It is with great pleasure to review music that's tantalizing to the imagination with its playfulness. Thelonius Dub's sound is creative play in every sense of the word playfulness - "play", "full" and lots of "ness" where play is the state of being.
There's a sense of brilliance in music that can make a complex mirepoire into child's play. My intuition is this takes a lot of intimacy with the foundations of music and turning it upside down and inside out then coming out at the end of it standing up, combined with a sense of boldness. It's akin to any gymnast at the vault who jumps on the spring and summersaults and twists in the air then lands solidly on both feet (or often a slight hop or wobble.) This type of feat takes hours of practice and dedication and just belief that the sound one makes bears truth. There's a noetic quality to the music.
Thelonious Dub, (aka TDub) is a Los Angeles based band that formed in 2007. Their second CD release "Master Plan B" is made up of original songs. It's a follow up from their first release which was a collection of songs from the masters: Monk, Miles, Shorter and Mingus. MORE
“Music transcends so many of the barriers between people. It appeals to what we have in common”
“Jazz musicians have been (really) traditionally been ambassadors. The person going from his native land to another land and gets intrigued stimulated creatively – that’s a spark.”
“Globalization is here, but we have to think more about the kind of globalization that we want and not one that is handed down to us. “ ------Herbie Hancock
The “Imagine Project”, the latest cd by Herbie Hancock was released last June. It is a globalization project – the kind of globalization that is about peace, compassion, and hope.
The music which crosses over many genres is a blend of Herbie Hancock’s jazz roots with blues, funk, reggae, hip hop, folk music from many countries especially from West Africa), classical Indian, and the offspring of fusion of other genres. He worked with artists from many continents (see the track listing at the end) and with the guidance of Larry Klein has produced something quite beautiful. MORE
Bassist Charnett Moffett shouldn't be known as a songwriter. "Song" brings to mind something too structured. Charnett writes… imagery, and he uses an intricate brush. His latest album, "Treasure," is best listened to through the prism of the rest of the album.
"Swing Street" opens the entire excursion, and Charnett's unique World instrumentation pulls you into a Bourbon Street in India. The album stays strong through "The Celebration" and "The Things of Swing," and guitarist Stanley Jordan joins the ensemble. The listener will undoubtedly wish Stanley would offer his two cents more often through the album, but alas, he only graces these two. "Say La" falls a little flat, but is quickly buoyed by "Beam Me Up." This track showcases Charnett's intense finger workout, causing the listener to wonder just what this must look like live. MORE
Only Trust Your Heart is one of those rare, instantly familiar and comfortable albums. The Scott Martin Band puts together a good mix of recognizable tunes you can't name, and drops in a few originals that slide right by sounding as established as every other song on the album.
'Gregory is Here' introduces you to Scott and guest Justo Almario on sax, and within the first minute, you know you're in for a compelling listen. Both players solo effortlessly, and are a great complement to the other. More strained improvisations can be heard out of more established artists - to hear these two shred across the range invites you to give them a little house on your own, even though this is a studio album. MORE
When I listened to Jonathan Butler’s latest cd, “So Strong” (2010) it had the same vigor as his first cd, “Introducing Jonathan Butler” (1985). The title of the record was inspired by personal events that tested his strength and courage. Jonathan Butler’s voice has not changed much over the years. The native South African artist (guitarist/vocalist/songwriter) expressed, “I never let negativity stop me from enjoying life. The experiences mold and shape you. I want listeners to know when they hear the CD that there is always a reason to celebrate.” The music in the cd is joyful in spirit and would be a favorite among listeners who enjoy pop & contemporary jazz with hints of gospel lyrics injected with soulful positive energy. Jonathan Butler came from a materially disadvantaged background of poverty and apartheid. But he triumphed and rose to be a popular recording artist with 2 Grammy award nominations. Asked about influences in his life: “I would say that it's influenced and shaped my life . I think anybody who has lived through struggles - especially those who came out of America in the 60s during the civil rights era - it shapes your life; it shapes your character. It makes you a person of substance because of what you had to go through. For me, I think that's what growing up in apartheid in South Africa has done for me. As harsh as those years might have been, we made it.” MORE
"Life is a mystic journey. Fulfill your destiny."----Azar Lawrence
This inspirational quote in the artwork of "Mystic Journey," is perhaps for saxophonist Azar Lawrence a gentle reminder. It is a self-addressed post-it from an enormously talented musician, whose career seemed to derail for a time. With the release of "Mystic Journey" Azar Lawrence appears more than ready to reclaim the destiny that is his, as one of the modern masters of the saxophone.
