Issue # 118 Reviews

Our latest reviews for your reading and listening pleasure!

Tim Hagans – THE MOON IS WAITING: For this ‘zine & this reviewer, there couldn’t be a better CD to close out an issue with than Tim’s – he bills himself as making “uncomfortable music”… & Rotcod Zzaj has always been known as a rabble-rouser who won’t take “normal” for an answer!  As you scope out the wonderful high-talent/energy on the opener, “Ornette’s Waking Dream of A Woman“, you’ll know you’re in for a sonic adventure like none you’ve heard in 2011 – especially Tim’s trumpet (or before, mayhaps).  The word that best describes the music you’ll hear on the 8 tracks Tim & friends (Vic Juris on guitar, Rufus Reid on bass and Jukkis Uotila on drums) is “raw”… that’s why the total movement on “First Jazz” made it my absolute favorite tune on the CD!  This CD will give you hours upon hours of enjoyable listening – it gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at      Rotcod Zzaj

Jeff Oster – SURRENDER:  The cut-sheet with the package hails Jeff’s music as “ambient”, but it’s “oh-so-much-more”… as I listen to the wonderful poetic weave on “The Voice” (also featuring Jeff’s vocals, along with Diane Arkenstone), it’s totally clear why is one of the most vibrant pieces of spoken-word jazz I’ve heard in 2011!  Jeff’s horn on another of my favorite trax, “Essence of Herb“, is both penetrating and (somehow) soothing (as any good herb might be, yah?).  Jeff & his pals have certainly carved out their own niche here – this is the kind of music that is “just what th’ Rotcod ordered to cure all your ills” – different!  My favorite track of the 11 aural adventures is the 5:28 “The Theology of Success“, which easily takes ambient into the kind of jazz turf most of our readers enjoy!  What Jeff hath wrought here is well-deserved of my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating… he gets an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 – AND my “PICK” of this issue for “best creative ambient jazz”.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Ron Jackson – FLUBBY DUBBY: Being a keyboardist (of sorts) myself, I’m absolutely “in love” with this CD – it’s been spinning on my playlists nearly every day since I got it in for review… Kyle Koeler does the superb organ work against leader Ron’s guitar and crisp/timely drums by Otis Brown III… you’ll find tunes like the totally engaging “Technophile” will keep coming back into your head… excellent beat-driven piece, & when the organ solo kicks in (at about 1:37), you’ll be on cloud 9!  My pick for favorite track was the opener, “One For Melvin”, which has a “bounce factor” that takes me back to my earliest jazz listening (& playing) days.  I give Ron & his pals a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Fred Fried and Core – ENCORE:  If tasty 8-string guitar is what you’re in the mood for right now, then this will hit the spot… Fred’s guitar is joined by excellent bass work from Michael Lavoie and drums from Miki Matsuki on tracks like “The Gathering Storm“, with a marvelous slow-build that reaches splendid crescendos!  Fresh and fluid transitions on all eleven of the tunes presented; many of the tunes remind me of masterful albums I used to listen to by David Friesen, particularly on pieces like the totally engaging “Little Tears“, albeit with a signature that clearly belongs to this trio!  My personal favorite was “Currents Above, Currents Below“, perhaps because it feels (somehow) “oriental”, yet is most assuredly jazz!  I give Fred & friends a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Geoff Vidal – SHE LIKES THAT:  The thing that’s so absolutely impressive about Geoff’s high-energy & all-original debut CD is the TIMING… every player is RIGHT ON the mark!  The opener, “Darjeeling” is well worth the purchase, + there are 6 others in that same “all or nothing” mode.  When virgin artists try this kind of high-voltage music (especially on debut CD’s), they often overshoot & fail to achieve what they set out to do; but Mr. Vidal & crew (Makaya McCraven on drums, guitarist Joe Hundertmark & bassist Michael O’Brien) just ROCK that jazz on the whole CD.  Geoff’s intro to “O-Zoning” establishes the mellow for this winning 7:21 track (my favorite on the CD, by the way) – supreme balance between the players is totally evident.  I give Geoff my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) of 4.99 – he also gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best new talent”!  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Doug Munro and La Pompe Attack – A VERY GYPSY CHRISTMAS:  No question in my mind that Santa (& his elves, mayhaps) will be salivating over this jazzed-up Cmas excursion from Doug & crew. 15 tracks of traditional season songs that are livened up with lots of “gypsy flavor”… for instance, their slow/alley-walk version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is definitely different – & therefore, most enjoyable!  The totally upbeat tempo on the opener, “Sleigh Ride” made it my favorite track on the CD, & I’ve no doubt you’ll enjoy this one too… it surely will have your egg nogg’in & yer’ head bobbin’!  I’m not a big fan of Cmas music, especially when it comes to jazz, but the energy that Doug & his pals project on this one gets it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Richie Kaye – RICHIE KAYE’S MUSIC & MIRTH: If you were looking for music that puts you on a “downer” or amplifies your “angst” – you’ll have to look elsewhere… I can’t help but thinking “Laurel & Hardy” (or Ozzie & Harriet, for that matter – back in Ozzie’s early days as a bandleader) as I listen to “Love Is Just Around The Corner“… lol!  You must remember that I grew up in an age when music like this was just giving way to the protest music of the ’60’s, so the idea of humor & FUN in music isn’t foreign to me at all.. & tunes like the somewhat corny-sounding lyrics on “Sweet Tooth” aren’t actually as nuts as they sound… the idea back then was to cut a rug & have a ball, & this kind of music allowed you to do just that.  I give Richie & his sidekick Tony LaVorgna a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED on this one, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at Richie’s MYSPACE pageRotcod Zzaj

