melodies, radiant prog-rock, and nods to Jean Luc Ponty era fusion come to mind. Sporting a signature sound, featuring horns, violin, and harmonica coalescing with knotty guitar-driven time signatures, the musicians' fashion a mark of authority that has earned them accolades among critics and prog aficionados.

Spanning several decades, progressive-jazz and improvisational icon Anthony Braxton has been no stranger to duet settings amid his large and small ensemble aggregations. Therefore, this 2-CD program recorded live in 1989 is the artist's fruitful collaboration with bassist Buell Neidlinger, noted for his work with Cecil Taylor, Steve Lacy, and educational duties at the New England Conservatory.

Based in Washington D.C., the musicians bring varied experience to the table amid stints with notable free-jazz artists, nouveau rockers, and prominent jazz-based improvisers. The duo's second album is an exploratory, yet affable excursion into parts unknown via the improvisational nature of the program. With fuzz-toned atmospherics, staggered flows and fleeting themes, the music offers a hearty forum for one's imagination to wander. However, there's uncanny logic within the grand schema, often devised on loosely based storylines, linear choruses and blitzing interchanges.

In the liners, producer Martin Davidson provides anecdotes, interview quotes and other relevant information surrounding the premise for these vintage tracks, recorded under the leadership of the late soprano saxophone great Steve Lacy.  Spanning previously unreleased and reissued material from 1967 through 1973, Lacy performs with iconoclastic modern jazz artists such as trumpeter Enrico Rava, vibist Karl Berger and others.   And in most instances, the audio processing is quite good as the album offers a comprehensive sampling of Lacy's avant-garde proclivities cast in various ensembles, including eminent synthesizer improviser Richard Teitelbaum who credits Lacy with being his..."first and maybe main improv teacher."  Otherwise, Teitelbaum partnered with Anthony Braxton and other progressive-minded luminaries to extend electronics formats into the freer aspects of jazz and improvisation.

Perhaps one of the more important drummers in global improvisation circles, Tom Rainey's discography as a sideman, for example, could read like a history of postmodern jazz, spanning conventional and nonconforming practices.  He's a fluid drummer who subdivides the rhythmical element into fragments while tap-dancing across the kit, shaded with lyrical qualities and offbeat digressions, as the list goes on.  On this trio date, he aligns with cutting-edge artists Mary Halvorson (guitar) and Ingrid Laubrock (saxophones), for a series of loosely designed improvisational jaunts, where space and counter-maneuvers are but a few of many rewarding attributes evidenced throughout.

One of the premier modern jazz trumpeters, Wallace Roney's Home fuses postmodernism with a classic 60's Blue Note Records stylization and touts the best of many jazz worlds on this superfine 2012 release.  Over the years, Roney has developed a stylistic realm of sound amid inferences to Miles Davis's bluesy intonations.  The band, including Roney's talented brother and saxophonist Antoine, glide through original compositions and works by renowned jazz artists.

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