Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gene Ess - Modes of Limited Transcendence

Gene Ess - Compositions, Guitar
Tigran Hamasyan - Piano, Rhodes
Harvie S - Bass
Tyshawn Sorey - Drums


Ryo's First flight 6:26
Discovery in Three 12:14
Trance Chant 9:33
Art of Nothingness 9:25
Hero to Wizard 8:18
Messiaen Shuffle 9:44
Gagaku Dreams 6:52
Sufficient Reason 8:50

and though it took me a full song really to get into it, I now dig this improv-laden, often frantic modern jazz. There's a soul to it that is sometimes missing in jazz bands today that seem to think that just offering the right instruments is enough. Each player brings almost an obsession to the recording that somehow blends into something blisteringly beautiful.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

La Tanya Hall - It's About Time

Tired of "modern" jazz that stays away from the tune for hours on end and gives you that tedious edgy feeling that harkens you back to the days of Brian Eno and a-tonal experimentation? Then you're going to have your lungs refilled with something fresh a la:

Hoagy Carmichael: The Nearness of You
George Gershwin: Summertime
Cole Porter: It's All Right With Me
Sergio Mendes: Like a Lover
Nat King Cole: Straighten Up and Fly Right
Hoagy Carmichael: Skylark
Vincent Youmans: (It's Gonna Be A) Great Day
Duke Ellington: I Got it Bad (and That Ain't Good)
Toots Thielemanns: Bluesette
Gene de Paul: You Don't Know What Love Is
Álvaro Carrillo: Sabor a Mi
Jerome Moross: A Lazy Afternoon

La Tanya Hall belts out with a voice as beautiful as her CD cover, with music arranged and conducted by Angelo DiPippo. "Skylark" is a beauty in the mold of a crooning orchestra version that brings back Nat King Cole and even the lush loveliness of Christmas albums bent on making your humdrum life forget the bang of the drum and give you something to hum again.

Always a welcome addition, these Bridge Records. Let's hope Hall's current release isn't the only one in their future catalog, because there needs to be more music like this in the world. Even the sad tracks are hopeful ones.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bolt - the soundtrack

I haven't seen the film yet, but the score by John Powell is exciting and makes me want to see it all the more!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Joani Taylor - In My Own Voice

Here's a sultry singer of jazz persuasion who shines in her small hours music. I don't cotton to some of her more swingin' numbers - at least one includes a nip of rap - but when she gets down to "Thank You for Loving Me" and one of the best, "The Secret," well, then I can forgive her for jamming all her instruments into one chaotic stream on the hurried tracks.

She's sung at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival and she's singing mostly her own creations on this new cd. Definitely worth a listen or 3.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Duchess soundtrack - Rachel Portman

While I rarely go to these films, ideally I like them and am glad to see they continue to be made. Rachel Portman has constructed a subtle classical score that fits what I've seen from the trailer quite well. The best compliment I can give the score is that it's something I will listen to again without even the thought of the film. Just as I used to do 25 years ago when John Williams and the gang were making romantic, stand-alone scores that could be whistled, rather than today's Music-Is-Sound-Effect way of directorial thinking.

The Duchess is King.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dawn Lambeth - Let's Get Lost

  • Dawn Lambeth, vocals
  • Clint Baker, guitar, bass
  • Marc Caparone, cornet, bass
  • Dave Caparone, trombone
  • Chris Dawson, piano
  • Jeff Hamilton, drums
  • Bob Reitmeier, clarinet
  • John Reynolds, guitar, banjo, whistling
  • John Smith, soprano & alto saxophone
are giving out with

# 1. Let’s Get Lost
# 2. (I've Got) Beginner's Luck
# 3. My Blue Heaven
# 4. If You Were Mine
# 5. They All laughed
# 6. C’est Si Bon
# 7. Isn’t This A Lovely Day (To Be Caught In The Rain)
# 8. Give Me the Simple Life
# 9. With A Song In My Heart
# 10. Dream Man
# 11. They Can’t Take That Away From Me
# 12. It Could Happen To You
# 13. I Wish I Were Twins
# 14. I May Be Wrong (But, I Think You’re Wonderful)
# 15. I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues
# 16. Let’s Misbehave
# 17. On the Sunny Side of the Street
# 18. Blue Room

and I can honestly say it's one of the best jazz albums I've heard all year. Dawn doesn't hog anything. This delightful standard jazz album will harken you back to the days of the '30s when a singer was just one of the instruments, not the "leader" or the reason the song exists. She comes in when she feels like it, she takes a vacation when she wants, letting the song go on without her (and not for the sake of others doing solos). I love that. It's what keeps me listening to old big band radio shows.

That, mixed with an able voice from the K.D. Lang camp (without all the whole notes), makes Dawn's release one of the brightest lights in jazz now. Literally, Let's Get Lost is a flashlight, and I hope it shines ahead for imitation!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rented Mule

1 Lolly Pop Bop
2 Double D
3 Rest For the Weary
4 What Cha Gonna Do
5 Thelonius Monster
6 Unintentional Insanity
7 A Walk in the Park W/jones
8 The Procrastinator
9 Trout Sandwich

Don't judge books by covers. I almost did and almost missed out on some finely treated jazz.

See this terrible cd cover? Well, maybe you don't think it's bad, but this combined with some of the song titles made me think I was going to get into hip hop jazz for some reason. Not liking hip hop beats at all, it was lucky my eye rested on their self-proclaimed "jazz/fusion" listing, because that is what I like.

We've got Don Jones on drums, Joel Kunreuther on guitar, Frank Williams on percussion, Todd Horton on horns, Jason Mescia on sax and Dan Greenberg on bass, and together they give out with a sympathetic, energetic live sound that will win you over from the first five seconds. I hear whispers of Mancini in the lazy "Unintentional Insanity" and I hear some intentional weirdness in the horn harmonies of "A Walk in the Park w/jones" coming from the Zappa camp.

