Issue 119 Reviews

Our latest reviews for your reading and listening pleasure!

Cinque – CATCH A CORNER:  Every couple of issues, I get a CD in, pop it into my queue drive & listen to it “raw” (actually, I do that for every CD I receive)… there a few (& ONLY a FEW) that standout so strongly on that first listen that I know (after the first 12 bars usually) that the CD will probably “go to the head of the queue”.  This superb (& I mean ABSOLUTELY SUPERB) musical adventure features legendary players like Joey DeFrancesco (B3 organ), Steve Gadd (drums), Robi Botos (piano), John Johnson (saxophone) & bassist/arranger Peter Cardinali… just scope out the highly focused energy (and talent) on one of my favorite tracks, “Geppetto’s Blues“…  according to the players, in fact, this was (for almost all the tracks) composed in the studio, then recorded – it don’t GET more spontaneous than that!  The super-mellow “Two Worlds” is the most free-flowing jazz ballad I’ve heard in 2011 (& before, too).  It was the lick-trades on “Over The Humpty Dump” that made it my PICK for favorite, though… Joey’s organ alone on this tune is enough to warrant buying the CD.  I give Cinque a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00 – as well as the “PICK” of 2011 for “most spontaneous jazz performance”!  Get more information at the ALMA Records page for the CD.    Rotcod Zzaj

E.S.P. Jazz Quartet – REACH:  The energy these four jazz stars (John Magnante on guitar, Matthew Vacanti on bass, Karl Sterling on drums & Brian Scherer on reeds) is tasty indeed, especially on tracks like the funky “Clique“… the cut-sheet with the CD indicates all original work, & (for me) that ALWAYS makes the experience much more interesting.  The thing about their playing is that it’s tight… in fact, out of the 30 CD’s reviewed in this issue, I’d say that’s their primary attraction… everything is RIGHT on TIME… nothing lapses, no missed queues.  Nice (very nice) emotional pulls on “Eclipse“, with super-solid reeds from Brian.  My absolute favorite track (of the 12 on the CD) was the totally mellow “The August Child“… it’s not at a high-pace, but it surely shows the sensitivity these guys have for conveying their ideas to the listener.  I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (especially for listeners who demand a “fresh” sound), with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj  (p.s.  you can watch them perform on this YOUTUBE vid, too):

Carol Morgan Quartet – BLUE GLASS MUSIC:  A superb image that the title and the cover convey… slick and smooth enough for you to glide on forever… & with tunes like the opener, “I Love You“, you’ll hear the magic right away… at the start, you believe you’re going to hear “just another standard”, but Carol’s trumpet work & her crew’s high talent (Joel Frahm on tenor sax, Martin Wind on bass and Matt Wilson on drums and percussion) will soon make you realize that you’re listening to total craft, total creativity.  The long percussion intro on the superb (10:38) “Lonely Woman” is deceptive, but at about 2:45 Carole’s mellow trumpet kicks in and you’re transported into the mind of that lonely lady.  It was the heavy energy on “Glyph” that made it my favorite of the 7 tracks offered up… great horn interplay and a very tasty tune!  I give Carol & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Carol’s site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Olavi Trio & Friends – TRIOLOGIA:  If you’re not the type of reader who goes “digging” a bit more on music reviews & the groups reviewed, you may not have noticed that several of the releases reviewed in this issue are from City Hall Records, as is this one… what’s even more amazing is that more than one are from improvisors in Finland (& so is this CD).  As I listen to “Bassologia“, I’m transported to a time in my earlier years (in the Jazzkellers of Frankfurt, Germany) when I first discovered improvising musicians… totally, TOTALLY sweet creativity flowing through the trio (Teppo Hauta-aho, Jari Hongisto & Olavi Louhivuori) and their three guests (Verneri Pohjola, Juhani Aaltonen & Kalle Kalima).  My personal favorite of the 14 songs presented here was “White Adria“… although it’s a “slow mover”, it paints very interesting pictures in your head and will stay there for days (if not months/years).  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at the CITY HALL Records site for this CD.     Rotcod Zzaj

