By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Up in Smoke!
A mainstream sax date like they cut all the time in the late '50s: Start with a swinging "The Best Things in Life Are Free," slip in an old ballad, a discreet original, a little bebop, some blues. Nothing ambitiousjust an echo of the days when Coleman Hawkins and Dexter Gordon walked the earth. A MINUS
MICHEL PORTAL/STEPHEN KENT/MINO CINELU
Kent's didgeridoo provides the varying hums that place this record at the outer reaches of exotica. Cinelu's percussion and occasional yelp or bark drive it rhythmically. Portal's soprano sax is pitched high and eerie, while his bass clarinet is low and down-to-earth. The African nation that contributed the title accounts for nothing else, except perhaps a world big enough to inspire such otherworldly music. A MINUS
TED SIROTA'S REBEL SOULS
As with Mingus, there's more to Sirota's music than his titles. By all means read the booklet. Remember Fred Hampton? Ken Saro-Wiwa? How about Don Cherry? Still, when you get to the music it doesn't matter that the stately "For Martyrs" is programmatic while the lovely "Elegy" is personal. Oppression breeds resistance, but neither makes music. Thoughtful, passionate musicians do. A MINUS
THE VANDERMARK FIVE
Elements of Style . . . Exercises in Surprise
Most of Ken Vandermark's groups are forums where musicians get together and kick shit around, but his flagship group exists just for him. With Jeb Bishop on trombone and Dave Rempis adding a second saxophoneoften the lead with Vandermark switching off to big or small clarinetthe Five have one of the most potent horn sections in jazz. Indeed, what's most striking here is how smoothly they play in unison, how smartly they play in contrast, and how sharply they stop and spin on a dime. Each of the first six pieces pursues a distinct idea, and the otherthe 20:10 "Six of One"marshals at least as many more. For once, the risks and daring of free jazz are arranged as precisely as in a crack big band. A
MICHAEL BRECKER/JOE LOVANO/DAVE LIEBMAN
Saxophone Summit: Gathering of Spirits
These three eminent saxophonists should work and play well with others by now, but on this evidence need to repeat kindergarten. They state the heads simultaneously rather than together, then go off and trade lines from different books. They start out thinking blowing session, then lapse into their beloved ballad repertoires, and wind up playing freein their case the aural equivalent of a food fight. The nadir comes when they switch off to play with their favorite old-world flutes. C PLUS
Additional Consumer News
Back at the Velvet Lounge
On his home court, with a full band behind him, he feels comfortable enough to toss us a soft one.
JOE LOCKE & 4 WALLS OF FREEDOM
Replacing the late Bob Berg with the great Tommy Smith, the vibes master pauses, ponders, and carries on.
DAVE BURRELL FULL-BLOWN TRIO
Avant-ragtime, skeletal Berlin, Andrew Cyrille marches on, William Parker delights on kora.
The Music According to Lafayette Gilchrist
Go-go beats and funky bassfree your ass and the pianist will jump, jive, and wail.
HENRY KAISER & WADADA LEO SMITH
Yo Miles! Sky Garden
More dividends from Miles's electric period, the change of trumpeters food for thought.
Smartly nuanced, delicately balanced trio with pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos, who got star billing last time.
Piano trio plus three horns do her bidding without clutter or show.
KEN VANDERMARK/ BRIAN DIBBLEE
A whole album of Vandermark bass clarinet, wrapped around the bassist's lovely melodies.
IGNASI TERRAZA TRIO
Mainstream piano, the bass mixed up to make it a real trio, remarkable for its balance and warmth.
BILL BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS
Random Acts of Happiness
Latin-tinged rhythms, lush piano, Tim Garland's bright saxthe good life.
Eclectic postmodern piano trio, more or less, with a penchant for gadgets and kung fu.
Fountain of Youth
His secret is that he keeps his bands young, but they only want to play what Haynes played with Monk and Coltrane when they were young.
All We Need
KEITH ROWE/AXEL DÖRNER/FRANZ HAUTZINGER
A View From the Window
The Deep End