Issue 142 Reviews

Our latest and greatest reviews for your reading & listening pleasure

Zevious – PASSING THROUGH THE WALL:  An absolutely PERFECT CD to close out this issue with, Zevious (guitarist Mike Eber, drummer Jeff Eber, and bassist Johnny DeBlase) provide the kind of edgy rockin’ jazz that heralds the coming (or the arrival) of the new age in music!  Tunes like the 6:01 “Was Solis” are the proof of the power of their music, and will carry you soaring off to a new day, a new way!  The old adage of “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” definitely applies for the ten dense/rich tunes they offer up, and you won’t be able to stop listening to pieces like my personal favorite, “White Minus Red” – the driving bass line alone makes it worth the purchase.  I give this trio a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 (very near the top).  Get more information on the band at the Zevious website.      Rotcod Zzaj

Gary Smulyan/Dominic Chianese – BELLA NAPOLI:  Jeff Lederer compares a good Italian tune to a great Italian meal in his liner notes… & as you listen to Gary’s splendid reed work and Dominic’s vocals, you’ll understand the comparison right away.  Tunes like the opener, “Funiculi Funicula” are bright & full of the spirit of life that embodies a “round the table” meal like that.  Dominic amplifies that spirit as he sings the opening bars of “Marechiare” – which turned out to my favorite of the eleven wonderful songs offered up for your listening pleasure.  You’ll enjoy this as much as I did, I’ve no doubt… in fact, it comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Gary’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Ken Peplowski – MAYBE SEPTEMBER:  If you love jazz clarinet (& this time around, tenor sax as well), this CD is a “must-add” for your collection.  We’ve been reviewing Ken’s masterpieces for some years now – this is among the most highly-charged of them all.  As you groove along to the bubbly energy he projects on “Moon Ray“, you’ll hear why!  Of the eleven tracks offered up, it was the high-energy “Main Stem” that caught my vote for favorite track… jazz doesn’t get any better than this, & you’ll be spinning this tune over & over again (super tenor sax, too).  I give Ken & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazzers of all stripes, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information (not to mention, some great YOUTUBE vids) at Ken’s website.     Rotcod Zzaj

Ernesto Diaz-Infante – EMILIO LIVE:  You should never take the splendid improvisations that Ernesto does with “grains of salt”… on this EP, he plays solo Bajo Sexto; 32 unaccompanied gems that will slake your thirst for well-played experimental strings!  I know, from personally playing with him, that he gets totally intimate with the instrument, to the degree that you’ll feel like you’re “inside” the instrument. What’s so unique about his talent is that he plays a whole range of orchestral instruments (strings, percussion & much more) on that one instrument.  I’ve listened to and reviewed a lot of Ernesto’s work, and can truly say that this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners in love with “the edge”.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at the Kendra Steiner Editions page for this CDRotcod Zzaj

Jim Gabriel – SOJOURN:  What’s absolutely critical on an album that features the piano in solo (with some accompaniment by Eugene Friesen (cello), Charlie Bisharat (violin), Tony Levin (bass), Will Ackerman (sacred drum) and Jeff Pearce (Chapman stick)) is the pacing… Jim is able to easily wrap you into his zone by knowing how to use the silence between notes to amplify the experience for you.  Tunes like the lovely “Chaccone” serve to carry you away to a place you’ll love to be… a very impressive piece!  It was the title track, “Sojourn“, though, which got my vote for favorite of the eleven pieces offered up for your enjoyment.  A tasty sonic journey that certainly merits my declaration of MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED; even if you’re primarily a jazz fan, you’ll find something to love on this one.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.99.  Get more information at Jim’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Jim Gabriel: Sojourn

If, Bwana – RED ONE:  This sonic adventure from our friend Al Margolis is destined to become a “classic” in underground/experimental recording… tunes like “Ellen, Banned” will leave leave indelible impressions on the surface of your braincase (& possibly, permanent damage).  The 13:14 “Xylo 2” features trombone from Monique Buzzarté; what’s so unique about this one is the creative use of the “silences” to wrap you up in the song… nothing rushed, but oh, so deep!  My personal favorite of the six rather long tunes was “Lisa Verabbit” – something that will stay in your head for eternities to come.  I give Al & his many guests on this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with the qualifier that you must enjoy things that are different.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at the Pogus label page for this CD.       Rotcod Zzaj