And I've had this delightful instrumental cd on repeat play - for the last five hours. Staying power, folks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bill Prouten - Low-down, No-good

1 Low-down, No-good, Downright Nasty Blues
2 Parallel Bars
3 Billy's Bossa
4 Unbalanced
5 An Aire For Claire
6 The Brightest Moon
7 Four Keys
8 Beyond The Stars

is what you get in Bill's new one, Low-down, No-good, which is in no way a reference to the contents. This is the kind of jazz cd I like getting. No genre at all. Just straight ahead jazz. Powered by the only steering wheel jazz has ever had: the sax.

Sax for sex, sax for blue moods, sax for car trips, sax for industrial work. Bill keeps it instrumental and interesting. Arresting. Arresting your attention, of course, like the good cop, bad cop routine. You never know if it's nasty or nice that's going to hit you, but you're always keen to listen for clues.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pascal Bokar - Savanna Jazz Club

This is an unusual release for the simple fact that I like the way it ends better than the way it begins. For one thing, my favorite track is "Yaye" a beautiful acoustic guitar instrumental with African rhythms and just a gorgeous laconic structure. I can't say enough about this one.

Pascal is actually touted as jazz meets African and while I find the first half of the release to be more jazz than anything else, this guitar man is certainly heavily beat driven and a master at his own sound. That sound spreads in all directions like the best world music. I say listen and learn.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Anna Estrada - Sonando Vuelos

The quietness of Anna's irresistible Latin beat makes this collection of 10 Latin jazz tunes a summer favorite. Right now I'm sitting with the fan and air conditioner both on (it's SW Georgia, don't forget), and hearing this lady's good vibes just makes the room cooler. I'm serious.

Just the way I like my flute samba - soft. Swaying.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mosaic - Unsaid, Undone

1 Seconds Out
2 Knew One
3 Hikaru's Dance
4 Speak Down
5 Under the Sun
6 Sightseeing
7 Unsaid, Undone

are played by

Matt Belzer, sax
Ned Judy, keys
Larry Melton, bass
Mark Merella, drums
David Font-Navarrete, percussion

and I love the sound. Chaotic accord is the only way to describe it. The title of the cd, Unsaid, Undone, is indeed apt. Instrumental, moving (we're talking spirit) jazz that seems to be the audio book version of a beatnik kid rushing to open Christmas presents, letting paper and mayhem stream every which way.

Long, juicy tracks the mind can wander down, and as another review calls it, filled with "much wit and beauty." Yes, there is somehow a humor to this music that bites and sticks the tongue out and seriously contemplates, all at once. Frank Zappa would love this stuff.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Funky Mustard - Jazza Mostaza

First off, I have to review any band who sends me personalized guitar picks. Second, any cd that causes a smile after the first couple notes has to be reviewed. Those are the rules.

1 Esta Vez
2 Technicolored
3 Iron Horse 2
4 Alma del Fuego
5 Mucho Close
6 Jacos Lament
7 Luna Azul
8 Oscuridad y Luz
9 Alma - Otra Vez
10 Jacos Live

are what you get. The opening instrumental attracted me at once. Fresh. The whole thing is a blend of outdoorsy acoustic guitars and new age gameplan, upbeat and the stuff you could give your 40 year old dad and kid sister. Simply swims in positive vibe.

I love this cd and reserve it in that tightest of fits, my personal collection.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Court Mast - Sausalito Summer

1 Gold Coast
2 Sausalito Summer (Acoustic)
3 Marling Song
4 Tam Junction
5 Bridgeway
6 West Wind
7 Lonely Sea
8 Jib Jive
9 Highway 1
10 Cat's Paw
11 Water Street
12 Sail Home

Mast's new cd is one of the most original I've been sent in a while. Original because regardless of what the title suggests, I can't detect a theme to the music, and frankly, that's a good thing. It's a collection of jazz tunes and orchestrations, all composed and realized by the man himself. I don't mean he's a Prince, playing everything, but his cornet/trumpet/keys takes the lead in front of some fine players (Dave Bell on guitar and Tim Wallace on flute spring to mind).

However, this is definitely an outside album, due to the freshness of the acoustic instruments. "West Wind" blows me back to Snoopy, while my favorite, the opening "Gold Coast" promises a cool, subtle sound that isn't often repeated on this short release, but welcome all the same.

A recommended top-down-on-your-car experience.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Paul Carr - Musically Yours

Paul Carr's tribute to Joe Henderson isn't my cup of tea, but I can recognize the well-done, professional attitude going thru

Musically Yours
Our Thing
Black Narcisus
Classroom Agenda
Night and Day
V'Todavia LaQuiero
Zsa Zsa
If You Could See Me Now

and had I been more into the chaotic school of jazz, I'd be an instant fan. It is worth listening to, however.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mark Prince - Fraction of Infinity

Rite of Passage
Abena's Last Stand
The Grind
Friendly Fire
The Healing
Quiet Thoroughfare
Symph. No. 5
August Gratitude

That's what you get with this modern jazz cd. I was surprised at the coolness of it, knowing that it's led by drummer Mark Prince. But he's not a show off at all. He's a part of a greater machine, and knows it, and because of this, the texture of the music is great. "Abena's Last Stand" sounds like a lot of jazz I've heard lately, but that's not a bad thing either.

I don't know if this is fusion or modern or eclectic, so whatever definition you make for yourself and for this music, just know that you're getting something that strays far away from the tune, taking you on a journey of intellectual ambition. Music you Want to like, because it's good for you.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Felicia Carter - Feather & Step Lightly

Bob Butta – piano
Frank Russo – drums & percussion
Amy Shook – bass, viola, violin
Donato Soviero – guitars
John Jensen – trombone
Tim Leahey – trumpet
Julia Martin – harp
Pat Shook – baritone saxophone

are helping singer Felicia Carter reinvent

1 Hurricane
2 Golden
3 Louise
4 Lorelei
5 Useless Blues
6 Anchor
7 Whale
8 Feather
9 Today
10 Mad Boys
11 Hooray for You
12 Step Lightly
13 I Can't Get Started
14 If I Had You
15 Almost Like Being in Love
16 SOS Blues
17 Just in Time
18 Dindi
19 Complicated Woman
20 Lover, Come Back to Me
21 My Shining Hour

with style. But first a word about the brilliant packaging. The sexy, slightly old-fashioned picture/cd cover is Perfect. Makes me think I'm in the Sinatra era when the way it looked (and I don't mean tits or tight pants) was as important as the way it sounded. Open it up and slide out (tho I don't care for the sliding packages as much) the double cds which are like little records. Cute. And I APPLAUD her for doing 21 tracks on 2 cds. There need to be More double cds of original material out there, not just Best Of sets.

