Issue #153 Reviews

Our latest and greatest reviews for your reading & listening pleasure

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The links below are to REVIEWS I’ve written for Cadence Jazz World!!!

Michael Jefry Stevens – Angel’s Dance

Dom Minasi/Blaise Siwula – The Sunshine Don’t Mind My Singing

Dom Minasi/Hans Tammen – Alluvium Sun 

Dario Chiazzolino and Nico Di Battista – Rewriting Song

Dario Chiazzolino – Paint Your Life

Erika Dagnino Trio – SIDES:  Erika’s trio (Erika on poetry/voice, Ken Filiano on doublebass/effects and Satoshi Takeishi on percussion) is a welcome addition to our huge collection of creative and improvised works; a PERFECT album to close out this issue with!  Totally perceptive movements that (even though done in another language for a good part of the pieces) are completely intelligible to listeners who “dig down” into the music and let nothing escape their aural senses.  I particularly enjoyed “Secondo Movimento“, with it’s combination of simple spoken-word against very presentable double bass and percussion; the fact that it clocks in at 8:31 just means that there is plenty of space for each player to shine – & shine they DO!    Regular readers here will know that I listen to a lot of work from artists like this, and Erika always stands out as exceptional.  I give Erika and her musical cohorts a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners who thrive on improvised music, and an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the SLAM Records page for this release.    Rotcod Zzaj

Nelson Rudiak – WINNIPEGOSIS:  This lil’ rockin’ release is Nelson’s second one, & when I say RAWK-in’, that’s definitely what I mean!  One of those “true D.I.Y.” efforts (he plays everything except the drums).  & PLAY he does… just scope out one of my favorite pieces, the 5:41 “Aarf Again“… believe it or not, there are even some (orchestral) moments that Unca’ Frank (as in Zappa) woulda’ been proud of on this track.  Some nice jazzy elements come to the fore on “Band Aids for an Atomic Bomb“, though it’s strangely “march-like” (as in marching band).  My personal favorite of the nine tunes was the jammin’ opener, “BBQ Boogie“… this one, though among the shortest on the CD, has all the energy you’ll need for repeated listens… you’ll keep this one on your playlist for a good long while, I guarantee ya’!  I’m impressed with Nelson’s musical talent, & you will be too… I give him a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Nelson’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Nelson Rudiak: Winnipegosis

Eric Hofbauer Quintet – PREHISTORIC JAZZ VOL II:  An issue or so back, I reviewed VOL I of this fantastic effort from guitarist Eric & his com-padres… this second volume is no less creative, and it’s full of the kind of “life” that makes jazz stand out from the rest of the musical pack.  Tunes like “vocalise, pour l’ange qui annonce la fin du temps“.  Truly some wonderful music, especially for listeners who demand some degree of creativity and talent in their jazz experience… the players are Eric Hofbauer, guitar; Jerry Sabatini, trumpet Todd Brunel, Bb clarinet & bass clarinet; Junko Fujiwara, cello and Curt Newton, drums & percussion, and each of them contributes a piece of their own soul to the music being offered up.  It was the 8:08 “danse de la fueur, pour les sept trompettes” that got my vote for personal favorite of the eight tunes offered up.  Anyway you hear it, this is a “MUST” for the serious collector of music that defies categorization; I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of a (perfect) 5.00 – meaning that it also gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best creative jazz”.  Get more information at the Eric Hofbauer site for this release.    Rotcod Zzaj

Andrzej Rejman – BLUE AIR:  Andrzej’s keyboard work has become an “instant hit” here, and this release is (definitely) one of the reasons why… as I listen to the opener (again, for the 20th time), “Flying In December“, it’s clear to me that it is his wonderful sense of “pacing” that makes his playing so poignant for the listener… strings abound as well on these “production pieces” (as he calls them).  The 3:30 “Jazzy September” weaves together instruments in a way that will remind you of all the fall days you’ve enjoyed mixed with solid jazz!  I’ve reviewed quite a bit of his work already, and will be doing much more with his music in the coming months.  Of the twenty three tracks offered up for your listening pleasure, it was the 5:57 “Daily Sun” that won my vote for personal favorite… I’ve already elevated this one to the very top in my “favorite piano” tracks, and it will be staying there for a good long while to come!  If you’re looking for high-talent piano work that transcends time, this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information about Andrzej and his various musical efforts at his MUSIC PROJECTS page, where you’ll find direct links to his music all over the web.       Rotcod Zzaj

