The liberal arts and the sciences may not be as far apart as you think. In his new book, "The Jazz of Physics", physicist and jazz musician Stephon Alexander finds remarkable connections between improvised music and the laws of the natural world. As Thomas Cunniffe notes in his book review, Alexander's dense text is sometimes slow-going, but it leads to a group of astonishing theories.
New in Retro Reviews:
"CARMEN McRAE AT THE GREAT AMERICAN MUSIC HALL" Recorded in June 1976, Carmen McRae's live album "...At the Great American Music Hall" is one of the singer's least-heralded masterpieces. Featuring the outstanding rhythm section of Marshall Otwell, Ed Bennett and Joey Baron, plus four tracks with guest artist Dizzy Gillespie, the album finds McRae creating one memorable performance after another. In this Retro Review, Thomas Cunniffe writes that McRae benefits from the enthusiastic response of the young San Francisco audience.
THE 1968 BILL EVANS TRIO WITH EDDIE GOMEZ & JACK DEJOHNETTE For about 6 months in the middle of 1968, pianist Bill Evans led a remarkable trio featuring bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Up until now, the only recordings that existed of this group were the Grammy-winning LP "Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival" and a handful of bootleg recordings. In this Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe discusses all of the group's recordings (including a newly released--and previously unknown--studio session) as well as a rare TV broadcast.
Few contemporary vocalists have the stylistic range of Luciana Souza. She is a remarkable improviser and composer who can not only offer passionate interpretations of songs from America and Brazil, but is also a collaborator with contemporary classical composer Osvaldo Golijov. Thomas Cunniffe introduces you to Souza in this JHO profile, which includes audio and video clips of Souza at work
While most vocal albums include a mix of standard and original compositions, this month's CD reviews focus on how singers Peter Eldridge, Sara Gazarek and Clare Teal, found creative ways to enhance both types of songs. Thomas Cunniffe provides the commentary on Eldridge's "Disappearing Day", Gazarek's "Dream in the Blue" and Teal's "Twelve O'Clock Tales".
The live recording sessions for the new Fred Hersch Trio CD "Sunday Night at the Vanguard" were nearly canceled, until Hersch changed his mind at the group's initial sound check earlier in the week. It's a good thing that he did. The album features the astounding music primarily created during a single set at the storied Greenwich Village club. Thomas Cunniffe's feature review focuses on the ensemble work of this extraordinary trio.
Don Cheadle's long-awaited Miles Davis film, "Miles Ahead" is far from a typical biopic. It requires its audience to come in with prior knowledge of Davis' life. However, it is a remarkable film, especially for a first-time director like Cheadle. In this DVD review, Thomas Cunniffe marvels at the way Cheadle juxtaposes various time frames from Davis' career into the same scenes.
Since the summer of 2015, when she uploaded her remarkable scat version of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps", French jazz vocalist Camille Bertault has been an internet sensation. In this edition of Sidetracks, Bertault tells Thomas Cunniffe about the inspiration for that video, and her unique and varied background. The article includes four embedded videos (and links to several more) plus a review of Bertault's new CD, "En Vie".
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