Mikko Innanen & Innkvisitio – CLUSTROPHY:  HEY – if you don’t get another CD this year – GET THIS ONE!  Listeners who can’t be without the latest & greatest in jazz will kick themselves if they overlook this one!  The unique sounds on “Vraa-Tender” will take you back to an earlier (most experimental) age & phase of jazz, yet skyrocket you into the 21st (& possibly the 22nd) century… this is amazing jazz with highly talented Euro-players who are sculpn”ting out the future of jazz, while building on the most celebrated forms/experiments of the past.  I was highly impressed with all 11 tracks (nearly an hour’s worth)!  “The Grey Adler Returns Again” is nothing short of a masterpiece of jazz energy, and is my absolute favorite tune on the CD – twists & turns abound!  I give these amazing players my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00 (that’s TOP of the scale, by the way), and the “PICK” of 2011 for “best retro-future jazz”.  Get more information at the CITY HALL Records site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Fab Trio – HISTORY OF JAZZ IN REVERSE:  What you’ll hear on this gathering of 3 legends in the jazz improv community (Billy Bang on violin, Joe Fonda on double bass & Barry Altschul on drums) is nothing short of amazing!  The gigantic dimensions of “Homeward Bound” will clue your ears in right away… from the opening note, it’s balls-out improvising & totally tight performance!  The really cool thing about this (except for two of the 8 songs presented) is that they were all done “on the fly”… and as those who listen to (or play) improvised music know – it doesn’t get any better than that – especially when you hear results like those on (my favorite track – & the title of the CD), “History of Jazz In Reverse“… every little nuance from each of the players is captured… I’d recommend you do this one (as I did) the first time with your headphones on.  I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99, and the “PICK” of this issue for “best improvised trio jazz”.  Get more information at the CITY HALL records page for the CD.     Rotcod Zzaj

 Satoko Fujii – ETO:  You can read more about the creation of this deeply moving music on the SQUIDCO label site, as well as the extensive list of players who participated in the NYC-based orchestral event.  It was her husband’s (Natsuki Tamura) 60th birthday, & some of the creation was inspired by the Chinese character (Eto) for that.  Any way you listen to it, though, this is one of the most sensitive performances I’ve heard her New York orchestra do… I couldn’t find any samples of the 17 pieces on Amazon, but there are four available on the SQUIDCO label site  I particularly enjoyed the boldness of the brass/reeds on the 5:58 “Pressure Cooker”… you just will NOT hear improvised music like this anywhere else on the planet (not this one, anyway).  Satoko’s music has always been a pleasure to listen to, but I can say unequivocally that this is one of the most enjoyable (and accessible) large-scale improv groups I’ve listened to in 2011.  I give Satoko and her huge crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this one.  Use the label site above to learn more about Satoko’s extensive creative output.      Rotcod Zzaj

Kayla Taylor Jazz – YOU’D BE SURPRISED:  There’s always a “keyword” when I first listen to a new performer… in Kayla’s case, it’s two words… “southern scrumptious”… “southern” because she hails from Hot-lanta, & “scrumptious” because her voice is totally tasty… lol!  As I sit here groovin’ to the solid vocals Kayla performs on “Just One Of Those Things“, I know that all fans of sweet vocal jazz standards will want this in their collection.  She’s joined by one of the most solid jazz guitarists on the scene today, Steve Moore…. it’s a union made by angels, as you’ll hear when you scope out Steve’s smooth guitar tones on “You’re Driving Me Crazy (What Did I Do)“… if you’re looking for wild/crazy freeform, this won’t be your cup o’ tea, but if you love vocal jazz, you’ll agree when I declare Kayla’s CD to be MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) of 4.96.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Candice Night – REFLECTIONS:  This certainly isn’t jazz, but as many of you know, we are NOT hung up on genre… my primary criteria for reviewing music is the ENERGY that the artists put into the performance, or the act of creating their music… & as you listen to Candice on the total movement of “Dangerous Smile“, you’ll know that it was her “EQ” (energy quotient) that got her into my review queue… absolute, total energy for the performance on this one!  The child-like innocence on the intro to “Black Roses” is in a totally different zone (nearer the “sad zone”, I’d say), but her vocal is right on top of the emotion!  I give Candice & her group a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” rating of 4.96.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Greg Stomberg & Dan Susnara – PREQUEL… THE FIRST ANNUAL TRIPS FESTIVAL:  Like any true acid-heads, Greg & Dan “regress” on this outing… & if anybody understands sdrawkcab – it’s your friendly Rotcod.  I reviewed the SECOND part of their trip in issue # 108 where it clearly got “high” marks, as you might expect.  Greg continues narration of a rather wobbly acid trip & Dan plays masterful guitar as well as contributing vocally, too.  In the spirit of strangeness that this set of sets celebrates, you will hear yourself (both) inside & out – even if you’ve never partaken – the music will reach RIGHT OUT & grab your ears & twist your brain at warp speed… I would strongly recommend that you lock yourself in your bedroom with the blacklight turned on… zoom into a whole litany of hippie-talk & trippin’ music that won’t stop!  If your background (or your foreground, for that matter) has by any chance included the idea that you can “see through” folks, to the other side of them… you’ll WANT this CD in your collection.  No samples available, but you can get your own copy of the CD by visiting Dan’s website!  I give these characters a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – especially for the head-trip set – and an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.     Rotcod Zzaj