Now to the music - it lives up to the expectations set by the packaging. Beautiful voice standing naked in front of a Different sound for each song. That doesn't happen as often as you might think. The first cd is all songs by the singer; the 2nd is filled with standards. Both are equally executed, so it's hard to pick a favorite disc. Felicia likes her jazz quiet, but not exactly moody. She's singing about her problems and loves more than thinking about them. A songbird you want to hold and view from a distance.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Karen Johns & Co. - Star and Season

Karen Johns- vocals
Kevin Sanders- piano, keys
James Johns- guitars, duet vocals on Angels In the Snow
Brook Sutton- bass
Bart Elliott- drums, percussion
Jim Hoke- saxophones, clarinet
Mark Horwitz- flute, trombone
Ben Graves- mandolin


1. Carry Me Away (3:37) written by Karen L. Johns and Kevin Sanders; horns arranged by Jim Hoke, Vital Force- ASCAP.
2. Night and Day (3:45) written by Cole Porter, Warner Bros. Music- ASCAP.
3. Stars Fell On Alabama (3:16) written by Frank Perkins and Mitchell Parish, Filmtrax Copyright Holdings Inc.; OBO EMI MIUS Music Inc.- ASCAP.
4. While the Moon (4:11) written by Karen L. Johns and Kevin Sanders, Vital Force- ASCAP.
5. Desafinado (Slightly Out of Tune) (2:52) written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Jesse Cavanaugh, Jon Hendricks, and Newton Ferriera De Mendonca, Corcovado Music Corp; Wixen Music Publishing Inc.- BMI.
6. If (4:16) written by David Gates, Sony /ATV Tunes LLC- ASCAP.
7. Company Blues (3:59) written by Kevin Sanders and Brook Sutton, Vital Force- ASCAP.
8. Southland Summer (3:51) written by Karen L. Johns and Kevin Sanders, Vital Force- ASCAP.
9. Autumn Leaves (4:13) written by Johnny Mercer, Joseph Kosma and Jacques Prevert, Morley Music Co. OBO Enock & CIE SDRM- ASCAP.
10. Angels In the Snow (3:10) written by Karen L. Johns and Kevin Sanders, Vital Force- ASCAP.
11. China Town (3:32) written by Karen L. Johns and Kevin Sanders, Vital Force- ASCAP.

Karen's got a good mix of Broadway revue, big band and sultry cafe singer in her voice and arrangements. More singers doing "Carry Me Away" with those gorgeous close harmonies and perhaps we'd have a desperately needed resurgance of the big band era. Alas, when they say styles always come back, they don't refer to music or three-cornered hats.

I wish the cd were a little longer, but the radio-friendly running times will, I hope, keep some of these tracks on jazz play lists. Very pro, and A+ for energy in its variety.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sharel Cassity - Just For You

Sharel Cassity on alto sax gives out with

1 Phibes' Revenge
2 Just for You
3 Irazu (Wish You Were Here)
4 Lover Man
5 Wow
6 Roditi's Dream
7 Cherokee

in a modern jazz album that is a pretty strong release. A bit chaotic at times, but really that depends on what ear you go in with. If you're expecting something a bit slower, closer to smooth, you're going to think you're listening to a lengthy train wreck. But if you listen. Listen. Slow down and listen to the mixed salad, tossed like a professional, you're going to love this release.

Sharel wanted to bring together a variety of styles for the alto sax, pitting herself against many of the musicians she's been jamming with for the last couple years. She has indeed brought a party to the table, full of fun and dip and smiles for those of us who revel in what might be called mainstream jazz today.

Well done, I say.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Roberta Duchak - Intersections

Here's a recommended album for all of you who like vocal jazz. Roberta sings

Let Me Sing - Irving Berlin
Taking a Chance on Love - Vernon Duke
Seasons of Love - Jonathan Larson
Whoever you are, I love you - Burt Bacharach
Raise the Roof - Andrew Lippa
So In Love - Cole Porter
Can't Help Lovin' That Man of Mine - Jerome Kern/ Oscar Hammerstein
What You Don't Know About Women - Cy Coleman
So Many People - Stephen Sondheim

and does it well.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Megan Birdsall - Little Jazz Bird

You can get pretty dizzy listening to some of

Megan Birdsall - Voice
Tim Cambron - Drums
Bob Bowman - Bass
Paul Smith - Piano
Mike Melvoin - Piano
Bill Caldwell - Sax
Mike Metheny - E.V.I.


is you is
born to be blue
little girl blue
sleepin' bee
the moon's a harsh mistress
little jazz bird
save that time
when your lover has gone/in the wee small hours
hey there
i get along without you very well
my old flame

and then you can drown in the liquid mickey that is her voice on something like "when your lover has gone." The woman can knock you out. "save that time" shows the inner beauty of a singer. Simple piano and voice. A marriage of two sounds is as romantic as you can get.

I wrote a book on Paul Frees, and he sang part of Spike Jones' big hit "My Old Flame," so I had to go to this one quickly. Wow, how bold to do it as a reverse disco tune. :) Not one of my favorites on the cd, but interesting!

If you're into the club or Broadway scene, Megan combines the two quite nicely. Strong voice for a little lady. You wouldn't expect such boldness would come out of that petite frame!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Michael Dease - Clarity

Michael Dease, trombone
Brandon Lee, trumpet
Sharel Cassity, alt sax
Kris Bowers, piano
Matthew Felder, bass
Marion Felder, Kenneth Salters, Mark Whitfield, Jr, drums

are playing Dease's compositions

One 4 Steve
Lullaby for Rita
Mixed Feelings
You Dig?
Top of the Morning
Speak Low

the last being by Kurt Weill. I don't know if I'd call this album Clarity, because this untrained listener often hears more improv and modern, often smooth, jazz than clear melodies. But I would call this cd Good. The clarity of Dease's trombone is certainly strong, and not overdone. He knows to give his buddies equal time. That's what I always liked about Burt Reynolds. It takes a master to surround himself with great supporting talent. And the fact that Dease has won SO many jazz performing awards, topped off with graduating from Juilliard, doesn't give him a Madonna complex at all.

