Issue # 89 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!

Randy Granger - A PLACE CALLED PEACE:  There have been a lot more CD's with Native American flute of late - and we are very happy about that, to be sure.  I won't bother to itemize all of the excellent artists we've had doing this kind of music... suffice it to say that Randy stands right up there with many of the best in this arena.  Quite often the music on these types of albums stay in a certain "groove" and don't integrate other feelings/styles... not true with Granger's compositions... varied influences, though he stays true to the "core", in that the flute takes precedence over other instruments, always at the forefront.  I really enjoyed "Double-Barrel Train Wreck", for instance... he makes that flute sound just like a train whistle... on the other hand, my favorite track features vocals/lyrics by Randy... it's called "Za Zee Za Zu Zing", and it sounds (in sections) like something Bruce Cockburn might be doing, except the flute is the lead under the vocals.  He has a real sensibility for what will keep peoples' minds (and feet) moving, & his talent reflects clear understanding of where the spirit is moving him via the muse.  I'm very impressed and hope to hear much more from Randy... this effort earns him our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating!  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Gypsy Schaeffer - NEW ALBUM:  While the title may not inspire confidence in the band's creativity quotient, you'll be surprised... it's actually the Boston quartet's 3rd release, & the creativity shines through in the 13 all-original tracks they present.  Even before listening, the track titles grab my attention... things like "Exuberant Irrationalism" & "Grape Soda and Pretzels"... front man Joel Yennior's haunting trombone sections on "The Greater Good" squeeze between the bass lines by Jef Charland, then flow sax by Andy Voelker in smoothly, all the while with excellent percussion underpinnings from Chris Punis... a very well composed track, albeit at a slower pace than some of the other compositions... very, VERY nice build on this one, though.  The jazziest piece, & my favorite on the CD is "Shark Tank" - despite the scary name, this is a highly energetic tune with solid roots in classic jazz!  They are playing some of the freshest jazz sounds on the jazz scene today, & we surely expect to hear many more albums from them.  I give them an easy MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & your ears will agree with me if you're (at all) a fan of high talent in jazz!  They also get the "PICK" of this issue for "freshest new jazz album".  Get more information from   Rotcod Zzaj

Bethany Smith-Staelens - THE BIG BAND THEORY:  We hadn't heard Bethany's swingin' vocals before, but when one was raised on the excitement that big bands can bring (my uncle spoon-fed me Woody Herman albums for many years) you almost automatically listen for a good strong vocal lead.  Ms. Smith-Staelens accomplishes that with (seeming) ease... the player list is far too long to itemize in a review, but the arrangements do a wonderful job of mixing her vocals right in where they need to be... especially when she starts her super scat on "It Don't Mean A Thing"... just JUMPIN'!  Her voice has a full-bodied quality that most female jazz singers can only aspire to, and she can switch rhythm modes like no one I've ever heard before... just check out "Jobim Medley", & you'll hear what I mean.  I'm highly impressed, and if you love big band sounds fronted by high quality talent, this one's for you.  I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Very nice and enduring jazz talent that will stay at the top of your playlists.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Gregg August - ONE PEACE:  We reviewed Gregg's superb album (Late August) 2 issues ago in issue #87 & found ourselves loving his high talent on bass even more thoroughly on this release.  It's a sextet, so I won't list all the players here, just let you know that they are absolutely tight through the whole CD.  There is a much stronger feel of "straight-ahead jazz" on this outing, in a very accessible way... that's especially true on tracks like the opener, "Handto Mouth"... the bass solo introduction gives way to crisp drums and call/response horns in just a few bars & will have you in the mood immediately... it's my favorite track on the album.  I also dug "Sixth Finger", a "walking" tune with a really slinky feel - it seemed to have more "full body" than some of the other pieces... excellent pace changing that keeps the listener challenged and excited at the same time.  This is a colossal CD that will stand the test of time & stay in your collection for years to come.  If you're a serious jazz fan (at all), you'll agree with my rating of MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & you'll make sure you get this one!  More information at    Rotcod Zzaj 