Saturn’s Rival – SATURN’S RIVAL:  If you’re truly IN to improvised music, then this release from Maxwell Gualtieri — Guitar; Susan Allen — Harp; Richard Valitutto — Piano; Ryan Parrish — Winds and Anjilla Piazza — Percussion, oka “Saturn’s Rival” will definitely whet your thirst for such!  “Part I” alone will set your mind wandering the farthest reaches of the galaxy (I actually would have liked to have seen titles affixed to these, as the music just lends itself to creative names, but you can’t have everything, I reckon).  If it’s the longer journey you wish to take, you’ll float to the outer edges with “Part II“, which clocks in at 21:58… lots (and lots) of room for these talented players to contribute and “speak” their own vision through the music they are improvising for you.  It was the strange “background vocals” on “Part III” that got my vote for favorite of the four tracks on the CD, though… of course, as with any good improvised music – you have to actually LISTEN… this is NOT background music, so be forewarned.  For listeners who can’t go a day without hearing something creative, this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at the pFmentum label site for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Todd Miller – BRING HIM HOME:  Todd’s work is beautiful, coming close to a modern form of opera, no doubt…. and he is full of energy for what he’s doing (which is what got him a review here)… it’s decidedly not jazz, but (as I remind folks sometimes), my criteria here is “energy”, and not “genre”.  The opening track, “Brokenness“, kind of sets the tone for the rest of the eleven pieces… somewhat solemn and full of wonder.  The guitars on “I Stand, I Fall” take it a step closer to music that’s in the more popular realm.  There is a strong bent towards worship here (nothing wrong with that), and listeners who love that sort of work will find this quite likeable because of Todd’s well-demonstrated talent.  The bouncy rhythms on “Angels Can Fly” made it my favorite track on the CD (again, because the guitar RAWKZ)!  I give Todd a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  You can get more information at Todd’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Todd Miller: Bring Him Home

Cynthia Felton – SAVE YOUR LOVE FOR ME (Nancy Wilson Classics):  I’m not a great big fan of “re-visit” jazz CD’s, particularly when they are of the vocal persuasion.  In Cynthia’s case, that isn’t true (at all)… she takes those tunes that Nancy used to croon to us (yes, I grew up in that very era) & (quite simply) takes “possession” of them… she OWNS them!  Tracks like “The Old Country” will make your ears sit right on UP & take notice.  I’ve reviewed Cynthia here at least a couple of times and can tell you that what makes her stand out from all the other vocalists is her penetrating vocal style and high ENERGY (through & through) on each & every tune.  From a jazz vocal standpoint, my personal favorite of the eleven tunes offered up is “Sleepin’ Bee“… Ms. Felton’s range and love for the music she’s performing is crystal clear on this tune!  I give Cynthia and her band mates a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who can’t go a day without strong jazz vocals on their playlist.  You can get more information about this splendid artist at Cynthia’s website.     Rotcod Zzaj

Cynthia Felton: Save Your Love for Me: Cynthia Felton Sings the Nancy Wilson Classics

Greg Spero – ELECTRIC:  It might be easy to dismiss this release as a bit too “light” in the jazz sphere… until you listen to the high energy expression on “Interlude 3“… just loved the bass on this one.  I totally dug the percussion & keyboards (from Greg) on “Raga“, and have no doubt that you will too – it’s one of the few tracks that gives plenty of room for development of the theme – 5:09 (in some strange way, this reminded me of a couple of the tunes on a way old rockin’ band called “Touch”).  Greg projects some nice emotions via his jazz sensibilities on all eleven of these tracks, and it makes for a very enjoyable (and easy) listen.  My personal favorite on this album was titled “Up Too Late“… it just has the right feel, and the movements are very nice as well.  I give Greg & his bandmates (Makaya McCraven on drums and Junius Paul on bass) a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Greg’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Greg Spero: Electric

