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Issue # 105 REVIEWS

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Vincent Herring & Earth Jazz - MORNING STAR:  Some absolutely stunning jazz lives on this CD from Vincent & his quartet (Dudli doin' drums, Anthony Wonsey's piano & Richie Goods on bass)... wide-ranging selection of scorching-hot funky jazz that puts nostalgia for the '70's & '80's together with a totally 21st Century set of sounds that will please your ears for years!  No clichéd claptrap attempts at "smoove junk", either, this is soul personified through the magnificent talents of each member of this groovin' group.  Just check out of of my favorite tracks, "The Thang" (a Wonsey original), to get your mind right & your feet moving!  Anthony's Rhodes/electric piano intro on "Soul Leo" (by Mulgrew Miller) will have you picturing a soul-brother alleycat on th' hunt, & you will listen to (my favorite track on the album) "Black Fairytales", a 9:53 that illustrates just how talented these gents are & clearly puts them on the charts for their "21st Century sound"!  I give them an (IMMEDIATE) MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Lastly, they get my "PICK" of this issue for "volcanic jazz talent".  Get more information at         Rotcod Zzaj

Jerome Lee - LIFE THIS TIME:  As you listen to the opener, "Time Gone Away", you won't be thinking "Rhythm & blues, blues, blues", perhaps, but you'll certainly realize just how large a talent you're privileged to hear - excellent guitar on this one!  That R&B sound comes shining through on "Prettiest Girl"... in fact, if I remember from my first listen to Jerome (on REVERBNATION), this is the tune that first caught my ear... took me right back to those '70's black juke joints down in Huntsville, Alabama... funk on fire, fer' sure!  The track that had me up on my feet (pretendin' I was 25 again... ha! ha!) all 'round my living room (with my headphones on, of course) was "Monkey Slide".... TOTAL fun, & just what that "good soul music" was all about when I was growing up with it all around me.  If you can't groove to Jerome's high energy, folks - you got both feet in th' hole already... I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone who loves R&B, soul & jazz.  He gets an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 from me, too.  Get more information at  (& be sure to tell him that brother Zzaj sent ya', ok?).    Rotcod Zzaj

Doug Ferony - IT HAD TO BE YOU:  Get your lounge slippers & your silk robe on... an even dozen tracks sung by Doug - released in June, 2010 - that will get right to the heart of the matter for all you late-night lovin' lounge lizards out there.  He's picked an excellent set of backup players for this recording, and he knows how to spin that vocal charm out for all who love this kind of jazz (& I know there are many out there).  Some tunes work better (for me) than others... "Girl From Ipanema", for instance, is a unique interpretation of that classic Latin tune.  I didn't hear a great deal of "upbeat" pace here, and even with "crooner" type music, I would have liked to have heard something with a bit more swing.  All-in-all, I give this one a RECOMMENDED, especially for those listeners who like something to spin in the background while they dance 'round the room with their Maidenform ladies.  "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.85.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Jacob Duncan, John Goldsby, John Tiemann - THE INNKEEPER'S GUN:  Pure joy for modern jazz listeners... & no, I'm not talking about "smooth jazz" listeners... this is "real" jazz, insofar as you can find it these days.  John Goldsby leads with his double bass, along with alto saxophone from Jacob Duncan and drums by Jason Tiemann.  I'm a bit surprised that this is my first listen to Goldsby's excellent playing and composition, especially when I listen to tracks like his (original) super energetic "Never Come Back To Me"... total fluidity from the opening note all the way to the end of this 6:14 jazz instant classic.   If you're after something a bit more subdued and "chamber-sounding", you'll dig "More Than Something" (another original from Goldsby) without doubt, but it was "Ligeti Split" by Jacob that gave me that "mjq" vibe more than any of the other 7 tunes... totally tight integration of each player, with each instrument expressing themselves in their own way, but together at all times!  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Satoko Fujii ma-do - DESERT SHIP:  My magazine always gets the "new monsters of jazz"; in this case, we've been reviewing Satoko's highly versatile jazz for many (that's MANY) years now... on this adventure, it's her amazing keyboards with (her husband) Natsuki Tamura on trumpet, bass from Norikatsu Koreyasu and drums from Akira Horikoshi.  A much more intimate grouping than some of the orchestras she has put together, but no less powerful, I can tell you... when you listen to the high energy of the opening track, "February - Locomotive - February", even if you've listened to her works before.  Satoko certainly serves as a model for all (of us) keyboardists aspiring towards "more" in our playing... once she starts playing (on all 9 of the files), the magma never stops flowing.  This is one of the most exciting CD's I've listened to this year, particularly on tracks like my favorite, "Sunset In The Desert", with it's killer drum intro and wacked-out pace all the way through 6:10.  Another total winner for Satoko & crew, this gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as a stellar "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 5.00 (no other band has gotten that this year).  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Gabriele Tranchina - A SONG OF LOVE'S COLOR:  Though female jazz vocalists tend to get lumped together, every once in a while, we get CD's that have the degree of talent & vigor in their performances that elevates them far above the level of "just another lady jazz singer"... Gabriele is certainly above the pack, & totally "international" in her appeal to your ears!  It really doesn't matter what language she sings in, her energy, inflection and pure joy in the singing of it shines through for you to groove on.  The title track, for instance, "A Song of Love's Color", opens with a wonderful blending of voices that punctuates the 4:58 piece wonderfully... for wonderful high-energy Latin flavors & shadings, you'll certainly dig on "Samba de Uma Nota Só"... beautiful rhythms that just won't quit.  It was "Sing a Song of Children", with the sound of healing (through the lives of children, so artfully expressed by Gabriele) that captured my vote for favorite.  I give this CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any jazzers who love the sound of vibrant female vocals.  The "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at JAZZHEADS!   Rotcod Zzaj

