Category: Music

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“House Hour” (PoemJazz2)

“House Hour” is the second installment in the landmark “PoemJazz” collaboration between poet Robert Pinsky and pianist Laurence Hobgood. Everything that was good in the debut is even better here. Pinsky has mastered his instrument, transforming his voice from “peculiar” to “unique.” Hobgood’s musicality and virtuosity dazzles. And the production — the mix, the equalization, the...


The Better Angels Festival

“We are not enemies, but friends…the mystic chords of memory will yet swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Abraham Lincoln said it more than 150 years ago. From July 3 – 12, a community of beautiful Los Angeles volunteers are living those words at The...

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KAZE: Uminari

The new recording from KAZE, a Japanese-French quartet — drums, piano, two trumpets — reminds us that all music is noise. Some noise, it seems, sounds better than others. On Uminari (a low frequency hum rising from the sea), the usual hallmarks of through-composed music (meter, melody, harmony) aren’t exactly absent, they’re just not terribly important....

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Wake Owl

“The Private World of Paradise,” the latest from Wake Owl, is a trip. It’s trippy. It’s hippy. It’s hip. It’s the 1960’s. It’s now. Those who enjoyed Wake Owl’s debut EP “Wild Countrry” will find “Paradise” a sonic departure from indie-pop-folk. More like…hard to say. (And that’s good.) But the tunes are still subversively catchy,...

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If, like us, you’ve wondered what would happen if a punk band (or at least one with a punky aesthetic of reject-the-rules) had conservatory training and could apply virtuoso technique and advanced understanding of musical structure to their rockin’, kickin’, slammin’ music — the answer has arrived. Hypercolor, the self-titled debut recording of guitarist Eyal Maoz,...

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Slow/Fast’s “Settle”

Reedman, composer, Bang-on-a-Can-All-Star and Gutbucket alum Ken Thomson leads his Slow/Fast Quintet – Russ Johnson, trumpet; Nir Felder, guitar; Adam Armstrong, bass; Fred Kennedy, drums — through a universe of musical possibilities on the group’s September, 2014 release “Settle.” Everyone here is a virtuoso, which helps with music as technically demanding and intricate as Thomson’s, but that’s...

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Kira Hooks

The Los Angeles-based Filipino-American singer-songwriter Kira Hooks has a beautiful life ahead of her. Based on her debut recording, “Elephant Heart,” twelve well-produced original songs that defy strict genre categorization — think “jazz and soul-inflected pop” — almost anything’s possible for this extravagantly talented musician. Hooks is a good writer, and a good instrumentalist. But...

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April 18, 2015

Milwaukee-based Beer City Records re-issues the classic 1983 Midwest Hardcore Punk album, “We Don’t Play the Game,” by The Clitboys, featuring songwriter MK on bass and vocals.

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Grand Fatilla’s “Global Shuffle”

The world music collective Grand Fatilla consists of Club d’Elf bassist Mike Rivard, electric mandolinist Matt Glover, accordionist Roberto Cassan, and percussionist-singer Fabio Pirozzolo. We mention this because the astonishing breadth of the group’s repertoire sounds like there are about 14 virtuoso musicians at work. Grand Fatilla specializes in nothing — except consistent excellence. On their debut recording,...

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Tom Chang’s “Tongue & Groove”

Guitarist Tom Chang’s debut recording,Tongue & Groove,is an arresting, curry-flavored gumbo of jazz, contemporary classical, and South Indian Carnatic music. What this mélange sounds like is newness personified, a foreshadowing of the globalization of musical cultures. The sonic unfamiliarity doesn’t jar; it seduces. The title track opens with a 30-second vocal percussion solo that would make Bobby...