Robin Spielberg – ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE:  Not too many folks my age (rapidly approaching 70) have the opportunity to keep apace of music that shapes the current time, as well as the future… long-time readers know that I long ago fell in love with Robin’s sensitive and beautiful piano mastery… she’s outdone herself on this newest release… pieces like the opener, “First Dance“, will make you feel the same way about her music, I’ve no doubt.  I just loved the 7:49 “The Time Traveler“… the length of the tune gives her plenty of time to create the mood for you, and that’s exactly what she does… pure magic, to be sure!  It was her deep left-hand on “In My Dreams” that made it my absolute favorite of the eleven compositions offered up for your piano-listening pleasure… certainly music to accompany your dreams and make them come alive.  I give Robin a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (a perfect) 5.00 – meaning that this one also gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best solo piano” release.  Get more information at Robin’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Lawrence Blatt – EMERGENCE:  The guitar work that Lawrence does is well-received here; though it’s not “jumpin'” or “high-falutin'”, it is jam-packed with the energy that only sensitive talent and a sincere love of playing can bring.  Pieces like the title track, “Emergence“, really make you understand how the beauty of music can enhance your well-being, and with Lawrence leading the way with his most pleasant guitar stylings – you can’t go wrong.  I’ve reviewed several of his releases already and am always happy when a new one arrives, especially when tunes like the beautiful “Entering the East Gate” are included; the fact that Will Ackerman produced this doesn’t hurt at all either… nearly everything I’ve heard that Will puts together is – totally – together.  Of the dozen pieces gathered for your listening pleasure, it was the gently swaying and emotionally-charged 5:30 “Poloyne” that got my vote as personal favorite.  I give Lawrence a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Lawrence’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Lawrence Blatt: Emergence

Joe Hakim – IMPRINTS:  Joe does keyboard and double bass on this great little recording, joined by Matt Slocum on drums; very interesting and quite persuasive for the jazz listener.  The pacing on all ten tunes is excellent, and the recording is crystal-clear… well done, especially on tunes like the 5:18 “Ghosts And The Poet“… it won’t totally blow you away, but it will stay in your head for days!  I truly loved the bass work on the beautiful (and emotional) “Across The River“… and I have no doubt you will too (Matt’s drums weave wonderfully with the bass on this track, too).  If you want to “discover” something magical in the music you listen to, you’ll certainly appreciate my personal favorite piece of the 10 offered up, “Seek and Find“… this is a fine jazz set, and Joe/Matt get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me for listeners who love well-played jazz.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at Joe’s Bandcamp site.    Rotcod Zzaj

Joe Hakim: Imprints

Clare Fischer Big Band directed by Brent Fischer – PACIFIC JAZZ:  If it’s big band jazz you’re seeking out, you’ll (absolutely) NEED this one in your collection!  Brent is Dr. Clare Fischer’s son, and takes you on a very pleasurable journey through some of the senior Fischer’s compositions and keyboard arrangements… pieces like “All Out” really amp up the energy, albeit in a “big band” way.  Even famous players like Herbie Hancock say that Clare had a huge influence on their jazz playing.  This October 2014 release features thirteen grand excursions, so you’ll find something you can totally dig down into & get comfortable with… my personal favorite was the 5:21 “Blues Parisien“… everything is totally in synch & the spirits are high in the playing, so you’ll get a total blues experience on this one – tasty, indeed!  I give this release a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Clare Fischer’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Clare Fischer Big Band: Pacific Jazz

Ferenc Nemeth and Attila Laszlo – BRIDGES OF SOULS:  The more often I listen to these songs from drummer Ferenc and guitarist Attila (with bass from Jimmy Haslip and piano/keyboards by Russell Ferrante), the more I’m reminded of some of the great Euro-jazz players I was able to listen to when I lived in Europe (early ’60’s) the first time.  Jimmy’s bass solo lines towards the end of the title track, “Bridges of Souls“, is especially poignant!  If GET-down & funkin’ is what your listening is intended to be for today, then you’ll listen to “Downhill” about 1000 times (or more) before you move on to something else – piano KICKS on this one.  I particularly enjoyed “Magic City“… at 6:43, it provides plenty of opportunity for each player to explore the song and put their best notes forward… it’s definitely my personal favorite of the eleven pieces offered up!  I give these excellent players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED  – “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at Ferenc’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Ferenc Nemeth: Bridges of Souls