Andrew Cyrille & Haitian Fascination – ROUTE DE FRERES:  This debut CD came in a big package with a whole lot of other players from City Hall Records… Andrew has been on the scene for many, many years now, but for some reason, I missed his superb talent – I’m definitely honored to make his acquaintance.  Andrew is a drummer supreme, as reflected quite nicely on one of my favorite tracks, “Deblozay“… after a splendid percussion intro, bari-sax master Hamiet Bluiett & bassist Lisle Atkinson join in the fray for one of the most intense (yet somehow relaxing) jazz pieces I’ve heard (yet) this year.  You will have plenty of music to become enchanted with – there are 12 energetic pieces here… the intimate interactions on “Spirit Music” (6:29) made it my pick for favorite, but the joy in all of the tunes will give you plenty to pick from (as your own special favorite).  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the CITY HALL page for this CDRotcod Zzaj

Alexis Parsons – ALEXIS PARSONS:  Alexis says (in the liner notes) that this CD essentially was twenty years in the making…. and it’s totally apparent on tunes like “Lazy Afternoon” that she spent a LONG time determining the placement of each consonant & vowel in her vocal presentation…. man, this is some ABSOLUTELY cool vocal jazz!  The whole set is made much more intimate because the only accompaniment is Frank Kimbrough’s super-sensitive piano playing… especially on tracks like (my favorite of the 8 presented) “Just Squeeze Me“… the timing & synch between Frank’s keys and Alexis’ words is flawless.  Just over 40 minutes of pure vocal pleasure for your ears to savor over the years to come.  I Alexis/Frank a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Alexis’ website.     Rotcod Zzaj

Freddy V – EASIER THAN IT LOOKS:  The thing that’s so very cool is that (without knowing it, probably) I’ve been listening to Freddy’s righteous sax for years & years… he plays with Average White Band… & this is one MONSTAH’ reedist, to be sure.  Just scope out one of my favorite tracks (of the even dozen on the CD), “Rush“… far more than just “average hump/bump”, this one ROCKS out!  If you want mighty mellow sax with great vocal backups, you’ll love “Let’s Go Round Again” – total SOUL!  It’s th’ punchy beat on “Sandbag (for Hiram)” that gets my vote for absolute FAVORITE track, though… if ya’ can’t shake & bake to this tune, you’ve probably already GOT some sandbags over your casket.  If high-energy (as in rocket-fueled) jazz is yo’ THANG – you’ll agree with me that this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… I give Freddy & crews an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98, too.  Get more information at Freddy’s site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Shirley Crabbe – HOME:  Every time I listen to Shirley sing the opener on her totally solid 9-song debut CD, “Lucky To Be Me“, her point is driven “home”… in fact, each of the tunes she’s chosen wraps you up in her love for life & the living of it!  She had sung throughout her formative years, but almost lost her voice until she had a surgery for injured vocal cords… you’d never believe such had happened to her as you scope her sultry/sad rendition of Carole King’s “So Far Away“!  This is my favorite track, but more importantly, it totally shows Shirley’s ability to “own” a tune… you’ll still love the original, but every time you hear it, you’ll be thinking – “Ah, I remember how Shirley sang this one”!  She also puts a whole new vibe on the closing track, “Summertime” – too cool.  As folks who read my reviews on some regular basis know, it takes a lot for a vocalist to impress me, perhaps because I, too, grew up with visions of singing (based on excellent teaching from those around me)… Shirley gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98!  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Jason Parker – FIVE LEAVES LEFT… A TRIBUTE TO NICK DRAKE:   First order of business is to give my humble apology to Jason… he gave me this digitally for review way back early this year (2011), and in the process of transfer between drives, the “order” it was received in got deleted from my Media Monkey library – ergo, a “drop”.  Most fortunately for all of us, the music Jason plays here is totally stunning, and timeless to be sure.  Just listen to the opener, “Time Has Told Me” to get a taste of how sweet (yet sad, at times… if you don’t know much about Nick Drake, check HERE to read more about his life) jazz can be (Michele Khazak’s vocal on this one will hold you spellbound)!  The other nine tracks are totally absorbing as well, but it was Jason’s talented trumpet & the strong rhythmic balance on the beautiful “Cello Song” that got my vote as favorite!  I give Jason & crew my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Jason’s “One Working Musician” page.   Rotcod Zzaj