Mark Weber with the Michael Vlatkovich Trio – MULTITUDES TELEPATHIC:  If you don’t enjoy spoken-word with well-played jazz/improv – move on to the next record rack… but if (like me), you find the marriage of these two art forms to be the supreme turn-on – you’ve GOT to GET this one!  Pieces like the 8:49 “Poem 2” will keep you enrapt & you’ll find yourself spinning it over & over again, looking for clues in Mark’s words, or subtle shadings with meaning in Michael’s trombone.  I’ve been following Mark Weber for many, many years now & believe his poetry is among the best on the scene today & will stay that way well into the next century.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for lovers of spoken-word jazz.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 5.00 – which means it also get the “PICK” of this issue for “best spoken-word jazz”.   Get more information at the pFMentum label site for this CD.        Rotcod Zzaj


Wayne Wallace and Rita Hargrave – SALSA DE LA BAHIA:  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reviewed Wayne’s fantastic music, but this (obviously) Latin-focused CD is full of the vim & vigor of life, and will make you love it in a matter of seconds… especially on tunes like the opener, “Canto, Clave y Candela“!  There are 22 full-tilt tunes for you to treasure over many years, & you’ll find yourself returning to them on the playlist over & over again.  Pieces like “Tranquilisate” will have you up on your feet & dancin’ in no time!  I can tell you right now, you won’t find this kind of power-packed energy fest anywhere else; & that’s especially true on compositions like (my personal favorite) the riff-laden “Cuban Blues“… great jazz, great blues – great music!  I give Wayne, Rita & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for this one, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information about Wayne & his wonderful music at the Wayne Wallace website.      Rotcod Zzaj

John Luttrell – THE DREAM EXCHANGE:  Long-time readers of this magazine will tell you that in order for a CD to “jump ahead” in our queue, it must be full of good (& positive) energy – and that due to the quality of the music that gets submitted here on a regular basis, there are few that get (or deserve) that honor.  When you listen to the powerful opener, “Orange Sky“, you’ll realize (in the immediate) why this CD made that cut… there’s no pretense, no element of “wannabe”… Mr. Luttrell has it down and knows how to play his dreams for you!  Though it only clocks in at 3:20, I found the magnificent “Dreamcast” to be my favorite of the eleven tracks offered up for your listening pleasure.  This is my first listen to John’s splendid musical vision, but as I told him in private correspondence… I’ve downloaded three of his other “atmospheric” CD’s for future review… so you’ll be hearing lots more from him.  You can read more about this excellent musical talent at John’s website (be sure to tell him you read about him here, please).  I give him a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.       Rotcod Zzaj

S.O.S. – John Surman, Mike Osborne, Alan Skidmore – LOOKING FOR THE NEXT ONE:  My apologies to the promoter on this one… it got stashed in my queue files without a date, so I hadn’t reviewed it in sequence.  It’s a marvelous double-CD that uses reeds (3 saxophonists), keyboards and synths to explore jazz.. Very unique sounds, jazz ahead of it’s time (this was realized in 1974), no doubt, especially on tunes like the title track, “Looking For The Next One“… dense and rich with brilliant improvisations that will warm your mind and soothe your soul!  My personal favorite of the 11 tracks offered up was “Q.E. Hall“; a challenging listen, but it will send your mind over the top, no doubt!  I give this excellent album a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at the Cuneiform Records label site for this CD.       Rotcod Zzaj

Satoko Fujii Ma-Do – TIME STANDS STILL:  This CD is, unfortunately, the third/last performance of this great improv/jazz group, due to the death of their bassist, Norikatsu Koreyasu.  Tunes like the opener, “Fortitude“, will prove beyond the shadow of any doubt that this group was among the very best on the wild side of improvised music – anywhere in the world!  Satoko’s keyboard work is simply fantastic on “Rolling Around“, and all the players contribute to the poignant sonics they establish for your pleasure and thought.  My personal favorite was the closing title track, “Time Stands Still“… it doesn’t get any deeper (or better) than this, folks.  I give Satoko & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Satoko’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Eric Van Aro – OBSESSION:  Eric’s jazz vocal work has a decidedly Euro-tint to it… I’m not talking about accent… just cosmopolitan approach & style.  Tunes like “Rain” will cool your day & whet your thirst for something different than the norm.  The laid-back bluesy feel on “Ordinary Fool” will put you in a groove & make sure you stay there for a while.  The energy flow really kicks up with Eric’s cover of Stevie’s “Dancing To The Rhythm“… what an absolutely splendid way to close this seven-tune excursion.  This is, by the way, my favorite track on the CD.  I give Eric & crew a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at Eric’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Eric Van Aro: Obsession

