Issue # 88 REVIEWS
New! New! New! Zzaj PODCAST!
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!
I've played in over 65 "bands" . We will highlight a few of these bands in this (and future) issues.
Featured Zzaj band for issue #82 - Detroit Improv Duo (these don't auto-start - CLICK the PLAY button to listen while you read our reviews - or don't, totally up to you!).
This grouping featured Pontiac, Michigan guitarist extraordinaire Jim Konen, with me on Kurzweill PC 88. On "The Fasttrack", Jim played horn on his guitar synth - VERY interesting sounds. The first two tracks also featured drummer Jim Russell, from Olympia, Washington. ENJOY!
Steve Khan - THE SUITCASE (CD1): Will wonders never cease... only 2 weeks into FACEBOOK & I manage to hookup (directly) with one of the most qualified guitarists I've ever heard (& we had heard/reviewed him in issue #35, with Rob Mounsey on keyboards)... next thing I know (only a few days later), a package of CD's falls out of the mailslot with this 2008 release at the top of the stack. It's clear that this album is much different from that earlier release, in fact it's simply astounding... it's not only that Steve's guitar whomps you right between the ears with his ability to lay back & then turn right around & solo you to the top of the excitement bar... it's also that his coplayers (Anthony Jackson on contrabass & Dennis Chambers on drums) are right inside Khan's head (or vice-versa). Any way you listen to it, the 6 originals and 2 covers (one from Lee Morgan, the other from Monk) will take you on a trip to the edges of the galaxy & back... what's in this suitcase is just what you need to enhance such a journey, & will provide light years of listening for jazz fans dedicated to the overarching principle (that "original" and "creative" are the fuels of the universe). The other sweet thing about the voyage is that you get 2 CD's capturing this 1994 live performance in Köln Germany totaling just over 2 hours. From the standpoint of percussion mixed with SMOKE-hot guitar/bass, I found the opening track to be my favorite on the first CD... "Where's Mumphrey?" (this is only a short sample; if you want the whole track, you'll need to purchase the CD)... once Steve's guitar & Jackson's contrabass start popping together, you'll think you're at the edge of a great black hole, with nothing but stellar energy! & this is only the first CD... the 2nd one will be reviewed in our next issue. I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (in the immediate) for anyone who "thinks" they are a jazzhead, but hasn't experienced Steve's unique blend of beautiful playing! Get lots more information at http://stevekhan.com/discog20.htm Rotcod Zzaj
Jason Rigby - THE SAGE: Jason's tenor & soprano sax adventures will have those of you who have ridden the jazz cruise for all these many years back on mem'ry lane in only moments... from the opening bars all the way through the end of the 8th cut, this thing just (absolutely) SMOKES, people! He's running (basically) a quintet formation, with red-hot players like Russ Johnson on trumpet, superb Fender Rhodes from Mike Holober, excellent bass from Cameron Brown & scorching drums by Gerald Cleaver. Listening to Rigby immediately evokes aural visions of Ornette, & even Coltrane, and easily transports me back to smoke-filled dens where my ears got their first exposure to those kind of musical giants. The players here sound like they are "locked at the brain", no "slippage", and no treading over each other... because of Holober's Rhodes, I'm also reminded of Weather Report... it's not a style exactly like Zawinul, but close enough that I can't help but think about that kind of high energy! If you think all the "dynamite" is gone from jazz, & that the quality has been lost... you're wrong... this is about as tasty (and explosive) as jazz gets - I'm not just impressed, I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! A few samples (from their recent Europe tour) are at www.jasonrigby.net/Music.html Get more information at www.jasonrigby.net Rotcod Zzaj