The songs are long, giving you ample time of pulling the musical covers over you and simmering. This isn't really smooth jazz, more like the cool stuff. Take the title song. Subtle piano with pauses of swooning horn harmonies, a minimum of drum (certainly not in the foreground), all making for a relaxing float in the pool some autumn afternoon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mary Lowe - Jazz Diva

Wow. This is the best singer I've never heard of! Usually instrumental releases get my attention more, but after one listen to "Can't help loving that man of mine" there's nothing left to say but said 1st sentence. Though it helps that

let's face the music and dance
ain't misbehavin
get happy
can't help loving that man of mine
night and day
this can't be love
they can't that away from me
(love is) the tender trap
it's only a paper moon
bewitched, bothered and bewildered
orange coloured sky
come fly with me
secret love

are mostly backed by a full big band sound that is perfection this side of the BBC Orchestra. I do sort of wish the tracking lists on a lot of classic jazz albums like this combined the old and new, thereby mixing new and old fans together (really the only way old music is going to thrive out of the small "nostalgia" folder of life). But that's a small argument. And nothing against her voice or what you're hearing.

Gorgeous work. I wish I could tell you where to buy the cd, but looking on amazon, her site and cdbaby.com I couldn't find it. Don't make it so hard to buy the music, Mary!

But keep making it. Your flawless voice and choice of backing musicians are an unstoppable combo.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Yesterday I got a nice surprise. A new Disney soundtrack. I'm always happy to get these. Big Disney fan, me.

And YES, I'm looking forward to seeing Wall*E, though it's certainly not a Disney film, it's a Pixar film.

But the soundtrack to the film is not what I would call a crowd pleaser. I like it - quite a lot - because by coincidence it happens to be the kind of music I choose to listen to nearly all the time I'm at the computer - because I'm always working when I'm sitting here. Wall*E is a great working man's soundtrack. To be listened to when you're doing something. And a solid score for a film.

It's not to be listened to in the car or on its own because, as good as Thomas Newman is, it's like a Broadway play without an audience. Half its power will be lost to you if you sit there JUST listening to this updated Tangerine Dream-like score. Its pleasantness is its ability to underscore action. Yours or the film.

So... I say, if that's what you like, buy it. Worth it. If you're a Disney fan who thinks this is the score to Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland (my 2 favorite cartoons), reconsider, kids!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Leanne Weatherly - Go and Find...

When "Caravan" began to play on my computer, my wife asked me if I was playing the Sex and the City soundtrack. Well, Leanne's new release is better than that soundtrack (which had just a bit too much of a hip hop influence for me, when we saw the film), and just as big and sexy. Yes, it makes you think of the big city, the latest club on Saturday night, and you think Leanne has the smoothness of a crooner with the sass of a woman in love, coming out subtly as she belts out

1 Caravan
2 Simple Things
3 Go and Find..
4 Oo So Cool
5 Midnight At the Oasis
6 God Bless the Child
7 Chocolate and Roses
8 Songbird
9 Sunny Skies
10 The Water is Wide
11 True Colors
12 Dream a Little Dream

The title song reminds me of those Helen Reddy albums my mom used to listen to in the '70s. A mixture of class and innocence. How I wish the world as a whole could go back to the "Go and Find" era for just a week.

Very fine jazz voice, one that wants to make you get just a little tipsy and put on your best clothes and find that intimate booth and sip and stare and love and dare.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mary Fettig - Brazilian Footprints

  • Mary Fettig - Alto & Soprano Saxophone, Flute

  • Marcos Silva - Acoustic & Electric Pianos, Synthesizer, Tamborim, Shakers, Woodblocks, Triangle, Repinique, Handclap and Shells

  • Chico Pinheiro - Acoustic & Electric Guitars

  • Scott Thompson - 6-String Electric Bass

  • Celso Alberti - Drums, Handclap and Caxixi

  • Alex Calatayud - Pandeiro on Tracks 1, 6, 8, 10

  • Michael Spiro - Congas, Guiro, Chimes and Shells on Track 7

  • Claudia Villella - Voice on Track 7

are playing
  1. Take the RR Train

  2. Nova

  3. No Balanço do Jequibáu

  4. Baixixe

  5. Jequié

  6. Neguinha

  7. Waterfalls

  8. Inspiração na Esquina

  9. Gliders

  10. The Monster and the Flower

and things have never felt cooler in the house. Well, looking at her bio, Mary's been playing on soundtracks for a while - One Fine Day, Snoopy specials, Garfield specials, and lots of others. She's performed at every jazz festival ever thought up: Playboy, Monterey, North Sea, etc., etc. You'll see why she's in demand on this new cd.

I get a lot of cds. Most are passed on to other fans. Not this one. It's a keeper. It's got the 2 things I love most about jazz. Smoothness. And movement. Often, true smooth jazz can be just a variation of new age that can slow me down to the point of yawning at the work station. Then there's the other extreme where players are trying so hard to sound original that the only thing that remains of the tune is its title printed on the cd case. Mary won't have that. The opening "Take the RR Train" defines who she is. I adore Snoopy music and listen to it often. And I can see why this lady has played ON those soundtracks.

Beautifully done 52 minute release. She's got another one out too, and I hope she sends it to this reviewer. Meantime, click on the cover and go buy Footprints. The tropical side of your personality will be grateful.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Camp Rock soundtrack

I know this isn't an indie cd - a Disney release is about as corporate as you can get. However, all who know me know I love nearly all things Disney, including the recent rash of DisneyMania releases, which put a modern pop/rock spin on classic, and not so classic, Disney songs. (I don't care for DisneyMania 6 all that much because the classic songs have been done often on other Manias, and the new songs are such obscure Pixar songs that you realize these are just on here to promote things that Need to be promoted because they aren't popular songs or soundtracks.)

