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Improvijazzation Nation

Issue # 74 REVIEWS

FEATURED Zzaj Productions album samples -

We now have 3 TOTALLY FREE CD's (with free cover art) available for download at our NETLABEL site!  The only thing we ask is that you scroll to the bottom of the page(s) & give us a REVIEW!  Please ADVERTISE this to ALL your friends... tell them we are GIVING AWAY music!


Dan Moretti - PASSING PLACE:  It's always a joy to review someone who was a "hit" in our ears in a previous review... get an idea of where they've been since we last heard them, & where they may be going... Dan's CD "That's Right" was reviewed way back in issue # 36, & "Passing Place" is even more exciting!  He's got a heck of a krew with him this time 'round, featuring keyboards by Paul Nagel, guitar by Bruce Bartlett, Marty Ballou's bass, percussion by Jorge Najaro & drums by Marty Richards, & tho' his tenor/soprano sax work is at the forefront of this get-down & funky jazz, they all play their parts flawlessly!  Another fantastic element of this grand lil' CD is that the tracks are all originals (except Wayne Shorter's "Virgo")... I always prefer that jazz albums feature red-hot smokin' originals, & Dan doesn't disappoint on this outing, that's fo' SHO'!  All th' way from th' funky organ/keyboard sounds on "Aren't Blue" to th' totally groovin' "You Said What" (my favorite track on the album, btw), Moretti carves a niche totally his own (something very difficult to do in this world so plentiful with reed players)... & you'll find that you'll make it your own as well!  This one gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, without hesitation or qualification!  There's no hint of "smooth" jazz here, & that's a total compliment!  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Hendrik Muerkens - AMAZON RIVER I've only heard a few jazz CD's that featured harmonica before... this one is a favorite after only 3 spins... Mr. Muerkens plays with real energy & I think the harmonica adds a somehow "familiar" touch that makes it easy for him to draw the listener "into his fold".  If your ears are looking for radical improv, this won't fit the bill... it feels like "homespun"... but Hendrik is clearly a genius at "the weave".  The compositions have a distinctly Latin feel to them, probably because the players on it (besides Hendrik) are from Brazil.  One of the best parts of the album (for me) is that Muerkens has so many originals on the release... as those of you who read this section regularly know, my ears always favor original over covers... 4 out of 11 cuts belong to him - "Mosquito Tongue" (cut 6) is my absolute favorite track on the album!  Listeners who want to hear jazz with a different twist will fall in love with this CD immediately - I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Get more information on this August 23rd, 2005 release at      Rotcod Zzaj

Trio Da Paz - SOMEWHERE:  I'm not quite sure where "somewhere" is, but the first listen to this CD ensures that it's a place I'd like to be (probably somewhere in the vicinity of Brazil, since that's where all these folks hail from)!  Acoustic guitar-based jazz, with absolute & powerful energy quotient.  It's totally clear that Romero Lubambo's guitar, Nison Matta's acoustic bass & Duduka Da Fonseca's drums will transport you to an aural space your ears will love, full of inspiration & vision!  This album will hit the streets around 20 September, 2005, & you'll want to be there to snatch up your copy.  These guys melt together smoothly, but their strong compositions guarantee that they'll never be classified in the (dreaded) "smooth jazz" territory.  Their changes are clear & straightforward... the music leans heavily in the direction of Latino jazz, infused with a real sense of mystery & discovery!  If your ears are already in search of sonic adventure, you'll find that this addition to your collection will be one of those timeless "keepers".  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  There is one minor criticism - get the track titles & credits burned to the CD, fellows... so I don't have to keep running back & forth between the tracks & the album cover to see what track is playing.  Get more information on this great little CD at    Rotcod Zzaj

