Author: danielbmmarx

Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth | Album Review

Heaven and Earth, the new gargantuan double album from acclaimed tenor saxophonist, Kamasi Washington is perplexing. It’s not as if the record isn’t a thoroughly enjoyable listen, but at the end of its two-and-a-half-hour run-time, there remain a few vitally important questions that, unfortunately, have particularly unsatisfying answers: What is the album trying to achieve? Does the music relate to the album’s concept? Is Washington justified in promoting the album, solely under his own name? Sadly, in the media furore surrounding this record, those questions have largely been ignored, resulting in blind value judgements, based on very little in...

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Why Jazz Fans Shouldn’t Pin Their Hopes and Dreams on Kamasi Washington

Kamasi Washington’s unlikely, yet meteoric rise to prominence in the music industry has been an interesting journey to follow. Working with Steven Ellison (AKA Flying Lotus), Kendrick Lamar, Terrace Martin and Robert Glasper brought the West Coast tenor sax player into the limelight thanks to his dexterous and energetic performances on Flying Lotus’ You’re Dead! (2014) and Kendrick Lamar’s masterwork, To Pimp a Butterfly (2015). Ellison clearly saw something in Washington, as the producer offered to release the saxophonist’s debut record – a three hour long, triple album of original jazz tunes called The Epic (2015) – on his...

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A Brief Introduction: Five Essential Progressive Bluegrass Albums

Progressive bluegrass, or ‘newgrass’ as it is sometimes called, is the genre in which, in my opinion, the most exciting advancements in contemporary American music are being made. While other genres that are currently capturing the imaginations of millions of people around the world (i.e. Trap, Country, Neo-Soul) have been affected heavily by the pitfalls of commercialism and the formulaic, progressive bluegrass has been quietly growing and developing into one of the most vibrant and varied genres in contemporary music, since its emergence in the early 1980s. In brief, progressive bluegrass is an amalgamation of interesting musical ideas from...

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The Staves & yMusic – The Way Is Read | Album Review

The Staves are three sisters with one beautifully blended voice. The trio, from Watford, have been honing and perfecting that voice over two studio albums and a variety of EPs, singles and collaborations – notably with Bon Iver frontman, Justin Vernon – and have now reached a point where they are revered, the world over, as incomparable, unspeakably emotive vocal performers. It is however probably fair to say, that until recently, the Staverly-Taylor sisters have not had their considerable talents truly tested. Fans of the girls will be delighted to hear that, on their latest project with New York...

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Becca Stevens – Regina | Album Review

Regina is the fourth full length album from Brooklyn based singer/songwriter, Becca Stevens. Her last two albums, Weightless and Perfect Animal are both extraordinary records, but this new album is a creative feat on a completely different level. On Regina, Stevens keeps her unique flavour of jazz and Appalachian folk-tinged songwriting, and dives head first into a concept full of depth, with both musical and emotional twists and turns. The word ‘regina’ (Latin for ‘queen’) is the idea around which this record is based, and with the music she has created here, Stevens proves herself worthy of the various queens she has honoured...

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