Friday, December 31, 2010

Christian Escoudé: Catalogne (2010)

Christian Escoudé (born 1947 in Angoulême, Charente) is a jazz guitarist from France. He grew up in Angoulême and is of Romani people descent on his father's side. His father was a guitarist too and influenced by Django Reinhardt. Christian became a musician at 15 and starting in 1972 he worked in a trio with Aldo Romano. By the 1980s he had success in a quartet with John Lewis. He also played with Philip Catherine for a time. In his forties he received a contract with the French division of Verve Records.
01. Moulin rouge (C. Escoude) 2’40
02. Choti (D. Reinhardt) 2’57
03. Made in France (B. Lagrene) 2’29
04. Delphine a Lancien (M. Legrand) 2’46
05. Tango pour Christian (J.B. Laya) 4’24
06. Moonlight serenade (G. Miller) 3’21
07. Catalogne (C. Escoude) 5’59
08. Gypsy talk (C. Escoude) 4’44
09. The mooche (D. Ellington) 4’54
10. Chicago (F. Fisher) 3’25
11. Quelquefois (Pour que ma vie demeure) (D. Reinhardt) 5’26
12. Begin the beguine (C. Porter) 3’36
13. Smoke gets on your eyes (O. Harbach/J. Kern) 5’34
Christian Escoude : guitare
Jean-Baptiste Laya : guitare
David Reinhardt : guitare
Thomas Savy : clarinette
Anne Paceo : batterie
Daryl Hall : contrebasse
Fiona Monbet : violon
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nils Gessinger: Burning (2006)

Burning - The fourth album from composer, arranger and Rhodes-virtuoso Nils Gessinger blows Funk, Soul and Jazz in your ears. Again it's the mixture of groove and perfection that makes the characteristic Gessinger sound. The musical claim is based on the colourful diversity of the compositions, the powerful soul voices of the singers, the arrangements with incisive horncharts as well as the playful joy of a big ensemble.
The technical claim becomes manifest in the virtuosity of soloist like Peter Weniger (sax) or Joe Gallardo (tb) as well as Gessinger being flying to Los Angeles just to record six tracks with drum legend Vinnie Colaiuta. This formula of passion and accuracy led to invitations to big festival stages like North Sea Jazz Festival The Hague or Montreux and sharing the stage with Spyro Gyra or George Benson. Not to mention his dexterity at the piano being engaged by greats like Patti LaBelle, Dee Dee Bridgewater, the NDR BigBand or Herb Geller. „Burning“ continues the line of successful albums like „Ducks'n'cookies“ (feat. Herb Geller - sax), „Scratch Blue“ (feat. Robben Ford - git) and „Jam It Up!“ (feat. Dave Weckl - drums). Nils Gessinger's tunes can easily be recognized but still take you by surprise with their stylistic variety.
01. Burning (3:55)
02. Holiday Me (4:01)
03. Cuna (6:24)
04. Cicale (5:09)
05. Double Threat (5:24)
06. Star Crazy (4:51)
07. Flap (4:56)
08. Frozen (4:04)
09. Stepping Along (5:30)
10. In Sight (4:41)
11. Slam (4:46)
12. Integrity (4:42)
13. Get That Lick, Attig! (5:38)
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Roberta Gambarini: So In Love (2009)

SO in LOVE is a CD of compassion and passion of Roberta's love of life, her fellow musicians, her audiences, and her love of music! Each of us will have our favorite tracks as my tastes will likely differ from yours; however I believe we will agree that this CD is likely to be one of the best vocal albums of 2008. 2009, and one of the finest vocal CD's of all time.
Roberta Gambarini is an Italian jazz singer. She was born in Turin, Italy, and started taking clarinet lessons at age twelve. She made her singing debut at age seventeen in jazz clubs around Northern Italy. A year later she moved to Milan where she got national recognition. But it was after she had come to America and studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston that she brought her talents to New York City looking for work. After walking the pavement and knocking on many doors, she finally got her big break in 2006 with the release of her album "Easy to Love," which caught the attention of jazz critics and musicians familiar with the heritage of a rich African-American art form that was increasingly being taken for granted in a new millennium preoccupied with electronica and country music. Taking a classic modern jazz album by Dizzy Gillespie ("Sonny Side Up," Verve, 1957), she sang each of the solos by three undisputed masters of the idiom—trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and tenor saxophonists Sonny Stitt and Sonny Rollins. As intricate and complex as each solo was, Gambarini executed each in the original register of horn (including Rollins' lowest notes and Gillespie's stratospheric ones) with such command, accuracy and ease of execution that jazz' elder statesman, nonagenarian pianist Hank Jones was moved to publicly proclaim her the "best new jazz vocalist to come along in fifty years"--in other words, the successor to jazz divas Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.
Two subsequent albums, though less challenging, did nothing to diminish the strength of Jones' claim, as again she revealed a near-complete and flawless grasp of both the authentic "jazz tradition" and the "Great American Songbook," from Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" to Benny Carter's "The Lights Are Low" to Cole Porter's "From This Moment On." In an extremely competitive field of highly capable, even pyrotechnical, jazz vocalists—from Ann Hampton Calloway to Cheryl Bentyne to Diane Schuur to Cleo Laine, Tierney Sutton, and Karrin Allyson, Gambarini appears to be even more gifted, a once-in-a-lifetime talent, a virtual polymath whose knowledge of the whole tradition (she has befriended many of the elderly legends of the music) and natural-born gifts set her apart so undeniably that she may be the "story" that America's waning indigenous music so desperately needs. Far more than a "vocalese" singer (though a founding father of vocalese, saxophonist James Moody, has joined her on two recording sessions), she has taken jazz singing to another level, thinking and performing like an instrumentalist who knows that the doors to the kingdom are open only to those who, regardless of their mother tongue, have learned to speak the utterly unique, admittedly daunting language of "bebop," or modern jazz as played by Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. It should not be taken lightly when, in interviews, she reveals that her greatest influence as a youthful girl singer was someone who was a singer and much more—the first distinguished soloist in the history of the music, Louis Armstrong.
Gambarini does not merely try to sound like an instrumentalist: she thinks like an Armstrong, Parker or John Coltrane: she "plays" her voice like these jazz greats because, besides her control of pitch, range, and articulations, she has the ability to hear the demanding constructions performed by jazz great soloists. She's the Art Tatum of jazz vocalists, but she's also revealed that she has the capacity to be the Billie Holiday of jazz singing as well. Rarely has a talent come along that has affirmed so completely the art form that America was once not too distracted to claim as its own. ~ SoundUnwound - Wikipedia
Roberta Gambarini - Vocal
James Moody – Tenor Sax
Roy Hargrove – Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Tamir Hendelman, Eric Gunnison, Gerald Clayton – Piano
Chuck Berghofer, Neil Swainson, George Mraz – Bass
Jake Hanna, Al Foster, Montez Coleman, Jeff Hamilton – Drums
01 So In Love
02 Day In, Day Out
03 Get Out Of Town
04 Crazy
05 That Old Black Magic
06 Estate
07 Beatles Medley: Golden Slumbers / Here, There And Everywhere
08 I See Your Face Before Me
09 From This Moment On
10 You Must Believe In Spring
11 This Is Always
12 You Ain't Nothing But A J.A.M.F.
13 Medley From "Cinema Paradiso": Main Theme / Song For Elena
14 Over The Rainbow
So In Love
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Celine Bonacina trio inviting Nguen Le: Way of Life (2010)

