Lester Bowie (October 11, 1941–November 8, 1999) was an American jazz trumpet player and composer. Although seen as part of the avant-garde, Bowie embraced techniques from the whole history of jazz trumpet, filling his music with humorous smears, blats, growls, half-valve effects, and so on. His affinity for reggae and ska is exemplified by his composition "Ska Reggae Hi-Bop", which he performed with the Skatalites on their 1994 "Hi-Bop Ska", and also with James Carter on "Conversin' With The Elders".
Wadada Leo Smith's third Tzadik release finds him in a modern jazz quartet of seasoned jazz cats and legendary improvisers. Pianist Anthony Davis, bassist Malachi Favors Magoustous, and drummer Jack DeJohnette join Smith in creating an unhurried, mature and, frankly, atypical Tzadik release in that even though it may sound somewhat free to more conservative ears, it is hardly antagonistic and is unmistakably a piano jazz quartet. Regardless of classification, this is an album of excellent jazz that is so fresh and well executed as to define and remind what's great about listening to the music. It's a pleasant surprise that such an incredible lineup of musicians can come together and yield a musical sum still greater than what you would expect, when considering the individual "parts."
Recorded at a 1980 concert in Munich, Urban Bushmen not only provides an excellent summation of the Art Ensemble of Chicago's work since 1966, but also substantiates the group's reputation for putting on intense and inspired shows. The album centers around three extended pieces: reed player Joseph Jarmen's "Theme for SCO," the group's "Urban Magic," and reed player Roscoe Mitchell's "Uncle."
Originally comprised of saxophonists Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman, trumpeter Lester Bowie, bassist Malachi Favors, and later, drummer Famoudou Don Moye, the Art Ensemble of Chicago enjoyed a critical reputation as the finest and most influential avant-garde jazz ensemble of the 1970s and '80s. Whether or not that reputation was wholly deserved is, in retrospect, subject to debate the World Saxophone Quartet and the Cecil Taylor Unit may well have been more influential.
Andrew Hill has been, in the gentlest of cases, an idiosyncratic player, composer, and bandleader. But often, reviews of his work have been quite strident and refer to him as an iconoclast. That's okay; some critics thought of Monk and Herbie Nichols that way, too. Time Lines has Hill back – for the third time in his long career – with Blue Note, the label that gave birth to his enduring classics like Black Fire and Judgment!. But Hill is still every bit the creative and technically gifted musician he was back in the day; perhaps more so. His band features seasoned veteran Charles Tolliver on trumpet, saxophonist Greg Tardy (who also triples on clarinet and bass clarinet, and beautifully, to say the least), and a rhythm section composed of bassist John Herbert and drummer Eric McPherson.
Carolyn Malachi is an artist’s artist. Her work is the kind that deeply studied technicians instantly recognize and appreciate as one of their own. And, while her work has largely straddled the fence between the avant-garde and the commercially accessible, with Rise: Story 1, she almost completely hops over to the side of experimentation and technician play. The results are a mix of flawlessly sung, rapped, and played material that feel disjointed in their arrangements and non-linear storytelling, creating an album more impressionistic than accessibly concrete, depending on how much creative play one can tolerate or embrace from their music.