Beginning with the title track, Azar Lawrence abducts the listener on a kaleidoscopic excursion of saxophone-ology. Lawrence's horn soars with exciting reverence, past the mountains of Charles Parker, the canals of John Coltrane, across the sea of Sonny Rollins. Azar Lawrence is deeply rooted in the footsteps of these icons, yet the sound unleashed is his own. The impression lingers long after the track is over. MORE
Wen Mew dedicates this CD to his parents whose support, he says, "was critical to my ability to make 'mewsic' today..." He plays his Rampone and Cazzani saxello on all the tracks of the CD. The music is very much of the genre smooth and easy listening jazz with some of the music leaning towards the bossa nova rhythm.
Wen Mew's blog describes the influences on his music: "...the reason I'm a musician I believe is because my mom sang to me when I was a baby. I heard music when I was very young. I didn't scat with Louie and Ella when I was two like Roberta Gambarini, but I knew "Blue Skies," "The Best Things in Life are Free," "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover," "April Showers" and "Tea for Two.""
He began playing the sax in the 6th grade playing "Tenderly" and other songs his mother liked. He still enjoys playing that music, and the compositions in this record are standard sounding jazz songs, like a short waltz, "Roby's Waltz" and "Mew's Mood for Love". This one sounds very close to another song many of us are familiar with, but Wen Mew plays around quite a bit with it to make it his own.
As a dedication to his parents this kind of music evokes the nostalgia that a previous generation would have loved to dance to, cheek-to-cheek. It's traditional and romantic.----ANALYN REVILLA
Ranee Lee’s latest, "Lives Upstairs," is a highly enjoyable listen. You may not think so after listening to the first few cuts – while her choice of tunes is made more fun by the slightly obscure nature, the style with which the album opens can make you believe this will be a low-key, if diverse, excursion.
Hang in until cut 4.
With “A Crooked Road”, Ranee takes the never recorded Pat Methany tune, and the album as a whole, in a new direction. The band gets to stretch out, and Ms. Lee draws in the listener, slyly reversing your preconceived ideas about this set. After “A Crooked Road”, she stops short, spins a one-eighty, and rips into “Four”, based on a bop tune by Miles Davis, and you’ll catch yourself grinning. MORE
This project was conceptualized in early 2006 at the University of South Florida’s “Center for Jazz Composition” by the director Dave Stamps and Chuck Owen. This CD is the outcome of the idea to focus its attention on established composers’ body of work with the purpose of re-examining and re-envisioning the compositions. Owen describes the ultimate goal as "not only to shed new light on the existing work but to serve as a catalyst to stimulate the creation, premier, and publication of related new works as well." The chosen composer was Michael Brecker who was regarded as influential and remarkable saxophonist in his time, and the period of jazz fusion. Unfortunately, Michael Brecker passed away in early 2007 of a blood disorder, myelodysplastic syndrome. MORE
2009 was the 50th anniversary of Bossa Nova. The music that Ruy Castro wrote about in his book, "Bossa Nova: The Story of the Brazilian Music that Seduced the World" continues to breathe. Bossa Nova was born in the late '50's and sprouted from the wealthy neighborhoods of the beach community of Rio de Janeiro. The music evoked the carefree beach life of musicians with the background of the middle and upper class; and the music was marketed to the same socio-economic class. It is a kind of music that induces the senses to romanticism with its easy samba rhythms and lyrics that evoke light-hearted living.
There were several CD releases that were dedicated to Bossa Nova in 2009. Of the several, there are two I am familiar with: Diana Krall's "Quiet Nights" (March 2009) and Eliane Elias' "Bossa Nova Stories (January 2009). MORE
With "100 Years of Django", the Frank Vignola Trio invites the listener to sway and jig to the music of the "one of the most influential guitarist of the last 100 years" - Frank Vignola. The name of the album is attributed to the centennial birth year of the musical genius of Django Reinhardt, the creator of Gypsy Jazz popularized in the '30's and '40's.