Joe Ferrara – THE TIGER WALKS MY DREAMS:  Catchy titles and very upbeat arrangements make this an interesting jazz vocal set… energy’s far up on the scale.  The impression I get is of lounge lizardness mixed heavily with Las Vegas show songs, with Joe’s vocal work on top, in, around & through that.  I liked “Night Song“, perhaps because it had a slightly more laid-back pace.  Despite what the liner notes tell us, there’s a lot of Sinatra-like crooning going on in there, too.  It was the bluesy horns on “Whiskey Island” that captured my vote for personal favorite of the ten songs on the album.  For some reason, I can’t help but think about the early tunes from Tom Jones… that’s (in great part) what this reminds me of.  I give Joe & crew a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.94.  You can get more information at Joe’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Joe Ferrara: The Tiger Walks Through My Dreams

Paul Yonemura- REUNION TRIOS:  Folks, this is some absolutely tasty West Coast jazz… Paul’s drums lead a whole host of “guest performers” in ten tunes you won’t soon knock off your playlists!  He’s best known in the Bay Area for his assistance to (many) budding musicians… the recording is excellent, and tunes like “Stella By Starlight” take on new life under his drumsmanship.  The lively “Seventh Heaven” will keep you listening for every next beat until the end of this fine 7:01 performance.  The laid-back & bluesy “Blue Couch” will hold you spellbound… piano is superb on this one, too, with silky-smooth brush work from Paul to keep the mood where it belongs for this kind of tune.  It was the pep & punch on “Israel” that made it my personal favorite of all the tunes on this release.  Paul & his (various) crews (three different trios, actually) get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 for this fine set of music.  Get more information about Paul, as well as sample tracks, at Paul’s website.         Rotcod Zzaj

Paul Yonemura: Reunion Trios

Michael Eaton – INDIVIDUATION:  In saxophonist Michael’s debut launch, he’s joined by a whole host of players, not the least of them being David Liebman… tunes like the splendid opening salvo, “Interior Designs“, will be on your playlist for months (if not years) to come.  Total artistry and dedication is clearly evident on the peppy 7:26 “Alter Ego“; some great keyboard work on this one, too!  If reed-led jazz is your passion, this album will be more than just satisfying – it’s truly the “cat’s meow” for those who dig down deep into their music.  It was the 6:20 closer, “Lifecycle“, featuring David, that got my vote for personal favorite of the thirteen excellent compositions…. full-bodied and full of life.  I give Michael & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this fine release.  You can get more information about Michael at the Destiny Records label site.        Rotcod Zzaj

Michael Eaton: Individuation

Johannes Linstead – MIDNIGHT RHUMBA:  It’s decidedly “change-of-pace” time now… Johannes plays Latin guitar with a flourish you seldom encounter these days… full of life and the spirit of living, his music is thoroughly enjoyable for everyone.  If you’re not up & dancin’ ’round the room as you listen to “Radio Argentina“, I’ll be surprised (to say the least).  The strings behind his guitar on “The Oracle” move your emotions in different directions, all very pleasantly.  The recording is crisp and clear, letting you hear every intricate note with full-bodied excellence.  It was the “island flavor” he painted on the 5:14 “Pineapple Grove” that made it my personal favorite of the eleven tunes on the release… if you aren’t swaying & grooving after the first couple of bars, you just aren’t cut out for life.  I give Johannes a well-deserved MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Johannes page for this fine release.   Rotcod Zzaj

Tineke Postma – SONIC HALO:  If your jazz listening tastes can’t do without some quality reed-time, Ms. Postma’s group (Tineke Postma – alto and soprano saxophones; Greg Osby – alto and soprano saxophones; Matt Mitchell – piano, rhodes; Dan Weiss – drums & Linda Oh – bass) is just what you wanted!  Pieces like the 6:40 opener, “Sea Skies“, will whet your appetite for the rest of the nine great songs she offers up for your aural enjoyment.  You might wonder how two sax players will work out as they play together… you’ll have to listen no further than the track titled “Nine Times a Night” to determine the excellence weave they spin for you… absolute perfection!  A truly multi-cultural musical endeavor, it includes players from NYC scene, the Netherlands and Australia… to get a taste for just how wonderful that can be, listen to (my personal favorite on the release) “Source Code“… the changes on this one alone make the album purchase worth it!  I give Tineke and her mates a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information on the Challenge Records page for Tineke.       Rotcod Zzaj

