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Beats & Pieces Big Band - 'All In'

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

Beats & Pieces Big Band is immediately gripping. Band director Ben Cottrell has written songs with soul and bounce to them that this group performs with an infectious energy, which is frankly a bit surprising for a bunch of pale dudes from Manchester, UK. However, one can get drawn in quickly to Finlay Panter's drumming, or the siren of Anton Hunter's guitar, or in the perfect touch of Patrick Hurley's work on keys. There's so much that works so well in Beats & Pieces Big Band's latest album, All In.

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Savoy In Color - 'Hear Today Then: Live at Zeb's'

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

The big band format can be a hard sell. It's a large machine and the moving parts frequently don't have a lot of room. Very often, as a reviewer, I personally give this caveat whenever reviewing big bands. I personally am not the man to listen to them, particularly in the straight-ahead format-- a now conventional style played in what was a rather conventional format. Yet every now and then, a group can perform the conventional conventionally but do so in such a technically well-executed way that such ability cannot be denied, even to the most jaded of listeners. Brooklyn big band Savoy In Color in their new live EP, Hear Today Then: Live at Zeb's somehow makes affecting music out of the everyday.

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GADADU - 'And I See Night'

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

Frailty can be deceptive. Something's perceived weakness could in fact wield some hidden strength, forged from withstanding the elements. Like an insect's exoskeleton, eggshells, or a Brooklyn-based jazz quintet, sometimes frailty is the start of something more. This strength in frailty seems to be a driving factor in the sound behind GADADU.

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On the Nature of Attention

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

Last week, DownBeat magazine released its 63rd Annual Critics' Poll. Topping the Rising Star Guitarist category is a young man named Michael Blum who seemingly topped this chart through email solicitations of all the critics voting. This caused a bit of an uproar, with many musicians, journalists, and others in the community decrying how such a thing could happen. How could such an artist be a rising star when other more deserving musicians aren't receiving their due praise. I can understand such complaints, but one must understand that situations like these, whether in music or in regard to any interaction is based on the nature of attention. To understand how Blum, a rather rudimentary, if not just plain soporifically pleasant guitar player, could top a list like this, would involve a reconciliation with the key elements of how attention works and how one must navigate it.

Attention is a gift. It is given, it is precious. It is the decision someone is making to spend time, however brief and fleeting or continuous and consistent. No matter its length, it is precious and should never be assumed, for it is a gift. It is always a gift.

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The Line-Up for 26 June 2015

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

What do you do when you've spent the majority of the last week playing an album, falling head over heels in love with it, but you can't let anyone listen to it (publicly, unless it's playing offhandedly in a bar somewhere where people have no idea what's playing, really, but sort of like it maybe)? You brag (subtly) about having it and try to hype everyone about it by reminding folks what's so great about the artist releasing it soon. I've been playing almost nothing but the Liberty Ellman Sextet's Radiate, so that may have shifted my focus in this week's show, particularly since I don't think I have clearance yet to play any of it on the air. I'm also fighting a cold so my voice feels weak and brittle and I'm a little loopy.

The Line-Up for 26 June 2015