Bob Sneider & Paul Hofmann - ESCAPADE: This grand little CD (from 2006) goes to show that good music can never be "too late"... we do apologize for not having reviewed it until now, but Bob's energetic guitar and Hoffman's masterful piano works make for a jazz adventure you won't soon forget! The recording is flawless and full of bright moments that shine light in your soul that you probably haven't heard for quite some time. There are a total of 19 superb duet works here, & all but 6 are originals... which, as many of you know, is what "makes" it for this reviewer... the player/composer just seems to have a lot more "invested" when it's their own piece they are performing. Hoffman's "New Invention No. 15" is my favorite track on the CD, though "Bob's Bossa" (a Sneider composition) really highlights both of the players chops. I really enjoyed this outing, & rate it with a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Cool jazz for nice days of listening. Get more information (& the liners) at http://sonsofsound.com/recordings/sspcd030/liners.html Rotcod Zzaj
John Wubbenhorst - FACING EAST: To be quite frank, I didn't realize we had reviewed John's fantastic and soul-satisfying works until I hooked up with him on FACEBOOK. When I dug around a bit, though, I realized that Facing East's "FACING BELOVED" was in issue #63. We were highly impressed then, and even moreso now... this 1999 release conveys all the intricacy and joyful celebration you might expect from the music of India, but weaves that spirit in with tributes to jazz names like Corea and Paul Horn. It's clear that John has immersed himself in the music of India so deeply that he may never come back out - which is quite OK with us, and will be with you as well... there are few players today who can convey LIFE through the flute, bansuri, keyboards and tamboura as masterfully and tastefully as Mr. Wubbenhorst. The list of players who join him on this outing is far too long to capture here, but I will mention that tabla player Sandip Burman is a part of the lineup. This is an amazing adventure that will stay at the top of your stack, even if you're a "jazz purist"... I rate it as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & give it the "PICK" of this issue for "most creative cross-cultural jazz". Get more information at John's label site - www.facingeast.com/ - & be sure to tell him that we sent you. Rotcod Zzaj
Charlie Apicella & Iron City - PUT THE FLAVOR ON IT: & there's lil' doubt that (in addition to some fine energetic jazz), the flavor is FUNKy! Apicella's splendid guitars join a jumpin' Hammond organ by Beau Sasser & drums by Alan Korzin to transport you to the side of town where you can't stop shakin' those hips! If you can't/won't dance to this, you ain't got NO soul & probably never did have one... I keep thinking about old James Brown tunes like "Lickin' Stick" & the like... stuff that was made to get your groove moving & keep it that way all nite. Their MYSPACE page (the only place I could find to listen to their tracks) states that their mission is " to keep the people's feet tappin', heads bobbin' & groove, groove, groove... & it's very clear to my ears that this is "mission accomplished". They had me dancing all across my basement studio as I listened through "Put The Flavor On" for the 5th time... there may be some in the jazz community (you know, the intellectuals) who will say that this isn't "true" jazz... bunk - it's got the SOUL... the spirit... & the (definite) GROOVE - I rate it as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Visit them at MYSPACE (link above) to get more information & hear samples of their tunes, or purchase (they do it all online only). Rotcod Zzaj
The Rocco John Group - DEVOTION: We have been diggin' on Rocco's sounds ever since we reviewed his "DON'T WAIT TOO LONG" CD in issue #79... the keyword in that review was "no compromise", & that holds true on the "DEVOTION" CD as well. Rocco mentions having played with/under/for Sam Rivers... the tuneage that reminds me most of all the "Sam" stuff I've listened to over the years is "Freedom Theme 1 and 2", where you get to hear Rocco's sax see-saw 'round through some mighty complex free space... this is my favorite piece on the album! There are a couple of others that stood out for me as well... "Bass Talk" catches some superb interplay (almost call/response) between the horns, the bass... even the drums are talking. "Dreams" came across with a very "eastern" feel, probably because of the percussion intro. Those listeners who can't get enough reed/horn talent will place this at the top of their playlists, & it won't move down anytime soon. An excellent jazz excursion that is accessible to all, but that holds the line & doesn't yield to the (evermore dreaded) "smooth" jazz tendencies... this is the REAL stuff, & it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears - as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best sax-based jazz album"! Get more information at www.roccojohnmusic.com Rotcod Zzaj