Flight '09 - SIGNS AT THE WATER We reviewed this smokin' lil' rock band from Uzbekistan several issues ago, on a U.S. label release... this CD had no label inserts, or other information to tell us much about who was releasing it... but that's of little consequence, since their music is still on fire, NO doubt about it.  I'm reminded a lot of albums we've reviewed by Rick Ray... heavy, HEAVY guitar leads, drums that POUND, & vocals that keep your blood movin' right on along!  We're actually hoping that this is a "pre-release" version, & that they'll have some cover art on th' final release... this is one of the better rock albums I've listened to this year... it stands alone as rock of th' 21st Century... just KICKZ!  Lookin' back through the e-mail boxes, I realize (now) that they're shopping for a label for this CD (that's why it didn't have cover art, I suspect).  If you're a small label lookin' for an "instant rock hit", I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED... same goes for listeners who want a spirit of adventure & drama in their listening experience!  GR8 rock!  Contact via e-mail to     Rotcod Zzaj

Beegie Adair, with the Jeff Steinberg Orchestra - AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER So, you're waxing nostalgic, & want to wend your (mental) way back to the elegant moments of big theater from the '50's & '60's, eh?  Well, when you listen to the soothing keyboard mastery Ms. Adair lays down for you, you'll be able to get "in the mood" instantly - as was the case for her "Jazz Piano Christmas" CD, reviewed in issue # 39!  The music on this CD certainly isn't "back room funk", or "be-bop-a-lula", so those who are somewhat lost without a backbeat to grind against won't get into this... but if beauty is your thing, you'll find yourself weaving your own Technicolor dreams after only 8 or 10 bars.  Beegie keeps th' jazz alive, even tho' this is primarily laid-back movie background track type material... it makes for a very pleasant listen, & those listeners who want a break from dangerous music will enjoy it immensely.  I give this album a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those listeners!  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Andrea Wolper - THE SMALL HOURS:  Pay attention to the CD title, 'coz as soon as you hear the first few bars, you'll "get" the picture Andrea is painting with her sultry vocals... I remember many early morning cruises through downtown late-night streets & jazz bars (in Frankfurt, Germany) that had singers in smoky rooms like Ms. Wolper's beautiful voice brings back to memory.  Track 2, "You and the Night and the Music", takes me into slightly different streets... still dark, but with smoke rising out of hookahs, rather than expensive cigarettes & cocktails.... very "eastern" rhythms on this one.  My favorite cut on the album is an original from Andrea, titled "Gray, Not Blue"... though you'll find strong blue in the cut, to be sure.  Once she starts her vocal on this one, you won't be able to escape... except into th' "down" atmosphere she draws you into; very laid-back environment that will make you feel it!   If you want a relaxing, yet highly inspired, bluesy interlude (that will stay in your collection for many years to come), this one comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED... it hits the street 'round September 6th, 2005, so be there!  Get more information on the website at     Rotcod Zzaj

E-Rok and Blacklight - SONGS YOU CAN PLAY AND SING TO:  This CD provides a nice contrast to what we are often reviewing... acoustic stylings, wonderfully recorded guitars & strong lyric/vocals blend into alternative music that is alternative.  From the standpoint of composition, this music takes me back to early CSNY, though these folks have their own distinctive style, no doubt.  One of the things I check for (right away) these days is the CD itself... to see if the producers have "burned" the credits/titles onto the disk (using NERO, or something other than WMP).... this one didn't do that, so it takes an ever so slight "hit" for that.  That's only a minor crit, though, as it's definitely their music that will capture your ears & move your soul into "the zone".  They play with high spirit & full energy on all the songs, though there aren't a lot of "rockers" here.  My favorite track, rhythmically, is "Blows", track 7... & it turns out to be my favorite on the whole album.  Keep your ears on these folks, they'll be risin' on up th' chartz, no doubt about it.  I give this album a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone who wants to hear acoustic with real intrigue.  Get more information at their site,     Rotcod Zzaj