John Wubbenhorst - TRUE WATER:  Some of John's fantastic works were reviewed in the last issue... in fact, I reviewed 2 of his CD's in the same issue (not something we always do), because the quality of the music and the fact that his work represents such a significant "crossover" between the musics of the East and West.  This CD was recorded & produced in 2007; it reflects a somewhat more "Eastern" flavor than some of the music we first reviewed... much more oriented towards "World" than jazz, but still contains elements of both genres.  The pace may have been the most significant contributor to that impression... his flute work seems somehow more "serene" on "True Water" - my favorite track was "True Water's Depth", which feels like a journey through the undercurrents as a whale or porpoise might see it; it has a wonderfully calm flute intro that percussion melds into gently, then propels you where John's mind takes him.  Another favorite on this album is the opener, "Descending Grace"... revealing the mysteries without invoking the mystical as a crutch... something everyone can understand, and simply wonderful in it's expression of the glory!  I've fallen in love with Wubbenhorst's music, and even if you're not the biggest fan of "World" music, you'll have to agree with my rating of MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you give it a serious listen!  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Dave Siebels, with Gordon Goodwin - BIG PHAT BAND:  I've no doubt my pal Charlie Saibel (pretty close to Dave's name, wondering if they're related) will just LOVE this fantastic B3 Hammond jazz excursion.  When they called it a "Phat" band, they weren't joking... that's the thing that's most impressive about the CD... it's so thick & rich you'll have a hard time prying your ears away from their sound.  Dave's B3 is a big part of that, but the excellent recording brings out each instrument (too many to itemize here) in a B-I-G way!  "The Gospel According To Hammond" (track 6) is one of my favorite pieces, & though it puts the Hammond out in front, the horns make me think of grand church halls rockin' th' souls therein to oblivion!  It's the opening track, "The Coupe", that captures my recommendation for favorite, though... this is one of the rare times when a Hammond B3 fronting a big-band ensemble really works for me... Gordon's band is one of the smokin'est assemblages you will ever here, & if your spirits aren't lifted after listening to "Big Phat Band", yer' a zombie (or a NeoCon) already!  This is lip-smackin' jazz that requires a shirt well-stained with rib sauce & corn drippin's... I rate them MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & also give them the "PICK" of this issue for "best Hammond B3 jazz band"!  Excellent jazz, excellent talent & excellent spirit!  Get more information at  (& be sure to tell them Zzaj sent you to get your advance copy - the CD will be "officially" released on 12 May, 2009).  Rotcod Zzaj

Schumacher/Sanford Sound Assembly - EDGE OF THE MIND:  The beauty of this debut release from this jazz co-op is that though it's jazz orchestra, it goes "far out", just as the title would have you believe; especially when guitarist Andrew Green kicks in on the opener, "Breaking Point"... shades of Sonny Sharrock, in a certain regard, but it stays much more in the big band realm than would any of Mr. Sharrock's have!  I must admit to being drawn in as soon as I saw the name of the piano player... Deanna Witkowski's keyboards have been among our favorite listening experiences for the last couple of years, and she is right ON target on the 2nd track, "Edge of the Window" (just as I expected)... it's amazing that they were able to pack so many of the orchestra sounds into the compositions - shows superior talent and sensitivity for what listeners will want!  Deanna's solo intro on "Ives, Eyes" is simply astounding, & one of my favorite parts on the CD.  After my 3rd listen through the album, it is "Chuck n' Jinx" that truly captures my ears... my favorite cut comes across with a truly sophisticated playful spirit that will have you remembering fine old times in the jazz joints - I know I did!  All around, this is one of the richest albums I've listened to in 2009, & gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me.  I expect (& you should too) to hear a lot more from these folks... they're ON IT!  Get more information at  Rotcod Zzaj