Rozina Pátkai – VOCE e EU:  To be perfectly honest, I’ve not heard much jazz from Hungary before, but if Rozina’s lilting vocals are any sign, I’ll need to listen to more!  There’s nothing complicated about it… you’ll hear her high-spirit on “Isto Aqui o Que e“, & know that you’ve got another winner in your hands (not to mention on your playlists). Tasty pieces like “Caminhos Cruzados” will make your mood change from good to better in a heartbeat.  My personal favorite of the ten tunes presented was “Smile“…. man, vocal jazz doesn’t get any better than this.  I give Rozina & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Rozina’s website.      Rotcod Zzaj

Laura McMillan – STORYBOOK LOVE:  If you’re looking for a change of pace from your smokin’-hot jazz sessions, Laura’s wonderful piano works will fill the bill quite nicely.  Gentle pieces like “For Our Children” will let you know right away that you’re in the presence of a totally dedicated musician.  Allow yourself to be carried away & totally captivated by her beautiful “Enchanted“.  Of the fourteen tunes she offers for our listening pleasure, I found “Transitions” to be the most moving and invigorating.  I give Laura a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Laura’s website.   Rotcod Zzaj

Laura McMillan: Storybook Love

Jon Irabagon – IT TAKES ALL KINDS:  If you’ve listened to Jon’s (tenor) sax work as often as I have – you’ll know that he “makes all kinds” of music… & if you want a power jazz trio, where he’s joined by Barry Altschul on drums & Mark Helias on bass, just listen to the high-energy “Vestiges“… you won’t find great jazz with this kind of energy quotient any better than this!  There are only 8 pieces, but most of them are over 6:00, so you’ll still be able to pack your playlist with these tunes.  My personal favorite was the jagged-edged “Cutting Corners“… this one will definitely keep your mind moving!  I give Jon & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the Allmusic page for this CD.      Rotcod Zzaj

Jamaze – AROUND THE WORLD:  This jazz quartet from Finland is more than just the “cat’s meow”… they absolutely ROCK the jazz… in so many ways & much less than 80 days!  The strings on “Bintan Blue” will make you fall in love with them immediately, & the strut-funk bass together with the splendid vocals on “Lalibela” will wow you like you’ve never been wowed before (great bass from Kaisa on this one, too).  It doesn’t get much funkier than the git-on-down “Katharsis” – so good that I chose this one as my personal favorite of the 11 tunes – sorta’ like a 21st century rap.  I predict that you’ll be hearing a LOT more from this group; they get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00 – which means they also get the “PICK” of this issue for “most impressive new jazz group”.  Get more information about the players & their passions at the Jamaze website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Jamaze: Around the World

Eliot Smith and Erick Storckman (ES2) – ALGORHYTHMS:  If what you’re thirsting after (in your jazz) involves RED-hot fun…. this CD will “get you there”!  Just check out the smokin’ “Job Search” to get an idea of why I say that!  Eliot’s keyboards, to include some fantastic organ work, join Erick’s totally blissed-out trombone to orbit you off into the ether – whether you’re out of a job or not!  This is some of the most enjoyable jazz I’ve heard (yet) this year, & I’m going to ask the promoter to make SURE I get all their future work together.  Of the 8 tunes offered up, I found the jumpin’ “Midnight On Michigan Avenue” to be my absolute favorite… cool, slinky jazz, to be sure, that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99!  Get more information about these great & highly talented players at Erick’s website.          Rotcod Zzaj

Keith Davis Trio – STILL:  An all-original 9-song debut CD from keyboard vet Keith & his cohorts Ron Brendle on bass & Justin Watt on drums.  Tunes like the straight-ahead & most energetic “Lieb” (in honor of Dave, of course) absolutely cook, & don’t bear out the CD title.  In point of fact, all of these pieces move right along & never fall in the “too laid-back” trap that foils some artists on their debut efforts.  I particularly enjoyed the blues influences on “Tadjimon“… so much so that I must declare it my favorite track on the CD.  I believe the fact that these compositions are all from “inside” Keith make them particularly of value to jazz listeners of all stripes… I give Keith & his pals a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Keith’s InnerGroove site.          Rotcod Zzaj

Keith Davis Trio: Still

Beat Kaestli – COLLAGE:  Beat’s vocals will carry you away to the fantasies of your wildest dreams, and help you relive them once again!  Quiet and gentle, yet still retaining a level of energy all too uncommon for jazz vocalists these days.  His groove on “The Choice You Make” is a perfect example of that, and will stay right up at the top of your playlists for months (if not years) to come!  Though many of the songs are in other languages, Beat is able to convey the mood and spirit flawlessly – so you’ll understand it intimately.  My personal favorite of the 11 tunes offered up was the lively “La haute sur la montagne“… free-spirited and full of life, to be sure!  I give Beat & his crew a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Beat’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Beat Kaestli: Collage

Paulinho Garcia – BEAUTIFUL LOVE:  If you’re from my generation, you’ll surely remember Jobim & other Brazilian jazz players…. & if you’re younger than that, this CD from guitarist/vocalist Paulinho will be your perfect introduction to the beauty that’s inherent when you’re listening to talent like this!  Unfortunately, the only sample I could find on the web was “Do You Remember Me“… it’s a wonderful tune, but that’s (ever so slight) marks down for not having tunes up to sample.  You can purchase it from his store.  I give Paulinho a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 (rating would have been higher if samples of each tune were available – even on YOUTUBE).        Rotcod Zzaj

Lara Iacovini – RIGHT TOGETHER:  Lara’s jazz vocals definitely hit the spot, and the fact that she has bassist Steve Swallow backing her up doesn’t hurt one little bit; a whole host of other players as well.  Her svelte lines on the opener, “Carnation“, emphasize just how right these folks are together – perfect title for the CD!  The energy on the lively “Bug In A Rug” is stellar from all the players – this tune will grab a place in your brain & won’t let go anytime soon.  Of the ten tracks offered up for our aural pleasure, I found “Ladies In Mercedes” to be my personal favorite, prob’ly ‘coz it KICKS from the opening note!  If you’re looking for jazz that will improve your mood (& keep it there), this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at Lara’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Dave Stryker – EIGHT TRACK:  In my humble abode, there’s little more exciting than a new release from guitarist Dave & crew (in this instance, that includes vibes by Stefon Harris, organ from Jared Gold & drums by McClenty Hunter).  Jared’s organ hits are nuthin’ BUT cool on the opener, “I’ll Be Around“, & you won’t soon retire this one from your jazz lists!  Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman – Superfly” is absolute killer, too!  You get ten fantastic tracks to groove to from now till forever.  It’s a joyous celebration of ’70’s tunes, and the cream of the crop (for this reviewer, anyway) was the 6:49 “Money“… brings back many pleasant mem’ries, I’ll tell you!  I give Dave & his folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Dave’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Dave Stryker: Eight Track

Beata Pater – GOLDEN LADY:  All great artists make a couple of “switchouts” during their career (at least, that’s been my experience).  We reviewed a couple of Beata’s previous vocal jazz efforts, and this eleven-song jewel, with tunes like “Turned To Blue“, show Beata’s new directions clearly!  On this outing, she’s only using piano/bass to shine (vocally) against… you’ll find tunes like the opener, “Wild Is The Wind“, carrying you off into a jazz dream you’ve always wanted to live in.  The tune that will stay right up at the top of your jazz playlists, though, is my favorite… the marvelous title track, Stevie Wonder’s “Golden Lady“…. man, that’s jazz!  I give Beata & crew (Hiromu Aoki on piano & Buca Necak on bass) a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Beata’s website.         Rotcod Zzaj

Beata Pater: Golden Lady

Ellen Burr & Michael Unruh – DUETS:  At first listen, you’ll think you’re listening to ghosts talking duets… unfortunately, I could only find one download sample, “Track Fifteen“, at the label site.  Ellen does the flutes and piccolo, and Michael does bass clarinet on this intricate and enchanting excursion into the deepness of improvised music.  If you’re totally immersed in “regular jazz”, you’ll probably move on, but if (like me) your musical diet must include at least a portion of “different”…. this CD is your TICKET!  I give Ellen & Michael a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the pFMentum label site for this CD.     Rotcod Zzaj

Jack Gates – VOYAGE OF THE TROUBADOUR:  This is absolutely perfect for a Sunday morning wakeup… Jack’s guitar, with vocals from his wife Sharyl, takes you on a journey you’ll be able to remember frequently via your playlists.  I was especially impressed by beauties like “Moon Goddess“… the guitar notes & chords are thick and rich, and Sharyl’s vocal guides you flawlessly through visions of the wonder.  If it’s jazzy ebullience you’re after, you’ll enjoy the duo (very much) on “The Bright Flower“… simple, yet amazing!  My personal favorite of the dozen tracks offered up was “New Geography“; a lilting jazz adventure that shows a talent & passion for jazz that’s not often found these days.  I give Jack & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information on this exciting music at Jack’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Jack Gates: Jack Gates: Voyage of the Troubadour

Eddie Allen – PUSH:  Eddie’s trumpet will prod you on to new jazz heights, I can guarantee that… especially when you scope out tunes like the fantastic opener, “Nakia“… ain’t nothin’ better than high-energy jazz – & this meets all the criteria!  Eddie said (in the liners) that the intent was to create some “fun to listen to” – & if this isn’t fun – my name ain’t “Rotcod”!   The marvelous “Hillside Strut” reminds me in some ways of the glory of Eddie Harris & Les McCann… pull-no-punches jazz that socks you right in the gut!  For somethin’ a little more “slinky” & funky, you’ll like “Whispers In The Dark” as much as I did (it’s my favorite of the 9 tunes on the CD).    I give Eddie & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Eddie’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Eddie Allen: PUSH

Vin Downes – UNLIKE THE STARS:  There’s little more satisfying/comforting than well-played acoustic guitar, and Vin has this down pat, as ably evidenced by his opener, “Where I Began“… nice, nice, NICE!  The 13 tracks go quite well with a topped-off espresso, a set of bluetooth headphones and an hour or so to groove with him.  I particularly liked “Turning Years” for the relaxed vibe…. you won’t drop this from your playlists any time soon.  It was the mood on “Dark Blue Wind” that captured my vote for favorite, though… if totally focused & well-played guitar is what you’re yearning for, you’ll agree when I say that this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Vin’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Vin Downes: Unlike the Stars

Mimi Jones – BALANCEIt’s been a bit since I had the chance to swoon over jazz bass as accurate & heartfelt as this one from Mimi.  She got super-high marks on her debut, and tunes like the intricate and high-energy “Speed Bump” continue to amplify her importance to our sanity and well-being – every note is flawless and executed with total passion for the jazz!  She has a whole host of players with her this time (Mimi Jones: bass, vocals; Ingrid Jensen: trumpet; Camille Thurman: flute, vocals; Luis Perdomo: piano; Wurlitzer, Rhodes, Moog; Enoch Smith, Jr.: piano; Miki Hayama: piano; Wurlitzer, Rhodes; Marvin Sewell: guitar, piano; Sean Harkness: guitars; Shirazette Tinnin: drums, percussion; Justin Faulkner: drums; Mala Waldron: vocals), and each/every one has that raw energy that we’re so hot after.  My personal favorite was the groove-laden “Junk Funk” – sonic surprises abound!  I give Mimi & her fully able crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for this release, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Mimi’s Hot Tone Music label page.        Rotcod Zzaj

Mimi Jones: Balance

Daniel Smith – SMOKIN’ HOT BASSOON BLUES:  Readers who’ve been with us awhile know that I’ve reviewed Daniel’s bassoon jazz work for many years now… he never disappoints… to verify my opinion, just scope out the wonderful “Senor Blues“…. killer track, for sure!  The 4:18 “Better Get Hit In Your Soul” is a rip-snorter as well… just too cool jazz/blues that will blow your mind.  My choice for favorite of the twelve tunes offered up for aural pleasure was “Night Train“… Daniel “owns” this tune.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all listeners who demand a little bit of different in their jazz experience.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at the Summit Records page for this CD.   Rotcod Zzaj

Paul Higgs – PAVANE:  Paul’s trumpet work is full of power and high spirit… just listen to his mellow tones on the beautiful “The Glow of Evening” – truly one of the prettiest pieces of original music (all 11 tunes are originals on this CD) I’ve heard (yet) in 2014!  The energy on “Catalonia” is superb, and takes one back to times when all was right in the world.  It was the well-synchronized timing and rhythm on the very upbeat “Clocks” that made it my favorite (and most replayed) piece on this wonderfully personal-sounding CD!  For listeners who demand excitement in their jazz experience, Paul gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information and listen to samples at Paul’s website.   Rotcod Zzaj

Paul Higgs: Pavane