Stellamara - THE SEVEN VALLEYS On occasion, we get a few "New Age" recordings in for reviews... few are able to combine world energies into anything more than drone... while I have no objection to such, my ears yearn for melodies to intertwine with rhythm in a manner that challenges me to get up & MOVE in support of something, anything... & that's what "Stellamara" is able to accomplish.  Yes, there are some repetitive rhythmic stretches, but the composition & arrangement skills are able to keep the flow moving in the direction of inspiration.  This CD hits the streets on September, 13th, 2005, & if you want music that is soothing, yet challenging - "The Seven Valleys" will take your ears to a level that bounds beyond the "comfort zone", & on into musical adventure.  Lead vocals by Sonja Drakulich have much to do with the energy quotient involved here, but the other players (far too many to itemize here) are just as intimately involved in layering the sonic canvas so that you will be (quickly) drawn into their world of enchanted aural imagery.  I like this one well enough to rate it as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all who love New Age with more!  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Matthew Thomas Band - LIVE AT UNCOMMON GROUND:  After to listening to a nice set with these guys at a local Olympia coffee house (The Java Flow, now with a new owner), I asked if they had a CD... fortunately for our ears, they handed one off for me to review.  No fancy artwork, just the above titled album in a green jacket.  What impressed me in the short live set I listened to is how "natural" they seemed playing original material... nice folk/electric rockin' compz infused with real energy & spirit!  The CD sounded even better, probably because there were an even dozen songs that just kinda' "flowed" across my ears.  No credit listings (but, they were forwarded to me later - here they are:  Matthew Brenna: Lead Guitar/vocals/song writer/Thomas Rorem: Guita/vocals/song writer/PeterSloan: Bass/Rian Beaird: Drums), since there wasn't any kind of booklet, or tray insert... also, I'd recommend burning the CD with something like NERO, so the track titles/listings/credits can be visible as the album plays.  They've got a broad range of talent for basic guitars/bass/drums, & where their talent really shines is in their lyrical skill.  Well crafted, with no hint of being "overbearing", I really enjoyed their songs.  You'll want to keep your ears out for this band - they've got some real potential!  Get more information via e-mail to     Rotcod Zzaj

Moutin Reunion Quartet - SOMETHING LIKE NOW:  Superb sonics & excellent jazz composition will make this a reunion you'll wish you'd been there for... & with this CD, you can (at least for a few) feel like you are.  The recording has an "intimate" feel... not just the playing, but the recording itself... I'm not exactly sure why it comes across that way, but it does.  You'll want to be in line on August 30th, 2005, when this is released in stores... it's that pleasant a listening experience.  Siblings Louis (drums) & François (bass) Moutin are joined by a most excellent pianist, Pierre de Bethmann & sax player Rick Margitza.  All of the tracks but one are all original, which makes the experience ever more exciting for these ol' ears... totally fresh ideas that are expressed with total energy & will challenge your ears to reach new plateaus.  This is one of the best jazz albums I've listened to this year, & it comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz buffs who want pure creativity flowing into their ears!  Get more information about the band, their tours & listen to some samples at     Rotcod Zzaj

Margie Baker and Friends - LIVE AT BACH:  There are two words that come to mind when you listen to Ms. Baker's soulful jazz singing skills here - FRIENDLY MUSIC.  Her vocals are charged with what that "good ol' soul" is s'posed to be all about - "the SPIRIT" - this kind of talent doesn't come from inside (alone) - some higher power is involved!  With "friends" like Omar Clay (Drums), Fred Berry (trumpet) & Rodney Jones (guitar), just to name a few, this CD can't help but be a jazz classic!  What makes this musical experience even more wonderful is that it's live... it's really hard to get all the players/elements to come together well enough on a recording to release it, when you don't have the studio tricks to lean on.  You'd better be prepared for this one, though... zone out a couple of hours, pull up a jar of your favorite poison & sit back & please yourself with 2 albums worth of sonic solitude.  Now, that's not to say that it's all e-z listening, either... when she rolls on into "Gimme A Pigfoot", you'll hear just how "down-home" Margie is... all I can think of while I listen to her perform this is starched (but stained) white Van Heusen shirts on a Saturday afternoon in the park.  This is, without question, the most entertaining female vocal album I've heard in a long, long time - it gets my "PICK" for "best female jazz vocal album" of 2005, as well as our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating!  Superb music!  Get more information at CAP Records, via     Rotcod Zzaj

