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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.

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'Slim Bone Head Volt, Vol. 2'

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

Slim Bone Head Volt is the collaborative project of composer/pianist/violinist/violaist Dana Lyn and writer/actor Vincent D'Onofrio. It's an odd project, a curious project. It's also kind of amazing, which is why they're releasing a second album tomorrow after their 2015 debut. Lyn has written and arranged fascinating, propulsive, inventive music. Whether for the triumphant "Pilot Wolf", the bluesy "I'm A Guppy" (almost a la Tom Waits), or the riotously awesome "I'm A Mule", Lyn has a lot of different musical ideas that sound weird and great and weirdly great. Yet this range of swirling notions comes together to meet Vincent D'Onofrio's journal of thoughts, and he has a lot of them and a fantastic voice for spoken word.

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Portico Quartet - 'Untitled (AITAOA #2)'

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

Radiohead's 2001 album, Amnesiac, was recorded in the same sessions as their 2000 album, Kid A, which saw the group begin their exploration into a more electronic sound. It's hard not to think about those albums when listening to the Portico Quartet's 2018 album, Untitled (AITAOA #2), which was recorded in the same sessions as last year's release, Art in the Age of Automation, though these albums are a return to form as opposed to a tonal divergence. Once again, this group has combined their electronic and jazz influences into something quite grand. To try to heap additional praise on them is to repeat more of the same of the ethereal brilliance they released in their last album.