Frank Carlberg - THE AMERICAN DREAM: The jazz on this marvelous little CD is absolutely astounding... based on an even dozen poems by Robert Creely, with vocalizations by Christine Correa that will put you on a roller coaster, this is definitely jazz, but "sophisticated" (for lack of a better word). In many ways, I hear it as a sort of jazz "opera", though it's got far more energy and movement than that conveys... give a listen to "Speech", & you can hear what I mean for yourself; not just well-planned, but perfectly executed through & through. The tune that's my favorite, though, is "Sentences", which melds the words in between the bass strings and piano lines to create a verbal/musical adventure like you've NEVER heard before - lots of players/performers have tried to pull this off before, but seldom succeeded as clearly & crisply as Carlberg's magical quintet. Some of my attraction probably has to do with the fact that I perform a few spoken word and vocal pieces myself, but anyone with a discerning ear for jazz will fall in love with this one by the second track. I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Get more information at http://www.myspace.com/frankcarlberg Rotcod Zzaj
Matt Criscuolo - MELANCHOLIA: Wikipedia defines melancholia as a "disease or ailment being caused by an imbalance in one or other of the four basic bodily fluids, or humours"... well, "ill" is about the farthest from how I feel as I listen (for the fourth or fifth time) through Matt's splendid alto saxophone work! It is true that he can "put you in a mood", and there are (some) dark tones in the music, but he contrasts those very nicely with the high side of his spirit... that's especially true about 2 minutes into "Pensivity", absolutely my favorite cut on the CD! His extensive use of strings as counterpoint to his leads (check out "Tell Me A Bedtime Story") is very pleasing to the ear, and will take you back to your own kind of melancholy. This is our first listen to Matt's excellent talent & I know it won't be the last.... the keyword that comes to me when listening to these superb tunes is "power"... that's exactly how his reeds (and the compositions) make you feel... full of POWER to deal with anything that comes your way. "Melancholia" gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from these ears! Get more information at www.mattcriscuolo.com Rotcod Zzaj
Matthew Montfort - SEVEN SERENADES FOR SCALLOPED FRETBOARD GUITAR: I reviewed a CD (a long time ago, in issue #57) called "Planet Passion", not realizing that it was Matthew who had pulled that effort together. While talking with him recently, he mentioned this release, so (of course) I asked him to send it my way... when he titles it "serenades", he isn't kidding. Even if you've never been totally attracted to music labeled "New Age" or "World", you will find something you can enjoy on this magical sonic journey; it is full of rich and totally engaging compositions that easily capture you and keep you listening. My particular favorite was his improvised piece titled "Soul Serenade", track 3... I'm assuming that is because it is in E minor, with a distinctive feel of blues combined with hope. My other favorite piece was "Purple Raga"... Montfort's willingness to let the music just "flow", without forcing it to move in a particular direction, shows more skill at improvisation than many self-proclaimed improv "masters" have. A wonderful musical excursion that is all based on the moment as the motive... this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as our "PICK" of this issue for "best guitar improvisation". Get more information at www.ancient-future.com/serenade.html Rotcod Zzaj
Matt Finley - BRAZILIAN WISH: After listening to only the first few bars of Matt's horn on the opener, "Father's Day", I knew we had another winner, folks... he's an all-round talent, & besides trumpet & flugelhorn, he also plays flute and soprano sax! Though he's been at this music thing for over 45 years, this is my first listen to his excellent talent; I can tell you now, I hope to be hearing many more of his works. I suspect one of the reasons I like this particular CD so much is that all 9 of the pieces are original Finley compositions... the energy is scorching, as it always seems to be when the player has a "stake" in the outcome... "When She's Gone" features some stunning keyboards by Jon Werking as it opens, but the whole group is focused clearly on making this track come alive. Another excellent piece that keeps the Latin flavor, but stays unquestionably in the jazz lane is "Another Year" - it's my favorite on the CD. Matt's work will be in my ears for a long time - this one is a KEEPER, & gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, especially for jazz lovers who dig a little Latin flavoring! Get more information at www.mattfinley.com/ Rotcod Zzaj