OnOffOn - BRIDGE TO PRESAGE One of the main reasons I fell in love with this group so many years ago (mid-to-late '90's) is because they always bring freshness to the musical arena with their compositions.  You often read (or hear) statements like that about musical groups, but this band continues to amaze.  All instrumental on this 'round, with an almost "classical" underpinning, they have successfully painted sonic images that illustrates their (musical) vision of a world that emphasizes what should be our focus (as quoted from the liners) - "Humanity, Peace and Remembrance".  Bassist Von Babasin sent this as a review copy (I've been corresponding with him ever since I first heard the band), & are we glad he did.  They've incorporated their jazz/blues roots into the tunes, especially on tunes (track 3) like "Ostinato" (my favorite on the album, in great part because of new member Glen Garrett's superb sax work... but all the players smoke on this cut.   My first listens to this superb music were when they were a trio... Don Lake (guitar), Von (bass, as already mentioned) & Dave Goode ( drums).  The addition of Marcus Duke's piano, & guests Ron King doing trumpet & flugelhorn work, as well as Bob McChesney's trombone excellence offer a new dimension, to be sure.  If your ears thirst for music that is in a new dimension, you'll surely agree that this keeper is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  To get more information, visit them at     Rotcod Zzaj

Positive Knowledge - FIRST ONES:  You don't have to be a rabid fan of spoken-word artistry to enjoy this collective from San Francisco - but it does help to be in that category.  It also pays to enjoy reeds, like the bass clarinet & saxes played by Oluyemi Thomas, & the word artistry performed by Igeoma Thomas.  While I'm not religious about my penchant for spoken-word, I do believe it's important for children (& adults who are still children at heart) to grasp the significance of "word-istry" as it relates to music.  & folks like this, as well as Spirit on drums & percussion & Ike Levin on tenor sax, clarinet & percussion are among the best to listen to if you want to pursue this unique street of dreams.  The most notable thing about the performances on this particular album is the degree of freedom & energy they project.  "Never a dull moment" is an axiom that CERTAINLY applies here.  I enjoyed this thoroughly, & if your mind is open enough, you surely will, too.  I rate it MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who love to hear what creativity in music truly is.  To get more info, go to     Rotcod Zzaj

Steve Heckman Quartet - LIVE AT YOSHI'S Steve's tenor & soprano sax skills are at the top of the stack, & this excellent recording will make your ears just stand up & listen!  The quartet is rounded out by Matt Clark's great piano work, bouncing bass from Karen Horner & beautiful drum work by Jemal Ramirez; all the players are in total communion with each other, whether on Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" (the opener), Coltrane's "Equinox", or one of the several Heckman originals.  My favorite cut on the album is Steve's "Ode To The Sunsinger", which blends old "smoky-room" beats with modern & spirit-filled soprano beauty to bring all the power of jazz to your yearning ears.  If you can't hear the soul in his compositions, you're not of the "jazz persuasion" anyway, so move on to another rack.  The quartet is totally in communication, especially considering that this album was captured live... harmonically & rhythmically, this is some of the best work I've heard this year.  We give this an immediate MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any & all who can't bear to be without the most hip jazz in their collection.  A SUPERB jazz CD that will rise to the top of the charts in stellar fashion.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Mark Sherman - ONE STEP CLOSER:  Must have been "jazz heaven" that Mark had in mind when he titled this CD... 'coz that is where this music will take you - at least if you're a "jazz-head", that is.  His vibraphone work is brilliant, shining jazz that will get your motor running!  We've been reviewing his great works since about 1995 or so... all the way back to issue # 36... about 4 CD's thus farly... I'm sure that's why they keep coming our way, 'coz everything I've ever heard from him had real panache & spirit - & "One Step Closer" takes him (& you, the listener) ever nearer Nirvana, to be sure.  This one will be on the racks in your favorite local store around September 6th, 2005, & you'll want to be first in line to snatch this one up.  He's joined by some really strong players... Joe Lovano does tenor sax, Joe Magnarelli on trumpet & flugelhorn, Allen Farnham on piano, Dean Johnson's bass & Tim Horner on drums.  Once again, Mark has put together a truly classic jazz set that you'll want to stay in your "active" collection.  Nearly all original (& new) pieces, you'll fall in love immediately with his skill & energy... my favorite on this album was "Spiritual Exercise"... it's the kind of tune (particularly because of the vibes) that will spur you to get connected again - no slothful spirits here, I can tell you.  This CD gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who love jazz that kicks tail!  Get more information through his site, at    Rotcod Zzaj