F.D. Reeve, Don Davis and Joe Deleault - THE BLUE CAT WALKS THE EARTH:  It can't be a coincidence that this wonderful poetry/jazz CD popped through the slot the day before (or was it the day after) Dr. Seuss's birthday... Don's horns (sax, shakuhachi), flutes, bass & percussion are joined by splendid piano & Bodhran from Joe, all fronted by some very cool spoken-word/recitations by Frank.  The reason for that Seuss impression, I suppose, is the way Reeve's imaginary "Blue Cat" skirts the edges of humor in nearly all the poems... though this isn't a "heavy" poetry reading (you know, the cosmic swami krud another Frank named Zappa used to mock), it's filled with razor insights, especially on cuts like "He Writes to His Cousin in Baghdad".  This is one of my favorites, in great part because it uses a subtle accordion-like sound (it's actually an Indian instrument called a SHRUTI box, per feedback from Don Davis) over a very basic drumming rhythm that (in many ways) reminds me of my 6 months in Mosul, Iraq. Reeve's vocal is excellent for this kind of work, but (since he's from Vermont) I still have a heck of a time purging my mind of the image of my saintly Vermont grandfather in Island Pond kicking out lines like "and Hekate hydrogen-bombs a new class, you pull your pants over your impossible ass" on "The Blue Cat Takes Over From Miss Lonelyhearts"... only a truly free person like Mr. Reeve could live in Vermont & pull things like this off.  On the other hand, I know from having lived up there in New England that there are free spirits aplenty up that way - & it's absolutely clear that this poet has no qualms about trying a few new things.  This is one of the most entertaining listening (and reading, it came with a full 61-page book of the poems) experiences I've had in a LONG time.  The jazz is extraordinary for this kind of art, & I rate it as MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for poetry/jazz fans, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best poetry/jazz CD in the last 5 years"!  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj 

Timothy Cooper - EAST WIND:  I first heard & reviewed Timothy's splendid piano works in issue #83 (his LIGHT ON THE WATER CD).  "East Wind" (his second release) chronicles some of his journeys through parts of Asia, and expertly captures some of the same feelings I have had when in those countries... there are moments, in fact, when his tunes inspire memories for me of particular moments of my 17 years over there, so (in that sense) his CD is like "coming home" (to my home away from home) for me.  There are some tracks where you can hear Oriental influences in the composition, but more often than not the pieces are clearly stories portrayed by a "non-Oriental" traveling through (albeit in a short and concise way)... that comment may not make a lot of sense except for folks who have lived in those cultures, but Timothy will know what I mean, I believe.  Many of the keyboardists I know here in the Great Northwest state that "water" influences their playing, and in my more reflective moments on the piano, I find that to be true also... Cooper has admirably achieved his goal of portraying the "winds of change" emanating from the Eastern cultures, most likely through absorbing it and using his exquisite playing talents to paint a sonic vision for listeners unafraid to let themselves (also) become absorbed.  A very enjoyable solo piano experience that merits our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating!  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Lisa Sokolov - A QUIET THING:  It's been awhile since we listened to Lisa's enchanting (& very different) vocal/piano style... we first reviewed her "Lazy Afternoon" CD in issue #37, and though we were highly impressed then - this is some of the best (did I tell you it was different?) jazz & vocal improv I've heard in a LONG TIME!  The impression that comes to mind as I listen to her sing "Succotash" is of a "swinging" Janis Joplin for the 21st Century who came back in "jazz mode"!  A lot of that impression is clearly because of how the great rhythms kind of "counterpoint" against her (almost) scat-style vocal; what actually comes across, though, is a feeling of having fun with the music - and that makes the entire CD worthwhile... too many players these days who take themselves far too seriously, but you can hear joy and laughter bubbling through every phrase in Lisa's singing!  Her keyboards on the opening track, "My One and Only Love", are just vibrant... this track was recorded live, along with 3 of the other cuts, and you'll feel like you're right there watching her, the sound quality is so good.  My absolute favorite piece on the album, though, is "El Silencio" (which she co-authored with Federico García Lorca)... her vocal and keyboard combinations, along with the backing violin from Todd Reynolds, will calm you and haunt you at the same time... an absolutely splendid piece of music!  You can't "classify" this in any pigeonhole, even if you want to... Ms. Sokolov's music absolutely transcends such nonsense, but lovers of all genres will find something to carry on down their musical roads for many years to come.  I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, in addition to declaring it the "PICK" of this issue for "most original and invigorating performance"!  Get more information at and be sure to tell her that Zzaj sent you!  Rotcod Zzaj