Jim Guttmann - BESSARABIAN BREAKDOWN:  If your grandma raised on a "dervish diet" (whirling, that is), you'll certainly recognize the frenetic pace of the opener, "Philadelphia Sher"... bassist Jim has been the anchor for the Klezmer Conservatory Band, & his talent for that form certainly shines on this tune.  Though he integrates the Klezmer in several of the tracks, there's also a whole host of other influences that will be most enjoyable for those who thought (from the title, perhaps) that this was to be "just another Klezmer" album... check out the odd rhythms of "Cuando El Rey Nimrod"... a most enjoyable jazz piece.  His superb talent for the bass, both the "playing" and the "joy" of it, are clearly highlighted on "And The Angels Sing"... some great walking bass there.  My favorite of the 11 tunes, though, is "Beregovski 90: Skocne", with it's super-clean and energetic improvisation.  Jim & crew do this with a clear goal of "balance" in mind, and they certainly exceed their target - I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any jazz listener who wants to hear something "different" in the way of jazz.  The CD gets an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at the FB PAGE dedicated to this CD.   Rotcod Zzaj

Frank Carlberg, John Hebert, Gerald Cleaver - TIVOLI TRIO:  Frank's superb compositions have been reviewed here before, most recently in issue # 88... on this fantastic CD, you'll hear 13 adventurous jazz pieces full of imagination, life and full-tilt jazz energy.  To hear this trio in all it's tight glory, listen to "Tricks", a fitting tune for any musical alchemist... raw & unadulterated fun!  Frank's beautiful piano is joined by bass from John Hebert and drums from Gerald Cleaver... you can almost hear them (sonically) talking to each other through the music.  The most notable thing about all of the pieces on this outing is just how subtly they capture your ears & wrap you up in them... the 6:44 "Bill's Hat" being one of the best examples of that... you can hear every little nuance of the trio's playing, & I can guarantee you that you'll find yourself listening to this track over & over again.  My favorite piece, though, was "Rumble Mumble", with it's fantastic drum intro & piano/bass duet as it moves into the main zone of the tune.  If you're stuck in "totally conventional jazz" lanes, you may not enjoy this, but I doubt there are too many reading this 'zine who are in that rut.  I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "most interesting jazz trio work".  "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at or    Rotcod Zzaj

Satoko Fujii Orchestra Tokyo - ZAKOPANE:  Though Satoko is (just) the conductor on this CD, her total commitment to keeping the jazz energy moving ever on to new planes will be evident on first listen.  My most recent review of her orchestral efforts was in issue # 95, which used words like "volcanic" to describe the jazz spell she weaves for the listener, & this 'round is no less intense.  Fusion rules here, with styles all the way from funk to free & everything in between... the performer list is huge, as is the full-bodied, full-tilt sound they play.  You can listen to several samples at the SQUIDCO site (though unfortunately they aren't labeled)... you'll just have to trust my jazz judgment when I tell you that this is some of the most "penetrating" jazz orchestral work you will ever hear.  From the perspective of Big-Band orchestral jazz, there's only one tune that gets my vote for favorite (though many of the other 7 were superb, too) is "Trout"... total adventure wrapped (or is it warped) up in one track!  I give Satoko & her orchestra my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj  