Lisa Bell - IT'S ALL ABOUT LOVE I wouldn't call this wonderful CD "strictly jazz"... there are elements of everything th' world 'round us is about... but it's clear that Ms. Bell is fully capable in the vocal jazz arena.  Her voice is classic... full-bodied & laden with emotion.  The title track is (actually) my favorite, & in addition to the great lead vocals, it's been arranged to make the background vocals stand out, too.  I'm really, really impressed with this lady's crystal-clear talent.  Cut 3, "Don't Wait Forever" takes on a real Latino feel, & is running a close second for my favorite pick... Lisa switches styles easily, & her voice is right on the rhythms... your feet will be beggin' you to get up & dance th' night away.  "Ain't Divorce Grand" will make you feel th' hurt, & if you ain't had "the blues" before, you'll know how they feel at the end of this one.  This album is our first listen to Lisa's work... she's a total pro, the recording is excellent & my ears give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any listener who wants to hear talent that shines ever so brightly!  Get more information, or purchase the CD, at     Rotcod Zzaj

Angelyna Martinez - LABOR OF LOVE:  This must be "female jazz vocalist" month at this 'zine... we've already pulled 2 or 3 marvelous CD's out of the stack that feature jazz-oriented vocals... Ms. Martinez knows how ta' belt 'em down, with real verve & gutsy lines that come straight from th' soul!  Her real vocal talent is in "capturing" the listener, like a true siren!  After listening through several times already, it's clear why director Tim Burton declared Angelyna's vocals to be "simply beautiful".  The recording is excellent, with a wonderful blend of instruments that put her voice right out where it belongs - in FRONT!  This makes for a very pleasant listen for anyone who wants jazz with heart, especially if you want to hear some "new" interpretations of old standard jazz tracks.  I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, to be sure.  If you want to hear what "fresh" sounds like, get this one... you can get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Kenny Carr - FRIDAY AT FIVE If yer' soul's hankerin' for some down & dur-tee blooz' influenced guitar music, you'll just love what Kenny does on this great CD.  & if you're wondering why or how he got "hold o' that soul", it's probably got a lot to do with the fact that he played as Ray Charles lead guitarist for over 10 years.  I'm talkin' about some scorching tunes, heavily jazz & R&B influenced, that will take ya' down home, folks.  The tunes were recorded way back in '97, & (somehow) wound up on a shelf - man, we're glad they got released, 'coz there's some shining energy here, & Carr & his fellow players (Andy Hess on bass, Donny McCaslin doing tenor sax, John Dryden on keyboards, Tony Mason's drums & John Bailey on trumpet) are absolutely tight on all the tracks.  That title trak is my favorite, genuine funk&groove that'll make ya' MOVE!  I don't hear great R&B influenced guitar compositions like this all that much these days, so it's a real treat for my ears.  Real/legitimate musical magic that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best R&B/jazz guitar sound".  This one is a "keeper" for sure!  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Joan Crowe - BIRD ON THE WIRE:  When "Fever" comes crooning out of th' speakers with th' same intensity as Peggy performed it with, yet with Joan's own unique spirit/take on it, your ears know you've snatched a true winner.  Ms. Crowe's vocals on these wonderful jazz are full of pure energy & dedication to putting th' listener in th' "pleasant zone".  The whole idea on this CD is that the ears of those who are catching the sonics must be entertained... no drab messages, or worn-out cliché songs, in fact every moment on each song is full of emotion & talent.  My favorite cut was "Twisted", 'coz it displays shining talent, boogie'in' blooz energy & humorous intent through & through.  This is one of the best jazz vocal CD's I've heard (yet) this year, & we certainly look forward to hearin' more from Joan in the future.  This one gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ol' ears... hit th' stores when it hits the streets 'round August 16th, 2005.  Get more information on Joan's site at     Rotcod Zzaj

Tom Furgas - RELAY MUSIC 2005 This great little CD features long-time home-recorder Furgas doing some pieces that feel much more in the "ambient" zone than I've heard him do before... that may not be because he hasn't done such before, just that I hadn't heard them before.  No matter, the opener ("York Factory B") clocks in at over 17 minutes, & will (if you relax & let it) take you through a land of total enchantment.  There are some really deep moments in the listening; you'll feel like you're at the edge of some far-away galaxy, in some "godlike" position, able to shape & move planets, suns & stars.  Truly majestic scope, with broad vistas painted clearly & sweetly for your aural appendages.  This is an astounding album that instantly merits our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating.  Get more information from the label, via e-mail to    Rotcod Zzaj

