Issue 150 Reviews

Our latest and greatest reviews for your reading & listening pleasure

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New Latitude – CONVERGENCE:  Whether you’re an instrumental guitar fan or not, you’ll find the music that guitarists Jim Carr and Dave Erickson have assembled for you here to your liking.  One reason is that compositions like the splendid opener, “New Day“, are total originals… which means (in my mind, anyway) that the energy levels for the playing will be much higher!  Stylistically, they’re really hard to “pin down”… you certainly can’t “lump them in” with all the others, because they project an aura of loving care for their talents and are completely willing to share them with the listener… the 4:04 “Foothills Wonder” is a perfect example of how tightly they weave their guitar tales for you.  Of the eleven tunes offered up, though, I found the high-energy “14 & Green” to be my personal favorite… an all-round talent extravaganza.  I give these folks a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 – perfect aural adventure to close out the issue with!  Get more information at the New Latitude website.       Rotcod Zzaj

New Latitude: Convergence

Ernie Watts Quartet – A SIMPLE TRUTH:  There’s nothing more delicious/tasty than a serving of real (musical) truth, and Ernie’s splendid reed work will sate your jazz appetite – with no room left over.  You’ll spin this great CD over & over again, particularly on pieces like the beautiful opener, “The Sound – Morning“… life’s treasured moments come with crystal clarity as you listen to the laid-back and gentle images Ernie paints here.  “The Road We’re On” is a perfect portrait of the movement we all participate in as we travel down the path together… every little sonic nuance is captured in the recording, & you’ll find yourself loving this (again & again).  My personal favorite of the eight tunes offered up was the rollicking “Acceptance“… man, this just rocks it right on out (in a jazz sense, I mean); and clocking in at 10:33, it gives the players plenty of room to tell their story!  I give Ernie & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at the City Hall Records label page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Ernie Watts Quartet: A Simple Truth

Rik Wright’s Fundamental Forces – BLUE:  Rik’s guitar work has been reviewed in our pages since, like, forever, man!  He’s joined by a stellar crew on this debut release for “Fundamental Forces”… (Jim DeJoie (alto sax, bass clarinet, clarinet, flute); Geoff Harper (bass); Greg Campbell (drums, percussion), and tunes like the full-bodied “Moon Ring” will let you know you’re in the presence of musical genius (there’s some wonderful interplay between the reeds and the other players on this one, too)!  The 7:54 “Nonchalant” is full of what I’d call “odd-funk”, painting the aural picture in totally different fashions than you’re used to listening to – & that’s a VERY good thing!  My personal favorite of the five tunes offered up was “Butterfly Effect“… clear/crystal recording and superb energy for the playing make “Blue” a total winner.  I give Rik & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners who want a dose of different in their aural excursions.  “EQ” (energy quotient) is 4.98.  Get more information at Rik’s Bandcamp page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Rik Wright

Florencia Gonzalez – BETWEEN LOVES:  Florencia’s tenor sax work just shines on this tasty debut CD from Zoho!  She paints her compositions in rich tones that stir emotions we’ve all felt before, especially on pieces like the wonderfully engaging opener, “Hurry“!  The fact that she has a stellar supporting cast of musicians (Jonathan Powerl on trumpet/flugelhorn, Shannon Barnett on trombone, Luis Perdomo doing piano, Fernando Huergo on bass & Franco Pinna doing drums) rounds the listening experience out to make it one of the most pleasant I’ve reviewed in 2014.  I totally dug the piano intro to “Weird Pericon“, and all the other instruments jump right into the fray, so that you wind up with a clear remembrance of the passion of that particular moment.  It was the great rhythms and motion on “The One Who Never Was” that made it my favorite of the seven tracks Florencia offers up for your listening pleasure.  I give this great little CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Florencia’s website.     Rotcod Zzaj

Florencia Gonzalez: Between Loves

Circadian Rhythm Kings – THREE THIRTY FOUR:  Nothing can top the thrill of writing this ‘zine when new music like this continues to pour in through the mail slot… Todd Brunel is the bandleader for this fantastic high-energy CD that features Andrew Hickman doing tenor sax, percussion; Mike Carey on alto sax, flute; Todd Brunel on clarinets, ethnic flute; John Funkhouser doing double bass, piano and Gary Fieldman on drums.  When you consider that the dictionary says these are “physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment”, you’ll realize that you’re probably going to up for the full-cycle spinning these red-hot & smokin’ rhythmic smokers over & over (& over) again!  Tunes like the 6:11 “Sashes to Sashes” will W-O-W you with more than just cute titles… Funkhouser’s bass drives this one into total oblivion, & the screeches (at about 5:30) definitely reminded me of some of the free jazz sessions I used to do back in the day!  Excellent recording quality and ultra-high energy drive this one to an immediate MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (a perfect) 5.00… which means that this one gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best accessible free jazz”!  Get more information at Todd’s Clarinet Conspiracy website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Circadian Rhythm Kings: Three Thirty Four