FumoSonic - LOVE IS EVERYTHING:  Kelly (vocals/samples) & John Fumo (trumpet, flugelhorn, keyboards) are joined by a whole host of musical pals in a sonic adventure you won't soon put down... this is the kind of music you can listen to again & again and always find some new nuance!  I'm quite impressed, as they keep a strong jazz influence, yet weave in plenty of other musical styles that will be aurally attractive to all but the least adventurous listeners... check out the percussion intro on "I Have The Perfect Kind Of Love", & listen as it tastefully morphs into something that you might hear 'round the Mediterranean... this track will stay up at the top of your playlists for a long time to come.  Jazz style is at the forefront of "Your Subtle Ways", and it's this fusion of styles that keeps the music (more) interesting than all the other pretenders to this throne.  It was the keyboards under the stellar vocal on "Altar Of Love" that captured my vote for favorite track... not to mention John's superb horn... would have been nice to have this run about 5 minutes (or more), rather than the 2:55 it turned out to be on my CD.  I really dig FumoSonic, & will look forward to more from them... I give them my HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

ben cez what - BEN CEZ WHAT:  Another DDR (digital download review) from an electronica/dance/organic duo I hooked up with on REVERBNATION... they opened all 16 of their trax up for me to review, a little over an hour of splendid music that keeps the mood & energy elevated each time I listen to it.  This isn't just a "schlock band", pumping out presets for hours on end - they actually have talent, & are well worth the headphone time to listen through all their streams - you can do that at BEN CEZ WHAT.  I expect one reason they caught my ears right away is the synth & organ patch right at the beginning of "brandon"... when they bring in the beat under that organ, you could (& probably will) dance out for hours.  It was actually the synth intro/sound on "joyful" that got my selection as favorite, though... very musical, but they don't compromise their style, either.  Lots of other tunes that I'll spin over & over, too, like "never stop", which hooks all their talent together & concentrates it into something with a big groove.  I give these gents a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & look forward to more from them.  "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.94.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Kristin Porter - BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON:  Kristin's debut is marred (in my estimation, anyway) by the fact that there were only 5 tunes on it... not that they are "bad" tunes, in fact, her vocals are quite tasteful and full of life... maybe it's a new trend (some of my DDR pals are telling me that the "Blackberry Generation" actually wants to pay big $$ for a CD that only has 5 to 8 tracks on it - go figure... maybe I'm just gettin' old-fashioned, huh?).  Her voice has a really nice lilting quality that's especially noticeable on tracks like "Light Of The Moon", & she has some stellar players behind her!  I enjoyed her music, but would much prefer to hear more of it on the next release.  I give her a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.93.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Kombu Combo - JAZZ WORLD FUSION:  I reviewed a (short 4-song) CD from these folks back in issue # 99... as regular readers here know, I don't often review demos, & when I do, it's because the groups have told me they will have a CD out soon.  Kombu got a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED on that CD, but this new recording merits much higher acclaim... to get a taste of just how great they are together, check out this video of their tune "Sam Meets James"... total balance and strong power projection.  The tune that just JAMMED (for me, anyway), though, was the 11:45 "Dark Continent"... tight rhythm, & Norm Dorrell's (he's the composer) vibes just ROCK, folks!  If you love funkiness, you'll certainly dig "Brazilian Waxx", as did I... but for my ears, the tune that captured "favorite track" was their version of a Horace Silver piece called "Filthy McNasty"!  I'm really liking what I hear from this band, & believe that if you love jazz that has the "main ingredient" (that's FUN, for you who didn't know), you'll dig it, too.  I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Ran Blake and Christine Correa - OUT OF THE SHADOWS:  The title on this CD from Ran and Christine is totally apropos, as it's the kind of music you hear in those dark alley jazz joints after the doors are closed... their rendition of "The Thrill Is Gone", for instance, will hold your ears spellbound!  Ran's keyboards aren't anything like what you'd imagine for such a blues classic, but if you don't "get the blues message" from this one - you've got a foot (or two) in the grave already.  There are 14 very special performances here... if you're a hidebound jazz traditionalist (not too many of those here), you'll probably lose interest after the 2nd track, but if you've any adventure in your blood at all, you'll be as enchanted as I was, to be sure.  This music is best experienced with headphones on, as you won't want any interruptions... that's a part of the spell, in fact... staying with them from open to close.  I give this one a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any & all who want to experience something different with piano/vocal jazz.  "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.95.  Get more information at or    Rotcod Zzaj