John Wubbenhorst/Otto Probst - BREATH OF DEVOTION: Much more than simple beauty is conveyed with these gentle and soothing works by Wubbenhorst & Probst. John's flute, joined together with keyboard samples (kalimba, vibraphone, santoor, strings & others) is most notable for it's calm, spontaneous & fluid sound sculptures... the keyword being spontaneity! This isn't wild, undisciplined improvisation, but it isn't rigidly structured World music that bores the listener with repetition to the n'th degree... I've played on sessions similar, but none had were able to express quite the levels of inner sanity that "Breath" does! We do have a few "hardcore" jazz listeners in our readership here, but even the most rabid could use a listen to this wonderful music... it helps one to focus on any idea or task they are contemplating, and languishes in the mind to come back the next day, or the next week, or somewhere along the journey. I have been through some therapies in my time that recommend "soothing" music as a backdrop for meditation... this would (no doubt in my mind) have been among the top choices for healing music. I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "most health-inspiring" CD. Get the CD at www.dawnhorsepress.com/ProductDetail.aspx?PID=3701 Rotcod Zzaj
Joe Nickerson (aka Rapster) - RAPSTER GUITARS IT: We are hepped to the MAX... volkz... I've been listening to Rapster for (at least) 3 or 4 years now at various OMD's (Online Music Distributors), including the original (& best) MIX, as well as the ANUBES discussion list... when I first heard him, his gig seemed more oriented towards rap than anything, but as we became better acquainted, I realized that his real talent was the guitar, not to mention that he had significant jazz chops. This debut release shows all of his shining facets... on "Funkin' With Bob" he goes stellar on you, boring his way through wormholes and galactic ice with his guitar in various time signatures that will have all those "wannabe" guitarists scrabbling furiously to find guitar sheets to show them how he plays. Somehow, I don't think Joe's style can be "mass produced"... he IS his "own player", & his vocals just ooze cool, in a sorta' Tom Waits lounge lizard fashion, if you can imagine that... if you don't believe me, listen to the combo of his late-nite jazz-room funky guitar & his vocal on "Done It Again"... heck, even B.B. would be envious of this one. My favorite piece, though, especially from my own funk/jazz leanings is "Got That Mojo On"... snaky guitar lines & (once again) Rapster's way-hip singin' take me back into a slip-slidin'/moon walkin' zone I used to trod th' sidewalks of the world in. For any & all fans of guitar jazz/blues/funk (& a lil' taste o' rap), this one gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating. Get more information at his MYSPACE page. (One last note... you'll also find a very solid INTERVIEW with Rapster in this issue!) Rotcod Zzaj
Steve Khan - THE SUITCASE (CD2): The sonic adventure mentioned at the beginning of this page continues... one aspect of this recording I failed to emphasize properly in the earlier review is that it's a live show... that always adds a degree of "extra", I think, if the recording is done right - & this one truly is! Some albums just "try too hard" to capture the ambience, but "Suitcase" keeps the focus on the musical mastery being presented, rather than 2-minute clap sessions. You'll really hear that on cut 13, "Dedicated To You" (once again, only short samples - get the album if you want to hear the whole thing)... it's one of the mellowest jazz guitar pieces I've heard in all my 60 years, and will wrap you right up in the aural wonders Khan weaves; the bass work by Anthony Jackson sounds like it's all coming from the same player - these folks are seamless! My favorite piece on the album, though is "Caribbean Fire Dance", a Joe Henderson piece... highly energetic all the way thru, it clocks in at 18 minutes... a sonic adventure in/of itself, with superb drum solo work from Dennis Chambers (starting at about 4:40). If you are a dedicated jazz guitar fan, this double CD is a must-have! As with the first review, I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.... this is some of the most lively ! Get lots more information at http://stevekhan.com/discog20.htm Rotcod Zzaj