It was a recommendation of ACT guitarist Nguyen Le that first brought the French baritone saxophonist Celine Bonacina to the attention of label boss Siggi Loch. Once again the exchange and sense of community within the "ACT Family" has provided the impetus for an exceptional musical discovery. In this way Esbjorn Svensson, for example, played in Nils Landgren’s Funk Unit before his international career with e.s.t. whilst Korean singer, Youn Sun Nah, came to ACT through her work with Ulf Wakenius and Lars Danielsson. Nguyen Le first met Celine Bonacina in 2008 at a festival. “She told me that my album Bakida (ACT 9275-2) had had a strong influence on her musical development. Then, two years later, she asked me to play on a few tracks of her new album Way of Life. Since then, my involvement in the album has grown continuously from guitarist to sound engineer to co-producer. That the album is now being released by ACT makes me especially happy for Celine.“
1.ZigZag Blues - 03:21
2.Course pour Suite - 04:17
3.Ra Bentr'ol - 06:05
4.Wake Up - 03:52
5.Free Woman - 04:56
6.Travel Story - 04:44
7.Ekena - 04:54
8.Deep Red - 01:34
9.RAB - 01:58
10.Histoire de - 02:53
11.Jungle - 05:02
12.Entre deux Reves - 07:47
13.Toty Come Bach - 00:52
Way Of Life
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Amina Figarova: Sketches (2010)

It used to be, all good jazz originated out of New Orleans, then Chicago, then New York. And a lot of it still does these days. Eventually, Western Europe became the place of origin for a lot of great jazz for several generations, now, and even Eastern Europe is the home of some mighty good jazz performers, a few of whom have been profiled here. But nowadays, you can find good jazz from the Caucasus region where Europe meets the Middle East part of Asia. Exhibit A for my case is the Azerbaijan born and raised Amina Figarova.
Having grown up in the Soviet era, Figarova learned classical piano at the Baku Conservatory, but switched her studies to jazz when attending the Rotterdam Conservatory and finished up at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. She furthered he education at the Thelonius Monk Jazz Colony in Aspen, Colorado, and has toured and performed with the likes of James Moody, Larry Coryell, Toots Thielemans and Claudio Roditi. Her husband is flautist Bart Platteau, with whom she has an extensive working relationship as well.
Figarova boasts about nine or ten albums to her name, starting with 1994's Attraction. A couple of weeks ago on August 10, she released her latest, Sketches. A program of all originals, Sketches's thirteen songs explores mainstream jazz in a sextet configuration using musicians from and around her adopted country of the Netherlands. It's a similar game plan as her last few records, and since it works, she fittingly sees no reason to mess with that formula.
This set reminds me a bit of Speak Like A Child era Herbie Hancock. Like Hancock, Figarova uses her classical background to blend stately horn arrangements with the light swing of post-bop jazz. It's a little lighter and nimbler and incorporates more improvisation, however. “Four Steps To...," “Sketches" and “Your Room" demonstrates how this approach adds a healthy does of mood, while Marc Mommaas' lissome and emotional tenor sax produces the fire in each of these songs. “Unacceptable" shows off a little of Figarova's avant-garde side that reveals how complex her composing can get. “Caribou Crossing" is a showcase for both Figarova's unforced style on piano and Platteau's flute acumen that makes one think of James Spaulding's excellent supporting work on classic Blue Note records of the 60s.
“Flight No" as a whole replicates that Blue Note feel, especially with Ernie Hammes' trumpet recalling Freddie Hubbard's peak form from that time. Chris “Buckshot" Strik's jungle rhythms that begin and end the song spices it up even further. The start-stop nature of “Whotsot" makes the song pop without losing any momentum. “Back In New Orleans" isn't some second-line beat tune, but a slow, modal piece that is lean, loose and contains a brief but nice solo for bassist Jeroen Vierdag (who integrates his bass into Figarova's harmonic lines rather well all throughout the album). “Happy Hour" mixes a busy, tough groove with a Brazilian vibe enhanced nicely by Platteau's flute.
There isn't a weak track in this assortment of compositions, because Figarova approaches as composition as its own entity, finding the best arrangements that work for each song, accentuating the melodic flow and getting the other players deeply involved in making them work. Pianist, composer, bandleader, Amina Figarova is the complete package.
Yes indeed, there's good jazz rooted in Azerbaijan.
01. Four steps to
02. Unacceptable
03. Skteches
04. Carbiou crossing
05. Breakfast for the Elephant
06. Whotsot
07. Back in New Orleans
08. On the road
09. Flight no.
10. Look at that
11. Train to Rotterdam
12. Happy hour
13. Your room
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Marcus Miller: Another Side of Me (2006)

This is a Japan produced special with tracks of various collaborations between Marcus and other top artists like Lalah Hathaway, Macy Gray, Chaka Kahn and Eric Clapton. However there are also Marcus own main efforts (with his band) like his interpretation of Come Together (John Lennon, Paul Mc Cartney), and his own songs Power and Black...
01. Brazilian Rhyme (featuring Lalah Hathaway) [05:03]
02. Takin' It to the Streets (Take 6) [04:10]
03. Girls and Boys (featuring Macy Gray) [05:38]
04. Boomerang (featuring Raphael Saadiq) [05:48]
05. Come Together [05:33]
06. Rush Over (featuring Meshell Ndegeocello) [05:21]
07. Power [04:38]
08. It's Me Again (featuring Djavan) [06:05]
09. Snakes (David Sanborn) [07:06]
10. Your Amazing Grace (featuring Chaka Khan) [07:43]
11. Silver Rain (featuring Eric Clapton) [06:09]
12. Black [04:03]
Selection of-Marcus Miller (Another Side of Me)
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Mederic Collignon And Le Jus De Bocse: Shangri Tunkashi-La (2010)