Yoko Miwa Trio LIVE AT SCULLER’S JAZZ CLUB:  My first exposure to Yoko’s fantastic keyboard talent was way back in issue # 79 – she got a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED then, & if there were a “higher” rating, she would get it for this live CD, to be sure!  It’s not just her flawless punctuality, it’s the fact that you can “feel” what she’s playing, whether it be an old standard like the opener, Steve Allen’s “This Could Be The Start of Something Big“, or her superb original composition (my favorite on the CD, by the way), “Wheel of Life“… the moods she creates on this one do indeed cover the whole range of life’s ups and downs in one beautiful 12:03 stellar jazz performance.  I give Yoko and her crew (Greg Loughman on bass & Scott Goulding on drums) a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99, & the “PICK” of this issue for “best live jazz piano performance”.  Get more information at Yoko’s site.     Rotcod Zzaj

John Stein – HI FLY:  I’ve reviewed a LOT of John’s superb jazz guitar work, most recently in issue # 101; his playing gets better every time I hear new works from him… on this outing he’s joined by bassist John Lockwood, drummer Ze Eduardo Nazario, & a fantastic keyboardist, Jake Sherman.  10 absolutely high-energy tracks that will have jazz lovers th’ world ’round spinning them over & over again!  One of my favorites was the bouncy “Skippin’“… the thing that’s most notable on this cut is that it sounds like each of the players is talking to the others – tasty, indeed!  If it’s “laid-back” you’re after, you’ll just love “Lazy Afternoon“… it’s like “groove city”, folks.  It was the 5:23 closer, “Funkin’ It Up“, that stood out as my favorite piece, though… call/response in perfection!  John & crew get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 – AND, they get the “PICK” of this issue for “coolest guitar jazz CD”.   Get more information at John’s HI-FLY page!      Rotcod Zzaj

Jason Kao Hwang-Edge – CROSSROADS UNSEEN:  My most recent review of  works with Jason playing was in issue # 106 – but I’ve been reviewing his music for a very long time now.  I can say, without pause, that this grouping is the best jazz I’ve ever heard from Jason.  The opener, “Elemental Determination“, is a killer 10:12 jazz opus that you will NEVER forget… it will stick in the corners of your brain & come back often & without warning!  Jason’s violin & viola are joined by cornet/flugelhorn from Taylor Ho Bynum, drums from Andrew Drury and string bass from Ken Filiano in an epic high-energy set that is colossal & totally satisfying!  It’s the closer, “One Day“, that wins my vote for favorite track… the players seem “joined at the hip”… a totally tight performance that gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Jason’s EDGE pageRotcod Zzaj