Mariah Parker - SANGRIA: Little question that this issue will be chock-full of inspiring music... the packages I received from the Ancient Future (Matthew Montfort) and Facing East (John Wubbenhorst) labels alone had true gems for fans of world/jazz/fusion in them. I still haven't quite figured our Mariah's reason for titling this CD as she did, since in both Portuguese and Spanish it means "bloody"... though, of course, it does also mean a rich red wine... that's more what I hear on her compositions here... full-bodied and brimming with life. Though her album is on Mr. Montfort's label, there is a strong current of jazz through all 8 pieces, especially that of the Latin variety... just listen to "Debajo de la Lluvia" - pure piano magic, and my favorite piece on the CD. There are other equally engaging tracks, too.. I just loved her strong keyboard touch on "Pente" & "Tenth Journey", both of which give you a whole new take on jazz, blending "desert scat" in with English horn, if you can believe that... you'll have to listen to know what I mean. This is an all-round wonderful listening experience, full of beauty and energy... it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for fans of music that challenges the world 'round! Get more information at www.ancient-future.com/sangria.html Rotcod Zzaj
Tevet Sela - COMING TRUE: We first reviewed Tevet's marvelous saxophone in issue #78... this 'round seems to be a lot more in the funk vein... particularly when it comes to tunes like "Small Steps"; there's just a lot of bounce in Tevet's notes that makes the listener think - this = groove! It's actually the organ (Adam Gorlizki) on "Late Bloomer" that makes me declare this CD a funky masterpiece (this is my favorite cut on the album, by the way)... these two play together as though they were joined at the hip. The bass work on "Earth Hymn" is tight as you can imagine, & the drums are kickin' right along there, too! Some quieter pieces are woven in, too, especially those which feature the keyboards on the intro... very nice all around balance, but with a decidedly more "hopping" tone than the earlier one we reviewed. If you're a fan of jazz with young energy that's full of live, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! For the "official word", visit his site, at www.tevetsela.com or his site on Myspace - www.myspace.com/tevetsela Rotcod Zzaj
Blues Attitude - PAINTIN' THE BLUES WITH A PHAT BRUSH: It's always great to review music that has a more "local" bent... got to watch these guys in a local Olympia joint (right here on th' golf course where I live) called the "Fire Creek Ale House"... they didn't have the organ player (or the harp/horns) with 'em on that gig, & it makes a big difference on the CD. It's quite a lineup on this album, actually... JB Bentley on guitars, T. Bone on bass, Smoke on drums, Stan Foreman doing keyboards, Roy Monroe's harp & Rex Wolff on trumpet & flugelhorn. "Phat Brush" displays some serious talent for the blues, I'll tell you... they're tight all the way through, & come across just like I remember this kinda' music back in the old days when we used to listen to it ev'ry night! Foreman's organ, when it's up in the mix (as it is on one of my favorite trax, "Austin Bound" is the perfect foil for Bentley & T. Bone's guitar & bass... JB has a silky-smooth touch, but he can BELT 'em out on his leads, too... these guys KICK it on down, & if you didn't have th' blues (attitude) when you started listening, you surely will by the end of that tune. 7 of the pieces are originals, which always adds to the listening pleasure for this reviewer... so much more energy... my favorite on the album is their own "Stolen Thrills", probably because of the guitar leads and slick bass complimenting it. Very nicely mixed & full of musical surprises that will have you spinning this over & over again. JB told me they'll have another CD coming out soon, & we're definitely looking forward to it. This one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for blues fans around the globe! Get more information at www.bluesattitude.com & be sure to tell 'em Zzaj sent you! Rotcod Zzaj