Less known than he should be outside his native France, Médéric Collignon is something of a jazz celebrity at home. A winner of multiple awards, the trumpeter/keyboardist/vocalist has participated and collaborated with the esteemed Orchestre National de Jazz, and can be heard on clarinetist Louis Sclavis' idiosyncratic Napoli's Walls (ECM, 2003). With Shangri-Tunkashi-La, Collignon brings a fresh perspective to the electric music of trumpet icon Miles Davis.
Material culled exclusively from Davis's late-1960s/early-1970s electric period is distanced from the plethora of electric tributes cropping up over the past several years by a number of key factors. Despite being a fine trumpeter, Collignon—whose reputation for being something of a absurdist madman—often uses his voice as the primary instrument, replacing Davis' signature horn on "Shhh Peaceful / It's About That Time" with wordless vocals ranging from melodically reverent to piercing screams so high in the stratosphere that it's hard to believe they're from a human voice. Some of what he does could be called scatting, but Collignon is more unfettered, as he occasionally digresses into tangential utterances, and garbled and guttural strange-speak.
Collignon's expansion of his core quartet with a four-piece horn section also gives Shangri its fresh outlook. Few jazz arrangers, outside of Vince Mendoza, use horns more typically associated with classical music this successfully. Combined with Collignon's sometimes warm, sometimes piercing and always inventive pocket trumpet, the horn ensemble turns the balladic "Early Minor"—a lost 1969 treasure first heard on Legacy's The Complete In A Silent Way Sessions box in 2001—into a sublime tone poem that's closer in aesthetic to the way its composer, the late Joe Zawinul, might have envisioned it, based on the late keyboardist's own "In a Silent Way" on Zawinul (Atlantic, 1970).
The high octane "Ife," and equally fiery "Interlude" (first heard on Agharta (Columbia, 1975), but sporting a riff that Miles would revisit in the decades that followed) give his group plenty of opportunity to ratchet up the intensity...and the volume, with the quartet as comfortable pushing a visceral groove as it is diving into freer territory. Equally, Collignon knows how to pace himself, and his program. "Mademoiselle Mabry," from Filles de Kilimanjaro (Columbia, 1968), is a rarely chosen cover; a lyrical tone poem that sets up the album's most oblique choice—Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir," which closes the 66-minute set. That this thunderous, eastern-tinged rocker fits so seamlessly into the rest of the program only serves to demonstrate a cross-over potential Miles always had, regularly aspired to, but never quite achieved in his lifetime.
Gritty, virtuosic playing from a hard-edged group that knows how to kick it hard yet play it soft and subtle when required make Shangri-Tunkashi-La a fusion fest that's impossible to ignore. Add to that Collignon's forward-thinking yet sonically retro arrangements and liberal doses of impish sardonicism, and the result is a homage to electric-era Miles Davis that easily stands amongst the best of them.
01. Billy Preston 05:36
02. Bitches Brew 10:02
03. Early Minor 07:56
04. Shhh Peaceful / It's About That Time 11:31
05. Ife 09:47
06. Interlude 04:54
07. Nem Um Talvez 03:01
08. Mademoiselle Mabry 07:18
09. Kashmir 08:22
Personnel: Médéric Collignon: pocket trumpet, Fender Rhodes 88, percussion, voice, arrangements; Frank Woeste: Fender Rhodes 73, effects, voice; Frédéric Chiffoleau: double-bass, electric bass, voice; Philippe Gleizes: drums, voice; François Bonhomme: horn; Nicolas Chedmail: horn; Philippe Bord: horn; Victor Michaud: horn; The White Spirit Sisters: vocals (4)
Shangri Tunkashi-La
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Maria Schneider Orchestra: Sky Blue (2007)

Maria Schneider is widely thought of as a potentially great arranger who is following in the footsteps of Gil Evans (her main inspiration), George Russell, and Bob Brookmeyer.
This CD was nominated for two 2008 Grammy Awards: Best Large Jazz Ensemble and Best Instrumental Composition (Cerulean Skies). Sky Blue is an album of remarkable depth and beauty - an expansive, imagery laden experience, from an artist who’s ready to be considered in the same breath as those who’ve been so important to her own development.
01. The Pretty Road (13:29)
02. Aires de Lando (10:01)
03. Rich's Piece (09:34)
04. Cerulean Skies (21:57)
05. Sky Blue (08:09)
STEVE WILSON - alto/soprano/clarinet/flute/alto flute
CHARLES PILLOW - alto/clarinet/piccolo/flute/alto flute/bass flute
RICH PERRY - tenor/flute
DONNY MCCASLIN - tenor/clarinet
SCOTT ROBINSON - baritone/clarinet/bass clarinet
TONY KADLECK - trumpet/flugelhorn
JASON CARDER - trumpet/flugelhorn
LAURIE FRINK - trumpet/flugelhorn
INGRID JENSEN - trumpet/flugelhorn
KEITH O'QUINN - trombone
RYAN KEBERLE - trombone
GEORGE FLYNN - bass trombone/contrabass trombone
BEN MONDER - guitar
GARY VERSACE - accordion on The Pretty Road, Aires de Lando and Cerulean Skies
LUCIANA SOUZA - voice on The Pretty Road and Cerulean Skies
GONZALO GRAU - cajon/palmas/percussion on Aires de Lando (right) and percussion on Cerulean Skies
JON WIKAN - cajon/palmas on Aires de Lando (left) and percussion on Rich's Piece and Cerulean Skies
Maria Schneider - Sky Blue [Standard Edition] CD -(Wallet style packaging with one booklet)
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Kermit Ruffins: Have A Crazy Cool Christmas (2009)

Kermit Ruffins plays a bunch of great Christmas favorites along with a few original jams including the new WWOZ favorite 'A Saints Christmas' in honor of the New Orleans Saints. A fun Christmas album.
1.Silent Night (05:18)
2.Santa Clause is Coming to Town (05:16)
3.What Will Santa Say When He Finds Everybody Swingin' (03:33)
4.O Christmas Tree (03:17)
5.Baby It's Cold Outside (04:25)
6.A Saints Christmas (05:05)
7.Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow (04:23)
8.Little Drummer Boy (06:35)
9.Silver Bells (05:18)
10.Crazy Cool Christmas (05:04)
11.Winter Wonderland (04:06)
12.This Christmas (03:55)
13.Jingle Bells (03:18)
Have A Crazy Cool Christmas
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas !!!

A Peaceful Christmas and A happy and prosperous New Year to all of you, friends! May we all be seven times better off at this time next year!

