Michael Toland began scribbling about music in 1988 for the photocopied ‘zine FHT Music Notes. He’s since written for various print and online publications, including Pop Culture Press (for whom he was reviews editor for several years), Texas Music (of which he was a founding editor), Trouser Press, Sleazegrinder, Sonic Ruin, Amplifier, Goldmine, Austin Citysearch the Austin American Statesman, Blurt and the Austin Chronicle. He was also the creator and grand poobah of the music-obsessive web site High Bias (2001-2006). He lives in Austin, Texas and works for public television.
Like his former boss Sun Ra, who pushed jazz to its outer limits but always made time for the old-school Fletcher Henderson arrangements he loved, Mitchell swings wide here, as comfortable with squealing free jazz as with swinging bebop.
The group’s well-traveled but effective blend of shimmering jangle, wide-eyed psychedelia and dreamy grunge favors sound over subject, which makes it the perfect music from which listeners can extract their own context.
Parisien presents a program of sturdy compositions given vibrant life on his latest album Louise.
Tenor Time transports you to a late night set at your favorite jazz club.
There’s free improvisation, and then there’s Cecil Taylor.
Slap Bang Blue Rendezvous may be almost ninety minutes long, twice as long as some wags think it should be, but the length works in the band’s favor, as they’re not a bummer in the bunch.
Guitarist Oz Noy is best known for bluesy fusion records. For Riverside, however, he’s teamed up with his pals Ugonna Okegwo (bass) and Ray Marchica (drums) for a set of standards.
Veteran heavy hitters bring all of their talents to bear on Ode to O, their second album together at the OGJB Quartet.
As a supplement to last year’s American debut Ten Easy Pieces, Laj plucked tracks from previous recordings to compile RetroSpectacle.
Capturing a 2018 performance opening for Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds at the titular fest, Live at Montreux Jazz Festival presents Anna von Hausswolff at her most enthralling.
As with all of Matthews’ other work, Ever Since Ever Since, the trio’s second LP, swims confidently in the 70s end of the power pop pool, happily indulging in the sweet melodies/tough attack modus operandi .
For Hex, Madrid instrumental rock quartet Toundra decided to go big, rather than go home.
With a keen sense of melody and ambition to write about subjects beyond cars, girls and rock & roll, Santander, Spain’s Pulsebeats are on their way to that milestone.
Breath By Breath, his latest, is inspired by two things: his personal meditation practice and his emergence from lockdown.
A collaboration between freefloating funk ensemble Scary Pockets and keyboardist Larry Goldings, Scary Goldings lays the groove down hard on the combo’s fourth collaboration in four years.
The German saxophonist, singer and composer has been best known for her jazz work up until now, but here the notion of a singular style of music gets obliterated.
Once the wünderkind of organ trio jazz, multi-instrumentalist Joey DeFrancesco is now a veteran of more than three decades on the scene.
It’s difficult these days for bands to craft this kind of heaviosity, of which there are oceans, with any real distinction. But Blue Heron does it on the first try.
Trombonist Phil Ranelin isn’t a name that springs to the lips when talking about classic horn players, despite a career going back to the early seventies, playing with everyone from Freddie Hubbard to Wayne Kramer, and leading several bands, the most famous of which is the long-running Tribe.
Consisting mostly of standards, plus a couple of originals, the record sways and swings old school, paying tribute to influential pickers like Jim Hall and Joe Pass as much as to the Los Angeles area after which it’s named.
Essentially a meditation on the evolution of civilization, this set of tunes melds traditional European classical forms with noisier, dissonant sounds suggesting the whiplash energy of twenty-first century urban life.
Singer/songwriter John Magee has been knocking around the Boston music scene since the early nineties and the first single by his band Sugarburn. But for the past couple of decades he’s been the engine running Scrimshanders, a late period alt.country band that recalls the best of the genre.
Alto saxophonist Adam Nolan likes his music fresh – so fresh, in fact, that he prefers free improvisation to pre-planned composition.
Parisian ensemble Ghost Rhythms opens its sixth album with a sound you don’t usually hear on one of its records: a human voice.
