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Despite its ubiquitous use of all kinds of improv strategies, which carry the hope of fire and surprise, jazz is a dogmatic genre with its own brand of partisan restrictions. Mainstream players are expected to stick conservatively with the conventions…
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Music, Hear This Hear This

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Tuba-driven, quirky, and fun, Kingcake is a Left Coast version of New York's infamous Spanish Fly, or better yet, a miniature model of composer Henry Threadgill's outsized Very Very Circus. Like both of the animated groups mentioned above, this SoCal…
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Old-school avant-garde jazz fans often associate pianist Misha Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink with the duo's enviable big break: supporting Eric Dolphy on his final tour of Europe just weeks before the legendary artist's untimely passing in the summer of…
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Disco 'Round Midnight

Roving with Gianni Gebbia down the cobblestone streets of Palermo, we rarely pass a cafe, restaurant, or bar without hearing someone call out, "Gianni!" A local celebrity who's been performing in Sicily's breezy seaside capital since he first picked…
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Gianni Gebbia Sicilian saxophonist Gianni Gebbia channels the history of the Mediterranean in every note he plays, almost as if he were speaking in tongues across the centuries. His tone and phrasing glide seamlessly from angular dialectical fragments to sleek…
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Dan Plonsey Dan Plonsey is the quintessential "out" cat. From his passion for supra-earthly sounds to his day gig in the astronomy department at UC Berkeley, Plonsey's interests often lie well outside the mainstream. He dubbed his host computer "sunra,"…
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Recordings

Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks Orange Crate Art (Warner Bros.) In his recent Beach Boys biography, The Nearest Faraway Place, Timothy White notes that the "unmanly" aspects of Brian Wilson's falsetto singing were "one of the biggest 'hangups' of…
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