Preston Lux - GOING HOME:  I want you to hear what first caught my ears when cruising artists for potential review material on REVERBNATION... the title track "Going Home" has definitely GOT IT, volkz... groove, funk&bump, th' kind of soul that no player can execute unless he HAS some - soul, that is!  "You Turn Me On" takes me all the way back to the '60's & '70's, ala Ramsey Lewis & such... smooth, yes, but full of enough heart that you won't soon relegate it to your old playlists... some very nice strings on this arrangement.  The tune I dug down most on was a bluesy slide&groove thang called "Katrina"... it would have been nice if it was about double the length, but it's still my favorite.  I'll definitely be looking forward to more CD's from Preston, & after you've listened through all his tracks a few times, you'll agree... MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Seth Kibel - THE GREAT PRETENDER:  I reviewed a Klezmer-based CD from Seth in issue # 103... this is a totally different musical adventure, to be sure!  Covers, along with a couple of originals by Seth, but you'll be pleasantly surprised when you hear his volcanic tenor saxophone, especially on tunes like the opener, "Walk Tall"... man, it don't get any more energetic than this.  On the other hand, if laid-back nite blues is what your ears crave, you'll fall in love with his "Corcoran Blues", one of the gutsiest blues tunes I've heard in years.  Strangely enough, it was a Tom Waits tune, "Mr. Siegal" that captured my vote for "favorite track", though... Seth's reeds lend an air of definite danger to the already hazardous lyrical tale!  10 tunes that will thrill any jazz lover who can't go without tenor sax for more than a moment or two... toss that in with a rollickin' blues tone, & you've got a CD that I declare as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  The "EQ" (energy quotient) rating for this one is off the charts at 5.01.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

David's Angels - SUBSTAR:  Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen guests on this fantastic CD from Sweden... composer/pianist Maggi Olin and vocalist Sofie Norling create feelings that bring on nostalgia attacks for me... that's not a "bad" thing, either... truly talented players who are able to use music to help the listener focus in on feelings.  In fact, the world definitely needs more music like this... there's no rushing here, both the vocals and the instruments are in no hurry, & before the title track is done, you'll experience some rushes of emotion, either as Déjà Vu, or concerns for the future (of us, of our planet & of the universe in general).  Just check out the lead-in track, "My New Me" to hear what I'm talking about... this music is cosmic in scope... certainly not "background music" (for any party I've been to, anyway)... the vocal on this one makes it worth the purchase of the CD, to be sure.  The favorite track (for my ears) was "Stay For A While"... every player is right "in touch" with the singer, and the recording is crystal-clear.  This one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 (nearly impossible for a vocal CD to get here - yes, they're that good).  Get more information from    Rotcod Zzaj