The Mars Dark - THE MARS DARK I'm pretty sure the main reason we received this CD for review is because our (long-time) friend Don Campau was a part of the recording project.  & of course, he knew it would be a big HIT here.  You'll easily understand the title when you are told the artist's names - Myke Marrs (Kansas City), Josh Mars (Monterey, CA), Don Campau (Santa Rosa, CA) & Dr. Calvin Marze (Carmel, CA).  They started (as so many of the home-taper crew, myself included) with analog tape... circulating, re-recording & (carefully) digitally re-mastering their sonic experiments/manipulations to the final product... a very interesting CD that explores depths & heights of signal previously untapped.  This is a different kind of project than any I've heard Mr. Campau on before... much more in the experimental realm - even borders on the edges of industrial in spots.  Some intriguing vocal backgrounds & psychotic word meanderings add spice, too.  All in all, a very good CD that listeners who prefer adventures in sound (as opposed to the "comfort zone") will relish thoroughly.  I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Get more information via e-mail to    Rotcod Zzaj

Darren Hume - LIGHTNING WOMAN If ROCK is yer' forte, you won't be able to do WITHOUT this one... there are real varieties on this CD, it's not "poppy plastic", as are so many these days... Mr. Hume hails from Australia, so I've no doubt we'll be hearin' tunes like "Crocodile Man", or the (VERY interesting) "Rattlesnake Rose" at th' local "Outback" steakhouse... sorta' subliminal, to get ya' hooked on Darren's upbeat interpretations of what RAWK is!  Solid lyrical style, talent galore & a spirit of "fun" will kinda' take you back to what this music started out to be on our shores.  His tunes aren't (quite) as psychedelic as th' Fab Four got to be... more like when they first started out (I Wanna' Hold Your Hand, & such)... but, they somehow remind me of those daze, not sure why.  The key here is that if you're thirsting for some HEAV-y improv... yer' not gonna' find it here - but if you enjoy cute tunes with some depth, you'll dig this.  I give it a RECOMMENDED for those who want more than just bubblegum-rock.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Jim Self - INNERPLAY:  This great little jazz CD will be officially released on August 1st, 2005... I'd never listened to Jim before, but he plays jazz tuba/flugelhorn & (what he calls) "Fluba"... some of th' most relaxing music I've listened to (yet) this year.  There's often a tendency for tuba to come off sounding too "intrusive" in the mix, 'specially when it's a jazz set... but the arrangements & mix on "InnerPlay" ensure that you'll hear Jim's work as a part of the quartet - without the intrusiveness... I'm tellin' you folks, this recording (and Self's playing, of course) is excellent!   Since most of you who read here often know I always enjoy originals better than covers, it will come as no surprise that I liked his "That Morning In May" better than any of the other tracks.  That's not to minimize the impact of any of the other tunes, though... the opener, Herbie Hancock's "Speak Like A Child" is a winner, too!  If you're looking for a CD that will last (in your collection) for years to come... that you'll never tire of hearing... this is IT!  This one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from our ears, & we're sure your ears will agree!  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Mark Weinstein - ALGO MAS When you look at the CD jacket, & see the Latin theme, you may say to yourself (ever so quietly), "another Latin band".  It's a natural tendency, in fact I did it... BUT, you'd be cheating your ears (not to mention your spirit) if you passed on this one.  Some simply beautiful flute/guitar/percussive works that won't melt away from your mind anytime soon.  Pedro Martinez vocals have a lot to do with why it holds that Latin "flavor", but the compositions have been very carefully crafted to exercise your mind & keep you alert.  Mark's flutes are a feature, as you might imagine, but the percussion players (too many to itemize here) are clearly "IN" to what they are doing.  The other really neat thing about this album is the superbly high levels of creativity... I can guarantee you - you've never heard a more creative Latin-Jazz oriented CD than this one.  It's an amazing listen - I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best Latin creative jazz"!  You can get more information about the players & purchase the CD at     Rotcod Zzaj