Bright Christmas stars shine on high,
Golden stars in the wint'ry sky
Christmas candles in windows bright
Send s greeting into the night
While in our hearts the Christmas flame
Glows with a love like his who came
The infant Christ of lowly birth
To bring good will and peace to earth.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Aka Moon: Guitars (2002)

Guitars is a 2002 album by jazz band Aka Moon. It was recorded in two days (August 18 and 19, 2001) at Studio Jet (Brussels, Belgium). It is the third CD from the 11-CD box edited by De Werf. Tracks 4, 5 and 6 are dedicated respectively to Jimi Hendrix, Jaco Pastorius and John Scofield, three great "guitarists".
01 A La Luce Di Paco-Act 1
02 A La Luce Di Paco-Act 2
03 A La Luce Di Paco-Act 3
04 Jimis three words
05 The last call from jaco
06 Scofield
07 From influence to innocenc
08 Bill's dreams
09 Yin-yang
10 Three oceans
Fabrizio Cassol - alto saxophone
Michel Hatzigeorgiou - Fender Jazz bass
Stephane Galland - drums
David Gilmore - electric guitar
Prasanna - electric guitar
Pierre Van Dormael - electric guitar
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Benny Greb: Brass Band (2009)

The second album from Benny Greb, the internationally celebrated drummer. While his first album “Grebfruit” (2005) was an a capella album, his new one is a declaration of love to one of the great traditional roots of jazz: New Orleans’ brass bands. With an incredible joy of playing the quartet decant a surprisingly many-folded cocktail of fat, yet frail grooves and a truly rattling brass band sound. “I always love it when musician who are known for a certain kind of style start playing songs, which are not typical for their genre, while still keeping a the true sound of their instruments. That always sounds amazing”, muses Benny.
Benny Greb – drums;
«Reverend» Uli Krug – sousaphone (a large brass wind instrument, similar in range to the tuba, adapted tobeing carried in marching bands);
Reiner Winterschladen – trumpet;
Sebastian Hoffmann – trombone.
01. Good Question
02. Icestattin
03. Detective
04. 3/5 Tel
05. Outtasite
06. Kanton
07. Nodding Hill
08. Prelude (Hotdog)
09. Potdog
10. Schaf
11. Next Question
12. Polka
13. Sweetbelt
14. Good Night
Benny Greb Brass Band
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Glen Ackerman: The Glenious Inner Planet (2010)

Jazz is always at its most interesting when it looks to the future – or even when it sounds like it’s coming from the future – and bassist Glen Ackerman’s latest release, The Glenious Inner Planet, looks and, more importantly, sounds as if it might have been sent back in time from the 23rd century. Or maybe it was sent forward in time from some 1960s sci-fi movie. In either case, this CD offers all the quirks, surprises, and hilarity you could want in a collection of music that is most recognizably classified as jazz. It’s jazz, yes, but Ackerman’s Planet, doesn’t exactly keep a close orbit around a center of gravity that is straight-ahead-and-in-the-pocket. This music is far out – as in, intergalactic.
Opening with a reworking of Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo a la Turk” – not exactly a straightforward tune, with its eccentric time signature, Ackerman switches the instrumentation around – substituting guitar for piano, soprano sax for alto – and he turns the choruses into a searing succession of solos. Chris Cortez rips into his solo with a wild series of guitar acrobatics, and Ackerman slaps and pops his solo on the electric bass (his usual axe) in a most audacious way. By the song’s last note, the tune has been completely reworked, and Ackerman actually chooses to retitle the tune “Blue Rondo a la Raad,” which I believe may be a reference to a certain type of missile found most often in some parts of the Middle East. It’s a confident move, but he’s earned it.
The next tune, “There is a drop of Roppongi on my shorts,” is a fairly easy to follow number, constructed as it is around a reliable vamp, and it offers strong playing from Paul Chester on guitar, Joel Fulgum on drums, Woody Witt on sax, and, naturally, Ackerman, who manages to solo memorably on the groove without falling into a rut or losing his way. “Inner Planet” is a loosely structured, textural composition held down by tight work from the drum and bass while the guitar, sax, and keyboard (Ted Wenglinski) go exploring. “Khalil,” as well, is a atmospheric piece taken at a slow tempo and in a mode that evokes the exotic -- all the more so for the shimmering piano work and lyrical clarinet throughout. Ackerman’s work on the acoustic bass on this song is especially strong, as he employs the percussive capacity of the instrument to free the drummer to investigate the sparkling sounds of the cymbals.
We return to an angular but swinging groove with “Potato Wagon,” which features my favorite solo from guitarist Chester, Ackerman’s funk chops on full display, and the strongest ensemble playing on the entire CD. After all that sweating, it’s perfectly acceptable to slow things down with a ballad, especially one as charming as “. . .this lontano i.” a tune that, with the sharp simplicity of its melody, is all the more memorable for the suspended chords that underpin the song and inspired solos from Witt, Chester, and Wenglinski.
The influence of Dave Brubeck is felt on “The Thing, and the thing that makes The Thing,” which lilts along in what feels like a 5/4 time signature, only to offer shades of the prog-rock band Yes in some of its instrumental back and forth, with work on guitar and bass that would make Steve Howe and Chris Squire proud. This rock dynamic is even more evident on the gleefully herky-jerky “4 is a Feeling,” which you might just feel compelled to get up and dance to, only to find yourself inexplicably skipping through the song’s phrasing. “The Angel of the Odd,” which closes the album, builds around a thorny four-bar phrase carried forward by all the players at one point or another to the song’s midpoint, which pauses for an interval, only to have the song resume its happy trudge, this time to the outer limits of everyone’s musical imagination, then fading into whimsical oblivion.
At its best – and there are many good moments – The Glenious Inner Planet will remind listeners of Miles Davis in his pre-comeback fusion years, of Weather Report, and even of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Ackerman’s strength as a musician is not so much in his playing – and he is a fine player – but as a composer. For all the thoroughly enjoyable flash and fun of this release, each song is also written around very clear and interesting ideas, and Ackerman, one suspects, is wise enough to back off on his playing and let his writing speak for itself. So, kids, get your space helmet polished and stock up on Tang and powdered eggs – it’s time to fire up the spaceship and chart a course for that inner planet called Glenious.
Glen Ackerman – bass
Joel Fulgum & JD Guzman – drums
Paul Chester & Chris Cortez – guitar
Ted Wenglinski – keyboards
Woody Witt – tenor and soprano saxes, clarinet
1 Blue Rondo a la Raad
2 There is a drop of Roppongi on my shorts.
3 Inner Planet
4 Khalil
5 Potato Wagon
6 ...this lontano i.
7 The Thing, and the thing that makes the thing the Thing
8 4 is a Feeling
9 The Angel of the Odd

