3 items from 2015
Happy birthday to Pat Metheny (born August 12, 1954), one of the few jazz superstars of the past four decades to combine commercial success and critical plaudits. After paying his dues in Gary Burton's band (which he joined at age 19), Metheny put out his first album in 1976 and by the time of his third release two years later was gaining crossover radio play. Though the style of his eponymous band was smooth and tuneful, Metheny had a firm basis in jazz and straight-ahead guitarist gods such as Jim Hall (with whom he eventually recorded a fine duo album).
With success came the challenge of avoiding complacency, which Metheny has met masterfully with a wide-ranging series of albums in a variety of stylistic bags, from atonal skronk to mellow Brazilian, from thorny Ornette Coleman covers to mercurial bebop. Along the way he has lent his prestige to both respected elders (Hall, Burton, Coleman, »
Kristy Swanson is moving on from vampires to angels. Swanson, star of the film “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” has signed on for the Up TV Christmas movie “Angels in the Snow,” which began production last week in Vancouver, Canada. See photos: 10 Biggest Christmas Day Box Office Openers (Photos) Based on the Rexanne Becnel novel “Christmas Journey,” the domestic drama revolves around two very different families who find themselves snowbound together in a luxurious cabin during a Christmas blizzard. The affluent yet troubled Montgomery family is headed by workaholic real estate developer Charles (played by Chris Potter of Up’s “Heartland”) and his. »
- Tim Kenneally
I didn't have enough free time in 2014 to review nearly as many of last year's prolific output of fine jazz albums as I wanted to. Here's a small step toward catching up, plus two 2015 releases (Ligeti/McDonas, The Side Project Saxophone 4tet).
Tom Varner: Nine Surprises (Tom Varner Music)
Composer and French horn player Tom Varner is indeed full of surprises, and they are not confined to the suite of that name (which, surprisingly, has 15 movements). I was most surprised by the outburst of New Orleans jazz in the last piece on the CD, "Mele," which Varner calls "a Gil Evans-influenced variation on the harmonic structure of a pop Hawaiian Christmas song." In general the music here seems highly composed -- these are not heads with strings of solos -- but still allowing for improvisation. The soloists who make the biggest impression are trombonist David Marriott and, no surprise here, »
3 items from 2015
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