Hector Martignon - SECOND CHANCE:  This May, 2010, release from Hector (his piano and accordion, joined by a whole host of players) is absolute killer jazz that any serious (or not so serious) jazz fan won't be able to do without!  The opening track alone, "Bala com Bala", is worth the purchase of this marvelous 10-track CD... Hector's keyboards are all over the map on this one, & will make him the envy of any aspiring pianist!  It's far more than just tech-talent on aural display here, too... Martignon's spirit (& the players with him) shine through brilliantly on each & every note... pure joy.  For something with a tinge of sadness (yet with beauty at the same time), you'll love "She said She was from Sarajevo"... a full-bodied tune you'll enjoy for it's entire 7:43 length.  My favorite piece, though, was the superbly executed "Hatari"... the percussion that introduces the track & runs all through it, is subtle but fully flowing.  This is a superb CD that gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.99... additionally, it gets the "PICK" of this issue for "most engaging jazz performance".  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Jim Altamore - LICENSE TO SWING:  Male jazz vocalists were at their peak when I was about 13 years old, though I don't get a lot in for review these days... that obviously doesn't mean they're not out there, though, as Jim's dozen songs clearly proves.  & when he labels his vocal excursions as "swing", he's not kidding... check out his rendition of "Just One Of Those Things" to get with him in his groove.  He has a strong group of players behind him, and his vocal adventures will take you back to another era, but his vocals have their own unique signature... guys these days probably don't aspire (too much) to be late-night loungers, but as he sings Billy Joel's "New York State Of Mind", there will be more than a few young gents who find their dream & start singing in showers across the globe.  I'm more than a little impressed with Jim's jazz, ergo my HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating... "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.94.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Phil Sargent - A NEW DAY:  How many times have we seen a CD titled similarly?  The difference on Phil's excellent jazz guitar album is that this is all original material, which in itself means that it will be "better" than other music (in my view, anyway)... the energy levels are stellar!  The 10:23 title track opens the CD, "A New Day", and you immediately recognize that your ears are listening to exceptional talent.  You might wonder at only having 7 cuts available, but all are over 5 minutes long & jam-packed with bright and shimmering life... just check out the vibrant (near rock) energy on "Powerplay" if you're not sure you believe me.  I'm loving this music, and can guarantee you that unless you are mired in the much of "conventionality", you will find it as astounding as I did.  My favorite track is "Light", much enhanced by Aubrey Johnson's soaring vocal enchantment.  Phil isn't your "average jazz guitarist", and combines a clearly evident love of playing and composition to bring you a most rewarding jazz album that I rate as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Jamie Begian Big Band - BIG FAT GRIN:  Those readers who have been with me for a long time know that the motto 'round here is "if it ain't FUN - it ain't MUSIC"... well, scope that CD title again, folks... big bands aren't always my idea of joy, but Jamie's huge assemblage will indeed bring a smile to your ears!  Just listen to the rollicking "Halay" & imagine yourself in a gypsy camp somewhere in Eastern Europe, kickin' up your heels as you dance 'round th' fire all night.  If you're looking for a tune with a bit more introspection, you'll switch moods when you listen to "Patience"... somewhat like a spooky bedtime story.  You won't be able to stop smiling, though, as you listen to my favorite tune on the album, the title track, "Big Fat Grin", especially right at 1:56, where the tune steps you right out on a dance floor full of merriment that will make this musical adventure one of the happiest you've ever had.  The recording is crystal-clear with nuances that will make you hear something different each time you listen to this one!  I give these players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the INNOVA site.     Rotcod Zzaj

Susie Meissner - I'LL REMEMBER APRIL:  You'll be quite pleasantly amazed when you listen to Susie's rich and tasteful jazz vocals on this excellent CD.  As you listen to her beautiful rendition of "Never Let Me Go" (Jay Livingston & Ray Evans), you'll hear how easily she wraps her voice around a tune... you'll find yourself listening to this one over and over again.  One of my favorite listens was "Dreamer" (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Gene Lees)... Susie's lilting voice will carry you away to your dreams & help them come true, no doubt about it.  The best track (for my ears, anyway) was "How Deep Is the Ocean?", where Ms. Meissner brings out the "cool" in jazz!  The whole pace of this album is "gentle groove" - no high-steppin' crazy jazz, but you'll thoroughly enjoy it if you love high-talent jazz vocals.  I give this one a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.94.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj 

Jamie Ousley - BACK HOME:  Home's always a cool place to be, & Jamie's double bass (along with a full crew of excellent players) take you there, without a doubt.  The best (in fact, the only) way to truly dig the vibe he & his band are capable of is with headphones... 11 tracks, 8 of them with full-tilt original energy, are featured in one of the most enjoyable jazz excursions I've listened to yet this year (and that's saying something, 'coz I've listened to a lot of them this year).  Check out the tension-building intro on "A Tune, Sir?", or the alleycat slink walkin' bass lines on "This is It!" just an excellent tune... takes me years & years back to when th' jazz had real meat on it's bones.  It was the second track in, "Nashvillatino" (another Ousley original) that instantly got my vote for favorite tune, though... there's a lightness in the playing, as well as in the sound, that will make you play this track over & over again.  High talent, high energy & sheer love of playing get this fine second release my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating... "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Jeff Lofton Quartet- JAZZ TO THE PEOPLE:  Jeff's high-energy trumpet playing is joined by Alex Coke on sax, Red Young on piano, Chris Jones on bass and Masumi Jones on drums in a quartet you won't soon forget (in fact, your ears will soon be begging you for more).  This is jazz played the way it has always been intended... free of pretense & full of the spirit of life.  Whether you're scoping out the bouncy Lofton original "Herbie's Time" or the (very) uptown "Shana's Song", you'll find yourself in a groove you won't want to come out of anytime soon!  If you want to watch these masters at work, check out this VID of "Shana's Song", too.  The tune I found myself listening to over & over (& you will too) was "A.I.M."... superb flow, & Lofton's trumpet never misses a note - the whole band kicks out this jam, too... those of you as old as I am (63, soon to be 64) will find this one pure joy to listen to!  The even dozen pieces on this find CD get my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all jazz lovers who find themselves especially attracted to brass... "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is a smashing 4.99 (out of 5).  Jeff & his quartet also get the "PICK" of this issue for "best new energy quartet".  GET this one after you listen to the streams at    Rotcod Zzaj