Monday, December 20, 2010

MSG: Tasty! (2010)

MSG, the international collaboration of alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa (US), percussionist Chander Sardjoe (NL), and bassist Ronan Guilfoyle (IRL) represents the one of the freshest directions in jazz setting the pace in the new millennium. Each musician brings a unique background of knowledge and experience to this trio making MSG a force to watch in improvised music. Named a Rising Star of the alto saxophone by the Downbeat International Critics Poll for the past three years, Rudresh Mahanthappa is one of the most innovative young musicians in jazz today. By incorporating the culture of his Indian ancestry, Rudresh has fused myriad influences to create a truly groundbreaking artistic vision. As a performer, he leads/co-leads five groups to critical acclaim. His most recent quartet recording Mother Tongue on Pi Recordings was named one of Top Ten Jazz CDs of 2004 by the Chicago Tribune and received 4 stars in DOWNBEAT. This CD reached #8 on US jazz radio charts and remained at #1 on Canadian jazz radio charts for over a month. As a performer, Mahanthappa has achieved international recognition performing regularly at jazz festivals and clubs worldwide. He has also worked as a sideman with such jazz luminaries as David Murray, Jack DeJohnette, Samir Chatterjee, Von Freeman, Tim Hagans, Vijay Iyer, David Liebman, Greg Osby, and Dr. Lonnie Smith. As a composer, Rudresh has received numerous commission grants to develop new work for his various ensembles. Rudresh Mahanthappa currently lives in New York where he is clearly regarded as an important and influential voice in the jazz world. Ronan Guilfoyle is a major figure on the Irish jazz scene and has developed an international reputation as a performer, teacher and composer. Performing on the acoustic bass guitar since the early 1980s, Ronan is now one of the instrument's leading exponents, and is much in demand as a bassist, both in his native Ireland and on the international jazz scene. Among the people he has performed with are Dave Liebman, Kenny Werner, Joe Lovano, Kenny Wheeler, Keith Copeland, Brad Mehldau, John Abercrombie, Larry Coryell, Benny Golson, Jim McNeely, Sonny Fortune, Andy Laster, Simon Nabatov, Richie Beirach, and Tom Rainey. He has also been leading his own groups since the mid 1980s, and his groups have toured extensively in Europe, Asia, and North America. He has recorded extensively both as a sideman and as a leader and his output includes the award winning 'Devsirme' in 1997. Over the past 10 years Ronan has become very well known for the teaching of advanced rhythmic techniques for jazz improvisation and his book, 'Creative Rhythmic Concepts for Jazz Improvisation' which covers such areas as metric modulation and odd meter playing, is now seen as the standard text for this area. Chander Sardjoe is one of the most in demand percussionists in Europe. His comprehensive study of both Western and South Indian traditions have yielded a very fluent and articulated approach to the drums that has not been heard before. His resume boasts work with Steve Coleman, Aka Moon, Greg Osby, and David Liebman in addition to his collaborative projects with Kartet, Tribu, and Octurn. Chander is a tue innovator challenging the previous notions of jazz drumming in a way that will have tremendous impact on this music.
1 Blackjack ! 06:37
2 Sucking Stones 06:38
3 Installation 06:14
4 Guile 06:20
5 Groove Band Rebellion 04:44
6 Traditional 06:42
7 Chant 05:29
8 Waltz for the Anatomically Correct 06:09
Msg Tasty
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Indigo: Stay Together (2010)

Wonderful & relaxing smooth jazz music. Swing, soul and latin songs played acoustically by an intimate jazztrio with guitar, double bass & drums.
01. Let's Stay Together [04:16]
02. Take Five [03:11]
03. Girl From Ipanmea [05:39]
04. Have You Met Miss Jones [03:22]
05. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life [04:04]
06. Somewhere Over The Rainbow [04:40]
07. Isn't She Lovely [03:07]
08. Moon River [04:29]
09. Half A Minute [03:15]
10. What's Goin On [06:43]
Jost Edelhoff – Acoustic & Electric Guitars
Michael Thomas – Acoustic Bass
Carsten Steinkamper – Drums, Percussion
Stay Together
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Peter Beets Trio: New Groove (2007)

European jazz pianist Peter Beets is unmistakably influenced by the piano/guitar/bass-oriented small ensembles of Oscar Peterson -- think Peterson, Herb Ellis, and Ray Brown. It's a "new groove" for Beets, but not really in the overall jazz continuum. For the majority of this date, Beets uses Americans Joe Cohn (guitar) and Reuben Rogers (bass) to play well-known jazz standards, and they hold up without a drummer. The unhurried "I'm Old Fashioned," the ballad take of Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way," the late-night Django Reinhardt tribute "Nuages," and the languid "But Beautiful" harness the trio in mellow moods. Beets, clearly a virtuoso, is quite able to cut loose here and there, especially during the Brubeck number, where he plays a cluster of notes contrasting Cohn's very few, and during Oscar Pettiford's quick and quaint "Tricotism." Only on "Three Little Words" does Beets abdicate, as a witty Cohn plays the lead melody. There are four remaining tracks featuring the Dutch threesome of Beets with Martijn Van Iterson (guitar) and Ruud Jacobs (bass). Surprisingly, these selections have more energy, as on the bouncy "You're My Everything" and Stan Getz's variation of "Cherokee," titled "Parker 51," displaying the honest, upbeat spirit of the Peterson trio better than the others. The bluesy, breezy cover of Nat King Cole's "Easy Listening Blues" further evokes what Peterson's trio was able to accomplish with more internal intensity. This is not a breakthrough recording from Beets, but a credible effort nonetheless. ~ Michael G. Nastos
1. You Are My Everything (Harry Warren)
2. I’m Old Fashioned (Jerome Kern / Jimmy Mercer)
3. Blues For Giltay (Peter Beets)
4. In Your Own Sweet Way (Dave Brubeck)
5. They Say It’s Wonderful (Irving Berlin)
6. Nuages (Django Reinhardt)
7. Three Little Words (Bert Kalmar / Harry Ruby)
8. Easy Listening Blues (Nat King Cole)
9. Parker 51 (Stan Getz)
10. But Beautiful (Jimmy Van Heusen)
11. Tricotism (Oscar Pettiford)
Peter Beets - piano
Joe Cohn – guitar
Reuben Rogers – bass
Martijn van Iterson – guitar
Ruud Jacobs – bass
New Groove
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Issei Noro Inspirits: Smash Gig (2010)

