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Brad Mehldau Trio - 'Seymour Reads the Constitution!'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

The Brad Mehldau Trio -- Mehldau on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass, and Jeff Ballard on drums -- have not released an album together in four years, 2014's Blues and Ballads. You know how it goes-- artists create, move onto other ideas, take time creating on their own until the time is right to bring something just so to your usual collaborators. Sure, Mehldau spent the last four years vamping on Bach, jamming with a genius mandolin player, and playing a sideman, but there's just something so satisfying about hearing these three guys together again, jamming over original tunes, dazzling us with jazz standards, and playing rock covers in that model that we all know and love. Seymour Reads the Constitution! is certainly a return to form for these guys.

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Thumbscrew - 'Ours' and 'Theirs'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Thumbscrew - the trio of guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara - are giants at the particular kind of weird they do individually, but they're practically mythological titans when united together. For the last four years, this trio has been a total trip, bending notes and playing with abstractions while holding onto a certain snap that brings it all together. Before this and in the midst of this period, the three have worked on one another's individual works as well. Now, for the first new albums on a reworked Cuneiform Records, Thumbscrew is back with two albums -- one of original compositions appropriately titled Ours and an album of covers thusly titled Theirs -- which release this Friday, June 8th.

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Adam O'Farrill - 'El Maquech'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Trumpeter Adam O'Farrill is wise beyond his years. It's the only reasonable explanation for his second album as a leader to be so superb, or his first album, Stranger Days (which became the namesake for his current ensemble), for that matter. It's why the 23-year-old fits in so well in bassist Stephan Crump's group, Rhombal. Of course, he's also wise enough not to mess with a good thing, which is why he kept the same talented group of Stranger Days-- O'Farrill on trumpet, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown on tenor sax, Walter Stinson on bass, and Adam's brother Zack O'Farrill on drums. He's also wise enough on his sophomore release to bring the heat with eight tunes -- a mix of Mexican folk tunes, covers of Gabriel Garzon-Montano, Irving Berlin, & Efrain Salvador, and some original songs to round things out -- that continues to prove exactly how brilliant O'Farrill and this group is.

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Paul Bedal - 'Mirrors'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Chicago-based pianist Paul Bedal has a crispness to his style of play. Not too ornate or flowery, expressive but direct, illustrative but pointed. This is his style on the keys and compositionally, as much as one can tell from his latest album, Mirrors, out now on BACE Records.

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Henry Threadgill 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg - 'Dirt... And More Dirt'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

At this point in Henry Threadgill's career, we already know the dynamic. Everything else is a refinement of those shifting polyrhythms, those floating melodies that skirt about the tonal and the atonal like hummingbirds at springtime, and that ever-present feeling that all this art just wouldn't work if you just couldn't help but keep tapping your foot. It's all there with Threadgill, that's his sound. Now with his new large ensemble, 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg -- made up of a guitarist, a bassist, two drummers, a cellist, a tubist, three alto saxophonist, two flutists, two trumpeters, two trombonists, and two pianists -- there's the opportunity to make that sound into something even grander on their new album, Dirt… And More Dirt, on Pi Recordings.