This album is a collection of ten compositions by Django, and the music is a chemistry of jazz sophistication with a strong gypsy persuasion in its rhythm. It is with great appreciation I reviewed the CD which revives the classic that deserves the musical virtuosity of the Frank Vignola Trio with: Frank Vignola on guitar, Vinny Raniolo also on guitar and Gary Mazzroppi playing the double bass. They are joined by guest artist Julien Labro on the accordion. MORE
Eric Muhler formed his quartet originally as a trio in 2005, and the trio was comprised with the talents of Eric Muhler on piano, Michael Wilcox on bass and Rob Gibson on drums in 2005. The trio recorded a CD in 2006 and the music was mostly original material written by Eric. In 2008 the band grew to a quartet with the addition of Sheldon Brown on saxophones. The quartet recorded the CD, "The Jury is Out" on July 26th, 2009 at the Hillside Club (Berkeley, California.) All of the music is Eric's own original compositions. His songs are smooth and flowing like the undulations of the ocean waves rolling onto the shore. The music a blend of smooth jazz with short bursts of fast bebop and some standard jazz in between. The musicianship is flawless. MORE
Reviewing the latest recording from Angela Hagenbach took me back to nostalgic memories of time spent with the albums of the popular composers who wrote music for big band, film scores, jazz and pop music. Recorded under the label of Resonance Records, the sixth release from Angela Hagenbach, is called "The Way They Make Me Feel". The title is a play on Michel Legrand's composition "The Way He Makes Me Feel". The title expresses how the music of Johnny Mandel, Michel Legrand and the late Henry Mancini makes Angela feel.
The evolution of the recording began four or five years ago when producer Gerorge Klabin came upon Ms. Hagenbach's version of "Street of Dreams". It was upon the request of another singer that he came to hear Angela's voice and style. His mission was to look for as many versions of the song, and when he heard Angela's rendition of the song, she described, in an interview with Joe Klopus (Kansas City Star), that "he (Klabin) was knocked out by it." He invited her for some performances while he formulated the concept of the recording including the title. MORE
This first recording of Mads Tolling is a suite of fresh sounding jazz music. He recognized by Bill Milkowski (regular contributor to Jazz Times) as among the fresh breed of musicians with classical training who crosses the boundary to jazz, and Mads has transitioned well with "The Playmaker". This title was aptly chosen as the role of the musicians on this recording is analogous to that of "the Playmaker" in a sports team who setups the other team members for a winning play. Mads Tolling is a native of Denmark who studied and graduated from the Berklee College of Music in 2003 with the distinction of Summa Cum Laude.
His professional career as a jazz musician started with the Turtle Island String Quartet, a San Francisco based band which is renowned for fusing diverse genres of music (Bluegrass, Classical music, funk, jazz, Latin and Indian Classical music) to jazz improvisations techniques. During this period, he was also part of Stanley Clarke's band. This rich experience had prepared him for this personal project. MORE
Soul meets Spirit on this second CD from the rhythm section that debuted with 2007's Get Ready. This offering features straight-ahead jazz with a gospel flavor, along with soul classics like Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." As bassist and drummer, respectively, Allen and Whitaker lay down an irresistible groove for their various guest soloists, which include smooth-jazz sax icon Kirk Whalum. There's nothing bland about his performance here, as he blows hard on several tracks including the title tune, penned by the Isley Brothers.
The pop material provides limited range for this stellar group of musicians, which includes George Colligan and Dorsey Robinson on keyboards, Rodney Jones on guitar, Brandon Lee on trumpet, Vincent Chandler on Trombone and Vincent Herring on alto sax. Still, they manage to squeeze every ounce of soul out of chestnuts like "Eleanor Rigby." There's an overt Christian slant to original tunes like "Giving Thanks," and "Speak to My Heart," which shows that good jazz is never too far from the church. And these sanctified troubadours play like they mean it. We'll look for more good work from Carl Allen and Rodney Whitaker. -----BILL IRELAND.