Benji Kaplan -MEDITACOES NO VIOLAO:  What a relaxing listen… Benji’s guitar is totally pleasant and natural – just over 45 minutes (14 tracks) that will creep into your playlists & then stay there!  In particular, I enjoyed pieces like “Valsa Lullabye” and “Introspective“, which clearly make you feel like Benji’s right there playing for you on your patio or in your living room.  Most of the pieces are short (only half of them are over 3 minutes), but Mr. Kaplan packs a lot of emotion into each piece… listen to the sense of longing projected in “Choro em Fado“, for instance… you will find yourself coming back again & again to this tune for inspiration.  I give Benji a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Keep your ears on this young cat – you’ll be hearing more from him, I assure you!  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

5 After 4 – ROME IN A DAY:  If truly tasty & highly-charged jazz is what you’re all about right now, then this CD (from Toronto) is a MUST, folks!  Think about it like a great cup of espresso, the way the Italian folks prepare it (not the “factory-processed & politically correct” junk we get served at ‘Buckz)… the delectable “Balena“, for instance, will bring you “up” from whatever downer you might have been on!  An added attraction, for this ol’ reviewer anyway, is that all eleven tracks are original compositions… in fact, the founder of the group, drummer/composer Vito Rezza had six of the 11!  One of the most balanced and “tactful” pieces, “And The Children Sing“, is in fact my pick for favorite – & it’s another one by Vito.  I give this great CD my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 – superb!  I also give it the “PICK” this issue for “best all-around jazz”!   Get more information at the ALMA RECORDS site.    Rotcod Zzaj

Chris Donnelly – METAMORPHOSIS:  While it’s not absolutely necessary for you to be as much of a piano freak as I am (though I haven’t done so in a while, I am a pianist), it will certainly help; especially as you listen to sections of this “one-tune” 50:43 sonic artistry from Chris like “II: In The Time Scape of Sound“… truly grand, yet simple as a part of the whole!  Chris paints the whole range of emotions as he performs this entire piece (in one sitting, after 3 other times in the studio)… one of the most impressive keyboard sections I’ve ever listened to is “IV:  Cresting, Falling Away“… total sensitivity to the art of the piano is fully evident – this is one talented player that you will enjoy for years to come.  As was probably meant to be, it was the closer, “X:  You Are The Dance” that got my vote for favorite track… lighthearted, but capping the wonderful sonic experience you’ve just listened to, as it evolves back to the beginning of the album!  This CD gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for those who love the beauty the piano can convey, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the ALMA RECORDS site.    Rotcod Zzaj