Live CD release from ISSEI NORO INSPIRITS featuring audio recorded at "Live Act 2010 - Moments - Tour Final" on February 6, 2010. Issei Noro is well known as Casiopea guitarist and band leader.
Issei Noro - electric guitars, chorus voices
Akira Jimbo - drums
Yuji Yajima - basses
Kent Ohgiya - electric pianos
Ryo Hayashi - synthesizers
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Masahiro Andoh: Winter Songs (2010)

The brand new album of Japanese fusion band T-Square guitarist Masahiro Andoh.
Masahiro Andoh: guitars
Jake Shimabukuro: ukulele
Asami Izawa: chorus
Motomorou Maruyama: acoustic guitar
Osamu Kawasami: weel bass
Michael S. Kawai: drums
Keizoh Kawano: acoustic and electric piano, programming
Shingo Tanaka: electric bass
Winter Songs
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Negroni's Trio: Just Three (2010)

On its fifth release, the Miami-based Latin jazz trio led by Puerto Rican-born pianist Jose Negroni continues to explore its various influences, which go from straight-ahead to Caribbean beats, with classically-inspired moments. The disc opens with the rumba-inflected "Fingers," a fast-paced tune that features Negroni on electric piano. The chemistry between the bandleader and his gifted son, drummer Nomar Negroni, is evident here, as the younger Negroni responds to each of his father's grooves with carefully placed accents that enhance each note. The same can be said about "Emotions," a tune with more of a straight-ahead feel with an arrangement built around Marco Panascia's walking bass and a killer samba-infused middle section.
The more down-tempo title track has something of a classical feel, featuring Panascia playing mostly with a bow. Panascia also contributes an accomplished finger-picked solo, which is followed by equally dexterous individual moments by the two Negronis. The pianist plays mostly solo on the beautiful "Preludio en La Noche," an enticing tune that shifts tempos and textures, beginning with a soft melody that grows into a more up-tempo beat and then goes into a Chopin-inspired groove. The percussion appears only occasionally, accenting the tune's heavier moments. Without interruption, the group joins the leader on "Sabado en La Noche," which follows mostly the same melodic approach but with more of a bluesy feel.
"Bailando La Rumba" is a percussion-rich tune that, again, features the bandleader on electric piano. As the Spanish-language title (which translates as "Dancing the Rumba") suggests, the beat has a danceable feel within a jazz format. The group seems to take a festive approach on it, no doubt a real high point in performance. ~Ernest Barteldes
1. Fingers 4:04
2. Emotions 3:48
3. Bailando Rumba 3:06
4. Milani 6:25
5. Just Three 4:36
6. Golden Man 3:01
7. Mi Triguena 4:46
8. Preludio en la Noche 8:01
9. Sabado en la Noche 8:07
Jose Negroni - Piano
Nomar Negroni - Drums
Marco Panascia - Acoustic Bass
Just Three
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Crusaders with B.B.King and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: Royal Jam (1982)

Around this time in their heyday, the Crusaders were experimenting with orchestral/jazz fusions in concert -- and MCA thought enough of them to capture the music in London's Royal Festival Hall one fine summer. Crusader pianist/sparkplug Joe Sample evidently arranged and orchestrated all of the Royal Philharmonic's parts himself, not necessarily with the expertise of a full-time practitioner of the craft. Too often, the orchestrations are piled on with a shovel; the orchestral "Overture" is a particularly mawkish piece of work. But the Crusaders still had their signature rhythm section pumping away, with drummer Stix Hooper in a particularly propulsive mood all night -- and they carry the excess weight easily along in the funky groove. Things come to a peak when fellow MCA signee B.B. King slips on to the stage, first in a stomping "The Thrill Is Gone" and then in one of the most infectious tracks he or the Crusaders ever cut, "Better Not Look Down." It's a master class in economy, every guitar note landing squarely in Stix's pocket, Sample matching every brief lick with a funky comment on the electric piano, the King's command over the British audience complete. King also tries out the big Crusaders vocal hit "Street Life," but this time, guest singer Josie James has him beat -- and there are some evidently unplanned numbers for King and the Crusaders as encores. Elsewhere, guitarist David T. Walker is on-hand to provide economic, to-the-point commentary in his own style; James is also featured in an exuberant "Burnin' Up the Carnival." Apart from his reliable comping on electric piano. Sample also provides some elaborate elegance on solo acoustic piano on "Fly With Wings of Love," while tenor player Wilton Felder acts as the genial emcee. The original double-LP issue took in the second half of the programs in London -- about an hour of music, easily transferable to one CD -- and it's one of the band's most enjoyable albums of that period. -- AMG
01. Overture (I'm So Glad I'm Standing Here Today)
02. One Day I'll Fly Away
03. Fly With Wings of Love
04. Burnin' Up the Carnival
05. Last Call
06. Thrill Is Gone
07. Better Not Look Down
08. Hold On
09. Street Life
10. I Just Can't Leave Your Love Alone
11. Never Make a Move Too Soon
The Crusader-Royal Jam
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The Rippingtons: Côte D'Azur (2011)

Guitarist Russ Freeman says The Rippingtons are more an "instrumental pop band" than a jazz group. Instrumental pop machine would be closer. Wind the band up, and it cranks through its set efficiently, professionally and without much of a hint of heart. The band made its first appearance at the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild in the North Side Thursday, offering such songs as "Cote d'Azur" and "Sainte Maxine" from an upcoming album, "Modern Art" from its current release and the hit "Black Diamond." In a way, they all sounded the same, but those songs seemed to please the enthusiastic crowd. That is not to hint the Rippingtons are bad. They all are talented musicians. Bassist Rico Belled and drummer Dave Karasony had particularly good outings. But they put on a show you have seen before from any number of bands. They mug from the stage, they dance, they grin at each other. It's all very cute. At its best, jazz is a music of the moment, but all the moments are the same for The Rippingtons. -- Bob Karlovits
01. Côte D’Azur
02. Le Calypso
03. Bandol
04. Sainte Maxime
05. Postcard From Cannes
06. Passage To Marseilles
07. Provence
08. Riviera Jam
09. Rue Paradis
10. Mesmerized
Cote D'Azur
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Nick La Riviere: Too Much To Do (2010)