Frank Macchia - SAXOLOLLAPALOOZA: As I listen through this walloping CD from Mr. Macchia for the third time, I can't help but think back to my childhood days & one of my comic-book heroes, Joe Palooka, who could whomp the snot out of any foe (& where I think the origin may lie for "lollapalooza" anyway). All the way from the opener, "Air Mail Special" to the closer, "That's A-Plenty", it's a rip-roarin' grand old time for those who dig the sound of a half-dozen crazed saxophonists playing tunes that will make you dig your spats out of the attic, so you can dance madly 'round the room. It's a sound blast (mostly) from the past that is pure and unadulterated fun for the listener! The recording shines with talent & Macchia has the arrangements down to a "T"... a most interesting album that merits a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from these old ears for all dedicated jazz fans! Get more information at www.frankmacchia.net/ Rotcod Zzaj
Anne Trenning - WATCHING FOR RAIN: It has been quite a while since we received beautiful music like this... I'm reminded of Suzanne Ciani's beautiful keyboard artistry as soon as I start spinning this CD. You can hear samples from "Watching For Rain" at Anne's MYSPACE page... for some reason, I can't help but think of the music behind the "Daniel Boone" TV series of long ago as I listen through this album for the 3rd or 4th time... may be the Welsh/Celtic influences I'm hearing in Trenning's keyboard style, not sure. The keyword for her work, though, I AM sure of... inspiring! Anne says (on her own description of the music here) that she hopes her work will help in the healing process we are all so anxious to see begin... if any music can help to start that process, it is "Watching For Rain". I'm highly impressed, & rate this musical extravaganza as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for lovers of music with beauty! Get more information at www.annetrenning.com Rotcod Zzaj
Beth McDonald - AT LAST, LOVE SONGS AND LULLABIES: This CD is like a jazz love song for Beth's children, but it's not "dumbed down" with kids stuff or "simple songs" - it's the full enchilada for jazz listeners, but the pace is relaxed & just as you might imagine if your mom were singing for you! She's joined by some excellent players (LouRainone & Wayne Wilentz on piano; Jay Miles & Tom Baldwin doing bass, Alan Dale on drums, Jon Mathis playing trumpet & guitar, Tim Leahy's trumpet/flugelhorn & Jared Denhard on Celtic harp), who play great straight-ahead jazz, but intersperse some very unique sounds in the mix (including the kids laughing their buns off). I wish I had the talent Beth displays for jazz vocals, but then, that's why she made the album & I didn't... ha! ha! Hardcore jazz-heads may not appreciate it, but I found it very entertaining and a perfect introduction to jazz for the kids in my life. I give this one a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, for sure! Get more information at www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=31883 Rotcod Zzaj
Deborah Latz - LIFELINE: Deborah opens with a French-language song, "Les Feuilles Mortes", but jazz is clearly her first tongue... she wraps you in the deep, rich tones that come lilting from her so easily, you won't realize how deftly she's captured your ears (and your heart) until days later. Too many covers to itemize here, but (as per usua), it was her original, "Jump In" that turned out to be my favorite cut... it is just vibrant, full of life and lyrically about as jazzy as I've heard in the last 5 years from a female jazz singer. & you've never heard a brighter version of "My Favorite Things", especially when she breaks her "scat" out! It's very apparent after listening to Deborah that she would be the one tossing the lifelines... she's supremely confident and in total mastery of her vocals & the supporting players. An exceptional album, no matter who you may compare her talent to... I can tell you, dear reader, you'll find this a treasure among treasures, & will listen to Latz over & over again. This one gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best female jazz singer". We surely hope to hear much more of her work, & I've no doubt you'll agree! Get more information at www.deborahlatz.com Rotcod Zzaj