k d morris- VOICES INSIDE YOUR HEAD:  k d & his superb spoken-word works were on REVERBNATION while I was hunting around for great material to review.  Well, I'll tell you folks, if you like spoken-word (as I do), especially when it's FAR MORE than just a drum mo-chine & spittin' without substance, you will DIG this guy!  There's a good reason why I'm reminded of one of the first bands who moved me with their words, THE LAST POETS... it's because k d is joined by Umar Bin Hassan (of that group) on "more than i".  The words are the highlite, though the music clearly helps to keep the groove on for the listener - plus which, it actually IS music... not just the "thunka' thunka' thunka" thang that passes for rap today - this is the REAL THING, people!  It was the beautiful electric piano/Rhodes like sound on "tears, raindrops & snowflakes" that sealed the deal for me, though... Morris knows how to "talk the talk", & steer the music with his words in a way that will bring tears of all kinds to your eyes.  This one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any listener who loves to hear high-talent spoken-word with the roots music that we all need to bring us closer together (no matter how bad it gets).  "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

J Malcom & Sons - OVERHEATED:  Yet another DDR (Digital Download Review), though J sent me a burned CD, just to make sure I had quality... he burned 8 tracks to the CD, but only 4 of them made it through... I hardly ever do DEMOS here, but his guitar SMOKES & so I had to let you know that I really dig DOW-un on it, 'specially tuneage like "Cain't Happen"... this is the kinda' blues that SPEAKS to ya', right there where your heart's pumpin'!  The REAL tune that breaks those blues feelings down & puts 'em back together again fer' yer' ears is "Overheated" (which unfortunately wasn't on the RN site, even though it was my favorite).  Another killer was "Bad In A Good Kinda' Way"... think Elvis, SRV (Stevie Ray Vaughan) & a smattering of (yes, I know it's strange) Frank Zappa (for his guitar riffs), then put it together with all the bad-luck stories you've ever had happen to ya', & you'll have a pretty good feel for what J & Sons are doing.  I'm lookin' forward to a full CD release from these guys (soon, eh', J?), but in the meantime, I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any/all who dig jazzy blues guitar & rockin'.  "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is a staggering 4.96.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Damian Erskine - SO TO SPEAK:  Here's a young bass player whose self-described styles of playing are "Jazz/Funk/Anything", & it's that last one that comes across crystal clear in my repeated listens to the 8 tracks he gave me for DDR (Digital Download Review)... scope out his fancy bass footwork (or is that fingerwork?) on "American Gyro" to hear what I'm talkin' about!  Truly a broad range of styles and a full-tilt approach that stays in the jazz vein, yet makes it clear that Damian could (indeed) play anything he wants to and have it sound totally professional.  I continue to be amazed by the high-quality of music available on the nets these days, and he's one of the players who elevates that to the highest level.  My favorite track is the beautiful "Light"... perfectly balanced instruments and excellent recording quality (even at only 160kbps).  We (even those oldsters among us, like me, man) have a lot to look forward to in the next couple of decades.  Erskine's music is fresh and energetic from start to finish.  I give him my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz lovers of all stripes, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Harvie S - COCOLAMUS BRIDGE:  Any listener who has ever heard the magic that the mournful (or joyous) tones of a well-played bass can invoke will find Harvie's new CD (I believe it was a June release) absolutely enchanting.  He's joined by Woody Witt's sax, guitar from Chris Cortez, piano from Jose Miguel Yamal, drums by Joel Fulgham and percussion by James Metcalfe.  The opening track, "Elli Gheal Chiuin" sets you up for a lush and rich adventure in sub-tones, but not at all lacking in energy for the playing.  By the time they get to "Coco Loco", the atmosphere is much more joyous & airy, though still with totally talented playing going on... a very cool tune, to be sure.  The most "jazzy" piece, & my favorite track, was "Ike (take a Hike)", one that is in definite "groove mode", & takes me back to my earliest jazz haunts... full of spirit and (even) a sense of danger (it was named for the Gulf Coast hurricane) - the keyboards on this one are SUPERB!  I'm most highly impressed, & expect to be getting more of Harvie's music for review.  This gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me for jazz fans of all stripes, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Bob Mamet Trio - IMPROMPTU:  The synonym that really strikes a chord (for me) as regards Bob's new CD is "spontaneous"... that's exactly what Bob's piano sounds like on this one, as well as the bass playing by Darek Oles and drums by Joe La Barbera.  "True" jazz fans the world over will recognize this as the kind of jazz they grew up on... no clichéd lines here, everything is fresh & new as a baby right after a sponge bath. Some of that freshness has to do with the fact that these are all original compositions by Bob, with all the high-energy playing that "original" implies, but it's also because they are clearly doing this with the idea of keeping every note vibrant and alive & not letting any phrase lapse into the dreaded "regular".  Just listen to the grand opening title track, "Impromptu"... even some trio masters don't have this sense of music that keeps moving the listener along to new heights.  10 tracks that will stay in your head & come back when you least expect it... my favorite among them is the uptempo "At Play"... no "studied" jazz piece, this is full of the spirit of life!  Being the blues fan I am, I also dug deeply on "Bob's Blues", which will bring you right back up out of whatever funk you may have been in.  This great musical experience gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Norman Johnson - IF TIME STOOD STILL:  If the words "laid-back" & "groove" fit the mood you're in, you'll definitely want to listen to this debut CD from Norman... the opening track, "It's Time To Fly", will set the mood for the rest of the 10 highly-inspired tracks, no doubt.  Norman's got a cast of players far too long to itemize here, so you'll have to buy the CD to get that.  He's been around for many years, playing with folks like Dave Brubeck, Harvie S (also reviewed in this issue) & Phil Wilson, just to name a few; he shows on this CD that he has a marvelous talent for making music that will enchant your ears and capture your heart instantly.  I just loved "Always and Forever", which takes us back to a magical time when music was an inspiration (think Wes, think Wes, think Wes).  It was the soulful "Can I Get An Amen" that captured my vote for favorite, though... it will make a believer out of you, no doubt!  I've no doubt that we'll be hearing lots more from Mr. Johnson in the next few years, and I'm truly looking forward to that.  I give him a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