Ramsey Lewis emerged on the jazz scene in the 1950s but made his biggest splash in the '60s with instrumental cover versions of pop tunes like "The In Crowd" and "Hang On Sloopy." Those crossover hits made him a household name, but the vacuous material and Ramsey's spare piano style led some to dismiss him as a lightweight. Forty years and 80 albums later, those critics are gone and Lewis continues to thrive as a kind of roving ambassador of jazz. His roles now include educator, writer, speaker and the one many now associate with him-TV and radio host. That's a lot of hats for a man in his 70s, but Lewis has found time to record his first CD of all original material.
The title gives a hint of the work's direction: these are intimate musings of a mature artist, backed ably and unobtrusively by his latest trio incarnation: Leon Joyce on drums and Larry Gray on bass (plucked and bowed). There's an occasional nod to his funkier side, as in the New Orleans-tinged "The Way She Smiles." But most of the material is lyrical and romantic with hints of Debussy, as in "The Spark." Indeed, virtually all the song titles suggest a man in love: "To Know Her Is To Love Her," "The Glow Of Her Charm," etc. The overall package is pleasing as an aged Cabernet. As one would expect from a venerable jazz veteran, "Songs from the Heart" breaks little new ground, but is very easy on the ears. -----BILL IRELAND
“A Certain Beauty” is the 7th solo release from Gil Parris, a Grammy nominated recording artist, notably known in the smooth jazz, rock and blues genre. This collection of music is a blend of smooth jazz, swinging blues and soft rock can that can melt the heart of any die-hard cynic. Though most of the music leans towards romanticism, there are elements of straight-ahead fun with "The Duck Walk," "Sugarman" and "It Feels Good." But mostly the music is all about finding the elusive beauty that Gil seeks with his solos. The CD asks the listener to tune in and tap into the soul of the music which can be sorrowful, hopeful and at times floating and breezy. MORE
Detroit is a new composition by Los Angeles resident Gerald Wilson and his fourth release on Mack Avenue Records. This multiple part suite was written for a big band ensemble and was commissioned by the Detroit International Jazz Festival. Detroit was recorded by Wilson's New York and Los Angeles big bands. Wilson's memories of Detroit differ from the current state of the city. Wilson spent his high school days there studying music. For Wilson, Detroit was a city of progressive social politics, integrated schools and regional and national jazz bands.
"Blues on the Belle Isle" is the opening section of this release. This bluesy up tempo tune uses dexterously voiced ensemble harmonies and features an agile violin solo before ending on a dissonant chord. MORE
It Is What It Is. The Urban Dictionary has 20 different meanings for the cliche. In essence they all seem to point to the same idea to accept things as they are and move on. There are more "creative" definitions to be found on this "this incredibly versatile phrase"; but the business at hand is the latest CD release from Brian Bromberg titled "It Is What It Is". I looked over the list of tracks which includes "Love Shack", and I tried to imagine how it could be played other than the original form by its creators, the B-52's. Another review of his earlier work, Wood and Wood 2, reveals that there are songs in those recordings with jazz renditions which "other artists in his field would not touch." (Kansas' "Carry on Wayward Son", Paul McCartney's "Let 'Em In.") MORE
One never knows where the next musical prodigy will come from. In the case of 22-year-old piano genius Eldar, he came from Kyrgyzstan-via Kansas City, Los Angeles and New York. He started performing in the then-Soviet Union at the age of nine, and his talents have only grown sharper, as his new CD demonstrates. With the help of veteran horn men Joshua Redman and Nicholas Payton, Eldar carves out a solid niche in uncompromising, progressive jazz that evokes Chick Corea and the best keyboardists of the last 30 years.
But it's not for the faint of heart-or smooth jazz fan: there's nary a straight 4/4 or swing tune to be found here. Instead, Eldar's group-rounded out by bassist Armando Goia and Ludwig Afonso-opts for odd time signatures and angular melodies, interspersed with occasional ballads like the crystalline "Iris." He also has an affinity for sambas and other quasi-Latin rhythms, as in "Blues Sketch in Clave" -although it's hard to detect either the blues or the Latin clave rhythm in that unsettling piece. Whatever the setting, Eldar demonstrates astonishing technical facility, veering from ferocious aggression in "The Exorcist" to Chopinesque lyricism in "Lullaby Fantasia." Easy listening? No. But for true virtuosity, you won't do better than "Virtue." ---BILL IRELAND
In Paris, the Metropolitain (Paris Metro), is a structure that is symbolic of the Art Noveau, a design style and philosophy that brings art into everyday life. It seems apt that Metropolitain is also the title of Kyle Eastwood’s newest recording. He has crafted a very likeable mélange of jazz compositions that is elegant, funky and jazzy which can appeal to a wide spectrum of discerning ears.