DC Improvisers Collective - MEME + VARIATIONS: This improvised collection of live shows from around the D.C. area really hits the MARK... I'm immediately reminded of some of the wild early-'80's sessions we had up here in Olympia, Washington, as well as down in Birmingham, Alabama with Davey Williams & LaDonna Smith. The players on these sets are (primarily) Ben Azzara (drums); Daniel Barbiero (double bass); Jonathan Matis (guitar); & Mike Sebastian doing reeds... & they are KICKING it, folks! Lots of audience interaction, so you know it's not just the artists patting themselves on the back with a recording of what they did. The thing most striking about these pieces is that they are so on... there's no hesitation with any of the players - they just START it up... yet, they are all in SYNCH (something often hard to do on a live-improv recording). Sebastian's reeds kick in just after 7 minutes on the first track, "Affinity Is as Infinity Does", & they are smokin'! This piece runs the whole gamut... much like an "improv opera", if you will. Some listeners (those who haven't heard much improvised music before) will find this a difficult listen, but if you have any adventure left in your heart - THIS is the sonic journey you want to be on, no doubt! This one will stay in the rotation for a long time - it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me! Get more information at http://dcic.alkem.org/music.html Rotcod Zzaj
Bill Wimmer - PROJECT OMAHA: Though this is our first listen to Bill's work, we feel like we've known him for years... I suppose that may (partially) be because he has Dave Stryker doing guitar on this outing... but mostly, it's because Bill's jazz saxophone style is timeless... he just KICKS as leader! The CD doesn't hit the streets until April 7th this year, so there were no sound samples (that I could find) available... suffice it to say, though, that if you're a hardcore jazz fan, you'll search this one out & get in synch with Wimmer's great & fun jazz project! Bill says (in the promo liner notes) that band members chose the tunes with "an emphasis on the groove"... I'm telling you, readers, there aren't many bands these days that catch my ears as rapidly as Wimmer's energetic groove-based playing. My favorite cut was "Geo Rose", mainly because of the full-bodied introduction (&, yeah, I suspect the Rhodes/electric piano may have had something to do with it, too), excellent reed playing by Bill and sublime guitar solo section by Stryker. If you're looking for music full of life and high energy, this is your 2009 "first-pick"... I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED; & tell you that we expect to be hearing a lot more from this very talented player. Get more information at www.jazzpromoservices.com/links/ Rotcod Zzaj
Deanna Witkowski - FROM THIS PLACE: We seldom review "church" jazz albums in this magazine... not so much because we are inclined away from the spirit, but because my experience (in churches, many years ago) leads me to believe that so many efforts along those lines are dispirited, or more focused on the lyrics & dogmatic messages than the LIFE that jazz (and the Holy Spirit) were meant to convey. Since we've reviewed Deanna before, I didn't expect this would be one of those "lame" efforts at all... & is, in fact, why I agreed to review it. She's joined by names we've reviewed a lot before, like John Patitucci (bass), Donny McCaslin (sax), as well as Kate McGarry & Peter Eldridge, so that (alone) made me want to examine what she'd been able to pull together. Deanna's vocals on her 4 track "Evening Mass" (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei) are full and vibrant (on the Kyrie piece, she does solo vocal), but then when it moves to the second segment of the mass, "Gloria", she's joined by guest vocalists Laila Biali, Kate McGarry, and Peter Eldridge for some very well arranged and inspiring harmonies. Another (absolute) favorite track for me was Deanna's splendid rendition of "Pass Me Not", which I knew as "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior" so many moons ago... her instrumental introduction really builds up well - so that by the time she gets to the vocal, you're in the kind of receptive mood you must be in to let the spirit move you! Excellent jazz, excellent spiritual interpretation & MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who understand that jazz can be a place where the spirit wants to join you! Get more information (or purchase the CD) at www.deannawitkowski.com Rotcod Zzaj
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IF you are the FIRST e-mail respondent to this note (to
firstname.lastname@example.org - MAKE SURE
your subject states ALEX CD), you will
receive (free of charge) a copy of a superb jazz CD by Alex Kontorovich, titled
"DEEP MINOR" (which was reviewed in our last issue). We will have (some)
more freebies coming in future issues, so be sure & tell all your friends about
RETURN to Zzaj
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