Vince Seneri - STREET TALK:  If you love Hammond B3, you will NOT want to miss this one (when it hits the streets on September 1st)... it's my first listen to Vince's work, & after only one spin, I know I wanna' hear MO', mo' - MORE!  He's joined by a cast of players far too long to list here... guitar, drums, percussion, tenor sax & some straight-ahead flute... all the players are "on", great energy all the way through the CD.  The "feature", though, is that deep-throated organ... I (literally) grew up on jazz like this... Vince's original, "Organ Boogaloo" boogies along with all th' soul & verve I remember from th' '70's & '80's jazz (organ) masters.  It's clear he has many influences, but he's a player after my own heart... 'coz he's pure, not tryin' to sound like anyone else!  The album will carry you away to funk/jazz heaven, I'll tell ya'... a real variety of styles, well recorded & in high-energy mode from th' opening bar to th' very last chord.  I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any & all listeners who love organ jazz!  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Thomas Barth - BEYOND BLACK & WHITE:  This Austrian keyboardist has put together some very calm/collected compositions for listeners who want to feel the "heart" of a chord (or a series of them).  It isn't "jazz", per se, nor can it be lumped in the (dreaded) "New Age" category... it's pure emotion... laid back most of th' time, as on the opener, "Father To Son", or with "spooky" intros, as on "Where I Come From".  The word that comes to mind when listening through Thomas' solos is "new"... not new in the sense of "never been done before"; rather, it's new because it's "his take" on what's around him, and his talent is clearly in communicating to the listener exactly what his feeling is.  I found this a very pleasant listen.. it gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all those who like something in between jazz & new age that isn't cliché-laden.  Get more information on Thomas' site, at     Rotcod Zzaj

Dancing Dogs - PATIENCE:  This music reminds me of the excitement I had when I first listened to Bobby McFerrin... NOT of Bobby's music, per se, but the energy behind it for having created somethin' nobody could ram in a pigeonhole!  These "Dogs" are one kickin' bunch... yah, it's jazzy, but there are also scorching guitar leads (from Jim Robitalle), after the fashion of SRV, & maybe even a coupla' moments of F.Z.  Somewhere along th' way, great lil' snatches of New Orleans... lil' Dr. John in there, fo' sho'!  Horns from Tom Short & Joe Rapoza whip up some zerious frenzy on "Haute Tamale", then some smokin' funk when "Can You Get To That" comes steppin' on th' scene.  If th' band could be accused of anything, it would be havin' too many styles.  My favorite cut on the album, "Tribes" (track 7) is about as free as fusion can get, 'specially with Matt Rykebush's bass,  John Nieman's drums & Jimi Beauregard's percz' forming such a solid underpinning for the rest of the players... I'm tellin' ya' folks, this one gets a place of honor in th' Zzaj collection - it goes in the OFFICE library (& there aren't too many that get to do that).  This is some of the best & most original music I've listened to this year... it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears!  Get more info, or buy the CD at    Rotcod Zzaj

Chris Mcnulty - DANCE DELICIOSO:  If you're not in a jazz mood, you will be when you listen to the title track.. Chris's vocals are solid, yet sultry, & will capture your heart immediately, not to mention your ears... it's my favorite cut on the CD.  She's backed by about 12 players, not to mention the 4 member vocal (backing) group.  The recording is superb, & will have jazz fans dazed for days.  This lady isn't afraid to step into new territory, & it's evident from the broad range of styles on the album... she sings material by Annie Lennox, Cole Porter & Bobby Troup - & does it her own way!  True talent is rare, but it's clear that Ms. Mcnulty has it in spades... along with a joy for singing that communicates to the listener without her having to try (or so it sounds).  You won't find an album quite as timeless again this year, I'll bet you... if you love great jazz vocals, you'll HAVE to get this one!  This gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best female jazz vocals".  Cool jazz, but with vigor!  Get more information at her site -     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, you will be BLACKLISTED on this site!!!)

NOTE:  You can also purchase any of these CD's (use your credit card) by going to our HOMEMADEMUSIC catalog page!



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