Euphrates, Me Jane - BIPOLAR:  Liners describe this group (Jed Feuer on trumpet&  flügelhorn; Stephanie Long's saxophones, flute & piccolo; Craig Swanson's piano; David Ostrem on double bass, and James Windsor-Wells doing drums) as "paving new roads in jazz"... in some cases, they used old roads (Bach, Beethoven, even Debussy) to bridge to the new.  As per usua, it's the 5 (of 14 tracks) original compositions that grab my ears and force them to assume the position of attention; most notably (& my favorite cut on the CD) pianist Swanson's "9/13", which swings very solidly; Long's reeds on this tune bounce you right on down the highway, & make for a very pleasant journey.  Their rendition of Beethoven's "Op. 130 (Presto)" will (very pleasantly) surprise you, & you'll hear their talent shining right through... doesn't come off (at all) as "jazzers pretending to understand classical" - rather, it brings truly new interpretations to the master's vision!  My second favorite track is (of course) another original (also by Craig) titled "Closed (Due to Fire)"... very smooth piano, soothing brush work and full of jazz spirit! "Since this is a debut album, I truly expect to hear many more from this group... they are "ON" it, tight all the way through.  I give them a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED on this outing!  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Mary Jenson - CLOSE YOUR EYES A new lady jazz vocalist to add to our experiences.  Mary has been singing 'round the Bay Area for quite some years now, & has some of our favorite players backing her high-spirited singing... Josh Workman's fantastic guitar work, Wayne Wallace's arranging skills on the supremely bouncy "Fools In Love"... Jenson shows her strong ability to sing counterpoint to any kind of rhythm & will capture your ears in a heartbeat (moreso than nearly any female jazz vocalist I've heard lately - very, VERY fresh approaches).  The title track (also the opener) is nicely laid-back, yet Mary infuses it with vibrant talent... it's track 3 that MAKES this CD happen for me, though... "Cool" is just that (and my favorite on the album).. Vernon Black's guitar leads just smoke, & Jenson's scat against a rap that I actually like (performed by Darian Gray) is about as energetic a jazz rap as I've heard in a thousand years (takes me back, in some regards, to my roots in the whole Beat thing).  I'm genuinely impressed, & can tell you that this one will stay at the top of your playlists for many months (even years) to come.  If you dig jazz vocals that don't drag you down into the lower levels, you'll agree with me when I declare this debut effort to be HIGHLY RECOMMENDED... I expect we will be hearing a LOT more from this most spirited young singer.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Steve Khan - GOT MY MENTAL:  One of the comments Steve made in his narrative about how this superb musical experience came together is that his main co-players (John Patitucci (bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums) always come ready to "play hard"... man, that's an understatement.  & "hard" doesn't necessarily mean "loud", "smashing", or "crashing"... but it does, without doubt, mean intense... not the kind where the music puts you on edge, rather that which makes you realize that the universe is formed by mathematical/musical junctures that can be spiritually enhancing.  I don't want to get all kosmic about it, but can't help feeling that if I'd had some of this kind of superb trio work to listen to in my earlier (often troubled) years, I would never have had to tread down (some of) those wayward paths I chose.  These guys play so well together (way back in '97), you'll find it hard to believe you haven't been seeking their music out that whole time!  When the percussion from Marc Quinones (timbal) and Bobby Allende (conga) kicks in on Wayne Shorter's "Paraphernalia", you'll be doing far more than toe-tappin'... this is a full-bore tune, as are so many of the others here... get yer' body MOVING (yet it comes on so subtly)!  On a tune his dad (Sammy Cahn) composed, "The Last Dance", you'll hear new meanings for mellow... one sweet track.  My favorite piece on the album, though, was an Eddie Harris funk/jazz cut called "Sham Time", probably just because the whole group digs down into the "groove" of it, & there's really nothin' I like better than a smooth groove!  We feel really honored to have all this great music in from Steve, but that's got nothing to do with declaring it MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, because when the spirit is involved with a piece of jazz, it's just a natural to give it high praise!  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

