Albums

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Contemporary Jazz - Released January 9, 2019 | Vintage Records

Contemporary Jazz - Released November 16, 2018 | Prescott Records

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Contemporary Jazz - Released November 16, 2018 | Harbinger Records

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Contemporary Jazz - Released November 16, 2018 | Alba

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Contemporary Jazz - Released November 5, 2018 | CTOMusic

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Contemporary Jazz - Released September 21, 2018 | Outnote Records

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The first sound you hear on trombonist Samuel Blaser's witchy 2018 album, Early in the Mornin', is veteran saxophonist Oliver Lake seemingly invoking the rising sun with a guttural rubato solo. This is no dewy AM yoga stretch, but a muscle-stiff groan to the universe. It sets the tone for what is to come on an album that finds the Swiss-born Blaser balancing his love of rustic blues traditions with more heady, spectral delights. Here, the trombonist plays both his own evocative original compositions and deftly reimagined traditional pieces, including work songs, blues standards, and songs from the British folk heritage. He even brings the concept full circle, literally evoking the rounded, throaty vocals of Lead Belly with his trombone on "Black Betty." Along with Lake, who plays on two tracks, Blaser generously shares the spotlight throughout with his longtime bandmates pianist Russ Lossing, bassist Masa Kamaguchi, and drummer Gerry Hemingway. Also supplying his own brand of kinetic, serpentine magic on two tracks is guest trumpeter Wallace Roney. Many of the cuts here showcase Blaser's robust tone and wide-swinging improvisations framed by the burnt sparkle of Lossing's keyboard and the organic tumult of Kamaguchi and Hemingway's interlocking rhythms. It's an atmospheric blend that brings to mind the legendary '70s Detroit Tribe Records albums of trombonist Phil Ranelin. The sound is especially redolent on cuts like the fractured, organ-rich ballad "Tom Sherman's Barroom," the funky atonalist swamp boogie of "Creepy Crawler," and the deep space modalism of "Mal's Blues." Elsewhere, Roney brings a similarly '70s-esque dark energy, communing with Blaser and Lake on the rhythmically mutative, gospel menace of "Levee Camp Moan Blues," and then shifting from spare dusky tones to fiery group squalls on "The House Carpenter." These tracks all smolder with a lively, almost ancestral energy, conjuring a strange and unpredictable celebration of blues and other rural folk traditions. ~ Matt Collar
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Contemporary Jazz - Released September 21, 2018 | MPS

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Contemporary Jazz - Released June 8, 2018 | Bonsaï Music

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Contemporary Jazz - Released April 12, 2018 | JazzHausMusik

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Contemporary Jazz - Released April 12, 2018 | JazzHausMusik

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Contemporary Jazz - Released March 23, 2018 | Whirlwind Recordings

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Contemporary Jazz - Released March 23, 2018 | Whaling City Sound

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Contemporary Jazz - Released February 16, 2018 | C-Nut Records

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Contemporary Jazz - Released February 3, 2018 | FORORE

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Contemporary Jazz - Released February 2, 2018 | Bruit Chic

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Contemporary Jazz - Released November 17, 2017 | Steinway and Sons

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Contemporary Jazz - Released October 20, 2017 | Steinway and Sons

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The U.S. Steinway & Sons label has made a strong impact with albums by performers who evoke the concert atmosphere of a hundred years ago: the era, as it happens, when the Steinway piano was supreme. British pianist Simon Mulligan does this, but not with quite the same classical repertoire as other pianists on the label. Mulligan has played both classical music and jazz, but here he offers a kind of salon music that has improvised elements, but for the most part is not jazz. (The exception is the upbeat I'll Be Home for Christmas.) The music consists entirely of Christmas or holiday-season tunes, but even such a chestnut as Winter Wonderland is fresh, a bit meditative in Mulligan's hands. Steinway's engineers have made great strides forward in showcasing their home hall at its best, and the mood struck by the sound design here is deep. For a classy soundtrack to your Christmas gathering you couldn't do better than this, but there's more to Mulligan's album than simply background music. ~ James Manheim

Contemporary Jazz - Released September 1, 2017 | Carpe Diem

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Contemporary Jazz - Released August 25, 2017 | Das Kapital Records

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Contemporary Jazz in the magazine