Jazz fusion used to mean something a little more specific back in the day, but after a good few years into the 21st century, the term can even encompass albums like Brewed by Noon’s Stories to Tell, which muddles jazz, folk, and world music with a heavy dose of rock and experimental tropes. Just take […]

Friction Systems

Remember the vivid dreams and nightmares you had a child, so much more potent because the understanding that it was “just a dream” didn’t have the experiential backing to make it so quickly believed. Listening to David Gordon’s Friction Systems takes me back to that fantastical sort of world. There are strange birds (woodwinds) in […]

Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance

I have to admit I’m not particularly attracted to most non-Frank Zappa performances of FZ music, so I was more than a tad suspicious when Ed Palermo’s disc of big band arrangements of Zappa’s music landed on my desk. So much so that I’ve resisted listening to it until the very end of the year. […]

Tender Warriors

On Charles Lloyd’s live trio outing Sangam, the multi-instrumentalist is joined by legendary tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain and percussionist Eric Harland for a session that carves gentle melodies out of numerous percussive sonorities. Check out the opening of the aptly named composition “Tender Warriors” and enter a bizarre musical landscape where the entire world seems […]

Postcard from Heaven

Victoria Jordanova, harps; Pamela Z, voices Cage’s prophetically-titled Postcard from Heaven, a mesmerizing, roughly 40-minute 1982 composition scored for 20 harpists, receives its world premiere recording on this new disc from ArpaViva. Originally premiered at Minneapolis’s Walker Arts Center in the early ’80s, it has rarely been performed since, most likely due to the practical […]

Trio No. 2

Margaret Swinchoski, flute; Donald Mokrynski, clarinet; Ron Levy, piano The industrious New Jersey-based Palisades Virtuosi, a trio of flute, clarinet, and piano, feature a newly commissioned work on every single one of their concerts. Now they’ve collected seven of these works on a new Albany CD. The piece that’s been haunting me the most is […]

Holy Ghost Vacuum or America Faints

As 21st-century musicologists continue to sort out the maze of 20th-century repertoire, a name that hopefully will resurface is George Cacioppo. Another Midwest maverick in the tradition of folks like Kenneth Gaburo and Salvatore Martirano—whose music is slowly being acknowledged as being equally fascinating as the music produced on the two American coasts—Cacioppo was a […]


Tony Atherton, alto sax; Bill Barrett, chromatic harmonica; Joseph Berardi, percussion; Steuart Liebig, contrabassguitars Think you’ve heard everything? Try some wacked out jazz on chromatic harmonica. Bill Barrett coaxes all sorts of slides and runs out of this usually somewhat technically-limited instrument. In fact, I’m wrong, there’s nothing technically-limited about harmonicas at all if he […]


Judith Bettina, soprano; James Goldsworthy, piano Vocal warm-ups will never be the same again thanks to David Rakowski’s delightful series of Encores, works which are as brainy yet playful with singing as his trademark Etudes are with piano playing. On Scatter, Rakowski merges scat singing with melodies derived from pitch mapping the names of the […]

Apres Moi, Le Deluge

Luna Pearl Woolf’s “post-Katrina lament for solo cello and a cappella choir” is a four movement, 25-minute work, but I’m stuck in the five-minute second movement. The text is a poem by Eleanor Wilner, written in response to the disaster, and the music is haunting, especially in this section. But it’s a complicated feeling, because […]