R.D. Olson - THE REAL DEAL:  Whenever I'm scoutin' blooz out, I'm actually sniffin' for someone who can (not just) sing... they need to be able to mangle "l" outta' that harp, too... scope out "Walkin' To My Baby" to hear just what this cat can do... if you didn't know what the blues is all about when you started listening, you'll be gettin' DOW-un by the time you finish listening to R.D.  For pure "gut funk" blues with slow, sultry (& wailing) guitar lines, listen to "Johnny Walker"... a full 5:48 journey down to th' bottom o' th' bottle, fer' sure!  Truth be told, though, (probably because of my place in time as a "boomer" myself), it was R.D.'s krankin' version of "Baby Boomer Blues" that made him seem (unfortunately) like a fortune teller to me... man, this tune SMOKES, people!  This is one impressive little group, & I for one am certainly hopin' to hear (much) more from him in the next few months/years.  I give him a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who GOTZ to have a taste of th' blues every once in a while.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Matt Millecchia - SILHOUETTE OF A SEASON:  Matt's a lucky player, to be sure... he had help from Will Ackerman (Windham Hill) with production.  You'll need to enjoy instrumental guitar, and while this isn't "strictly jazz", his all-original compositions have a flow to them that's totally balanced in favor of the listener.  Just listen to the beautiful "Georgia Springs" - high talent just shines through in a totally relaxed setting.  A dozen guitar adventures that will elevate your spirit to the highest planes, especially if you listen to this with your headphones on (recommended, to be sure).  It's amazing to hear him play this type of music, since his background was definitely hardcore-punk... skill is what matters in playing, though, and you'll know you're in the presence of a master player when you listen to (my favorite track) "Summer Tears" - the overtones alone on this track make it well worth the purchase.  I give Matt's CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Brent Blount - BREAKFAST AT JIM'S:  Though I don't know Jim, I'd certainly like to breakfast with him if Brent's sax (& a whole host of other instruments) are accompanying the bacon & eggs!  A hearty meal for any jazz aficionado... just scope out the opener, "Intuition" to hear what I'm talking about!  If you're into high-energy reeds, you'll surely dig on "Honey Do Blues", one of my favorites on the CD.  His Native American background certainly comes into play on "Fire Eyes", but it's still full of the spirit of jazz that happens when folks forget "backgrounds" & reach out through the stars to feel the reality of human experience!  My absolute top favorite on the album is "Bad Pun"... this moves in a big way from the opening to the closing note... some of the highest energy playing I've heard in the last couple of years.  Those who dig jazz sax will certainly agree when I declare Brent's music & style MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED... he also gets an "EQ" rating of 4.98 (very, VERY high on my scale of 1-5).  I expect we'll be getting some more music in from him to review, & I'll certainly be looking forward to that.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Alex Wan - DREAM ORCHESTRA:  Alex is an extremely talented composer/player (guitar/bass) who clearly knows what he wants to do with what the muse tells him!  On this great CD, we hear his "Strings Orchestral Suite" and "Big Band Suite", with 8 pieces (37:06) that reach right down into your heart and tug at the strings.  One of my favorites was "Interlude in A Minor (Spring)"... for one thing, I'm a sucker for minor key comps, but the bass that kicks in at about 1:20 walks the pants off of those strings, leading them 'round like a champ!  On the big band side, I greatly enjoyed "Miss Fretless (Times Square, N.Y.)" - as you might imagine (Times Square, big band & all), this is a totally different mood than the "Spring Orchestral" stuff... jazz with an edge here, highly energetic & take no prisoners, to be sure.  The track that captured my pick as favorite, though, was "Unity (South Side, Chicago)" - volcanic is the word I'll use to describe what Alex sculpts for your aural enjoyment.  A very pleasant mix (though you might not expect so) between orchestral & big band that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.95.  Get more information at       Rotcod Zzaj