Joseph Daley – PORTRAITS WIND, THUNDER AND LOVE:  As I listen to Joseph’s intricate arrangements and orchestrations on this release, I can’t help but think “movie theme”… but it’s far more than that… five of the portraits are dedicated to percussionist Warren Smith, and when you listen to pieces like  “Wispercussion/Five Portraits of Warren Smith/MVT 2“, you’ll realize just how beautiful Joseph’s compositions and arrangements can be.  It was actually the percussion on the close-out track, “Industria“, that captured my vote for personal favorite of the eight tunes offered up; possibly that’s because Joseph added bassists Ken Filiano and Ben Brown to the mix… whatever the influence, this piece is totally enchanting.  Is it jazz?  Kinda’/sorta’, but certainly not what you would “classify” as jazz.  Is it high-energy?  Exceedingly so, which is why it gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the Joda Music site.    Rotcod Zzaj


Joseph Daley: Portraits: Wind, Thunder and Love

Sea Rocket Jasmine – THE WINDOW:  Richard Bugbee’s keyboards and Dave Halverson’s guitar join forces to give you one of the sweetest jazz duos you will hear in 2015… the 4:59 “Blue Chamber” will serve as a great introduction to their work together and give you a real feel for Richard’s abilities on piano.  “High Steps” changes the pace a bit & will make you feel (at times) as though you’re at a “jazz carnaval” of sorts – different, to be sure.  I totally dug the Zappa-like vibe on “Shepherd” & have no doubt you will get into that spirit with these high-energy, high-talent players.  It was the total exuberance on “Sun Nova” that captured my vote for personal favorite of the dozen tracks, though… super (as you might expect I’d say, lol)!  I’m giving Richard & Dave a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the Jango site.       Rotcod Zzaj

Sea Rocket Jasmine: The Window

Miguel Zenón- IDENTITIES ARE CHANGEABLE:  Alto saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón has put together something very special & full of wonder for your ears!  The music & the accompanying spoken-word focuses on the experiences of Puerto Ricans in his hometown of NYC, and as you listen to pieces like “First Language“, you’ll “get” right where he’s coming from (& where he’s been, for that matter!  Miguel’s horn is mighty & full of emotional expression that will tell you his story in the best way – through his wonderful music. Miguel is joined by Luis Perdomo, piano; Hans Glawischnig, bass & Henry Cole, drums, as well as many (MANY) others for the “big band” sections; you’ll hear their excellence on the 12:24 “Same Fight” and thrill to the glory of this all-original piece (it’s my personal favorite of the eight tunes on this release).  Any way you listen to this set of great compositions, if you are a “true” jazz fan, you’ll agree with me when I declare it MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.99.  Get more information about this very interesting player and his high-talent music at Miguel’s website.      Rotcod Zzaj

Miguel Zenón: Identities Are Changeable

simakDialog – LIVE AT ORION:  From the extremely high-energy opener, “Throwing Words“, to the end of the nine tunes offered up (a full 2-disc set, recorded live at Orion Studios in Baltimore 2013), your ears will be totally captivated… GUARANTEED!  Riza Arshad’s Fender Rhodes work is simply stellar (& the envy of my own ears, of course, since I’m a “kind of” keyboard player myself).  This Indonesian group has been reviewed here several times already – every time in a very favorable light!  What makes Arshad’s work so notable on the Rhodes is the mellow tone/groove he’s able to establish – a lot of players of this instrument don’t understand just how mellow this instrument can sound & often only produce harsh “fuzz” sounding stuff, but Riza knows how to get the most out of this keyboard.  The absolute proof of my statement is the first track on the second disc, “This Spirit“… everything weaves together to make one helluva 12-minute sonic adventure for even the inexperienced jazz listener…. clearly my favorite tune on the album.  I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  You can get more information at the Moonjune Records page for this release.     Rotcod Zzaj