The warmth of the trombone as a brass instrument is astounding. Masters of the instrument such as Roswell Rudd, Slide Hampton, Steve Turre, Ray Anderson and Papo Vazquez give this wondrous instrument a near-human voice using smears and growls, groans and sighs. Canada is suddenly becoming a breeding ground for fine young instrumentalists who are adding to the instrument's language and literature: Torontonian Christian Overton, who leads the Composers' Collective Big Band; Montreal's Jean Nicholas Trottier, who fronts an amazing, edgy quartet; and now this virtuoso from Victoria, B.C., Nick La Riviere.
On his debut record, Too Much to Do, La Riviere negotiates his own challenging music with passion and noble grace. He also does a fine restaging of a Chick Corea/Neville Potter original, "Sea Journey," on which he takes a leaf from Steve Turre's book to play the stirring melody on conch shells. This is a wonderful surprise and a well-contoured melodic excursion. Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" is played a tad slower than its original boppish pace, but is emphatically joyful nevertheless. And the Tom Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes classic "Agua de Beber" appears simply made for La Riviere's gently curving bossa nova sashay.
La Riviere makes the record memorable by arranging all the music to feature strings: two violins and a cello. Jodi Proznick plays acoustic bass with characteristic splendor. She is never heard con arco (bowing), which appears to be a missed opportunity. Proznick is a fine bassist who, together with Canada's Brandi Disterheft and the American Esperanza Spaulding, forms a triumvirate of authoritative new voices on the bass violin, an instrument of immense possibility. The arrangements turn the harmonic excursions of each of the songs into a richly colored palette of passion.
"Inspiration" locks in on a deeply moving groove and grinds on spectacularly. Proznick is particularly strong here as La Riviere and the strings play across each other with contrapuntal grace and fire. "The Streets" is a beautifully crafted piece that undulates with surprise. It comes in the wake of "Sea Journey," which is awash with its own rhythmic waves of sound. "It Never Entered My Mind," not surprisingly a trombonist's dream song, is never stolid but a rather elegiac rendition of the standard. And happily, "This is It" and "Too Much to Do" feature a humorous side to La Riviere that is worth noting, as is his eminent lyricism, something that has endeared him to musicians wherever music is sounded in the jazz idiom.
Too Much to Do sets the bar rather high for Nick La Riviere. Nevertheless, judging by Too Much to Do, it is a done deal that he will leap even higher.
Personnel: Nick La Riviere: trombone, conch shells (5); Cam Wilson: violin; Julian Vitek: violin; Peggy Lee: cello; Ross Taggart: piano; Jodi Proznick: bass; Jesse Cahill: drums.
01. Inspiration
02. Weaver Of Dreams
03. Agua De Beber
04. Joy Spring
05. Sea Journey
06. The Streets
07. It Never Entered My Mind
08. This Is It
09. Too Much To Do
Too Much to Do
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Matt Grondin: The RA Source (2009)

The Ra Source, the debut album from New Orleans based musician Matt Grondin, heralds the arrival of a new talent of range and prowess. As a guitarist, songwriter, and bandleader, Grondin has taken his love of funk, jazz, and blues and produced an instrumental album so versatile that it manages to pull off an almost impossible task – taking what have become traditional forms and making them his own.
Grondin is a musician’s musician – a guitarist whose skill is recognized by those who know playing – and The Ra Source showcases that skill amidst a myriad of twists and turns. The album’s opener, “Apocalypse” has a funky strut that charges hard and fast, seemingly never coming up for air – one solo comes immediately upon the other, keys into trumpet into screaming guitar – and it sets the tone for the entire album.
The son of founding .38 Special drummer Jack Grondin, Matt spent his formative years playing in various jam-rock bands in and around his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. Despite growing up in a southern-rock family, his appreciation of jazz and funk led him relocate to New Orleans in early 2009. As he recounts with a laugh, “New Orleans, given the fact that I love the music that comes from there, seemed like a good fit. Jacksonville is not quite a hot bed for that kind of music.”
It was in New Orleans that Grondin found both his musical direction and great collaborators. While looking to find a cool band to see one night, he was directed to The Blue Nile, where he encountered the Denton, Texas based band, Snarky Puppy. As Grondin remembers, “When I walked in and saw them, I was completely floored. I had no idea who they were, but they were badass.” He continues, “I could tell that their bass player, Michael League, was the leader because he was giving cues. I had already decided to do my solo record at that point, and when I spoke to him after the show, he told me that they had backed up artists before and would be happy to work with me if I needed a band in studio.”
Grondin and League quickly found a groove working together, and after two months of tossing ideas back and forth and doing some pre-production work, they entered the studio with Snarky Puppy backing and with League enlisted as co-producer/arranger. Grondin recounts, “I had never even played with a single member of the band and had barely met them, but all of a sudden they were MY band. I was worried how it might turn out, but it ended up being far better than I could have ever imagined.”
While sitting in with many of today’s finest bands, Grondin has earned the respect of those he’s played with, and that respect has translated into some of the album’s finest moments, with guest appearances including Blues Traveler’s John Popper, who contributes some gritty harmonica on “Juggernaut,” and Ivan Neville, who plays organ and clavinet on “Juggernaut” and “Junglefunk.” JJ Grey, who inspired Grondin to take the reins and do his own record, lends a vocal intro to the beginning of “Juggernaut.”
The Ra Source’s ten songs, all written or co-written by Grondin, feature a broad array of tone and vibe; from the chunky funk and disjointed swagger of “Grease Trap,” featuring a killer organ solo from Bobby Sparks and tenor sax work by Skerik, to the ethereal groove of the very Snarky influenced “Sun God,” featuring some amazing flute playing by Karl Denson, who also played sax on “Emerald City” and “Lucid Dream.” And on “Balboa,” a very 1970’s sounding horn-driven anthem, rising Crescent City star Troy Andrews, aka “Trombone Shorty,” delivers a trumpet solo reminiscent of Tower of Power’s finest moments.
The Ra Source was mixed by studio legend, Elliot Scheiner, whose work, especially with Steely Dan (in addition to The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison, and more), has been a tremendous influence on Grondin’s own work as a recording engineer, a role he frequently assumed during the making of the album. He recalls, “When Elliot told me he was willing do it (at Blackbird Studio nonetheless), it was a dream come true for me. He took it to a whole other place sonically.”
But its Grondin’s guitar playing that shines brightest on the album. There’s nothing clichéd or routine about his playing; it’s immensely tasteful and he knows exactly when to lay back and when to attack. One can hear the influence of Derek Trucks, Jimmy Herring, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, as well as players from the jazz side of the spectrum such as George Benson and Pat Martino.
Grondin says, “I try to find a place where my southern and blues background can blend with my other love, which is jazz. I’ve never been a true jazz player, but I love harmony and what can happen when the two worlds collide. I’d have to say that Derek and Jimmy really showed me what’s possible in regards to that, and I’d have to count them as my biggest influences.”
Grondin concludes, “I feel really proud to have stepped out and made my first record as a solo artist. Funky, upbeat, with lots of horns – this is the kind of album I always wanted to make, but was a little scared to try. I’m incredibly grateful to have the level of talented people that are on this record, and I hope it will show people a side of me that they maybe didn’t realize I was capable of.” And indeed The Ra Source is a showcase for the kind of music that Grondin wants to make, one with roots in the past, but now totally his own.
01. Apocalypse [04:06]
02. Grease Trap [04:44]
03. Balboa [05:25]
04. Sun God [05:48]
05. Juggernaut [06:40]
06. Lucid Dream [06:16]
07. Slippin' [05:30]
08. Emerald City [06:50]
09. Forsaken & Forgiven [04:19]
10. Junglefunk [07:09]
Ra Source
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Norman Johnson: If Time Still Stood (2010)