Recorded in 1967 and just now discovered and issued, Ave B Free Jam captures a group of musicians mostly at the very beginning of their careers.
True to the title, Mabern takes on the catalog of iconic saxophonist and composer John Coltrane, backed by saxists Vincent Herring and Eric Alexander, trombonist Steve Davis, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth.
As it slides towards it forty-fifth anniversary, ROVA (AKA the ROVA Saxophone Quartet) shows no signs of easing up, let alone slowing down, on latest album The Circumference of Reason.
Though based in Dallas, Texas, the hearts of the members of Brasuka live in Brazil.
For its third album since its 2013 reunion (and sixth overall), L.A. trio Failure modifies its approach while retaining its strengths.
Clearly inspired by prenaturally skilled popsters like Harry Nilsson, Brian Wilson and, most obviously Emitt Rhodes, whose “Promises I’ve Made” closes the record, Gabbard centers his songs around piano, vocal harmonies, and an eager sense of cautious optimism.
An unprecedented collaboration between major jazz labels, Relief aims to raise money for struggling musicians by collecting new and previously unreleased tracks from several well-known jazz artists.
Joined as headliner by his poet/dancer spouse Patricia Nicholson, Parker enters an explicitly political arena here – unsurprisingly for artists of color.
As far as Handsome Jack is concerned, the music of the twenty-first century doesn’t matter.
It’s the Canadian ace’s concerts that still produce awed whispers amongst his followers, and A Time For Love: The Oscar Peterson Quartet Live in Helsinki, 1987 documents a great one.
Longtime readers of this magazine/website will recognize the name Jeff Elbel, as he has written his fair share of pieces for The Big Takeover. But he’s also an accomplished singer/songwriter, as evidenced by his eighth album The Threefinger Opera.
Organized by Antietam leader Tara Key, His Majesty’s Request began as a benefit album to raise money for Wink O’Bannon’s treatment. But the guitarist died before the project could be completed, and now it exists in support of two music-related Louisville charities.
As musician, composer, bandleader, artistic director of the Newport Jazz Festival and host of NPR’s Jazz Night in America, bassist Christian McBride is practically the face of contemporary jazz.
The Black Watch’s bounty of quality songs continues with Here & There, the L.A. band’s fourth release in the past two years.
The group’s second album Apophenian Bliss picks up right where the first one left off: with a blaze of bristling (baritone) guitar noise, spaced-out keyboard storms, bluesy bass thud and kit-punishing drum athletics.
Saxophonist Ivo Perelman has long had a special relationship with the piano. He expands on that concept with Brass and Ivory Tales, a nine-disk box set of improvisations with nine different pianists that took the saxist seven years to complete.
It’s no easy thing to make an old school psychedelic rock record that isn’t either unintentionally parodic or covered in mold. Damned, though, if Virginia’s Snake Mountain Revival hasn’t done it.
For a while it seemed like the kind of rock & roll played by The Right Here – straightforward, heartfelt, drawn from the experiences of the hardworking 99% – threatened to take over the world.
Armed with his custom five-string electric upright bass and looping technology, Weber weaves tracks based on tunes from studio LPs Orchestra and Pendulum into colorful new tapestries.
Though he has a remarkable CV as a sideman with several jazz luminaries, trombonist Joe Fielder has an equally impressive day job as music director and staff arranger for Sesame Street since 2009.
On cuts like Dave Brubeck’s “The Duke,” Johnny Green and Edward Heyman’s “Out of Nowhere” and Frank Loesser’s “I Know,” melody reigns supreme, Charlap teasing extended improvisations over Peter’s swinging bass and Kenny’s finger-snapping brushwork.
Just to remind us all that’s he still relevant, though, and not just reliving the glory days, Adamson accompanies the memoir’s release with Steal Away, four brand new songs.
While it still displays plenty of Shipp’s rule-breaking flamboyance, a willingness to kick down the wall of tradition and traipse through the debris, there’s an introspection here, a sense of exploration turned deep inside instead of outside.