The Mark Lomax Trio with Edwin Bayard and Dean Hulett - THE STATE OF BLACK AMERICA:  These cats surely know how to SMOKE those jams... this is exactly the kind of hardcore jazz I grew up on during my first tours in Germany, circa 1964-1967.  Totally creative spirit on all 5 tracks... & don't let that number freak you, these pieces run anywhere between 9 & (nearly) 12 minutes... the best way to start this CD is right at the beginning... "Stuck In A Rut" features Mark's splendific drums on the intro & the rambunctious & high-spirited fun doesn't stop until the last note, nine minutes & thirty-five seconds later; Edwin's sax is just killer on this one!  This is one of the tightest trios I've heard in the last 5 years, & I expect to be hearing much more from them in the next 5... if it's a bluesy smoke-filled atmosphere you're thirsting for, try out "Blues For Charles (Who Split B4 The Butterfly Flew In)"!  I loved this one, but it's actually the multi-rhythm "The Unknown Self" that captured my vote for favorite... if you didn't know who you were when you started, you will by the end (or you need to be in a ward somewhere).  Superbly sensitive jazz that any true jazz fan will fall in love with right away.  I give them my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Mark's site.   Rotcod Zzaj

Stevens, Siegel & Ferguson Trio - SIX:  This is the sixth CD from this trio, & though it's my first listen to them, I've been reviewing music from the pianist (Michael Jefry Stevens) a lot over the last couple of years.  The rest of the trio is bassist Tim Ferguson and drummer Jeff "Siege" Siegel, and they do KICK, folks, I'll tell you.  Half of the tunes are covers & half are originals by the trio members... you have never heard as unique a rendition of Monk's "Straight, No Chaser" as they play... Michael's keyboards are at full-tilt all the way through this track, & everyone else is right ON TIME, to be sure.  I also greatly enjoyed the Stevens' original "Song For Rio", again featuring the piano and totally crisp recording that captures every little nuance from Jeff and Tim.  My favorite tune, though, was track 5, "The Fire", penned by Tim... totally full of the kind of energy I cut my jazz teeth on, and a sense of movement that will make you want to get up and dance 'round the room for the joy of it all!  20 years of playing together have made this one of the tightest jazz trios you'll ever hear, & I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all jazz fans who want a taste of the best talent on the scene today.  Their "EQ" (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information here!    Rotcod Zzaj



Guideline for artists SUBMITTING to us:  We do NOT generally review .mp3 files/sites.  Being an active artist myself, though, I understand the need for the use of Internet sites as a "staging ground" for reviews!  You are encouraged to email us your .mp3 links... we will visit the site/link, & if we like your energies, we will contact YOU!  (We will NOT respond to followup inquiries about .mp3 files, though!!!  p.s.  If you EVER e-mail me .mp3 files that I haven't requested, you will be BLACKLISTED on this site!!!)

Here are a few tunes of MINE for you to listen to - it's from my latest CD release, "AC not PC" (Alphabetically Correct, not Politically Correct)




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