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Daniel Freedman - 'Imagine That'

Ben Gray
Staff Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

Daniel Freedman's new album Imagine That is a feel-good album full of slow building tunes and fun jams. The quintet here certainly has the chops and the ability to play fast runs, hyper-syncopated beats, or complex rhythms, but Imagine That is very much a group affair. Even when one musician is soloing, it rarely feels like someone is taking a solo, as the whole band is moving as one unit to support the song. The tunes here are for the most part not built on a straightforward head-solo-solo-head format, but instead often feature a slow, steady build to a climax toward the end of the song.

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Julian Lage Trio - 'Arclight'

Ben Gray
Staff Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

In a conversation between Dave Douglas and Marc Ribot on the "A Noise From the Deep" podcast, Ribot explained the difference between jazz and rock artists: jazz artists always give the impression that they have all day, even if they have an eight-bar solo; rock artists seem to think they need to say everything, right now, even if they have ten minutes to solo. Julian Lage is a jazz musician, and packs an enormous amount of songcraft into the compact songs on Arclight without losing any sense of spontaneity or improvisational excitement.

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Smells Like Teen Spirit: A Critical Analysis of Covers

Ben Gray
Staff Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

Bringing outside influences into jazz and bringing jazz to other genres has been going on probably since there was a concept of jazz as a genre. Witness hip-hop and electronic producers sampling from jazz records and Robert Glasper playing J Dilla tunes. Witness David Bowie backed by a group of incredible jazz musicians, DJ Logic joining Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Miles Davis bringing a rock aesthetic to his ‘70’s bands, John Coltrane playing "My Favorite Things", and Jason Moran playing a theme from Ravel. Witness, as in this column, jazz artists covering Nirvana’s "Smells Like Teen Spirit".

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Corbin Andrick - 'Olmstead's Whistle'

Ben Gray
Staff Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

There's something good happening in the Chicago music scene, where younger players like Marquis Hill, Makaya McCraven, and Matt Ulery have made strong statements recently. Add sax player Corbin Andrick's name to that list, as his recent Olmstead's Whistle release signals this musician and this band as one to watch.

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Lionel Loueke - 'Gaia'

Ben Gray
Staff Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

Lionel Loueke's newest trio album Gaia has the guitarist rocking hard, indulging in trippy effects on his instrument and in odd, but very natural-sounding, time signatures. It's also one of the most compelling listens you'll come across in 2015. You want this one.