Saturday Feb 16


Dr. Lonnie Smith is the most inspiring, exciting, and informative organist working in the jazz idiom today.  That's not just my opinion.  It's shared by the general membership of the Jazz Journalists Association who have identified Dr. Smith as Jazz Organist of the Year five times in the past 10 years.


Pianist Mark Levine's resumé is impressive.  He has major credentials in what's commonly called hard bop (Woody Shaw, Joe Henderson, Blue Mitchell, Harold Land), in Latin jazz (Mongo Santamaria, Cal Tjader, Moacir Santos, Willie Bobo), and jazz education (authoring The Jazz Theory Book and The Jazz Piano book as well as serving on various jazz faculties and clinics).  His most significant current performing work is done with his "and the Latin Tinge" band.

This is another set of previously unreleased performances by a major jazz artist, in this case seminal bop tenor sax star Dexter Gordon. It's pretty much typical of this sort of production. The music was recorded in performance, not originally intended for release as a permanent example of the artist's work, but for better or worse, here it is on a nearly indestructible CD.

Meet Claire Martin, the classiest, hippest, most exhilarating British import since the Morgan Plus 4.  Martin's swinging, idiomatically classic vocalizing earned her a Best Rising Star commendation in last year's British Jazz Awards.  In terms of public recognition, the award may be appropriate.  In terms of artistry, Martin's star is not ascendant but solidly positioned in the upper reaches of the jazz firmament.

Eddie Henderson produces one of the most convincing jazz trumpet sounds since Clifford Brown. But his personal aesthetic is heavily grounded in the post-Coltrane acoustic adventures of the late '60s and early '70s. So Henderson occasionally sets forth somewhat abstracted melodic lines which, oddly enough, sound dated in today's neoclassic atmosphere.

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