PBK & Guillermo Gregorio with De Fenestra - CHICAGO PIECES, 2005:  I just recently re-established contact with PBK (who was a "name" back in the old "home-taper" days - real name is Phillip B. Klingler) via FB.  It wasn't long before we were trading music links and talking (to some degree) about those times... we both agreed that costs for mailing have skyrocketed so much that "online" distro may be the "wave of the future" for getting music reviewed. What is so fine about these sonic manipulations is that they revive (in a very sort of "accessible" fashion) the spirit of those tape-days... very free, lots of subtle layers in the electronic manipulations (from both PBK & Will Soderberg, I'm assuming) & superbly performed guitar lines from Uncle Dave Lewis that are totally enchanting, even for the novice at "free" music!  Guillermo's clarinet integrations are far from the "norm" for this kind of exploratory work, and mesh in with the electronics in ways you've never heard before... & the electronics that PBK marries up with the overall mix.  This recording is among the least schizophrenic I've heard, and (I believe) could be a significant "new direction" for loft performance-type stuff; very listenable indeed.  As ever, I think it's very, VERY important that younger players & listeners be exposed to sonic adventures of this quality, so they can begin to understand that creativity IS the "clarion call" for folks the world over!  I'm highly impressed & give this album a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "best improvised electronic performance".  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Geni Skendo and Dominik Wania - PORTRAITS:  This is a review of an "online" CD... a wonderful way to review music... no costs to the artist, none to the reviewer (other than a high-speed connection, & who doesn't have THAT these days)!  Geni's superb Shakuhachi phrasings against lively, though introspective keyboards from Dominik will make you dig deep down inside your psyche, but not so far down that you become morose... they seem to be exploring the "G spots" of the mind, if you will... one of my favorite pieces is "Oedo Nihon Bashi" - dense and thick with emotion on the part of both the keyboards and Geni's wind manipulations.  The tone (as you might imagine) is very Oriental, which is very pleasant for me to hear, as I spent a total of 17 years between Thailand and Korea... makes one who has lived there for any significant amount of time feel like they are right "at home".  A key to this kind of music (I believe) is the "pacing"... Skendo and Wania are well enough wrapped up in each other's brains that they make you believe this is coming from one mind... very, VERY well connected, much better than some other shakuhachi players I've heard who either stay "down" under the other instrument(s), or play so much forward of them that it's impossible to catch the "flow" that is supposed to be there.  My favorite piece on the album, though, is "Dream Albania", perhaps because it really seems a genuine portrait of his homeland, and melds a "European" feeling with those Oriental influences the Shakuhachi brings.  Our first listen to Geni's work is immensely satisfying and brings back memories I'd forgotten from my own time there... I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any listener unafraid to escape the traditional.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Bob Albanese Trio with Ira Sullivan - ONE WAY DETOUR:  Only 3 of the total 10 cuts on this marvelously lively CD are from others... all the rest are originals (mostly from Bob)... Albanese' piano is joined by bass from Tom Kennedy, Willard Dyson on drums & some superb sax & flute work from Ira Sullivan.  It's one of the most "straight-ahead" jazz albums I've heard in 2009, yet avoids all semblance of the dreaded (& often disgusting) watered-down "smooth jazz" stuff that many stations have attempted to force down our gullets. I am most pleasantly reminded of some of the Stan Getz albums I listened to early on as I listen to Ira's reeds against Bob's jumpin' keyboards on "Yesterday's Gardenias" (one of my favorites on the CD)... the tune is filled with life and will bring you "up" from wherever your down was.  It's a Monk piece that really captures my ears, though, "Ugly Beauty", featuring absolute silk-touch keyboards matched with truly sweet flute from Sullivan... the pace alone will put you in the "jazz mood" that fans of the genre worldwide are always seeking out.  A track that just SMOKES is "Friendly Fire" demonstrates just how tightly the group is able to play; in fact, this whole CD takes me back to the days when each new album was a "discovery", not hackneyed lines that any preset could play for the "player"... there are fresh lines in each of the ten tracks, the kind that will make you sit up & take note each time (hundreds, probably) you listen to the CD.  This one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & I predict you will be hearing many more albums from Bob over the next couple of years... oh, you still have time to order yours, as the "official" street date is 4 April, 2009 get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Sarah DeLeo - I'M IN HEAVEN TONIGHT:  I've reviewed a lot of lively lady singers over the years, but I can tell you as I spin this CD for the second 'round, Sarah is among the liveliest, without doubt.  The opening track "Rockin' Robin" features some great bouncin' organ from Brian Charette and very nice flute by Jay Collins - but the highlight is how neatly DeLeo jazzifies it, especially since I grew up with this one as a straight rock piece.  The musicians behind her are right on target, with all the verve you'd expect to hear in a really sophisticated jazz setting in the city (especially that organ - it's just great), & they all work together to "frame" Sarah as the headliner!  My favorite cut on the album is "No Moon At All", which runs a nice "alley cat" kind of slink behind her vocal.  Recording is first-rate all around.  She has a kind of "high" quality in her vocals that will easily put you under the spell she is weaving... it's like a "real" singer, not a "cutesy" kind that makes the grade with gimmicks.  Didn't hear any original compositions from her on this outing; would recommend that for the next CD, to be sure, but she's still rock-solid on all 10 cuts.  I give this album a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED... we'll be looking for much more from Sarah, to be sure.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Scott Reeves Quintet - SHAPESHIFTER:  Though it may not fit the title of the CD, there's one word that comes immediately to mind for this live performance from Scott & his compatriots - delicious!  The album was recorded live at Cecil's Jazz Club, & caters to my own tastes for truly improvised jazz with a full menu of all original pieces... that word, improvised, often conjures up images of wacked out 2nd string players who can't get gigs anywhere else, because their playing is so far out as to be unintelligible to even the "seasoned" veteran of improv, but these guys play it as though it were "standard", & even the most hardcore traditionalist will be able to say they "grok" what's being played here.  "The Alchemist" is a perfect example of what I mean... but "The Soulful Mr. Williams" is my favorite piece on the album, especially when Rich Perry's tenor sax floats in for his part & intro to Scott's brass solo... this tune has real punch and will be the most delectable dish on the album for many jazzoids.  9 superb pieces of music that you won't soon "put down", or relegate to "old playlists".  As many who read this magazine know, our primary criteria for music being reviewed is the energy the artists convey for the playing, and "SHAPESHIFTER" comes in at the very top of that criterion... I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & tell you that I predict you will hear MUCH more from Reeves & crew(s) over the next couple of years.  Get more information at (be sure to tell them Zzaj sent you, too).  Rotcod Zzaj