Stoneman – JUST KEEP LIVING:  When the liner notes said that Stoneman’s music was “genre-defying”, they weren’t kidding (at all).  Tunes like “Hitchhike” take me way back to the ’60’s frame-of-mind, with both rock & psych in mind as I listen to this… + which, there is some superb guitar work in the middle of the track!  The beat-driven “No Color Codes” will get you pumped up, no ’bout adoubt it!  Some listeners might tend to “write this off” – but they would be wrong – for SURE… this music HAS th’ driving force & energy needed to keep yer’ moto’ runnin’!  What I dig the most about this artist is that he truly does defy genres, yet keeps “the force” ever-present in his performance.  My personal favorite of the thirteen songs is “The You Hate Me Blues“… though it (in no way) resembles Frank’s “Trouble Comin’ Every Day”, it has the same spirit & a powerful rockin’ guitar solos to go with it.  I give Stoneman & crew a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information via the NUB Country Records site.       Rotcod Zzaj 

The Louis Romanos Quartet – TAKE ME THERE:  When you combine Louis drums with Benedetto guitars from Dan Sumner, horns from Alex Noppe & bass from Neal Starkey, you’ve got a very together set of tunes… pieces like “Aina” will appeal to jazz fans of every color & stripe.  The high-energy performance on the 4:10 “Bruggerman Jam” will have you tappin’ right along with Louis, to be sure.  There’s a great deal of freedom expressed by each of the players in the quartet, and the opener, “Songo 7” is a clear representation of their skill at keeping each of the notes together… the changes on this one are nothing short of exquisite.  It was the laid-back into to “Changes” that caught my vote for personal favorite of the even dozen compositions, though… this evolves from gentle & easy to a mature piece full of a range of emotions.  I give Louis & his crew a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Louis’s website.     (You can purchase the CD direct from Louis at his site also) Rotcod Zzaj

Froskull – FROSKULL:  If you haven’t listened to prog-rock in a while – CHECK this one out… these guys have talent shining brilliantly on each of their tunes!  Unfortunately, this got caught up in a “database shuffle” when I switched computers, ergo it’s taken a while to get to it… well worth the wait, though!  Tunes like th’ down/funky lyric-based “Should Have Known” will truly trip the light & you’ll be feelin’ fantastic after you scope this one out.  The bells on the opener, “A Thousand Years“, will mislead you (but only for a moment) into thinking “Oh, no, another “pretend progger”… this takes me (way, WAY) back to groups like “Touch” (if you remember them, & most probably don’t).  The most impressive piece (& my favorite of the dozen) was “Report From Ganymede“… trekkin’ you to th’ starz & back again, all in a short 4 minutes; with some FANTASTIC lead guitar work, too.  For those (like me) who grew up at the height of the prog era – this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.88.  Get more information at the Froskull website.         Rotcod Zzaj

Froskull: Froskull

Phil DeGreg & Brasilia – BRAZILIAN PEOPLE:  Having never been down that way, I can’t say for sure if this is really representative of the folk there – but, if it is – I wanna’ BE there!  Absolutely tasty songs the will keep you (& your mind) hoppin’!  Phil’s keyboards are perfect, especially on tunes like the lively opener, “Valley Of The River“… & when joined up with Kim Pensyl’s trumpet/flugelhorn, vibraphone from Rusty Burge, bass by Aaron Taylor, drums from John Taylor & guest shots by Bruno Mangueira on guitar, they will provide plenty of grooves for you to rock along to for the duration.  One of the most notable aspects of this release is that the recording is flawless – captures EVERY instrument & every note without drops.  My personal favorite of the ten tunes offered up was the 9:39 closer, “Triste”… plenty of room & time for each player to display their total talent.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners who truly dig music with a strong Latin-jazz base.  Get more information at Phil’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Phil DeGreg: Brazilian People

The Urban Renewal Project – LOCAL LEGEND:  If you think back to the great ol’ days of bands like Tower of Power, then add a touch of rap & 21st-century high-end funkin’ – you GOT it!  Far too many players to itemize here, you’ll have to visit the URP pages to get all the downlow on ’em!  When they spin off funk-laden pieces like the strong opener, “My Own Way“, though, you’ll be diggin’ out yer’ dancin’ shoes… man, this KICKZ’ it!    If it’s drums pushin’ th’ tune that you want to engage your aural appendages in, you’ll dig down deep on “Redshift“… & when that bass/horn assemblage kicks in on top of it all, you’ll be in “fonk heaven”; nice changes & a great guitar solo, too!  My personal favorite of the nine tracks offered up was “Make Like You Mean It“… if this one doesn’t convince you these folks are legends in their own time, you’ll never “get it”!  I give the band a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners who want a bunch o’ phunk in their jazz listening experience.  Use the above link to URP to get all th’ skinny on this great band.       Rotcod Zzaj

Jim Pembroke – IF THE RAIN COMES:  With Jim’s vocals, electric piano, grand piano, background vocals and Pedro Hietanen on Hammond B-3 organ, grand piano, clavinet, accordion; Jukka Orma electric, slide and acoustic guitar, background vocals; Ulf Krokfors double bass; Mika Kallio drums, percussion, you might expect a hardcore jazz set from this eleven-song set from Tum Records.  As you listen to tunes like “Gone With The Song“, you’ll realize you were wrong in your assumption… there’s more rockin’ goin’ on here, & this is a first (for me, anyway) from the Tum label.  The 5:20 (mostly) instrumental “Columbus In India” is my personal favorite – full of raw & energizing power… & the segue to Hammond on “Love Is Easier” is just a perfect transition.  What you’ve got here is high-talent, high-energy classic rock/jazz that you’ll love for months (if not years) to come.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the aforementioned Tum pages.      Rotcod Zzaj

Michael Vlatkovich- HERE, HERE & HERE:  When you combine volcanic performance from Michael Vlatkovich trombone/percussion, Anna Homler vocal/percussion, Jeff Kaiser trumpet/flugelhorn, Scott Walton acoustic bass & Rich West drums/percussion, YOU know it’s gonna’ be great!  Piece like “Before But After” may be short, but they’re packed with the power of improvisation!  The 5:23 “Spark” expands your mind without the need for “alternate” substances; laden with great percussion and tasty intrigues that you won’t soon forget.  My personal favorite on this fifteen-song extravaganza was the (very) strange title track, “Here & Here & Here” (unfortunately, there wasn’t an .mp3 track for this one available – so, you’ll have to purchase the album to hear it)… at around 2:30, the spoken-word kicks in from Anna & will carry you away to dreams you’ve never experienced before.  I must caution you – if you’re not up for “different”, you probably won’t dig this, but if (like me), you thrive on different, you’ll agree when I declare this MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.99.  Get more information at the pFMENTUM label page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Tony Adamo and the New York Crew- YOU GOTTA’ B FLY:  It’s just not that often that I get this “hepped up”… Tony’s spoken/hip word is too much to pass by without reviewing it right away… so, this went right to the top of the review stack!  As you listen to his superlative vocal skills on the fantastic opener, “Gale Blowin’ High“, you’ll become “instantly hip” – even if you never heard jazz like this before.  The players behind each of the eleven tunes join right in, & it’s not like most albums of this nature, where the players are “behind” the vocal hipster…. they OWN these pieces, just as strongly as Tony does!  “Mama’s Meat Pies” is right on DOW-un, bringing back memories of some of the steamiest sessions THIS kat has ever had… ha! ha!  It was the 5:31 “Listen Here Listen Up” that took me all the way down mem’ry lane, though… remembering players like Eddie Harris (one of my own jazz heroes from way back in’ th’ day)… Tony & th’ players definitely know how to convey that PHONK & keep it from ever draggin’ ya’ down (no matter how blues it gets); my personal favorite, to be sure!  Tony’s GOT that soul & ain’t afraid to pass it on to ya’…. I give him a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with a (perfect) “EQ” (energy quotient) of 5.00… which means it also get the “PICK” of this YEAR for “best hip jazz”!  Get more information about Tony & his super-hip works at his Urbanzone Records site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Tony Adamo: Tony Adamo and the New York Crew