Camp Rock is much in the same vein as DisneyMania - very same sound - and anyone who likes the energenic, mostly positive-message songs sung with spirit and breathy Wham, you won't be disappointed by this new release. Frankly, I wish the 2 hip hop songs here would go on their own Camp Hip Hop (if they ever do it) rather than mar the power pop theme of Camp Rock, but that's like complaining about the weather, so never mind.

The tracks:

We Rock
Play My Music
Gotta Find You
Start the Party
Who Will I Be?
This Is Me
Hasta La Vista
Here I Am
Too Cool
Our Time Is Here
2 Stars
What It Takes

Tracks like We Rock, Play My Music and This Is Me are worth buying the cd for. Very recommended new release. Bob Dylan may be good for the soul, but I'll take this crowd pleasing stuff over his depression Any day.

Friday, June 6, 2008

John Bayless - Circle of Life

John Bayless is once again playing

1. Circle of Life
2. Your Song
3. Tiny Dancer
4. Can You Feel the Love Tonight?
5. Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word
6. Believe
7. Daniel
8. Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road
9. The One
10. Crocodile Rock
11. Rocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be A Long, Long Time)
12. Candle In the Wind
13. The Last Song

on his Steinway, this time trading in the Beatles that made him famous

(Bach Meets the Beatles, 1985) for Elton John, but still retaining Bach, because that's what the man does best. Frankly, it's great hearing a different and classical spin on things (like Circle of Life) that have been rerecorded far too much before. But never like this.

Sometimes it'll take you a few moments to find the tune in the flourish, and it's like an instant photo developing before your eyes. Something that will happen as often as you listen to the cd. Never dull. Not predictable, even though you've just heard the cd the other day. What better compliment can you give a "pop" cd?

His Puccini album topped the Billboard Classical crossover chart for 18 weeks, so that's my next stop, getting a copy of that.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Michael Antonelli Quartet

Micahel Antonelli, sax
Peter Nobile, bass
Tim Herrmann, drums
Kevin Golden, guitar

are giving out with

1 Golden Opportunity
2 Well You Should
3 Only For You
4 Bossa Que Passa
5 Woody-N-Me
6 Waltz For Lefty
7 Before You Walk Away
8 Tell Me Now
9 VC Blues
10 Spring Feathers
11 Three Halves

and it's, to quote their own press release, "11 swinging original straight ahead jazz pieces" all written by the sax man. He knows how to put fire into a traditional sound. You think you're in a club when you hear the drum solo on "Golden Opportunity" and "Well You Should" just makes you want to dance with its simple melodic wag. Had this man lived in the '40s some of his pieces would've been golden oldies long before now.

Their quiet sound is a welcome relief from all the experimentation a good jazz lover like myself has to go thru to hear the gems. While smooth is my favorite flavor of the jazz world, and you would not classify Michael as such, this is 2nd, because you want to get up and do something while he's saxing you up.

I enjoyed it. You will do, unless you're dead.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Syncopation - Wonderful You

I've always been a fan of harmony singing. Not as much a fan of Broadway/stage singing, though going to live shows is always fun. Syncopation's new cd, Wonderful You, seems to combine the two. You get the feeling you're listening to a fireworks concert of

Aubrey Logan
Christine Fawson
David Thorne Scott
Tsunenori "Lee" Abe


I Can Fly
Wonderful You
High and Dry
Invisible War
Broken Wings
Betcha By Golly, Wow
Both Sides Now

and as you might tell, there are reworked classics to enjoy here. The instrumentation is mostly subtle, and the recording softer than you might expect, but when you get your emotions into the gist of "Broken Wings" for instance, you'll see that it was all meant to be. Soft can often work to our advantage, in this loud society of ours. The harmonies are mostly kept for the background, this isn't an Andrew Sisters act, and there's something pleasing about that.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Silveroot - Full Measure

Patrick Flynn (songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist), Emily Palen (violinist and composer) and Darryl Webb (multi-instrumentalist) are playing

1 Overland Road
2 Full Measure
3 Long Train
4 Ain't the Man
5 Dream Reality
6 No Revelation
7 Passing Glances
8 Perpetual Motion
9 Pack It Up
10 Lifeline
11 Stickin' With You

in a world somewhere between unplugged .38 Special and Disneyworld's Frontierland. Yes, this is folk-banjo-guitar-violin music that should attract those of us who aren't really into folk. My favorite bits are those without vocals - and there are enough - but that's no insult against the voices. They are fine and earthy and interesting, but it is the simple hillbilly-dixieland quality of all the acoustics that drives me to listen more. The opening track might qualify as my favorite cut because of this, and the beautiful opening of "Perpetual Motion" is also up there. New day music. Listening to it now, in the early days of summer when it's already hot, doesn't feel right. This is spring.

Things should grow as we hear this music. Real butter should be churning. There should be green and the laughter of a weekend when the kids and parents are home, still enjoying the taste of homemade buttermilk biscuits in their mouths after breakfast.

A worthy contribution to the bluegrass and folk field.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Steve Dooks – Cocktails, Heartaches and Cigars

If you're the jump an' jivin' sort, check out Steve's latest set:

1 Smooth and Easy

2 What Does Your Heart Say

3 The Smile On Your Face

4 Cocktails, Heartaches and Cigars

5 In My Dreams

6 Let's Eat Home

7 My Attorney Bernie

8 I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face

9 I Don't Have You Anymore

10 It's Called the Blues

He's brought back a sound that's, alas, gone the way of the silent movie. A big band sound that gives us a reminder of what All singers might be able to do if we lived in a righteous economy. As is, most cds are filled with only the instruments the performers can carry. Well, Steve's hired himself a backing band that travels in style. The title song alone proves the theory that the best jokes are the old jokes, and the best bands are the big bands. I mean, Queen is still popular, for God's sake, so obviously people LIKE a large sound. Damn economy!!

Of course, to counter myself quickly, Dooks doesn't need much on the musing "In My Dreams" which smoothes over something that Billy Joel has always wanted to do. Piano, sultry voice that energizes just a little like Bobby Daren might, if someone could restrain him.

And a word about "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face." My Fair Lady is one of my 5 favorite films (Dawn of the Dead '78 is in there too), and it's always a pleasure to have someone remember a classic. His take is much like a drunk who comes home late to his empty living room piano gazing on the great NYC view, and he tinkles until 4 am when he finally passes out. I like it.

And the whole, too short, cd too. Good job, sir.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Kenny Carr - Changing Tide

Kenny Carr - guitar
Donny McCaslin - tenor sax
Tom Baldwin - acoustic bass
Frank Russo - drums

are playing

1. The Chase
2. Tempo Tantrum
3. Blues for Ray
4. Bossa Luna Listen
5. East Side Groove
6. Soaring Listen
7. Bay to Breakers
8. Changing Tide
9. Downstairs Listen
10. Cooper House
11. Costa Del Sol

and it's great. This is what you think of when you think of jazz. The style that comes to my mind, anyway. Taking the tunes away from the melodies and running with it, as on the punly named "Tempo Tantrum" which I could listen to in any sort of weather. At times it does get a bit too unorganized for me, with its freestyle drums and solos doing their thing, but when sax and guitar joins together like skin, the price of admission is achieved.

The night comes, as you might expect, with "Blues for Ray" showing Carr's understated blues style with plenty of quick showoff musical sentences to remind you he can certainly do it better than George Harrison. The man's moods mirror your own, and that's what's cool about this release. It's not one long song, and it's not all Carr. It's about the feeling, it's about the music, not the star.

Recommended cd and at 53 minutes long, it can envelope your whole day, like it did with mine, on repeat play.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

David Thorne Scott - DYAD

You're going to hear

David Thorne Scott, vocal
Mark Shilansky, piano


1 The Song Is You
2 Fall Into You
3 Boulder to Birmingham
4 Night's Affair With Day
5 Deciding Where To Land
6 Grow
7 Agitated
8 Rocky Mountain High
9 When I Fall In Love
10 A Simple Song

in a rather energized, though sparse, way. Frankly, I think this is one for the Broadway market. Fans of Jerome Kern and Victor Young will appreciate the line up, and those with the patience to listen to a simple (only in terms of instrumentation) set of songs will be struck with the soft power of David's voice, and the nimble fingers of Mark's keys. The piano was a Bit too busy for me - being a smooth jazz fan, generally - as if these tunes are rushing to prove something. But then David adds his able scat and the tone is defined: modern jazz by ears who absolutely Love their genre.

Recommended for those who like busy music. If you can't get to the club, put this on, don't forget the ciggie smoke machine, and put your feet up on the coffeetable.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Jann Klose - Reverie

Jann Klose's new one, Reverie, contains these:

1. Beautiful Dream
2. Hold Me Down
3. Doing Time
4. Mother Said, Father Said
5. Clouds
6. Give In To This Life
7. All These Rivers
8. Question Of The Heart
9. Remember Your Name
10. Ithaca
11. Watching You Go
12. The Beginning

He describes his sound as "orchestral folk pop from a Bronx-based world traveler" and that sounds about right, except that I can listen to it. Truthfully, I've never been a folk man, ever since it phased out my favorite kinda pop music, that 80s sound that the general public (except Simon Pegg) thumbs down on, because I find it just a shading of country music, and I like neither genre Generally because of the Depressing element.

But there are exceptions. My mood picks my music, and today it's a beautiful weather day here in so. GA, so Jann Klose is as close to a convertible going to the beach without depending on Beach Boys day as I've found in a while. Open door, open window music that refreshes, but perhaps not Charges. You have to come into the game with a positive attitude already and Jann will meet you halfway.

He wrote all the songs and has an attention grabbing, different voice that still sounds familiar. Somewhere between Jack Johnson and Paul McCartney, with a touch from each songwriter's composition skill as well.

Recommended listening. First 3 songs are worth the price of the cd.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bill Hart - Subject to Change

When first listening to Bill Hart's hour of

1 On My Way Home
2 Look Out for June
3 Jim Gilligan
4 Sara's Song
5 Anna Banana
6 Loose Gravel
7 Subject to Change
8 You're Next
9 Canadese Africano
10 What Are You Doing
11 This Is Why
12 Inside Out
13 Spazio Aperto
14 It's Working
15 Cerchi Nel Grano

I was immediately struck with puzzlement as to the label. "This isn't Magna Carta!" But Bill should certainly be snapped up by that label. His music will remind you of Bill Bruford's Earthworks and some of the Terry Bozzio releases currently on MC's list. To those progressive rock fans out there, like myself, this is indeed a compliment.

You can tell this is a man who played Rocky Horror and Little Shop of Horrors in his youth. Lately, he's opened for Herbie Hancock, Acoustic Alchemy, and has studied under Steve Khan, Mike Stern, etc. The name dropping could continue, but click the picture to link over to cdbaby and listen to some samples yourself. Personally, I have no stand out tracks to praise. I like the cd as a whole, because if You want to call this prog rock, as I do, you'll know that it's like jazz and classical music. The work as a whole is what's important here. Relaxing and buff brilliance at times, easy going and hard working. The personality of this album is as complex as the most loved of persons.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Paul Renz - ReBop

Paul Renz guitar
Anders Bostrom Flutes
Nathan Fryett drums
Eric Graham bass
Brian Ziemniak hammond organ & piano

are playing

1. ReBop 5:05 Paul Renz
2. Un Poco Loco 8:29 Bud Powell, arranged by Paul Renz
3. Sloppy Joe 8:37 Paul Renz
4. Sambatude 6:02 Paul Renz
5. Farewell HP 9:06 Paul Renz
6. Ayo’s Hat 6:41 Paul Renz
7. Dish It Up 4:20 Paul Renz

And it will take you back. To a simpler, pre-internet time when guys like me first met jazz like this (well, almost) via the Charlie Brown specials on TV. Something about the way the flute grafts onto the guitar, and the intensely positive nature of the release, which makes you hungry for more of the sound and feeling. I'm reminded of riding my bike on a dirt road. Now it's paved. ReBop evokes the emotions of the past while serving them in a modern context and bright, undated production.

Tho it's Paul's CD, ReBop is certainly a group effort, with no one seeming to take lead. The 9-minute mood piece "Farewell HP" is a blue feeling that stands out because that positive theme has leaped out the 34th floor window. But good for night time for the happy person. He's the one who can take it.

Recommended music, with solid long tracks you can fall into and become attached to, like an interesting short story that travels to a land you might not expect to find yourself in.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Paul McCartney - Ecce Cor Meum

Paul McCartney is an institution, and one of courage. Any Beatle who dares to write classical musical – or neo or whatever you Want to call it – is taking a chance. It's like remaking Psycho, isn't it? Certain things just shouldn't be done, right? Well, Paul is the prince of pop music. His hits, with and without Lennon, are countless, so undoubtedly the man knows something about pop, i.e. how to please the crowd. So what's wrong with a bit of that in the classical medium? How many new works are being commissioned these days anyway? True, if he wasn't PM this new recording wouldn't be on the EMI label. It'd probably be self-released and you'd have to wade thru cdbaby.com to find it. Regardless of its authorship, any epic new work is rare and worth a listen.

Ecce Cor Meum is the new concert CD from Sir Paul, with a running time of 67 minutes, and a documentary of 47 minutes. It's a visual rep of his 4th classical album which was released last year (2006), this performance being shot during its sold out world premiere in London's Royal Albert Hall.

As you might expect, the spectacle is stunning and the presentation of music is gorgeous. It's an energetic showcase that I hope bridges a bit more gap between the Mozart mind and the Britney wannabe.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Luiz Simas - Cafuné

The lyrics for these

1 - Cabelos Brancos
2 - Se o Papa Dissesse
3 - Sambinha do Chinês
4 - Meu Rio
5 - A Chama
6 - A Rede, a Brisa e o Som do Mar
7 - Normal
8 - Panelas
9 - A Revolta dos Mares
10 - Cafuné
11 - Sorvete Colorê
12 - Sempre Assim
13 - Apareci por Aqui

are in Portuguese, all written and songs arranged by pianist/vocalist Luiz Simas. At times, he is Latin, other times he's distinctly off-Broadway, as in the soft and beautiful "A Rede, a Brisa e o Som do Mar," an introspective piano-voice piece that stands out from others since many times he has the Bossa Nova sway working. None too fast, none too loud.

I love the abnormally sparse and playful "Normal" that begins with a simple acoustic guitar, soon showcasing Luiz's vocal gymnastics of rushing through some phrases which don't make you think for a moment of rap. Nothing aggressive here. Or on the whole CD.

Personally, perhaps my favorite track is the smooth jazz instrumental, "A Revolta dos Mares" because it's exactly the kind of music I prefer listening to while I work (which is nearly all the time) at the computer. Sax, soft piano riff, the bare elements of mood that can make it to the soundtrack to Whatever you're doing. Sex, politics, writing fiction. Fits anything. Snuggly, relaxingly.

I recommend this cd for its variety, for its talent.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Eric Byrd Trio +4 - Brother Ray

Eric Byrd - acoustic piano, vocal
Bhagwan Khalsa - acoustic bass
Alphonso Young, Jr. - drums

are playing

Let the Good Times Roll
Them That Got
Come Rain or Come Shine
I've Got News for You
Get on the Right Track Baby
Baby It's Cold Outside
Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying
I Want a Little Girl
Watch Them Dogs
Baby Won't You Please Come Home
You Don't Know Me

Now, by the amount of babys here, you might think it's a blues album. That's just half the fact, jack. It's showcasing a slow grooving jazz combo, helped sometimes by that +4 of horns. Beautiful stuff. "I've Got News for You" is the best of the blues, with Eric stamping the keys in that limbo between raunchy and subtle jazz.

But my personal favorite is the classic "Come Rain or Come Shine." Some people believe that you can't mar certain songs. There are no foolproof songs. And when Eric applies his quiet, old-style jazz to this favorite, you'll never hear better.

Very, very solid jazz album. The only track I didn't like was "Watch Them Dogs." And even though I got almost sick of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" a few months ago at Christmas, Eric and guest vocalist Lea Gilmore have renewed my faith in this loverly-worded duet (and you have to see the movie it came from; perfect comedy performance in this song).

Highly recommended cd for the boogie jazz among you.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chris Humphrey - Nothing But Blue Sky

Berlin's Blue Skies isn't on the cd, so don't let the title fool you. What is here is a spiffy collection of soft spoken jazz, scattered with bits of scat (see One Note Samba for the best example). And it seems Chris teaches jazz piano at the Univ. of So. Maine, so it's good to see a teacher Doing what he teaches, eh? He knows what he's singing about. I find his voice a bit small in the music, though it could be the mixing. Then again, it treats the voice as one more instrument in the band rather than the Star, and I find that notion refreshing. I mean, just because Sting sings and writes and plays doesn't mean there's no drum player, right? Anyway, Chris has a good voice, harkening me back to the days of singers like the guy who did the theme for Greatest American Hero. A little James Taylor in the religion of the music. Not hard and not smooth jazz. But refreshing and mainstream.

The following track list is taken right off of ebay, where you can get the cd for $12 and no postage.

1. I Can See Clearly Now 6:06
Johnny Nash (NashcoMusicInc.-ASCAP)
2. A Love So Strong 5:59
Chris Humphrey
3. If I Should Lose You 4:54
Ralph Rainger/ Leo Robin (FamousMusicLLC-ASCAP)
4. Anna's Song (Safe in My Arms) 5:04
Chris & Jenn Humphrey
5. Swingin' 'Til the Girls Come Home 5:39
Oscar Pettiford (OrpheusMusicInc.-BMI/ )/ Jon Hendricks (HendricksMusicInc.-ASCAP)
6. Solitude 6:59
Duke Ellington/ Edgar De Lange/ Irving Mills (EMI Mills Music Inc.-ASCAP/ FamousMusicInc..-ASCAP/ScarsdaleMusicCorp.-ASCAP)
7. (The Date Is) Friday the 13th 5:11
Thelonious Monk (TheloniousMusicCorp-BMI) (lyrics: Jenn Humphrey)
8. Lullaby for Jackson 5:03
Chris & Jenn Humphrey
9. In Walked Bud 6:27
Thelonious Monk (EmbassyMusicCorp.-BMI)
10. One Note Samba 4:48
Antonio Carlos Jobim/Mendonca Newton (CorcovadoMusicCorp.-BMI)
11. Every Time I Feel the Spirit 4:33
all selections arranged by Chris Humphrey

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Steve Lampert - Music from There

My favorite British TV show is Yes, Prime Minister. Brilliant satire on politics and modern human nature. In one of the episodes, Sir Humphrey defends an art gallery that no one visits, claiming that there are things worth preserving, even if no one's interested. "But it's vital to know that they're there!" he shouts. I agree with him about some things. I love the ever popular/unpopular Frank Zappa for this reason. I like his '80s stuff, but I don't listen to most of the rest of his catalog because it's beyond me. Steve Lampert's new jazz montage runs in the same field, explained in the cd booklet as "a suite of 12 pieces blending the interpretive and improvisational talents of nine performers with electronic music. The electronic music presented here was composed specifically for realization via a large system of synthesizers and samplers under computer control. These types of modular systems have been in use for decades now, in a variety of musical genres."

Without having read that, I doubt you'd guess it. It's not what I would Choose to listen to as I type my books out at the computer or go on a day trip, but I take great solace in the fact that music of this sort is still being attempted and marketed, and that there Are audiences for it. Obviously without such experimentation, we cannot grow musically. If Steve is searching for the ultimate chord or process or sound, or merely doing this as an exercise in sound, I applaud him wildly for having the courage to do something different.

Steve Lampert, trumpet
Rich Perry, tenor saxophone
Jamie Baum, flute
Adam Kolker, bass clarinet
John Hebert, double bass
Rick Cutler, drums
Jeff Hirshfield, drums
Jim Clouse, percussion
Sue Lampert, vocals

Friday, January 11, 2008


To be honest, I wouldn't listen to Ashia's cd for pure pop enjoyment, but I think she deserves to be singled out here for doing something very different. And it takes courage to be different. That's why most young actresses only do a dance or pop album, if they're sexy enough. But to bare only your voice and your cello, writing your own music in the artistic element to boot, well, you've got guts. She's also got the pipes, and a steady hand on the strings with a tonal quality that is often something special.

Akin to coffeehouse music, this is mood music, which Could appeal more to the theatrical crowd than the teens, but there's a captivating magic to it if you allow yourself the time to sit and stare and ponder. You can lose yourself in the emotion of the complexity of the disc's simpleness. Well worth a listen, for the open-minded.

1 Divine Killer
2 Fossil
3 Pay to be Loved
4 Ne me quitte pas
5 Nomanmad
6 Clean for You

Click on the cover for more info.

Monday, January 7, 2008

most surprising cd of the week!

I love, absolutely love, this cd. It's also a great commercial for not judging a cd by its cover. Looking at it, one might think that Pedro Alfonso is going to come on comically strong like Frank Zappa, just not with rock. Something about the way he's biting his violin on the cd cover. Something about his mugging and stylish but manic clothing shots inside the case. But the music is anything but nonsensical. More than being your average violinist who has backed every Latin number from Gloria Estefan to Shakira, here's a one-take session player who knows what he wants from his own music, hires his own backup musicians and goes out and gets it. I'm talking about putting the prof in professional, slicing some strings like you wouldn't believe.

Not just the foreign flavor of "Oil for Fools" but some classy, heartfelt remakes of classics - "My Funny Valentine" and "Here We Are." These don't stand out. They are average in this man's genius. Not a weak song on the album. One listen to this man mixing "Little Havana" and I immediately want to hear him do an entire Henry Mancini album. I'm begging for it.

Go buy it. No reason to wait, romantics.

1.- Cuerdas locas (Pedro Alfonso)
2.- The next one (Pedro Alfonso ­ Yasmil Marrufo)
3.- Deep breath (Pedro Alfonso)
4.- Oil for fools (Pedro Alfonso)
5.- Little Havana (Pedro Alfonso)
6.- Balada para Liduvina (Pedro Alfonso)
7.- The big mountain (Pedro Alfonso)
8.- La comparsa (Ernesto Lecuona)
9.- Open arms (Jonathan Cain-Steve Perry)
10.- My funny Valentine (Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart)
11.- Here we are (Gloria Estefan)
12.- The Sunday after (Pedro Alfonso)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Dorothy Doring - Southern Exposure

Here's an interesting surprise that popped up in the mail one day. Dorothy certainly belongs in that ol' smokey jazz club. Her voice at times - I know this is an obscure reference - reminds me of Janet from the prequel to Rocky Horror Picture Show, called Shock Treatment. It's not her. Mostly she's a kitten, but often showing her strength in belting numbers like "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'" and the piano-driven truck drive of a song, "That Old Black Magic."

But it's the intro I fell in love with. Not as much because of the writing of "Besame Mucho," but more thanks to Dorothy's tone of voice and mood putting us into that very Typical mind of jazz. When the word "jazz" comes up, even to unmusical people, we all start to think of This sound. And the very erotic, minimalist "Throw It Away." You find yourself swaying, ever so slightly. Tapping the foot once in a while. Setting yourself up mentally for sleep, at a later date. You are past relaxed - you are Ready to be relaxed. That's what happened to me in the outro/intro to this fine indie release.

I'd welcome seeing her live. For those who don't do the club scene, why don't you put a bonus live video on the next release, Dorothy? I'd like to see that brow fret while you wring all the soul out of your cool backdrop of smooth sound.

1 Besame Mucho
2 I Love Paris
3 Nice Work If You Can Get It
4 What The World Needs Now
5 The Good Life
6 A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
7 Giant Steps
8 Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'
9 That Old Black Magic
10 Throw It Away