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Know Your Product: Purple Spectre 

Stars Pick Their Top 5!

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Led by saxophonist Mike Moynihan, the quintet of Purple Spectre aims to "carry the torch of jazz into the 21st century." They achieve this goal by fusing elements from multiple jazz genres: urban bass grooves, cool brass lines, complex cymbal-work, smooth keyboards and the occasional blistering solo (of course). In the modern world, jazz groups performing original material can be tragically rare, so you have to appreciate these locals' passion for improvisational trailblazing. Managing to make their instrumental music catchy as hell doesn't hurt, either.

See Mike Moynihan's Purple Spectre at their debut album release party at The Screening Room. 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 12. 127 E. Congress Street. $10.

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Reinier Baas

Reinier Baas v.s. Princess Discombobulatrix

The writing on this album is phenomenal. Because it is meant to tell a story from beginning to end, there are common motifs that are used throughout the entire album, which really helps to connect the listener to what's happening musically. It also has a sense of humor which I really enjoy in music. Overall definitely a favorite of mine. —Kai Felix

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Erykah Badu

Mama's Gun

Erykah is the coolest, hands down. Not only does she write the coolest songs, she puts together the coolest bands. This record has everyone: Roy Ayers, Pino Palladino, James Poyser, Dilla, Questlove, Roy Hargrove—all the cats who are the backbone of modern R&B and soul music. This album is a musical lesson in restraint, pocket and overall mature ensemble playing. —Patrick Morris

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Lester Young

Lester Young with The Oscar Peterson Trio

This album represents the finest jazz playing from the top masters of all time. Lester Young exhibits sensitivity and vulnerability to a degree unparalleled by any recording I've ever heard. His tone is fragile like stained glass, yet his phrasing and ideas are so poignant I have often been brought to tears from listening. Oscar Peterson and the trio swing like mad and provide a perfect counterpoint to the angelic tones of the Pres (Lester Young's well-deserved nickname). —Mike Moynihan

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Sonny Rollins

Saxophone Colossus

The title of this record says it all! Rollins is in peak form delivering a profound bop powerhouse. Rollins' solo on "St. Thomas" is arguably the best jazz tenor saxophone solo ever recorded. Here, Rollins has it all. His playing is motivic, swinging, articulate and deeply passionate. I have listened to this album literally hundreds of times and it never gets old! —Mike Moynihan

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John Coltrane

A Love Supreme

My favorite album, A Love Supreme by the John Coltrane Quartet, is a landmark recording in jazz history in that it achieves so many things that we jazz musicians strive to attain: depth in swing, profound and inspirational solos and a clear artistic vision from song to song. McCoy Tyner's piano playing, in particular, is exceptional on this album. He masterfully displays the modal style that influenced virtually every jazz piano player after this point. —Angelo Versace ■

More by Jeff Gardner

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