Janice Faber – CARRIED AWAY: Nearly any pianist worth their salt will play music that captures attention, but it’s only those with that “extra ounce” of talent that can fulfill the promise Janice makes with the title of her CD… as I listen to the opener, “Looking Forward“, it’s clear that Ms. Faber has the skill to make this real… you will indeed be transported to a place that doesn’t feel like “this world” (with all it’s politics & troubles).  The celestial-sounding “Neverending“, though very short (3:46), leaves a lasting impression of eternal joy… I just love the heartstring chords on this one.  It was the beautiful overtones on “Night Music” that got my vote for favorite, though… perfect closing tune.  I give Janice a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who demand a bit of piano in their musical diet, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Lia Scallon – CRYSTAL KEYS:  You can probably glean from the CD cover that this July 2011 release isn’t jazz… as you listen to the opening track, “Pearl“, you’ll know (right away) that you are hearing sounds of enlightenment and energy… it is this energy that allows me to review it here (my prime criteria for reviewing music here is “energy”, not “genre”).  Whether or not you approach such things from a religious perspective, you will enjoy this music, I’ve no doubt – I certainly did… 10 joyous excursions into the healing side of music that we should make mandatory listening for anyone entertaining the idea of political office.  My personal favorite was the slowly evolving sound tapestries on “Clear Quartz“… for listeners looking for something “more” in their music, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.96.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Larry Vuckovich – SOMETHIN’ SPECIAL:  The liner notes pitch Larry’s keyboard playing (with his partners Scott Hamilton (tenor sax), bassist Paul Keller & drummer Chuck McPherson, as well as tenor sax player Noel Jewkes) as having “a strong Blue-Note flavor, & nothing could be a more apt descriptor… just listen to the groove being projected on the 7:06 “Comin’ Home, Baby” to grok why… excellent recording, excellent energy that will have you toe-tappin’ (or more) in an instant!  If you want to be reminded of the great ol’ Horace Silver days, you’ll dig deeply into the marvelous “How Insensitive” – I’m lovin’ it – in fact, this is my favorite tune of the 11 Larry & crew offer up for your sonic joy!  This August 16, 2011 release is one that any jazz fanatic won’t be able to do without – it gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” rating of 4.98.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Vincent Lyn – HEAVEN BOUND:  I strongly recommend that you do the 13 tracks on this fast-paced & high-energy CD with headphones on… as you listen to the opener, “Stolen Moments“, you’ll hear why… all the players are tight in there behind, under & around Vincent’s agile keyboards (Hamburg Steinway B piano, Kurzweill PCM88 – that’s the keyboard I play, by the way).  One point in the CD’s favor is that many of the 13 tunes are originals – as you all know, I favor originals over covers every time, especially from the standpoint of EQ (energy quotient)… the 5:46 “Old Croy” definitely stands out as being at the top of the scale for energy production – Vincent’s keyboards just SHINE on this track!).  It was the percussion-filled “Island Carnival” that got my vote for favorite track, though… Fernanda Capela’s vocal is simply stunning!   A well-qualified MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Duda Lucena – DUDA LUCENA QUARTET:  It really doesn’t matter what your heritage is, if you’re a jazz lover, you’ll be in love with this gentle (yet energetic) quartet’s music, especially on tracks like the opener, “Lugar Comum“… Lucena’s superb vocals, as well as his true talent on Latin (specifically Brazilian) guitar will bring back many pleasant mem’ries (or make new ones, if you haven’t heard the tunes before).  I especially enjoyed the guitar on “Sol“, but you’ll find Quentin Baxter’s drums, Kevin Hamilton’s bass & Gerald Gregory’s piano all contribute to the vibrant jazz experience (the recording is live, so that adds yet another level of excitement as well).  The only criticism is that it would have been nicer to have more than 7 tracks, but you still get a set that’s over 40 minutes.  My favorite tune was the closer, the 6:57 “Odara“… though I understood hardly a word, I still knew what he was talkin’ about, & that piano is to die for!  I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Steve Lipman – THERE’S A SONG IN MY HEARTThere’s a certain group of jazz folks who creep about in hats, snappin’ their fingers & “lookin’ for Frank”… they’re mostly in lounges & often resemble lizards… lol!  If that’s your style (it’s not really mine), you’ll find Steve’s jazz vocals very much to your liking on old faves like “Fly Me To The Moon“.  While there’s not a thing “wrong” with that, the nostalgia it brings on for me isn’t exactly the kind of music I yearn after.  For those enchanted with Las Vegas & the whole ’50’s “scene”, I give this a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.94.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Woody Witt – POTS AND KETTLES:  If most tenor/soprano sax players were like this one, there’d BE no “distinct style”… but Woody & crew have unique DOW-un… their rendition of one of my favorite tracks (of all time), “Listen Here” (an Eddie Harris original) is infused with JUMP, man… that’s all I can say about it – too cool!  If you’re in a mood for slippin’ & slidin’ around like an ol’ alleycat, you’ll definitely dig my favorite track, “Slink“… 10 fantastic jazz tracks for you to groove with, & groove thou shalt… if not, you’ve got a big case of wallflower, no doubt! I give Woody & his pals (Gary Norian on piano, Mark Simmons doing drums, Anthony Sapp on bass & special guest Chris Cortez on guitar) a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & predict that if you haven’t heard him before, you’ll be rushing right out to buy his other two CD’s!  High-energy, high-talent, for sure… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at  Rotcod Zzaj