The CD is a collaboration of musical talents from Europe and was recorded in Paris. It features players: pianist Eric Legnini, drummer Manu Katché, trumpeter Till Brönner and vocalist Camille along with Eastwood’s usual suspects: British saxophonist Graeme Blevins and pianist Andrew McCormack. In an interview featured in the the July-August issue of Venice magazine, Kyle Eastwood talks about how his passion to play jazz was born from frequent attendance of the renowned Monterey Jazz festival with his family. He was attracted to the rhythm and groove of the music as he was situated near the stage by the drums. MORE
Derrick Gardner is a freelance trumpeter, arranger and composer from Chicago. Gardner has played alongside jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie and has had his music performed by “The Count Basie Orchestra”. Gardner’s sextet “The Jazz Prophets” has been playing for over twenty years. Their latest release, "Echoes of Ethnicity," showcases ten arrangements of original compositions and standards.
"Echoes of Ethnicity" features the work of “The Jazz Prophets” plus two. Brad Leali on alto saxophone and Brandon Meeks on bass join the group on this recording. This eight-piece ensemble allows for more interplay between musicians than is possible in a big band, while maintaining some of the big band sound. The challenge Gardner’s group contends with is the balancing of musical freedom versus control. The opening track “4Newk” blasts off with an up tempo jagged unison melody in a groove that shifts between a latin feel and a swing beat. “Afro and Cubans” is arranged with interesting sonorities. “Mercury Blvd” is one of the more beautiful tracks on this release. Gardner’s trumpet playing and a closely harmonized horn section drive this R&B style tune. Throughout this recording percussionist Kevin Kaiser adds to the groove with afro-Cuban style percussion.
Derrick Gardner and the Jazz Prophets +2 often choose density and elaborate arrangements over spontaneity and looseness on this album. However, sometimes the tradeoff is worth it. This ensemble uses its larger size to create dramatic climaxes and a wide variety of timbres and textures that is difficult for smaller jazz groups to reproduce.----JARVIS RAYMOND
The first track and last track of this recording both start quietly. The CD has such a tentative beginning that it was necessary to turn up the volume a few notches. With their latest recording, Vast, East West Quintet (EWQ) has compiled a recording of original music from all its members. The articulation and boldness of the songs in Vast traverse boundaries between rock-jazz and avant-garde jazz.
With Mike Cassedy on keys; Ben Campbell on bass and Jordan Perlson on drums, the style is innovative rhythms that are solid backdrops to the array of moods provided by Dylan Heaney on the saxophones and Simon Kafka doubling as rhythm and soloing and riffing on the guitars. The first track, “The Triumph” is an invitation to be more curious about the rest of the offerings which is a cacophony of tasteful musicianship. It’s a must to listen to this CD with headphones on to catch the subtleties of the craftsmanship these gentlemen have honed in their art. Jordan Perlson drumming and Cassedy’s playful call and response is pure is ear candy on track 2, “Catalyst”. “Vast Pt 1” and “Vast Pt 2” (tracks 3 and 4) are Kafka’s compositions. Vast Part 1 starts off with a quiet guitar intro which sets up the saxophone. The guitars, bass and drums build a quietly into Vast Part 2 - simple rhythms and dissonant piano comping that has overtones of rock rhythms from Kafka’s guitar. MORE
Freddie Hubbard is undeniably a jazz legend. He performed with John Coltrane, wrote tunes that have become jazz standards and widened the vocabulary of the trumpet. "Without a Song" captures Hubbard playing during his 1969 tour of Europe.
This Blue Note release of previously-unreleased material includes five standards and two Hubbard originals. The title track, “Without a Song,” features Hubbard at his best – harmonically complex with breath taking runs and a powerful controlled sound. Hubbard pays homage in “A Night in Tunsia,” a tune originally by trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. Notable on this track is pianist Roland Hanna’s spirited solo.