The Reese Project:  EVENING IN VERMONT:  I gave high marks to these folks in issue # 104, & not without merit.  As you listen to the second track, “Blues For Ruthie“, you’ll recognize (instantly) why I think they’re great jazz players… Tom Reese’s flute on this one is among the best I’ve heard in 2011! I didn’t realize it, but this is their 9th CD, so they have a strong playing tradition going for them, to be sure.  The lively “Kitchen Girl” demonstrates a diversity not often found in today’s jazz world…  superb energy, & pianist Kirk Reese just KICKS on this one!  The highlight track for this ol’ reviewer, though, was their rendition of Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints“… one of the most calming versions I’ve ever heard of this classic jazz piece!  I give TRP my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Joe Blessett – CHILLIN’ OUT IN DARK PLACES:  This one is a truly odd musical experience for me… my own music is (pretty much) all home-produced & most of it (except the live recordings) is lo-fi.. it’s kinda’ the opposite for Joe’s private studio creations.  A lot more attention seems to be paid to quality sonic output than (necessarily) trying to establish a “common ground” the listener can identify with.  Scope out the eclectic “Help Me Pray“, for instance… as you might expect, there’s a “church groove” goin’ on, but there are also “strange voices” mixed into the background… not that this is a bad thing, but it’s definitely different.  From th’ standpoint of GROOVE, Joe has a LOT of that goin’ on with tracks like “Slayers and Players” – in his own unique fashion.  The string mixes on “Taking A Pause” made it my favorite of the 13 trax.  I give this one a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who want a taste of different… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.50.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Pamela Hines – LUCKY’S BOY:  It’s been quite a while since we interviewed Pamela’s fantastic piano & vocal mastery (the last time was issue # 79)… as I listen to the opener on “Lucky’s Boy”, “Dreamerman“, it’s clear why I gave her a high rating back in those days!  I’m always inclined to think that a singer who also plays/composes is probably going to have much higher levels of energy, and the totally solid “Welcome Blues” points that out in spades – a totally absorbing vocal/jazz piano experience.  It was the great flow & flyin’-high spirit of “Porter Please” that got my vote for favorite track, though… Pamela NAILS IT on this tune!  The 9 superbly performed tunes on this CD get my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 – I can guarantee you they will stay at the top of your playlists.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Tan Ping – PARADISE:  How to say it?  Tan has a beautiful vocal style, wraps your ears right up in her spirit… a bit more on the “pop” side than I like, yet “smooth” enough to be able to qualify as jazz (of a sort).  “Lullaby” is a good example of what I’m talking about… clearly a great vocal, with some great players behind her.  The thing is, though, I don’t hear a lot of “high-energy”… dedication, yes… high-talent, to be sure… just not my cup of tea.  Listeners who partake strictly of jazz vocals will be happy to have this in their collection, and “Ten Years From Today” has some gutsy sax on the intro that shows the potential for high energy is there!  I give this one a RECOMMENDED, particularly for those folks who love vocal works.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.25.  Get more information at  Rotcod Zzaj

Burning Gums – BURNING GUMS:  It’s your ears you’ll be puttin’ th’ “shaft” to if you don’t GET this CD – like, NOW, folks… Ron Jackson’s magical guitar works were reviewed in our last issue, and this CD takes that high-energy & high-talent sonic experience to an even higher level… I can tell you right now – it’s th’ PHUNK that gets me so excited about Ron’s playing… listen to “Killer Joe” & you’ll know what I mean right NOW, people – I mean, that tune’s GOT IT, right?  My absolute favorite on this outing, though, was the closer – “Park Slope” creates a whole new way for the jazz experience, without the players getting so hung up on “trying to create” that it becomes unenjoyable for the listener… this is EXCELLENT jazz that gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.99.  Get more information at the BURNING GUMS bio page!    Rotcod Zzaj

Untempered Ensemble – UNTEMPERED ENSEMBLE:  My most recent review of Bill Cole’s works was in issue # 115, where he & his compatriots got a fine rating… this outing (live again) has them playing at Syracuse U (September, 2009), & again they are in fine form.  A new aspect on this performance is the addition of vocal works by Althea SullyCole (a first for Bill)… they are skillfully woven into the power-packed (& long) sessions!  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find sound samples (or YOUTUBE vids), so you’ll just have to rely on my ears… my absolute favorite track (clocking in at 21:48), was “A Man Of Outstanding Quality Is Preeminent Among His Comrades”… it runs the whole circuit… slow build, intimate percussion and wonderful vocals.  The thing to remember about music from Bill & compatriots is that it is NOT “pop” music… you must actually LISTEN to this to comprehend it… in that sense, it get my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, especially for folks who want some ADVENTURE in their listening experience.  I give it an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the SITE.    Rotcod Zzaj

Lisa Downing – CHRISTMAS FOR TWO:  I reviewed a beautiful CD by Lisa in issue # 106 – which is why I received this seasonal CD in for review, I expect… the promoter knew that because of her exceptional keyboard talents, I would review this (even though seasonal CD’s aren’t something I review often).  You can tell right away on the traditional opener, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen“… if you sit back with a mug o’ nog or a bottle o’ grog, you’ll find this a most pleasant path down Holiday mem’ry lane.  My personal favorite was “Angels We Have Heard On High” – some of the most sensitive piano I’ve heard in years.  I give Lisa a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those seeking some true inspiration during the holiday season.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.96.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Alex Brown – PIANIST: From the very opening note(s) of this fantastic CD, you know (without a bit of doubt) that this is going to be FAR more than “just another piano CD”… & then when the bass & other players kick in (at about 2:28) on the opener, “Prologue“, you’re fully charged (as are the players – Alex on piano of course, Paquito D’Rivera on alto sax/clarinet, Vivek Patel on Flugelhorn, Ben Williams doing contrabass, Eric Doob on drums, Warren Wolf on marimba & Pedro Martinez doing percussion/batas/congas) for the rest of the CD (8 more songs after this one).  I particularly loved the percussion & sax intro to “The Wrong Jacket” – just marvelous energy & one of the best jazz tunes I’ve heard in 2011!  I give Alex & friends a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 – in fact, they get the “PICK” of this issue for “freshest jazz”.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Richard Kimball – THE ART OF AGING:  When Richard breaks his “bad-boogie-self” out on his keyboard (at about 2:40 & only for a few seconds), on the opener, “Make Hay While The Sun Is Shining“, you’ll hear (right away) why I fell in love with his playing on the first listen… a whole lot of different styles and highly intriguing moments are packed into this 6:48 gem! The superb left-hand on the intro to my favorite track, “Blackout in Bolivia“, is viewable on YOUTUBE for your pleasure, too.  This is some of the most sensitive piano work I’ve heard (or reviewed) this year… totally original sound (which tracks, since they are all originals) that will inspire you whether you’re a piano-nut (like I am) or not.  Just under an hour (57:47 is what my player shows) of pure sonic wonder and high-talent.  I’m highly impressed, & you will be as well… I give Richard my HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Richard’s MUSICAL BACKGROUND page.      Rotcod Zzaj

Kevin Crabb – WALTZ FOR DYLAN: Kevin leads this fantastic quartet with drums that are crisp, clear and full of energy that just won’t quit… he certainly picked the right playmates in John Beasley (piano), Don Thompson (bass) and Kelly Jefferson (sax), as well-evidenced on one of my favorite tracks, the lively “It Could Happen” – the only drawback on this track is that it was only 3:21 – I could have listened to another 3 minutes (or so), to be sure!  This is a drummer you won’t soon forget… he doesn’t “take over” the session, but you always know he’s there… check out the wonderful “Spirit Dance” to hear why I say that… the players energies are so evenly balanced that it’s all just one big party… in fact, listening back to this track for the 15th time, I realize it’s my absolute favorite of the 9 tunes presented here for your aural pleasure.  I give Kevin & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  This was just released on October 3rd, 2011, so go out & GET YOURS now!  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Hennie Bekker – SPECTRUM – AN ANTHOLOGY OF RELAXING INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC:  There are days when nothing “falls together” right… & then there are days like today when (musically, anyway) it all comes TOGETHER… Hennie’s beautiful compositions will indeed call you to relax and get a better focus on the things that matter – like “Spring Rain“… if it were possible for all of us to carry musical images like this ’round in our heads, the wars would soon be over & all the “blue meanies” would have to pack their bags & head home.  The guitar on the opening of “Bahia Nights” will transport you there – so no need to buy a ticket – just buy this wonderful CD (this track is my favorite, by the way).  I give Hennie a resounding HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at      Rotcod Zzaj  

Christopher Lapina – ECLECTIC EVE:  Christopher couldn’t have been any more accurate with his title on this CD… musical ideas gleaned from several styles of playing – & that’s not just liner-note hype, either… Lapina’s compositional skill makes it a real thing on this 54 minute CD.  Pieces like the marvelous percussion-based”Hand In Glove“, contrasted against the totally engaging string-work on “Highland Variation #9” will reveal the depth of talent abounding on Eclectic Eve!  There are an even dozen tunes for you to savor over and over again… the piece that captured my vote for favorite track was “Rolling Blue”… full of emotion and packed with images for you to conjure up.  Christopher gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 (I just loved that electric piano).  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

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