Annie Ross – TO LADY WITH LOVE:  As you listen to this splendid jazz vocal/guitar set from Annie, Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar) and John Pizzarelli (guitar), you’ll realize (in the immediate) why Billie Holiday was so important to Annie… “For All We Know” opens the set (right after Annie’s homage to Billie), & it’s one fine & relaxing tune, to be sure.  What’s so impressive about Ross’s vocals is that there’s no “rush”… even-keel, relaxed & in fine form from the opening note right until the last bar.  My personal favorite of the dozen tunes offered up for your aural enjoyment is “I Get Along Without You Very Well“… an absolutely superb set that you’ll treasure for years to come.  I give Annie & her guitar-playing pals a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone who demands (at least) a bit of magic in their jazz vocal listening experience.  Get more information on Annie & her wonderful music at Annie’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Annie Ross: To Lady With Love(feat. Bucky Pizzarelli & John Pizzarelli)

Tony Exum, Jr. – THE ONE:  If good solid sax-led jazz is what you’re looking for… you’ll want this fine CD from Tony!  Tunes like “I Found Her” will W-O-W you & simply blow you away…. & I reckon that’s just as it should be, since he first started playing sax at about 11 years old.  The “jump” on “Movement” will have you movin’, no doubt about that!  Many of the bands I listen to with sax in front are too scripted, with no real “soul” pushin’ through that envelope… but that’s NOT true for Tony’s lush style of playing & connecting with the listener… tunes like my personal favorite (of the 14 offered up), “Lovely Conversation” will invade your spirit & have you up & dancin’ in no time.  I give Tony & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Tony’s Reverbnation site.    Rotcod Zzaj

Tony Exum Jr: The One

Debbie Orta – CHILD’S PLAY:  This great little jazz CD sounds like a family affair to me… Vocals  Debbie Orta; Piano and keyboard: Mike Orta; Electric bass and synth: Nicky Orta; Sax*, flute and alto flute: Ed Maina; Drums and hand percussion: Carlomagno Araya… and Debbie’s vocals are perfect for this, as you’ll hear on her rendition of “Make Someone Happy“… I can tell you now, you’ll be completely pleased (and, of course, very happy) with Debbie’s performance on this tune.  The group definitely excels on “Both Sides Now‘… fine & crisp recording, and a clear display of the kind of high talent and energy you want for your jazz listening experience!  My personal favorite of the dozen songs was the title track, “Child’s Play“… you won’t forget this one soon.  I give Debbie & her crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Debbie’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Debbie Orta: Child

Ricky Kej and Wouter Kellerman – WINDS OF SAMSARA:  We’ve reviewed Ricky’s keyboards here a couple of times now, as well as Wouter’s high-talent flute work – & loved it!  Both of them seem to get better with each release they do… I’m particularly impressed with the majestic presence they create on the opener, “Mahatma“… tasty & tastier!  The sounds on “River Of Time” put you right there, next to the banks of time… beautiful and intriguing.  Of the dozen + 2 tracks offered up, though, it was “Journey To Higher Grounds” that made my heart (and my soul) soar… and I can essentially guarantee that yours will as well, when you listen to this with focus!  I’m impressed enough to give these masterful players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information about their work at their page for this release.     Rotcod Zzaj

Wouter Kellerman and Ricky Kej: Winds of Samsara

Lea Longo – SONGS OF A SIREN:  As the title implies, Lea will wrap you right into her songs about love & life… her rendition of the classic “Fever” is different than you’ve heard (in a long time), I guarantee it… HOT!  The percussion on the intro to “Here’s To Life” is superb, & then it rolls over into an almost Stephen-Bishop-like canter that will capture your ears right away.  It was the 5:30 “To Heaven” that got my personal vote for favorite of the ten fantastic tracks Lea uses to draw you in… some excellent changes & definitely danceable!  I’m not usually a fan of music that’s billed to “enthrall”, but this is done with precision & gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 from me.  Get more information at Lea’s website.      Rotcod Zzaj

