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Bebop - Released December 14, 2018 | Nonesuch

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The jazz tradition has long taken pop songs, reimagined and reinvented them harmonically and rhythmically and re-presented them as vehicles for improvisation. Pat Metheny has done something different on What's It All About, his second Nashville-tuned baritone acoustic guitar record (with a handful of other acoustic instruments and no overdubs, but there are edits). Here he performs ten pop songs that have long been part of his personal arcana and recorded them so that we might hear what's inside these songs -- as songs. Recorded on a single day in February of 2011, Metheny interprets well-known songs by Paul Simon, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Lennon & McCartney, Henry Mancini, the Ventures, Burt Bacharach, Paul Williams, Terry Kirkman, Carly Simon, Thom Bell, and others across the pop spectrum. His approach is deliberate; his interest is in the subtlety of melody; its nuance, and mystery; he finds the places he hears inside the music before these songs even begin, or just after they end, through a unique series of tunings he employs between A-flat and C. "The Sound of Silence" opens the set by suggesting the tones of a Japanese koto in its intro (courtesy of his 42-string Pikasso guitar). When the melody commences, its languorous richness and rhythmic balance are so perfect, we hear it not only as the pop song we remember by Simon & Garfunkel, but as a lyric invention that is almost magical in its possibility. The version of Kirkman's "Cherish" (a big hit by the Association), is equally profound. He finds the space where the human voice inserts itself in the harmonic structure and opens it with his guitar. There is slightly more improvisation in "Alfie," but it's open, spacious, and full of hinted-at dimensions in the crafting of the song's parameters. "Girl from Ipanema," played as a skeletal, impressionistic ballad, uncovers suggestions of darker melodies inside. He pulls out both the implied elegance in "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be," and the quietly majestic variety of it in "Rainy Days and Mondays." "Betcha by Golly, Wow" stands as a revelation: its inventive harmonics and syncopations are inherent in the tune's basic architecture. In closer "And I Love Her" are the direct implications of bossa that Lennon and McCartney had no doubt taken note of at the time. Ultimately, What's It All About is an intimate work revealing Metheny's investigation of composition itself. The notion of song is inherent in everything he does, and he reveals that inspiration in spades here. ~ Thom Jurek
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Bebop - Released December 7, 2018 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released December 7, 2018 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released December 7, 2018 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released August 31, 2018 | HighNote Records

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Pianist Cyrus Chestnut is a virtuoso player with deep roots in both spiritual gospel music and harmonically sophisticated jazz. That said, he's also a classically trained artist with a wide-ranging and eclectic taste in music. He brings all of these influences to bear on his nuanced and enveloping 2018 trio date, Kaleidoscope. Joining him are bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Chris Beck, who offer empathetic support throughout. Here, Chestnut has chosen a handful of his favorite classical compositions, including tracks by Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, and Maurice Ravel, which he reworks in his own inimitable jazz style, alongside other standards and his own originals. What's particularly compelling about his choices is just how well the classical songs fit into the jazz trio concept. The Satie selections in particular lend themselves to a jazz approach. Chestnut's languid reading of "Gymnopedie No. 1" has the feel of a hazy summer afternoon, and brings to mind Vince Guaraldi's Peanuts soundtracks. He also turns the composer's "Son Binocle" into a jauntily urbane bossa nova. Elsewhere, he transforms Debussy's "Jimbo's Lullaby" into a bluesy, far-eyed rumination, anchored by a soulful bass solo intro from Wheeler. Similarly engaging is the trio's dramatic, modal jazz take on Ravel's "Entre Cloches," in which Chestnut's spiraling solo swells into a sustained din of reverberating bass notes before returning to the main theme. Conversely, his own songs, like the meditative "Father Time" and the lyrical "Prayer for Claudine," evince a classical feel, displaying his knack for finely attenuated melodies and richly textured harmonics. He splits the difference on his swaggering version of Deep Purple's classic rock anthem "Smoke on the Water," diving into the iconic main theme with Rachmaninov-esque dynamism and then pulling back into a mutative, Eastern-influenced improvisation. ~ Matt Collar
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Bebop - Released June 15, 2018 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released May 4, 2018 | jazz family

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Bebop - Released September 22, 2017 | Savant