In contrast to the uptempo bop of “A Night in Tunsia,” delicate sounds are explored in a slow rendition of the classic ballad“Body and Soul.” Here Hubbard soulfully plays the melody before going into an energetic solo. The two originals on this release, “Space Track” and “Hub-Tones” are both rife with free playing and dynamic contrasts.
Throughout this disc, the rhythm section accompanying Hubbard features Ron Carter on bass and Louis Hayes on drums. Carter has an incredible ear and punctuates his playing with double stops and an ability to break up time. Hayes swings hard and provides a wide palette of timbres. Although Hubbard left us in December of 2008, this disc captures some of his essence. It is sure to be a treat to any Hubbard fan and is well worth investigating to those new to the trumpeter.---JARVIS RAYMOND.
“I Hear a Rhapsody,” the latest record from pianist Josh Nelson is an engaging and eloquent collection of original and cover music. The delicacy and imaginative arrangements of the music reminds me of childhood days lying on the green grass and staring up at clouds floating across the bluest skies. It’s almost very ethereal at some moments with tunes such as “Nebulous” and “A Change in the Wind” (both are originals by Josh).
This is Josh Nelson’s 4th recording release that has him standing at the helm while he is joined by Ben Wendel (tenor sax, bassoon) Tom Catanzaro (tenor and soprano sax), Charles Altura (guitar), Hamilton Price and Sam Minaie (bass) and Kevin Kanner and Zach Harmon (drums and percussion.) The band plays fully with heart and soul. MORE
The trumpet has always had two personalities: the showy extrovert that dazzles with technique, and the contemplative introvert that gives voice to the solitary human soul. The best jazz trumpeters join the two.
As the title hints, there's no shortage of introspection in Sean Jones' latest release, but its technical virtuosity is unassailable. Jones collaborates with some of the best young talent in New York, including Orrin Evans on keyboards, Obed Calvaire on drums, Luques Curtis on bass, Walter Smith on tenor sax, Brian Hogans on alto sax, and Erika Von Kleist on flute. In addition, Jones brings in percussionist Kahlil Bell for added color, and the Swiss harmonica virtuoso Gregoire Maret on the lush waltz "Life Cycles."
The title tune is really a motif that recurs three times throughout the album. After its initial introduction, which lulls us for a little more than a minute, we're off to Art Blakey territory with the frenetic "Transitions," complete with breakneck tempos and odd time meters. If anyone had doubts about this young crew's chops, they'll be dispelled here.
The rest of the session has Jones alternating between an unmuted trumpet and flugelhorn, from which he coaxes a gorgeous round tone. Other highlights: "Letter of Resignation," a sardonic ballad of fading love co-written and sung by vocalist Carolyn Perteete. "Sean's Jones Comes Down" a tribute written for Jones by legendary reedman Frank Foster. Considering that most of these intricate tunes were written by Jones himself, this album is a dazzling accomplishment. At age 30, Sean Jones has already established himself as a preeminent jazz artist. He should have many more years to deepen his impact on American music. ----BILL IRELAND
"Cool Man Cool" is a new recording by Grant Geissman with the guitarist playing 14 original compositions. Geissman is known for his work as a studio musician, jazz guitarist and co-writer of the theme to the sitcom "Two and Half Men". This album showcases a variety of different styles and ensemble settings.
The introductory track "Cool Man Cool" begins with finger snaps and bongos that lead into a swinging minor blues. The mood is very beatnik hipster and climaxes with an angular unison shout chorus. "Chicken Shack Jack" is a blues tune featuring Jim Cox on organ and Tom Scott on tenor sax. Geissman plays some George Benson like single note lines before going into some bluesy bends and octave work.
"Chuck and Chick" is a notable because it captures trumpeter Chuck Mangione's reunion with pianist Chick Corea, who used to play in Mangione's quintet in 1965. Corea's lush voicings beautifully accompany Mangione's warm tone on this contemporary Latin number. Geissman switches to a nylon string guitar for this tune and takes a passionate solo.
Other styles are explored on this album as well. "Nawlins" uses a New Orleans style street beat feel. In "Minnie Lights Out," Geissman plays in 1930's swing style showing off some Django Reinhardt-like guitar playing. "Dig Some Sides" is a straight ahead, burning, up-tempo bebop tune while "Cool Blooz" is a Chicago style blues shuffle. This final track features Geissman playing distorted electric guitar and some nice dobro slide guitar work by Dennis Brown.
Throughout this recording Geissman focuses on mood and feel over virtuosic playing or special effects. The writing is idiomatic to the musical styles and the production is excellent.--- JARVIS RAYMOND
“Mood Changes” doesn’t disappoint. Seventeen-year-old saxophonist-singer-composer Grace Kelly has cut an album that dances, twists and swings from first track to last. But perhaps the title of the CD is a misnomer, because it maintains a light and playful mood throughout. Miss Grace Kelly’s sweet voice lilts and swings “It Might as Well Be Spring”; and croons “But Life Goes On” with a misplaced innocence. It’s all too sweet, as expected of youthful promise. Some songs show promise of the genius noted and praised by such seasoned veterans as Phil Woods, Anne Hampton Callaway and Wynton Marsalis. The most interesting tunes on the CD are “101” and "I Want to be Happy." Their arrangements and musicianship display her broad musical range and precocious technique. The latter song has Latin overtones interspersed with unusual voicings. The rest of the CD offers a nice interlude of mild feelings and musings of a creative and explorative 17 year old young woman. It is without a doubt that Grace is very adept on the saxophone.
There’s a thoughtful arrangement of the old standard “Ain’t No Sunshine”, and I really like the guitar solo and accompaniment to Grace’s playful sax playing. This is followed up with a jazzed up Beatles song, “Here, There and Everywhere” done a la David Sanborn. I enjoy her sense of swing and fun. “I’ll Remember April,” blends into the same theme and mood to “It Might as Well Be Spring”. “Mood Changes” is perfect for summer. Uncork a good bottle of Chardonnay and chill back.---ANALYN REVILLA.
In November 1958 on his album, Art Blakey created a sound far different from what made him known as one of the best drummers in the world. The sounds coming from the Manhattan Towers of NYC were reminiscent of Africa's jungles and the busy streets of Latin America. Three jazz and seven Latin drummers plus trumpeter Donald Byrd, pianist Ray Bryant and bassist Wendell Marshall all came together for "Holiday For Skins," an African-Latin fusion record that takes listeners on a melodic journey around the world.
When asked why he wanted to do a record like this, Blakey's natural response was "because it's fun," a feeling Blakey was very comfortable promoting. His usual grunts and groans can be heard as he belts out snare rolls and fills that complement his fun loving attitude.
As always with Blakey, the accompanying musicians are forced to keep up with his loud, heavy and sometimes dominating style. His solo on the rhythmic track "Swingin' Kilts" is evidence that one thing remains constant for Blakey--- he was serious about having fun! ---BOBBY MOLLOY.
The first Diana Krall record I ever heard was her 1996 album "All For You," a tribute to the music of the Nat King Cole Trio. Like those early Cole recordings, it featured, for the most part, a drummer-less trio of piano, bass and guitar that was a sinewy, lean music machine. And Krall's vocals matched it. It was a great record.When I recently heard Krall's recording of "The Boy From Ipanema" on the radio, I didn't know who it was, but I thought "this singer is really trying too hard and is so over the top." Then I thought maybe it's because the original Astrid Giberto vocal on the classic recording is so restrained and beautifully understated, that anyone would stand a good chance of sounding artificial and exaggerated. Still, I was really surprised when I found out it was Krall.
And so, it was with trepidation that I bought "Quiet Nights." MORE
Celebrations of the 50th annversary of "Kind of Blue" are everywhere. "Kind of Blue" drummer Jimmy Cobb is currently on tour with Wallace Roney, Vincent Herring, Javon Jackson, Larry Willis and Buster Williams doing a "Blue at 50" program. The album has sold more than 4 million records and is generally considered the Davis' masterwork as well as one of the most influential pieces of music of the 20th Century.
Besides Cobb, the musicians included trumpeter Miles Davis, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, altoist Cannonball Adderly, bassist Paul Chambers and pianists Wynton Kelly and Bill Evans. Davis and Evans were experimenting with improvisations based on modal scales---a change from his previous work in the cool and hard bop genres. The music was recorded March 2 and April 22, 1959 in Manhattan. And the record was released the following August 17.
And 50 years hence----the music's beauty has not been diminished by time or imitation. Davis' clean tone and austere style of play still shines. ---ADDISON DE WITT