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For Your Consideration: Wayne Shorter Quartet's 'Without a Net'

Jonathan Wertheim
Staff Writer
jon.wertheim@gmail.com / @disgruntledjazz

I love to hear a working band. There is an unmistakable quality to the music of the working band, found in no other ensemble, no matter how accomplished it may be. There is a kind of ESP, a musical empathy, a sympathy in sound, that travels from one musician to all the others in the working band. You can hear it in Blakey's Jazz Messengers, in Wynton Marsalis' music, in Keith Jarrett's.

And you can hear it once again in Wayne Shorter's, if you get off the couch and buy his newest record - and return to Blue Note - Without A Net.

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For Your Consideration: The Bad Plus' 'Made Possible'

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

Consider for a moment the career arc of The Bad Plus. When the trio of pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King burst onto the scene with their swirling, intricate, playful compositions and head-turning rock covers back in the early aughts, music fans the world over had strong opinions about what this music was -- jazz or otherwise -- and where this group would go. Over more than a decade, this group has dazzled us with their albums from their first major release in 2003, These Are The Vistas, to their latest album, Made Possible. In fact, Made Possible appears to be a return to form for the dynamic trio after their rather vocal (pun intended) left turn with 2008's For All I Care featuring Wendy Lewis and what came off as a checkpoint in their sojourn back to their trademark sound with 2010's Never Stop. Nevertheless, Made Possible, available on Entertainment One Music, is the group's finest album since 2007's Prog and the clear logical next step for a trio that has arguably changed the game in the jazz genre.

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For Your Consideration: Joris Roelofs Quartet's 'Live at The Bimhuis'

Jonathan Wertheim
Staff Writer
jon.wertheim@gmail.com / @disgruntledjazz

I have to admit something: I totally missed this album when it came out last September. It's ironic really; I devoured Dutch saxophonist and clarinetist Joris Roelofs' debut album, Introducing, back in 2008 (seriously, check it out), and have returned to it again and again, wondering each time when the follow-up would come.

Well, it's here. Fuck yeah.

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For Your Consideration: Lionel Loueke's 'Heritage'

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

Benin-native guitarist Lionel Loueke always seemed to make music with a distinctly different sonic palette from the rest of us. Much of that may have to do with his African roots, instilling in Loueke the kinds of tinkling arpeggios, clicks, and clacks that just aren't common in the western world, yet it's this special aural paint that makes his body of work so remarkable. Through the years, Loueke's sound has harbored a bevy of collaborators (especially a constantly satisfying working rapport with vocalist Gretchen Parlato) and even more acclaim. It would seem only natural that his glitchy (in a vocal, almost Al Jarreau in his heyday kind of variety) sounds would sidle along nicely with the infectious philosophy of groove of pianist Robert Glasper. By their powers combined (along with bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Mark Guiliana), they have released Heritage, out now on the Blue Note label (ahem, Amazon, ahem, iTunes).

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For Your Consideration: ERIMAJ's 'Conflict of a Man'

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

Houston-native drummer Jamire Williams gets around a lot. He's part of Christian Scott's quintet. He's part of legendary organist Dr. Lonnie Smith's current trio. He's head of his own group, ERIMAJ. These are collectives with which he has spent quite some time, which means there are a multitude of groups with whom he has grown a clear rapport. In relatively short order these last few months, all three of these groups have released albums that show clear refinement in style from their previous albums. Christian Scott's double-album Christian aTunde Adjuah is literally everything you loved about 2010's Yesterday You Said Tomorrow x 2, showing us a clear continuation of Scott's views on life, love, and the body politik through the prism of this quintet who show even more that they know how to play together with Scott's disparate registers. Dr. Lonnie Smith's The Healer seems to dig even deeper into the soulful roots he has tapped in this career but most certainly after 2010's Spiral. However, in the realm of Williams, nothing else released this year says here's the hot fudge, whipped cream, and sprinkles you've been waiting to add to your sundae than the transition from 2010's Memo to All EP, recorded live in New York mostly, to the newly released Conflict of a Man. For any one group to produce an album so wildly good, tweak itself with age and refinement, and then make the subsequent album even better is a major accomplishment. For Jamire Williams to be the backbone of this happening three times over at least is the literal definition of awesome, for Williams is worthy of such awe, no more better displayed than on his own Conflict of a Man out now on iTunes and Amazon.