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Jesse Fischer - 'Flipped II' (Album Review)

Daniel J. Palmer
Contributing Writer
caffeinatedjazz@gmail.com / @caffeinatedjazz

Let me come out the gate with a strong statement: I firmly believe that the Young Lions movement is one of the worst things to ever happen to jazz. Don’t get me wrong, the music in and of itself isn’t bad, per se. Most of these folks, from Wynton Marsalis to Roy Hargrove to Mark Whitfield are incredibly talented, academy-trained prodigies. What I think was, and still is dangerous, are the extremely conservative views on not only defining jazz, but also condemning jazz that strays too far from the genre’s “roots.”

I mentioned in a previous review that Miles Davis famously called the music of these players “warmed over turkey.” And he was right. When you play copycat, especially in jazz, you get nothing but a diluted, throwback mess. The irony is astounding. Musicians trying to honor the creativity of artists of the past by stifling the progress of the genre. Charlie Parker isn’t alive today, but I’m going to guess he wouldn’t be appreciative of this mindset.

Honoring an artist doesn’t have to be a mime act, and thank God people like Brooklyn-based pianist, producer, and engineer Jesse Fischer fully understands that. Flipped II is Fischer’s self-described love letter to the hard bop, soul jazz, and jazz fusion of the late 60’s/early 70’s, as seen thru the lens of golden era hip-hop beats. Other than the intro which is credited to Fischer, these tracks are all re-imaginings of tunes by artists that have, at one time or another, played one of the above genres. Fischer understands though, that often times, the best way to honor artists that were so well known in being forward thinking musicians, is in fact, to also be forward thinking yourself. And he does just that in this sequel of sorts to his 2010 release Flipped.

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GoGo Penguin - 'A Humdrum Star'

Daniel J. Palmer
Contributing Writer
caffeinatedjazz@gmail.com / @caffeinatedjazz
Instagram: @caffeinatedjazz

If there was ever a time to immerse yourself in GoGo Penguin's music, it is now. Coming off of a string of popular and highly acclaimed albums as well as a recent New York Times piece that named them as one of the best acts at the 2017 SXSW conference, the Manchester Trio have outdone themselves on their latest release. In some ways, A Humdrum Star follows the same electronic music-influenced modern jazz formula that has worked for the band for their past couple of releases. This time around though, they aren't afraid to stray quite a bit further away from their more straightforward acoustic based jazz roots into territory untouched by the band on previous records.

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Onyx Collective - 'Lower East Suite Part One' and 'Lower East Suite Part Two'

Daniel J. Palmer
Contributing Writer
caffeinatedjazz@gmail.com / @caffeinatedjazz
Instagram: @caffeinatedjazz

I’m a sucker for albums that inhabit a very specific geographical location. Albums that, upon listening to, make you "feel" as if you are physically and emotionally there. Albums where the vibe of the music is inseparable from the connection to the city or neighborhood that the artist is inspired by or rooted in (e.g. Burial/South London, DJ Screw/East Houston, Kermit Ruffins/the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans). Unfortunately, in the social media age, where we have access to virtually visit nearly any location in the world, it is easy to lose sight of how effective music alone can be in achieving this goal. Onyx Collective is trying to change that.

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Ambrose Akinmusire - 'A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard'

Daniel J. Palmer
Contributing Writer
caffeinatedjazz@gmail.com / @caffeinatedjazz

I'm writing this review 39,000 feet in the air, flying back home to Texas after spending the last week meandering through the streets of New York City. The more I see of NYC, so storied and important in the history of jazz, the more I see it as an entity and amalgam of influences rather than a city. NYC's importance in the development of the genre cannot be understated, and The Village Vanguard solidified its place in jazz history decades ago. The club has hosted thousands of principal players who have cut hundreds of extremely important albums within the club's claustrophobic walls.

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Adrian Ruiz Quintet Album Release Show, Jazz, Tx, San Antonio, Tx, May 23rd, 2017

Daniel J. Palmer
Contributing Writer
caffeinatedjazz@gmail.com / @caffeinatedjazz

Dr. Adrian Ruiz is a busy man. Between serving as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio, his freelance work as a jazz trumpeter, and his continued dedication to The Adrian Ruiz Quintet, finding time to put together an album of originals of this high caliber must not have been an easy task.