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.