Lionel Loueke - KARIBU:  It was actually my sister & brother-in-law who suggested this CD as a great candidate for review (in response to one of my postings on FaceBook, if I remember correctly).  After a quick Google, I found one of the label (Blue Note) promoters & shot off an email... only a few days for Lionel's stunning album to roll through the mail slot... his guitar and vocal work is among the best I've heard this year!  All but 2 of the nine tracks are Loueke originals that will inspire your ears and make your heart move... the opener (title track, click above to listen) is most appropriate, as it means "welcome" in Swahili, and his subtle (& very jazzified) guitar stylings will make you feel like you're right at home... he's joined by bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Ferenc Nemeth in a grandly layered tune that features his very pleasant vocals as well.  As they segue to the second track, "Seven Teens", you will be pleasantly surprised to hear Lionel's first guest (Herbie Hancock) lead into the piece with some superb piano.  Lionel's compositions are often in what an average listener would term "odd meters" (like 17/4), but he uses his all-natural soul to make the tunes come across so we can all understand what he's saying... an outstanding accomplishment in itself.  Lionel is also joined by Wayne Shorter (soprano sax) on a couple of tracks, most notably the album's longest piece, "Light Dark"... wonderful introductory sections that build to true jazz beauty.  My favorite piece on the CD, though, is the closer, "Nonvignon"... Loueke's vocal and the joyful & highly spiritual nature of the song will make you return to "Karibu" often... this one gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating as well as the "PICK" of this issue for "most creative jazz"!    Rotcod Zzaj

Hendrik Muerkens -  SAMBA TO GO:  It is some sweet samba playing here, no doubt... we reviewed his AMAZON RIVER CD in issue #74 and were very impressed with his jazz harmonica.  This outing also features him (a bit more than the previous album) doing vibes... the key thing, as I emphasized in my earlier review, is the ENERGY level demonstrated in the composition and playing... whenever there is a "novelty" instrument playing jazz, I'm prone to feel (as many) that it's a "suspect" album - but that's not the case here at all!  The whole assemblage is totally dedicated to getting you a jazz high that no amount of rum & coke could impart... this is Latin jazz with intestinal fortitude... the 6:35 "Odessa In April" is clear evidence of that... very cool music played with more dedication than many "smoky bar" artists have for their craft.  It's the title track (click ABOVE) that is my favorite on the CD, though... man, this tune jumps, and if you haven't sampled Muerkens before, you'd better get on board his train... very cool music that will put you in the right mood no matter how deep in the phunk you've been... I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz listeners of all stripes!  Get more information at   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!!!)



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