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Bebop - Released September 22, 2017 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released July 14, 2017 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released January 20, 2017 | HighNote Records

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Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt occupies an enviably open-minded space in the modern jazz landscape. A capable traditionalist, Pelt has built his career around making acoustic post-bop, with increasing forays into electrified, electronic-tinged fusion. His mutable choices keep you in suspense as a listener -- you’re never sure what to expect from one album to the next. While there are no such electronic flourishes on Pelt's 2017 effort, the warmly sophisticated Make Noise!, it still pops with much of the same cross-genre creativity he's explored in the past. The album follows his similarly inclined 2016 effort #Jiveculture, which also featured an inventive acoustic sound accented by legendary bassist Ron Carter. This time out, Pelt brings along a slightly less-high-profile, if no less talented, ensemble including pianist Victor Gould, bassist Vicente Archer, drummer Jonathan Barber, and percussionist Jacquelene Acevedo. Together, they take an intimate approach to expansive post-bop that straddles the line between Miles Davis' '60s albums and Terence Blanchard's early-'80s work. Pelt has a broad, enveloping trumpet tone and a knack for laying down highly engaging solos that never hold a listener at arm's length. It's a skill he puts to good use throughout Make Noise! and one complemented by his bandmates, especially pianist Gould, who layers these tracks with a sparkling delicacy reminiscent of the late Mulgrew Miller. Similarly, with Acevedo's kinetic percussion filtered throughout, Make Noise! also has a strong Afro-Latin influence, a vibe especially apparent on the roiling title track and frenetic, salsa-infused "Bodega Social." Equally compelling, "Chateau d'Eau" has a languid, R&B-inflected melody set to a midtempo Afro-Latin groove. Elsewhere, Pelt pushes toward harmonically nuanced modalism, offering a fittingly elegiac and noir-ish tribute to the departed pop icon on "Prince," and evincing the angular, classically influenced style of Black Codes-era Wynton Marsalis on "Cry Freedom." While much of Pelt's work fits nicely into the jazz canon, he clearly has an open ear for melody, a gift he exercises on "Your First Touch...", which sounds like a Leonard Cohen song reworked as a sensuous jazz ballad. Ultimately, Make Noise! continues to reveal Pelt's maturation into a confident artist, comfortable enough with his place in the jazz tradition to keep subtly pushing the edges of audience expectation. ~ Matt Collar
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Bebop - Released July 15, 2016 | Savant

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Bebop - Released May 20, 2016 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released April 15, 2016 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released March 18, 2016 | HighNote Records

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Guitarist Russell Malone has always been a highly lyrical, melodic soloist and he spotlights this talent with his 2016 studio effort, All About Melody. Following up his similar small group album, 2015's Love Looks Good on You, All About Melody is a swinging, soulful, laid-back production showcasing Malone's knack for deftly delivered straight-ahead jazz. Joining Malone once again is his longtime working rhythm section of pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Luke Sellick, and drummer Willie Jones III. Together, this quartet makes supple, warm-toned instrumental music in which each player is totally jacked in, intrinsically working to complement the overall happy group vibe. With his big, hollow-body electric guitar, largely unadorned natural tone, and fluid, bop-inflected lines, Malone sounds positively exuberant here. To these ends, he revisits Freddie Hubbard's "On the Real Side," a groove-oriented number he first played on the trumpeter's last studio album. He then continues to pay homage to another of his stylistic inspirations, the late guitarist Jim Hall, with the hushed original "Message to Jim Hall." Poignantly, the track is followed by an actual phone message Hall left for Malone. Elsewhere, Malone keeps things vibrant and romantic with a sweet, unaccompanied take on "When a Man Loves a Woman," and equally amorous, afterglow-illuminated version of "Saving All My Love for You." However, it's not all candlelight and wine. Malone dances through Sonny Rollins' calypso "Nice Lady," and turns up the noise for a frenetic, funky take on Bill Lee's "Biskit." Ultimately, whether he's slipping into an intimate ballad or launching into a swaggering soul-jazz freakout, Malone keeps listeners hanging onto his melodies. ~ Matt Collar
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Bebop - Released January 15, 2016 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released June 15, 1958 | Parlophone UK

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Bebop - Released June 15, 1960 | Parlophone UK

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Bebop - Released September 11, 2012 | Rhino Atlantic

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