Jocelyn Medina – WE ARE WATER:  Joceyln’s Latin jazz vocal work here is much better (in the judgement of these ol’ ears, anyway) than anything else she does… firm evidence of that can be heard in the joyful scatting on “April 4th“… what absolute fun (it might have been nice to double the length of this one, but on the other hand, the length surely leaves you wanting more)!  The laid back/cool feel of “Feel Free” was an absolute aural attraction as well… almost in a blues vein, but her handling of the tune keeps it clearly in the jazz realm!  It was the intricate percussion and slow build on “Same Mistakes” that made it my favorite, though… everyone has plenty of room to maneuver on this 8:06 gem!  Totally original approach and performance style earn Jocelyn & her cast of players a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) of 4.97 on this one.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

George Lernis Jazz Quartet – SHAPES OF NATURE:  This is my first listen to George’s splendid drumming, but it surely won’t be the last – I expect we’ll all be hearing much more after this debut CD!  Released in September 2011, it also features alto sax by Scott Boni, piano from Lefteris Kordis & upright bass by Mark Zaleski… scope out the boundless energy of one of my favorite tracks, “Squirrel Dance” to hear why I like them so much!  Each of the 7 originals brings one keyword to mind – “distinctive” – George’s music won’t ever be relegated to the “bottom of the jazz heap”… & though there are only seven tracks, all of them are over 5:00 & many are over 7:00, so you get over 45:00 of high-energy, high-talent jazz for your eternal enjoyment.  The bass intro to “Rhythm Portals“, as well as George’s totally fresh approach to percussion, made it my favorite track.  I give this quartet my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98… as well as the “PICK” of this issue for “best jazz quartet”!   Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Bill Wren and Frank Ralls – JOURNEY AROUND THE SUN:  A MAYAN ODYSSEYI first reviewed Bill & Frank’s beautiful works together in issue # 101 & for listeners who insist on having more than just funk & groove, but demand creativity and beauty in their listening, it’s a given that you will be totally enchanted with what they are doing here…. just listen to the title track, “Journey Around The Sun” if it’s energy and inspiration you’re seeking… simple, but beautiful.  It’s clear from their playing that they totally “get it” when it comes to creating music that will enthrall all but the most jaded listeners.  It was the powerful strings on the 5:00 “Between Heaven and Earth” that got my vote for absolute favorite track, though… the more often you listen to this one, the more aural secrets you will find revealed.  I give them (again) a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, but this CD gets an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