Lea Longo: Songs of a Siren

Terra Guitarra – FIRELIGHT:  This excellent guitar duo was last reviewed in issue # 132, where they got very high marks from me.  This new release continues the adventure, and what a marvelous journey it is!  Tunes like “October” are gentle, yet full of life and the energy it generates!  The “earthiness” of their playing is the main attraction… they will draw you in & keep you listening, especially on tunes like the 4:09 “Sunshower“… sort of like Ritchie Havens less the lyrics… simple, yet wonderful rhythms on this track.  My personal favorite of the thirteen tunes offered up for your listening enjoyment was “Summerdance“…. if this doesn’t bring your spirit to joy – nothing will!  I give Terra Guitarra a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information on their great music at their website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Terra Guitarra: Firelight

Heartdream – ONLY LOVE IS REAL:  One definite advantage of working with musicians is that most of the recommendations they have for music to review are right at the very top of the “heap” (so to speak)… this CD came to us via our friend Charlie Saibel, after a visit he made to the artists’ home.  While the music that Steve & Mirabai Bangs perform isn’t “jazz”, it still (clearly) has the right ingredients to get a good review here… as you listen to the title track, “Only Love Is Real“, you’ll hear just how talented the duo is, and feel the energy they project (“good vibes”, as we called it back in the day).  It was the flute on “You Are Infinity” that made this tune my favorite of the ten tunes offered up.  Good music from good players – & that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?  I give Steve & Mirabai a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the Heartdream website.   Rotcod Zzaj

Heartdream: Only Love Is Real

McTuff – MCTUFF VOLUME 1:  This fantastic high-energy organ-led jazz release came in a pack of three from Joe Doria a couple months back… Joe’s Hammond organ leads the pack, but all the other players are smokin’ in a big way, as well, especially on tunes like the opener, “Bad Coil“… if you’re looking for jazz that gets right down into the guts of it – GET this!  The 9:43 “Seven Bullets” will amaze you with the level of funkiness the 4-piece can generate… you’ll be listening to this one over & over again, I’ll guarantee it.  Of the nine excellent tunes offered up, it was “Tuff Love” that got my vote for favorite – IMMEDIATELY (the guitar leads mesh perfectly with the other instruments, too)!  I’ve watched these guys play live several times now, and can tell you that the same stellar energies they generate in a live venue are captured very nicely on this CD.  I give the group another MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information on these high-talent players at Joe Doria’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

All in One SEO Pack Pro version

McTuff: Volume 1

The Cellar and Point – AMBIT:  There’s definitely a unique & very interesting mixture of musical elements going on here… jazz, classical & a bit o’ rockin’ are all merged together into one of the most memorable sonic experiences you’ll ever enjoy.  Drummer Joseph Branciforte, guitarist Christopher Botta & several other players make one hella’ debut on this eleven-song adventure.  I particularly enjoyed pieces like “Arc“… deep and deeply engaging… easily bringing back mem’ries of Jean-Luc Ponty.  My personal favorite, the 6:47 “Purple Octagon“, did a truly masterful job of blending many forms of music together into a whole that is totally different, new and full of life-sustaining energy.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the Cellar and Point website.   Rotcod Zzaj


Steve Henrichs – DAWN:  Steve’s fine keyboard, violin & synth work show complete understanding of how to mix (some) pop rhythms with jazz ideas and have it turn out far better than the average “smoothist” could render on this September, 2014 release.  The slow build on “Rain” made it very pleasant to listen to…. the title track, “Dawn“, is totally engaging for the listener, and will definitely put you in the mood to face the coming day!  It was the 6:16 “La Gloria” that captured my vote for favorite of the ten beautifully crafted tracks, though… all the instruments are clear, and the gently swaying rhythms will have you up & dancin’ ’round the room in no time (just loved Franklin Correa’s flute on this one).  I give Steve & crew a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information on the album & musicians at Steve’s website!      Rotcod Zzaj

Steve Henrichs: Dawn

Dana Landry Trio – MEMPHIS SKYLINE:  Dana surely has the piano chops down, & plays jazz with all the feeling it deserves.  The opener, “Sugar Ray“, is absolute “mood-up”, and true jazz lovers will ride this tune all the way home!  Erik Applegate’s bass and drums from Jim White round out the trio in fine fashion.  The groove on Hank Crawford’s “Sherry” is intense & you’ll find yourself groovin’ & toe-tappin’ right along with the group.  I just loved Dana’s original track, “Cityscape“… if this is what Memphis feels like, I’ll be there tomorrow – this one is definitely my favorite of the 9 tunes played on this outing.  If well-recorded jazz with that “true vibe” is what you seek out for your listening pleasure – you’ll have to have this one in your collection.  I give Dana & the trio a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Dana’s website.

Dana Landry Trio: Memphis Skyline

Watters-Felts Project – WATTERS-FELTS PROJECT:  There’s a lot of mem’ries of the good ol’ Huntspatch jazz turf that come flooding back when I listen to Ken Watters’ trumpet & Ingrid Felts vocals on this wonderful sonic excursion!  Makes me wish (in some ways) that I could be back down there to witness some of their high-energy performances… Ken & Ingrid are joined by pianist Keith Taylor, bassist Abe Becker,  percussionist Darrell Tibbs and drummer Marcus Pope… tunes like the original “Sommerset Road” are clear evidence that they’ve (all) got their chops together in a grand & spectacular way!  Ken’s trumpet just shines on “Port-au-Prince“, and the vocal is lilting and sweet through & through.  The 8:57 live (& unreleased) track “There It Is” turned out to be my favorite…  absolutely jubilant jammin’!!!!  If high-talent and high-energy are what you’re desiring to dig down deep into, you’ll agree when I declare this one to be MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED…. “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at the Watters-Felt Project RN page.   Rotcod Zzaj

Kronomorfic – ENTANGLED:  I last reviewed David Borgo’s sax work in issue 106; on this splendid outing, he’s with drummer Paul Pellegrin… and what a sonic adventure they’ve prepared for your aural appendages!  On tunes like the mysterious 7:10 “Cellar Door“, you’ll find yourself exploring right along with them…. there are a whole host of other players on this outing, far too many to itemize here, but suffice it to say that it’s not “tangled” at all; very NICE, in fact!  The vibes from Anthony Smith on “Creeping Normalcy” (as well as the title, of course) made it a totally engaging listen for me.  It was the 3-section title track, “Entangled“, that got my choice for personal favorite, though… with 20:14 time, they are “wide-open” in their exploration, with lots of nice build and regress going on throughout the entire piece.  I give David, Paul & the rest of their crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, particularly for listeners who want some “different” in the mix.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.99.  Get more information at the OA2Records label page for this splendid release.        Rotcod Zzaj

David Haney – DIRECTIONS IN MUSIC/DOLPHY’S HAT:  David’s piano leads a fantastic collective of players (far too long to list here) in new ways… very improvised, very tight & no meandering whatsoever!  Any way you listen, it’s fascinating, & very well-recorded.  Julian Priester’s trombone work is clean & the talent shines on tunes like “Leopard’s Boulevard“… just loved this tune!  The 4:09 “Conflagaration” was another track that will stick in your mind, & right up at the top of your jazz playlists.  Don’t read my words incorrectly, though… this is not “wallflower jazz”, and if you’re stuck in “conventional” mode, you’ll probably move on to something else.  My personal favorite was the smoothly flowing “Kicking The Tin Can Alley“… 8:41, with plenty of time to build the framework & result in complete expression/direction.  I give David & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the SLAM PRODS label site for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Cara Powers:  SONGSTRESS:  With 2015 rollin’ in about 7 hours from now, I couldn’t help but spin this brand-new release from jazz vocalist Cara for review…. if this doesn’t turn you on to jazz vocal work – nothin’ ever will!  As she spins her magic vocal weave on “Best Woman You Ever Met“, you’ll know you’re in the presence of true soul/jazz royalty… +, those guitar leads just SMOKE it, volkz!  If it’s laid-back & bluesy you’re lookin’ for, you’ll find tunes like “Night And Day” to be among your favorites, & will be spinning them over & over again!  Though I loved all eight of the tracks for their superb recording quality and high-talent performances, I found Cara’s rendition of Marvin’s “What’s Going On” simply stunning.  If you don’t buy another CD in 2014 or 2015 – GET this one!  I give Cara and her astounding crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (a perfect) 5.00 – which means that this also gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best jazz vocals”!  Get more information at Cara’s website.         Rotcod Zzaj

