Album Reviews

Review: Afro Yaqui Music Collective – Mirror Butterfly: The Migrant Liberation Movement Suite

Guest Reviewer: John Pietaro Composer: Benjamin Barson, Librettist: Ruth Margraff (Nejma Nefertiti, tracks 7-8) From its opening notes, US composer-baritone saxophonist Ben Barson’s suite for this “epic jazz opera” speaks of the revolutionary politics from which it is derived. With a firm grasp on the canon of liberation music before him, Barson (a student of

Review: Aron Namenwirth – Hurricane

Aron Namenwirth’s Hurricane begins with a quiet storm gaining momentum. As sound unfolds the images on the album cover are imbued with meaning. The dark painted spirals suggest a kind of “fun house” trip to come; one where sounds bend and contort until traditional bass, percussion, and piano sounds abstractly familiar. The opening chord of

Review: SPAZA Debut Release

Mushroom Hour Half Hour is a Johannesburg, South Africa-based experimental music label. A quote from South African musicologist Dr. Sazi Diamini gives a look into the label’s philosophical approach to music-making, “There is no formal process as such ….. it’s an experiment that relies on the sensitivities between the players …..” MHHH outfit SPAZA is

Review: Blacks’ Myths II

“We aim to destroy a history … that no longer serves a purpose.” – Blacks’ Myths Black Expression is at the great place right now and even though all of it isn’t for me, it is amazing to examine all of these avenues open for creatives from the African Diaspora. Whether it is listening to

Review: Ståhls Trio – Källtorp Sessions, Vol. 1

Anyone familiar with my musical taste knows that the vibraphone is my favorite rhythm section instrument. Bobby Hutcherson and Milt Jackson were on constant rotation as a youth and I’ll never part with their records. Yet, after the years I sought out other players who approached the board in different ways. Lionel Hampton (tha Gawd),

Review: Big Ceremony – Big Ceremony EP

A first run through Big Ceremony’s EP only really introduces the play in balance between the synthesizer and drums, and even between technology and humanity. The ten-piece record is filled with live recorded tracks all lasting under six minutes long. With the shortest piece at about 40 seconds, the phrases, rhythmic movements, and fluidity can

Review: Cecilia Lopez – Red / Machinic Fantasies

I put on Cecilia Lopez’s Red / Machinic Fantasies as I change a light bulb in a flood-light, dangling from its wire on a ceiling pipe. The snow has turned into rain and the black night outside is cold and angry. I include this in describing the opening of Lopez’s album (released December 16th) as

Review: petra – filament

When I first heard petra‘s “filament” I had this deep impression, this funny assumption, that this was the work of someone living alone in the woods, or in the marshy outskirts of Providence, RI, possibly in a boat. A certain combination of the synthetic and the fuzzy with the deeply human that can only come

Feminist Jazz Review: Stephanie Richards – Take The Neon Lights

New York-based composer and trumpet/flugelhorn extraordinaire, Stephanie Richards returns with a follow up album to her stunningly sparse, cyclically inspired (as Richards’ instruments were set up in a semi circle during recording sessions) 2018 album, Full Moon (Relative Pitch).  The new collection of compositions is entitled Take the Neon Lights (Birdwatcher). A glaring difference between Full