John Brown Trio – DANCING WITH DUKE:  John’s extremely comfortable (yet highly energetic) bass playing will walk you through memories of the Duke that you won’t forget anytime soon.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s joined by two masters, Cyrus Chestnut on piano and Adonis Rose on drums…. the 9:07 opener, “In A Mellow Tone“, pretty much says it all… if you can’t kick back as you listen to this, you’d better reduce your steroid prescription for sure!  If you want something a bit moodier, you’ll love “A Flower Is A Lonesome Thing“… there’s actually danger in playing a tune at this slow pace, whereby the listener may perceive it to be that jazz that “smell funny” (as in dead), but these players are so attuned to each other that the tune slows YOU down to the relaxed pace your mind needs to be at to “grok” it.  My favorite piece, though, was th’ swingin’ blues on “Pie Eye’s Blues“… superb, probably about the best trio blues track I’ve heard this year!  I give John & the trio my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Westchester Jazz Orchestra – MAIDEN VOYAGE: When you put 17 musicians together, you (either) get something fantastic or one great big mess.  Fortunately, with WJO, it’s the former… they do a wonderful performance of what Herbie was doing back in the mid-’60’s, as evidenced on their rendition of the title track, “Maiden Voyage“… one thing they achieve that large orchestras often don’t is a feeling of “intimacy”, mostly because of the way the players are arranged.  I thoroughly enjoyed “Little One“, again because they don’t overpower your ears… it’s almost as though they’re playing for an audience of one & it truly comes across that way.  It’s when you listen to the two parts of the totally dynamic “Survival of the Fittest” that you’ll hear why it was my favorite, though… absolute POWERHOUSE playing!  I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  This was only released in August 2011, so you should be able to get a copy right away – & I advise you to do just THAT!   Get more information at  Rotcod Zzaj

Neamen Lyles – SO FREE:  When reviewing artists billed as “smooth”, I often approach their music with a “grain of salt”, since we’ve all heard the genre so many times… but with Neamen’s music, which he pitches in the liners as “about hope, excitement, inspiration and (the KEYWORD for this reviewer) FUN!  As you listen to “Candy“, you’ll see that Neamen has all the energy to fulfill that promise… this is a BLAST!  Fresh sounds and raw energy are fully evident on the 3:38 “Who Dat” ain’t (even) ONE tired note on this peppy & most soulful track!  He’s got a crew with him that’s far too long to list here, but his saxophones are right out there in front (where they clearly belong) on tracks like the ultra-hip closer, “Cooling The Plasma“, my winner for favorite of the 10 tracks he presents.  I give this CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99!   Get more information at NEAMEN’s site!      Rotcod Zzaj

Scott Ramminger – CRAWSTICKERS:     One of the sweetest things about doing this magazine is that I’m constantly getting music that forces me to “change pace” – &, of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  As I listen to the straight-ahead juke-joint jumpin’ of the opener (& title track), “Crawstickers“, I’m particularly impressed… think Elvin Bishop, think Leon Russell, then toss in a dose of total originality by Scott & you’ll have a pretty good idea!  It may have something to do with his being from the D.C. area (not sure), but he’s equally at home on his saxophone with “upbeat & jazzy”, as on “Give A Pencil To A Fish“, too (for some reason, I’m reminded of Catfish Hodge on this one)!  It was th’ rockout guitar intro on “Fast and Loud” that made the cut as my absolute favorite on this energy-packed CD, though… too HOT!  I give Scott & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who HAVE to have a dose of honky-tonk jazz in their daily musical mix.  He gets an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98, right at the top of the scale.  Get more information at SCOTT’S site.   Rotcod Zzaj

Eddie Gip Noble – IN THE LITE OF THINGS: If you grew up in the same jazz era I did, you’ll find Eddie’s combination of “smooth” with “roots” soul jazz quite pleasant to listen to… I definitely was boppin’ right along to the starry-eyed & soulful vocal on “Don’t Wait To Be Alone Tonight“… way cool song!  If you want something with a little more “groove & thump” to it, you’ll get right DOW-un with the rhythm & groove of Eddie’s keyboards on “Let It All Out (Shout)“.  Every jazz artist has their own signature, & (for this reviewer, anyway), I think Eddie’s is totally precise timing… you won’t hear piano that meshes so well with the other instruments he plays on this CD.  It’s quite easy to “pigeonhole” much jazz of the “smooth” variety, because so many players in that genre just don’t understand that true listeners want way more than just chords that mesh with a rhythm, but it’s clear on all 12 of Eddie’s tracks that he’s got a full measure of talent & a real commitment to helping the listener get joy from his performances.  I give this one a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) of 4.96.  Get more information at EDDIE’S MAIN PAGE.     Rotcod Zzaj