If Time Stood Still, the debut solo release from guitarist Norman Johnson on the Pacific Coast Jazz label, is an exquisite expression of music that has been waiting to happen. From sonic grooves reminiscent of Wes Montgomery and George Benson to the mysterious, sultry melodies that frame Johnson's distinctive sound, this recording integrates the best of contemporary and traditional jazz. With over twenty recordings as a sideman, playing with highly respected musicians (Dave Brubeck, Jerry Bergonzi, Bill Mays, Harvie S., Phil Wilson and Steve Gadd) along with composing and recording music for corporate clients, this release puts Norman Johnson in the spotlight he truly deserves.
01. It's Time To Fly - 5:10
02. Acoustic Groove - 4:04
03. Always And Forever - 4:05
04. As It Is - 4:04
05. Starting Tomorrow - 5:49
06. Can I Get An Amen - 5:23
07. If Time Stood Still - 5:23
08. Unforgiven - 6:47
09. All In Time - 5:16
10. Midnight Sun - 3:37
If Time Stood Still
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World Saxophone Quartet: Yes We Can (2010)

This live set from Berlin in 2009 by the 34-year-old World Saxophone Quartet celebrates the election of Barack Obama – as well as its own influential past in the inclusion of New Orleans saxophonist Kidd Jordan (an early mentor) and new member James Carter, a multigenre virtuoso who had admired the group since his early teens. Post-Coltrane free jazz, elegant Ellingtonian four-part harmonies and the powerful personalities of the four members (showcased in a series of arresting solo spots, notably tenorist David Murray's) make it a highly varied set, though pumping horn riffs mimicking an absent rhythm section might eventually try your patience. Nonetheless, Yes We Can represents the WSQ in exuberantly incandescent mood, from the funky opener with its wild ensemble turmoils and poignantly hymnal sounds, through fast passages in which the members play tag with each other, to bagpipe-like drones under Carter's soulful soprano wail, to stirring orchestral harmonies. Hamiet Bluiett's initially classical and then strutting, bluesy clarinet solo on the closing reprise of Hattie Wall is a standout of this upbeat album.
01. Hattie wall
02. The River Niger
03. Yes We Can
04. The God Of Pain
05. The Angel Of Pain
06. The Guessing Game
07. Long March To Freedom
08. Hattie Wall
Hammiet Bluiett, baritone saxophone, clarinet
Kidd Jordan, alto saxophone
David Murray, tenor saxophobe, bass clarinet
James Carter, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Marian Petrescu Quartet: Thrivin' (2010)

Make no mistake about it. The jazz polls--both the Downbeat Critics' and Fans' polls--represent about equally some of the pretenders in our midst. More "performance artists" than great musicians or true artists--players who have figured out how to wear the Emperor's New Clothes so proudly as to never give away the secret: that they're basically merely good (in some cases "ordinary") musicians. But they've figured out how to come across as "controversial," "cutting edge," "avant" (as though the term had any meaning more than a half century after the free-est jazz imaginable has been played and well documented).
But face it, there are few left who understand the "Great American Songbook" or the intricacies of melody, harmony and rhythm represented by the music of an Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Charlie Parker, Joe Pass. Many in the public desperately desire a sense of an "exclusive identity" and hence purport to like music that is ostensibly: 1. artful and 2. countercultural, or "different." Art by its very nature is countercultural, because so few in our society are capable of grasping its language--whether metaphoric and ironic or melodic and harmonic.
Both Petrescu and Oberg are easily candidates for top spot in any "jazz poll" past or present. Petrescu is the greater phenom, a combination of Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, and Rachmaninoff who has to be heard to be believed. But Oberg isn't far behind (perhaps only Metheny among living guitarists is on his level). But the key to the success of this performance is Oberg's recognition of the brilliance of his playing partner, and his ability to play to that strength as well as be inspired by it.
There's no need to make irresponsible statements (I would take exception to any wild claims about Petrescu's superiority to any of the aforementioned pianists, and I suspect Marian would as well. Marian doesn't swing as hard as Oscar; he doesn't have the "pan-harmonic agility" of Tatum; he nor any other pianist, including Rachmaninoff, possesses the thick fingers and richly expressive and "expressionistic" tone of late Evans--but he's as close to each as anyone has come.) It's reassuring to know there are still giants like these among us. -- Samuel Chell (
01. Cakewalk
02. My Romance
03. Blue In Green
04. Blues Etude
05. On The Trail
06. Yours Is My Heart Alone
07. Indiana
Marian Petrescu - Piano
Andreas Oberg - Guitar
David Flinck - Bass
Mark McLean - Drums
Thrivin Live at Jazz Standard (Dig)
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Mezzoforte: Volcanic (2010)

In the spring of 2008, five members of Mezzoforte travelled to a remote summer cabin in southern Iceland to start writing the music that would eventually become 'Volcanic', their first studio album for over seven years.
During their stay the band were continually reminded of the awesome and unpredictable power that lay beneath them, especially when an earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter Scale shook the wooden cabin so violently that they could barely keep their balance to run outside. Also visible from the cabin was Iceland's best known and most active volcano Hekla which sparked the idea for the track `Sleeping Volcano', and also the name for the album.
The album will feature the four founding members, Asmundsson, Briem, Gunnarsson & Karlsson, as well as Oskar Gudjonsson, Sebastian Studnitzky, Bruno Mueller and Thomas Dyani.
01. It's a Funk Thing (04:56)
02. Berlin Boogie (05:36)
03. High Life (05:31)
04. Sleeping Volcano (06:51)
05. Stepping Out (04:16)
06. Jump Town (05:34)
07. Sea Breeze (05:58)
08. Bright and Early (04:51)
09. Hatton (05:12)
10. Down on Sunset (04:23)
11. So What's Up? (04:53)
12. Wandering soul (04:47)
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