Cara Powers: Songstress

Larry Corban – THE CORBANATOR:  Larry’s 2nd album is a smash-hit from his very first guitar note… I first reviewed his exciting jazz guitar work in issue 134, where he got very high marks from these ol’ ears!  His compositional skills are totally evident on all-original works like “Sea Of Fire“; crisp recording & the skills of his partners (Harvie S. on upright bass, James Weidman on piano & Steve Williams on drums) make this one of the best guitar tunes I’ve heard in 2014!  It was the 5:01 “Event Horizon” that got my vote as favorite of the thirteen excellent tracks offered up, though… tasty, tasty jazz that will carry you right on into the next year (I’m writing this on New Year’s eve, 2014).  Of course, with that many tracks, you may find one that you like better.  Any way you slice it, though, this CD is certainly worthy of my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Larry’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Larry Corban: The Corbanator

Tara Davidson – DUETS:  This is my first listen to Tara’s excellent reed work, & she brings a whole cast of musical characters with her (Tara Davidson- alto & soprano saxes, with Mike Murley – tenor saxophone; Trevor Hogg – tenor saxophone; Laila Biali – piano; David Braid – piano; David Occhipinti – guitar; Andrew Downing – acoustic bass and cello) in a perfect jazz session to wind down 2014 with… pieces like “Silver Skates” will have you gently groovin’ right along with the players.  If you’re looking for something just a bit more upbeat, you’ll like “130 E. 39th St.“, no doubt about it.  The recording is vibrant, & projects far more than the “duets” title would imply… my personal favorite (from a jazz immersion standpoint) of the thirteen splendid tracks is “The Halcyonian Years“… some wonderful bass on the intro, & the all-original energy (all of these tunes are Tara’s) makes it a true winner!  I give Tara & her folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Tara’s website.         Rotcod Zzaj

Jim Stranahan – MIGRATION TO HIGHER GROUND:  Jim’s splendid “little big band” pulls out all the stops on this lively nine-song extravaganza… as you listen to tunes like the opener, “Mambo Facil“, you’ll be toe-tappin’ (or maybe even dancing) with the best of them!  “Energy” is the keyword for these (nearly all) original pieces… some big bands seem to get “bogged down”, maybe because of the amounts of players… but as you scope out “Straight From The Source“, you’ll hear just how “upbeat” these swingin’ cats can get – you won’t find better jazz than this anywhere today… this is my personal favorite of the tunes on this outing, by the way.  I give Jim & his extensive crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of a (perfect) 5.00 – which means that they also get the “PICK” of this issue for “best big band jazz).  Get more information at the Capri Records page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Andy Waddell – ALIVE:  A CD title could never be more apt that this one… I first reviewed Andy’s superior jazz guitar work in issue 134, and was impressed then… his new release (on Rhombus Records, his first for them) is “on” again… one of the things that sets this album apart from (all) the others is that all nine tunes are originals; as you listen to the high-energy (kickin’ drums on the intro) “Wonderville“, you’ll hear why I say that!  He’s joined by Tom Catazaro on tenor sax, Josh Nelson on piano, Dan Lutz on bass & Aaron McLendon on drums, for a set you’ll not soon forget… in fact, I predict that once you listen to the 8:01 “Testament“, you’ll mark each & every song on Alive as a top favorite!  Some truly excellent guitar-led jazz that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at the Rhombus Records page for this release.        Rotcod Zzaj

Diane Roblin – RECONNECT:  Since my primary instrument (way back in the ’80’s) was Fender Rhodes & other variants of electronic keyboards, Diane’s fantastic keyboard work was an instant hit for me, no doubt… as I listen to the opener, “In The Beginning“, I’m (almost) inspired to pull out my own axe & hammer out a few tunes… great jazz, to be sure!  “Fasten Your Seatbelt” is some of the down & funkiest jazz I’ve heard in 2014, & will get your blood pumpin’ enough to get you up out of your seat & dancin’… you can almost hear greats like Herbie Hancock on this one.  It was the 5:56 “Fine And Funky” that got my personal pick for favorite of the ten super-tunes Diane & her high-energy crew offer up for your player… every note is flawlessly recorded…. you need to do this whole album with your headphones on (at least for the first sitting).  This all-original debut CD gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information on this fine keyboard talent at Diane’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Diane Roblin: Reconnect

Dan Moretti & The Hammond Boys – LIVE AT CHAN’S:  As the CD title implies, you’re in for some serious jazz here… Dave Limina’s Hammond organ joins Dan’s splendid reed & flute work in a live recording that will make you wish you’d been right there with the rest of the audience.  It’s been a while since I enjoyed Dan’s lively jazz spirit (issue 96), but he won’t let your ears down (at ALL, folks)… as you listen to the group’s version of (Bobby Timmons) “Moanin‘”, you’ll “get it” right away… jazz you just can’t put down (not that you’d want to, anyway).  If it’s “jumpin'” you gotta’ have – scope out the heavy beat on “Shuffle Twist“… absolutely, amazingly rockin’!!!!    It was Dan’s flute on “Soul Underneath” that got my vote for personal favorite of the ten tunes offered up for your (long-term) listening pleasure (swore I could hear the spirit of Yusef or Rhasan Roland in there somewhere)!!  I give Dan & his mighty crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (a perfect) 5.00… meaning that they get the “PICK” of this issue for “best reed-led jazz performance”!  Get more information on Dan’s fantastic music at his SONICBIDS site.        Rotcod Zzaj

Dan Moretti: Dan Moretti & the Hammond Boys "Live At Chan

Hendrik Meurkens & Misha Tsiganov – JUNITY:  With Hendrik’s excellent harmonica & Misha’s superb piano (joined on some tunes by Oleg Osenkov on bass and Willard Dyson on drums), you get the jazz you need for having a great day, to be sure!  The Beatles classic “Blackbird” (the opener) hasn’t sounded better, at least in 2014 (& I’ve listened to several groups perform it this year).  Hendrik’s original, “Menina na Janela“, is among the liveliest tunes going, especially for harmonica-led jazz… the piano is “right on” time, for a high-spirited jazz romp that you’ll enjoy again & again.  It was actually Misha’s own original, “Scriabin“, that won my vote for favorite of the thirteen memorable tunes, though…. intimate jazz that will give you plenty of inspiration to face whatever may come in 2015.  I give this duo/quartet a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information about these wonderful players at Hendrik’s site, or on Misha’s pages.       Rotcod Zzaj

Tony Kadleck – AROUND THE HORN:  These fine jazz tunes are all totally professional, & will thrill anyone who loves horn-led jazz!  Tunes like “Green Tea” will be spinning over & over again, no doubt in my old jazzified mind (& those guitar leads are smoking, too)!  The player list is far too long to quote here, so you can check it out here; note that Randy Brecker makes a guest appearance!  Though it’s “big band”, you’ll (still) think you’re in one of those smoky little rooms as you scope out “African Skies” – just one heckuvva’ tune.  It was the group’s rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” that got my vote for personal favorite track of the ten on the album, though… I can tell you right now that if you love you some horn – this is THE one to get!  I give Tony & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Tony’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Tony Kadleck Big Band: Around the Horn
Tony Kadleck Big Band: Around the Horn

Brook Pridmore – GORY DETAILS:  There are times (not a lot of them, but it does happen) when I listen to & review music that’s a bit “on the edge”… & this is (to be sure) one of them… Brook submitted this direct to me… he’s a total indie in rockin’ mode, & as you listen to “The Kalamazoo Promise“, you’ll realize that he has far more to offer than being “just another rocker”.  Actually, (I believe) I can hear shades of early-to-mid Bruce Cockburn in there… on the other hand, when the track list progresses to “I Am No Captain“, I’m thinkin’ of another Captain (as in Beefheart)… while it’s no as “strange” as Don (Van Vliet) produced, there are still similarities.  My personal favorite of the eleven tunes offered up was “Brother Comfort“… it doesn’t exactly offer the solace you might imagine from the title, but it certainly slices deep.  I give Brook a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at Brooks’ Bandcamp pages.        Rotcod Zzaj

Megan Chaskey – NAAM RADIANCE: This is truly pretty… and a wonderful sonic experience to start our 150th issue off with!  Megan says her goal on this outing is to help you go to “higher realms”, and tunes like “Aardas Bahee” allow her to get you there with little effort (or, at least, she makes it sound that way).  I can tell you now, this isn’t your “typical” meditation/new age album; definitely not your mom’s recycled mantras… the recording is pure, and the cast of players is far beyond the “normal” lineups for such sonic experiences.  Of course, Yoga enthusiasts will embrace what she’s providing – the extended (12:09) “Aapa Sahaee Hoa” is proof of that, beyond shadow of doubt… David Darling’s cello, as well as the shining vocals, will lift you to new heights!  My personal thrill was manifested (easily) on the percussion-laden “Ajai Alai“… it’s strange to hear such near-jazz rhythms in tunes that are made to help you be transported… but, it WORKS… I give Megan (and her extensive crew) a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Megan’s website (she has much to offer).        Rotcod Zzaj

Megan Chaskey: Naam Radiance

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