New York Standards Quartet – UNSTANDARD:  This 4-piece will thrill you to the bones with their (somewhat) “twisted” performances of standard tunes.  Just the opener alone, “How High The Moon” will make you realize how pleasant the “difference” can be as you listen to David Berkman’s piano, sax and flute from Tim Armacost, bass from Yosuke Inoue and drums by Gene Jackson! The quartet is absolutely tight and performs flawlessly… I genuinely grooved to “All The Things You Are” & have no doubt you will, too.  It was the jumpin’ bass on “Lunar” that truly twisted my crank, though… absolutely my favorite track that features “right-on-time” notes from all four players.  You’ll find this some of the most refreshing jazz you listen to in 2011!  I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, particularly for jazzers who have no qualms about going out on the edge a bit.  Get more information at the CHALLENGE RECORDS INT site.    Rotcod Zzaj

Tianna Hall – NEVER LET ME GO:  Though the flic on this cut-sheet (as opposed to the one on the CD cover) made me think “vamp” (or “goth”), this is some of the coolest vocal jazz I’ve heard this year… just scope out the lilting Latin on “Samba do Aviao” & you’ll hear (just) how deceiving looks can be (you know, don’t always judge an album by it’s cover & all that).  The groove is definitely present on “Charade“… I simply loved Ms. Hall’s rendition of this classic!  One minor critique is that the track lineup on the CD I received vs. what was loaded on AMAZON was not the same… might want to think about making sure they line up on the next CD.  Tianna has the perfect players to contribute to total success in Mike Wheeler & Mike Nase on guitars, with Lisa Vasdoganes on cello and James Metcalfe on percussion… they COOK!  I like this a lot & give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, particularly for those who love female vocal jazz.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at the BLUE BAMBOO site.   Rotcod Zzaj

Seth Kibel & Bay Jazz Project – PHONIN’ IT IN:  One of the most noticeable parts of Seth’s music on this CD is that it’s just plain “fun”!  As I listen to the totally energetic bounce on “Blues For Brandwein“, it’s clear that this is a new venue for Seth… jazz that takes you back to the early days! Definitely “mainstream”, & not at all like some of the “Klezmer” work I’ve heard Mr. Kibel do.  ’tis indeed th’ kind of music you’d be listening to on your “jazzberry”; soothing, relaxing & did I say “fun”?  The flute on “Buffalo Wingo” is more than just “cute”, it’s superb & much to my liking.  If you want to get away from all those “messages” in jazz today & kick back with your earplugs, this is just the ticket  – especially on corkers like my favorite, “The Old-Fashioned Way”, one of the best performances I’ve heard this year.  I give this one a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED & an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the CDBABY page.     Rotcod Zzaj

Mace Hibbard – TIME GONE BY:   Mace & his mates play the kind of jazz that makes you feel (instantly) like you’re ON TOP, no matter what your current circumstance may be.  Just listen to the groovy feel of “Indecision” to hear why I like this so much… though it only clocks in at 6:45, you’ll feel like you’re a King!  If you want something a little peppier, you’ll dig down deep into “Theme for Dos Lyn“… Mace’s sax, Melvin Jones trumpet & Louis Heriveaux piano, along with bass from marc Miller & drums by Justin Varnes will have you up on your feet & dancin’ ’round th’ room, to be sure.  Though this is my first listen to him, I’ve no doubt we will all be hearing much more from him!  The tune that got my vote for favorite track, though, was “Slip and Slide“… man, these cats are synched!  Mace & his players get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98, and a “PICK” of this issue for “best quintet jazz”!  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Jake Hertzog – EVOLUTION:   Jake’s third CD release is an absolutely perfect way to start off the reviews page for a new issue.  As I listen to the crystal-clear guitar licks on the opener, “Don’t Bother, I’m immediately reminded of what attracted my ears to his playing on his first release… +, 9 of the 10 songs are Hertzog originals – superb!  This reminds me (in some ways) of forward-looking players like McGlaughlin (who also agrees & is quoted as saying “Very impressive for such a young man”!)  with the Mahavishnu Orchestra back in the early days… especially on pieces like “Renegade” – it’s not just the high-energy & talent… it’s his VISION for where the music of the 21st Century needs to move to… critics & listeners alike will be listening to this 20 years from now & hailing it as a CLASSIC!  I give Jake & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj