Issue 120 Reviews

Our latest reviews for your reading and listening pleasure!

Duduka Da Fonseca Trio – PLAYS TONINHO HORTA:  If there’s a better way to close out the last issue for 2011 – I certainly don’t know what it is!  Duduka’s drums, along with piano from David Feldman and acoustic bass by Guto Wirtti, will make your day, especially on tunes like the mighty mellow “Moonstone“… laid back, yet definitely in the GROOVE!  On “Bicycle Ride“, you’ll feel like you’re crusin’ through Central Park (or the beaches in Brasil, who knows)… my favorite of all the nine tracks offered, though, was the beautiful (& unhurried) “Luisa” – even if you don’t know anyone by that name, you feel like you know this lady by the end of the tune.  This is one of the best jazz trios I’ve heard in 2011, and certainly gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Duduka’s website.     Rotcod Zzaj

Bappi Lahiri – WALKING ON LOVE STREET:  Bappi’s music is ABSOLUTE trip-city, man… I mean, WOW, mind-boggle to th’ max… like a disco-retro time machine (disco-jazz, that is)… lol!  Though I wasn’t able to find any samples on the net (other than ITunes, which I never use – & never will), what deserves to be said about Bappi is that he’s still got that old “energy”… he would’ve gotten a higher recommendation, but without samples posted somewhere, it GETS knocked down a peg.  There are 9 songs on this CD, & my favorite track is the (very) different “East and West”… enough jazz spirit to ensure it gets reviewed here.  I give Bappi a RECOMMENDED for this CD, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at      Rotcod Zzaj

Phil Dwyer Orchestra featuring Mark Fewer – CHANGING SEASONS:  I don’t believe you’ll find an orchestral jazz CD on the market this year that even approaches the high-energy & high-talent displayed on this beautiful experience.. the desolation conveyed by the the 10:58 “Winter” will absolutely blow your mind… unfortunately, I could only find one sample (other than ITunes, which you’re welcome to participate in yourself – I don’t use ITunes for anything), on AMAZON – that’s really a shame, because listeners will want to hear the preview(s) of all four tunes!  As you might imagine, the music here covers the four seasons in all their glory, and does it better than any similarly-themed CD I’ve heard in the last ten years.  Because of the lack of samples available (other than ITunes), I had to knock my recommendation down to HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… the “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is tops, at 4.98 – but I would suggest to the label that they need to get samples deployed (CD BABY, AMAZON & all the other sites where listeners can test out the work before hitting the BUY button) right away (obviously, if YOU know a site where there are samples of all 4 tracks – please let me know, & I’ll change my recommendation)!      Rotcod Zzaj

David Nevue – A DELICATE JOY:  If your ears are yearning for some intimate piano performance, these fourteen tracks will satisfy your urge… as I listen to “Down By The Sally Gardens“, I’ve no doubt that I need to visit Sally & her gardens soon!  David’s all-original tunes will warm your heart and give you some of the hope back… it’s (so) easy to become jaded and feel like all is lost in today’s world, but the love of life & the living of it comes through in most joyful fashion on pieces like the wonderful/vibrant “My Happy Dance“… this is one track you will hit “repeat” on often.  Very enjoyable music for any time and any place… I give this CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners in love with the beauty that can be conveyed through talented piano playing.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.96.  Get more information at David’s site.     Rotcod Zzaj

Frank Piombo – SLEEPWALK:  I first reviewed Frank’s guitar work in issue # 114… nice & easy are the two words that best describe Frank’s jazz performances… I found “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” to be most enjoyable, with the same kind of heavy energy that Cannonball first gave it – way back when.  Frank’s got some quality players along with him on this one… & you can hear/stream all the songs at his REVERBNATION site.  If your jazz tastes run towards nice/easy listening with lots of variety (great guitar, heavy sax, even some smooth vocals), you’ll agree that it comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  I give Frank & crew an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96 on this one.  You can find out more about Frank on his FB page, too!      Rotcod Zzaj

Silvano Monasterios – FOSTERED:  This cracker-jack jazz pianist from Venezuela is among the best I’ve ever heard… I first reviewed his high-energy work in issue # 117, & was so impressed that I wrote him personally to ask for the rest of his CD’s (past, present or future – so you’ll see reviews of 2 more of his albums in upcoming issues as well).  “Fostered” was the first out of the packet he sent, & when I opened it up & listened to all the players (John Dadurka, Sam Howard and Aaron Mitter on acoustic bass, Noah Penn on drums, Brandon Wright and Erik Elligers on saxophones and Seth Merlin and Pete Clagget on trumpet and flugelhorn) on the opener, “Jerusalem“, there was no doubt it was another winner… the arrangements on this one give every player a chance to shine brilliantly, & Silvano’s piano runs are nothing short of fantastic!  My favorite track of the 9 was the 7:56 closer, “Caravan of Dreams“… absolutely the best piano jazz piece I’ve listened to in 2011!  In fact, in addition to my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99, I give this CD the “PICK” of 2011 for “best piano jazz CD”.  Get more information at the Fostered page.      Rotcod Zzaj

Dead Cat Bounce – CHANCE EPISODES:  I won’t know what you think until you’ve had a chance to listen to this wild & wooly group, but I suspect they leave little to “chance”… they re-invent themselves every other measure or so, as on “Far From The Matty Crowd“, one of the most interesting high-energy pieces I’ve heard this year… the keyword for DCB’s music is “change”… constant & unwavering, they will TAKE you for a ride!  The opener, “Food Blogger” is a totally solid piece of jazz that I just loved, & I’ve no doubt that if your ears lap up “adventure” in listening, you’ll dig it in a big way, too.  My favorite cut of the 11 offered up, though, was the down & dirty “Township Jive Revisited“… in the overall, this is one of the most creative jazz CD’s I’ve listened to in 2011, & surely merits my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) of 4.98.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Grupo Falso Baiano – SIMPLICIDADE LIVE AT YOSHI’S:  If it’s uncomplicated (I didn’t say “simple”) and “fun” you look for in your listening, then this CD is right up your alley!  Just listen to the ultimate in pretty on the title track, “Simplicidade” to hear what I’m talking about…. pure joy being expressed here.  The players know their Brazilian music through and through, and have the talent to make it more enjoyable than anything you’ve listened to in this vein lately… (Zack Pitt-Smith, reeds, Brian Moran, 7 string guitar, Jesse Appelman, mandolin (bandolim), and Ami Molinelli, percussion).  I particularly enjoyed the lively flute work on “Bem Brasil“, and have no doubt you will too.  It was the enchanting percussion intro on “Diexa O Breque“, & the totally enchanting full-tilt spirit of freedom that made my pick as favorite, but all ten songs display high energy talent!  I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at their band site   Rotcod Zzaj

Bill Leslie – A MIDNIGHT CLEAR; CHRISTMAS IN MITFORD:  It was issue # 108 that I first reviewed Bill’s beautiful music, & though seasonal music isn’t (always) my favorite type of music to review, his high talent is so well conveyed that you know it isn’t just “another rehash” of carols & such… just listen to “Angels We Have Heard On High” to get a feel for the spirit of love and harmony passed on to the listener.  In fact, there are sixteen (yeah, that’s 16) emotion-laden aural adventures that you’ll find yourself coming back to again and again… the fantastic guitar/harp work on “Mitford Carol” will take you back to times when life was more attractive because it was (indeed) more simple.  I truly enjoyed each and every track here, & give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners who want seasonal music that doesn’t restrict itself to sounding like all the rest.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.96.  Get more information at Bill’s site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Sultans of String – MOVE:  Whether artists like it or not, there is always an “instant word” that comes to mind when you first listen to them… in this case, that keyword is “lively”… they didn’t just “wing” the title of the band, either… you’re immediately drawn into fantasies of magic carpets, sultans and harem dancers as you listen to the opener, “Andulucia“… swirling skirts by campfire-light, and gypsy tales of woe and passion abound on the lively “Return To Lisboa“, with excellent jazz muted horn mixed in on the intro.  The clear favorite tune for this listener, though, was the high-flight energy of “Ernie’s Bounce”… don’t think I’ve heard a string band get this jazzy in quite some while.  I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at      Rotcod Zzaj

The Landrus Kaleidoscope – CAPSULE:  Pure jazz pleasure here… only eight tracks, but every one is jam-packed with great energy… Brian Landrus does bari sax and bass clarinet, in some stunning pieces, like the opener, “Striped Phase“… featuring superb guitar work from Nir Felder, acoustic bass from Matthew Parish and right-on-time drums from Rudy Royston  – not to mention mighty mellow keyboards (Rhodes, my favorite keyboard to play) from Michael Cain!  I just recently (issue # 114) reviewed another CD by Brian’s quartet – with similar results… great jazz was my judgement.  It was the upbeat tone of “Wide Sky” that captured my vote for favorite track… deep tones, and movement that just wouldn’t stop rovin’ ’round this old reviewer’s head… & 9:34 gives each of the players a chance to shine!  I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Tony Jones – PITCH, RHYTHM AND CONSCIOUSNESSThis isn’t really my first listen to Tony’s work, as I reviewed his work (together with his wife, Jessica Jones) in issue # 82.  This set was actually pressed on to vinyl… there are a few .mp3 samples ’round the net… check out Tony’s page to hear them.  Charles Bunham (violin) and Kenny Wolleson (percussion) join him for a 9-song excursion through territory that most listeners enthralled with improvised music will find a total treat!  The thing that’s (very) nice about Tony’s work in the trio is that all the notes are SOLID… no screech, wail & roll (of course, I’ve been known to do a bit o’ that on my own recordings – lol).  The trio works well together and the recording is crystal clear.  I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for lovers of improv, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at NEW ARTISTS RECORDS.      Rotcod Zzaj

Elisabeth Lohninger Band – CHRISTMAS IN JULY:  My first review of Elisabeth’s wonderful jazz vocal work was in issue # 107, on one of the most powerful jazz vocals I’ve ever witnessed, “Songs Of Love and Destruction”.  Many of you know of my  aversion to “seasonal CD’s”, but I can say (without qualification) that the songs Elizabeth  & her partners (guitarist Axel Fischbacher & pianist Walter Fischbacher) on this Christmas album are just as jazz-spirited as any on the market.  I particularly liked tunes like “Mary’s Boy Child“- Ms. Lohninger’s vocal stirs emotions you didn’t even know you had left in you.  My favorite jazz-oriented C-mas tune on this even-dozen song CD was “Christmas Eve“… no syrupy melancholy on this one – it make Cmas FUN again!  This is the best seasonal CD I’ve heard this year, & gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at Elisabeth’s siteRotcod Zzaj

Fiona Joy Hawkins – CHRISTMAS JOY:  This very pleasant CD (as you’ll glean from the title) is C-mas oriented, but is quite in the realm of the old Windham Hills albums, with some nice “twists” that make it all the more enjoyable… for instance, check out the trad-tune “Jingle Bells” – totally different, yet clearly bringing back mem’ries of the way life “used to be”… I really liked this track.  I guess if you were into “pigeon-holing”, this would fit in the “New Age” category, but Fiona’s talent makes the music cross genres to a degree that makes it much, much more than “just another new age album”.  I also enjoyed “The Holly and the Ivy“… in fact, it had me smiling enough to make it my favorite on the CD.  I give Fiona a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Dominique Eade & Ran Blake – WHIRLPOOL:  What Dominique and Ran perform here isn’t for the “casual” listener… as on all of the CD’s I’ve reviewed with Blake collaborating on them, this is the kind of jazz you must “absorb” – & you can’t do that well unless you listen the first go-round with headphones on.  One of the most intriguing tunes was simply titled “The Wind“… both artists are totally involved in what they are doing for you, yet they are totally in synch… Ran’s piano work is intimate & totally focused… Dominique’s vocal wraps you up in a cocoon-like state and you’ll hear nothing else… not “high-science”, but the magic is there, to be sure.  My favorite track of the 13 offered was their unique interpretation of BB’s “The Thrill Is Gone” – gone it might have been (when you first started listening), but it will come right back in a heartbeat as you listen to this one.  I give the duo a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who demand more than just “light fare” in their listening adventures, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at or     Rotcod Zzaj

Mike Longo – TO MY SURPRISE:  My most recent review of Mike’s splendid jazz trio work was issue # 97, & every time I get a new CD in from him, I can’t wait to open up the package & scope the music.  On this outing, it’s trio + 2 (Jimmy Owens on trumpet/flugelhorn & Lance Bryant on tenor sax)… as you listen to the opener, “A Picture of Dorian Mode“, your ears will be (most pleasantly) surprised… this is one of the most lively tunes I’ve heard this year!  If it’s upbeat blues you’re looking for, you’ll fall in love with “New Muse Blues” on the first 8 bars, as did I.  Mike was good enough to give us one of the most comprehensive interviews we have ever published in issue # 98, & he put the same zest for life in his interview as he does on “To My Surprise”.  My favorite track of the dozen presented on this outing was th’ down/funky “Magic Bluze” – it just don’t get any “slinkier” than this!  I give Mike & crew my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an EQ (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this splendid CD!  Get more information by browsing through his PRESSKIT.    Rotcod Zzaj

Michael Stribling – SAFELY IN THE ARMS OF LOVE:  How marvelous it must be to have the gifts that players like Michael have… able to “see” the sonics involved in being in the “arms of love”… the beautiful opener, “Spirit of the Highlands” demonstrates perfectly the talent and sensitivity that he puts into his work… a very nice tune that will stay with you for years to come!  This could easily serve as the musical backdrop to any scenes you can imagine that tell of the adventures of highlanders everywhere… fifteen tunes, not the least of which is “Far Away From Home“… having been a wanderer for so many years myself, I latched onto the emotions being portrayed here immediately… pleasant (tho’ sad, of course).  My favorite piece was the lively (and intense) “Escape and Pursuit” – absolutely scary how many times I’ve been there, folks!  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who love the music to paint stories for them.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.96.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

BORIS SAVOLDELLI – BIOCOSMOPOLITAN:  Every 3rd, 4th or 5th issue, I get a CD that simply MUST rise to the top of the queue – because it’s that good.  The last time I heard Boris fantastic vocal work was with Elliot Sharp in issue # 95, & that was fine work – but this is CATACLYSMIC, to say the least!  As I sit here listening to the the beautiful choir like sounds on the opening to “The Discordia“, I’m reminded of why Sting was such a hit for me… snatches (sort of) of the vocal gymnastics of Bobby McFerrin, too, though it’s pure, sweet & original energy – nothing “borrowed”!  16 absolutely cosmic tracks that will hold you spellbound for the entire 49:17… check out another of my favorites, “Springstorm“… man, with the headphones on (a MUST, folks… do the first sitting without interruption & totally wrapped up in Boris strange & amazing world of sonic wonderment!)… the syncopation is fantastic!  My clear favorite on this CD, though, is the treatment given to “Crosstown Traffic“… all I can say is WOW… Jimi woulda’ been (much) better off pumpin’ THIS into his earz!  This is totally deserving of my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00 (that’s the TOP of th’ scale, volkz).  I also give Boris & krew the “PICK” of 2011 for “best vocal jazz”!  Get more information at the MOONJUNE RECORDS page for this CD.    Rotcod Zzaj

Catherine Marie Charlton – RED LEAF, GREY SKY:  What an absolutely splendid way to start a Sunday off… Catherine has a very “intimate” touch in her keyboard style on these 6 improvisations.  The only part I didn’t like about the CD is just that… 6 songs, only a little more than 24 minutes long… would truly love to hear more next time.  One of the most heartfelt and engaging pieces was (as you might expect from the title) “Introspection“… simple, but beautiful!  The best track on the album (for this reviewer, anyway) was “Transformation“, where (again) Catherine helps you “evolve”… the 5:15 piece has several moods and shades that are very enjoyable.  The music she plays here shows clear talent and totally involved energy… because of the shortness of the offering, she gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, but her “EQ” (energy quotient) is near the top at 4.98.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Oscar Perez Nuevo Comienzo – AFROPEAN AFFAIR:  All of us have been through scads of press releases that tell us a particular artist or group has “created a new genre” from a blending of musical cultures… in Oscar’s case – it’s not HYPE at all!  Just listen to the thrilling changes of pace on the opener, “The Illusive Number“, & you’ll know immediately that his piano compositions are spurring all those players to new heights and new ways of “telling the jazz story”… I love the energy on this 8:45 gem!  The total emotion that Oscar expresses on “As Brothers Would” will bring a tear to your eye – even if you don’t have any brothers – simple, yet beautiful.  It was the sophistication (and vocal work) on the closer, “A New Day Emerging” that got my pick as favorite track, though… it starts (right off) MOVING, & doesn’t stop that movement until the very last note of this 9:38 killer tune!  I give Oscar & his cohorts a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Micky Saunders/Dan Susnara –  THREE RELEASESDan & I have played together (quite a bit), especially during the fabulous “home-taping” years, ergo I make an exception when he releases these EP’s (I don’t usually review anything except full CD’s)… but there’s another reason – because Micky & Dan take us back to an era that I grew up in – the purely psychedelic & creative years of the ’60’s & ’70’s.  Just listen to their mutual vocal on “Everything You’re Not” (unfortunately, there were no samples loaded)… this is HOT POOP, & brings back tons of memories from my own “high years”.  Dan is a wizard (purely) at getting neat sounds out of his rigs & they both play their respective instruments with the kind of high energy that’s a prerequisite here at I.N.  Each release comes with it’s own little booklet, harkening back to those glorious “homemade” days.  The 2010 release “Riding On Moonbeams” features an element that belongs in music – FUN!  & the final EP, “Changing Days” has 2 of the best pieces I’ve ever heard from this duo.  If you love experimental rock, you’ll agree when I declare this to be MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… they get an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more info at the links above.      Rotcod Zzaj

Lisa Maxwell – HAPPY:  It should be pretty easy to tell from the CD cover, & the title that this isn’t going to be “down, dirty or lowdown” funky blues… Lisa’s talent shines on the 14 upbeat & bouncy jazz tunes she sings for you here.  I especially enjoyed “Sunday In New York” – even though I’m not really “in love” with NYC, Lisa makes this Sunday jaunt a most pleasant one… it doesn’t hurt that she’s picked some high-talent players to back her vocals, either… Frank Tate on bass, Al Gafa on guitar, Keith Ingham’s piano, Steve Little on drums and Ben Wittman’s percussion all make this a most enjoyable listen that those who love vocals will keep on spinning.  My personal favorite was “Under A Blanket of Blue“.  An all-round wonderful session… I first reviewed Lisa in issue # 110, & fully expect we’ll be hearing much more from this very talented young singer!  I give her (another) MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at   Rotcod Zzaj

Satoko Fujii – WATERSHED:  Though this 2011 release isn’t “strictly jazz”, it certainly is “improvised”, and it definitely fits in the “high energy” slot that’s a prime criterion for being reviewed here.  The “form” of music that’s being is played here is “Min-Yoh” (which means folk music in Japanese).  You can view the player credits, and listen to samples at the SQUIDCO site.  The opener, “The Thaw“, is (as you might imagine from the title) a slow-build 6:43 piece that will take you right through the mechanics of such an event, albeit using Satoko’s masterful piano chops to guide and direct the rate of melt… it is a highly impressive piece, especially when you think of the “folk music” context… purely sophisticated folk, these.  My absolute favorite piece of the 8 offered was “Soranbushi“… Ms. Fujii’s piano literally “rages” on this one – raw/pure energy, to be sure!  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the SQUIDCO site above.      Rotcod Zzaj

New World Jazz Composers Octet – BREAKING NEWS:  It won’t take any “convincing” for those in love with jazz to embrace this latest sonic news from NWJCO (it’s their 3rd CD – an October, 2011 release)… nine totally intriguing pieces (none under 5:00) that pull you into & under their spell.  “Breaking News“, the title track, will make you feel like you need to reach back in your 1930’s (or was it ’40’s) closet & dig out your boogie spats…. this is one superb piece of jazz with excellent trumpet work (Ken Cervenka and Walter Platt)!  For something in a bit more pensive mood, you’ll certainly enjoy “Wishful Thinking” as much as I did… beautiful (and emotional) piano and trumpet leads are featured on this one.  It was Felipe Salles’ sultry “Children’s Waltz” that captured my vote for favorite track, though… this one captures something often not heard in jazz – innocence and hope!  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the NWJCO page.    Rotcod Zzaj

Dave Lindholm & Otto Donner –  MORE THAN 123: Good Gourd-a-mightee, it’s FLASHBACK time… sitting here listening to Dave spin these vocals makes me think I’m back in (either) the early ’60’s, listening to Mr. Zimmerman (as in Dylan)… particularly on tunes like “Why I Smile“…. smoky back-room jazzy blues that will wrap you right up in the smoke & blow you away!  Th’ ol’ “alleycat jazz” style is alive & well on “I’m Right“, beautifully brought out by composer/arranger Otto (some smokin’ hot guitar solo work on this one, too – the player list is far too long to itemize, so you’ll have to visit the TUM Records site to get th’ details)!  The sultry jazz/blues stride/march on “Where You’re Walking Now” was my absolute favorite track on the CD… quality vocal jazz that just won’t quit!  I give Dave & Otto a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.       Rotcod Zzaj

Jason Kao Hwang/Spontaneous River – SYMPHONY OF SOULS: As soon as you turn on your headphones, you will find yourself totally absorbed in what the 37 string players are doing here… especially once it’s progressed to “Movement Two” (tho’ I don’t like “movements” (I prefer actual titles be assigned to a particular creation), in this case, it may make sense, because each of these pieces does “morph” from one soul to another, so to speak.  The violin work on “Movement 5” was excellent, and the full force of the strings is all OVER your ears… this is, in fact, my favorite track on the 11-song CD.  If you don’t listen to this with headphones on (at least for the first 1:03:18 sitting) you will be doing a disservice to your ears.  While string orchestrals with drums may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the energy projected on all 11 tracks is volcanic and certainly worthy of the MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED I give it, as well as the “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at Jason’s website.     Rotcod Zzaj

Bob Shimizu – FIRST & MONROEI first reviewed Bob’s splendid high-energy jazz guitar work in issue # 94, & Bob’s all-original compositions (eleven of them) on this outing show even more genius!  He’s got expert players with him, too – Eric Marienthal on sax, David Garfield on keyboards, Lenny Castro on percussion, Joey DeFrancesco on organ, Young Lion Dominick Farinacci on flugelhorn & a host of other names you may have heard before.  An absolute favorite of mine was the totally moving “Easy To Be With“… you can hear every little nuance in this recording, and it’s more than just “catchy”… it will come back to your head months (maybe even years) down the road.  I also loved the “back alley” feel on “Padrone“… nice bass driving, excellent horn work, & every player is right ON time on this one (Joey’s organ is SUPERB on this track, too).  It was the snappiness of “1235 Moio Way” that got my vote for favorite, though… this is what jazz guitar is SUPPOSED to sound like!  I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 – AND a “PICK” for this issue for “best guitar jazz”!   Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

John Fluker – STAR EYES:  What an absolutely nice way to start off a weekend on a Friday late-afternoon… as I listen to “Anytime“, John’s keyboard magic wraps me instantly in emotional chords that help me to hear his vision.  His solid finger style on “Chippewa Winds” paints pictures like those I used to imagine as I read adventure novels related to the trials and tribulations between settlers and Native Americans… very nicely done.  The main composition is split into two parts… the one I enjoyed the most (& my favorite on the CD, without doubt) was “Star Eyes (Part Two)“… John has played with/for the stars (most notably, he was Gladys Knight’s musical director), and it’s clearly because he has pure talent for turning his feelings into soulful music that you’ll listen to again & again.  I give this CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any & all who want to be wrapped up in the warmth of expertly played piano… he gets an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96 for this one.  Get more information at John’s MYSPACE page.      Rotcod Zzaj

Irene Nachreiner with her Latin Jazz Band – HOT AND SPICY CHRISTMAS:  In the spirit of Cmas, I’ve been reviewing a few of the CD’s I had gotten in for the holiday season (though seasonal music isn’t exactly my cup of tea, especially when it comes to jazz).  On the other hand, Irene & her compatriots have managed to put a little swing in the season with great arrangements of traditionals like “Ring Out Bells” and “What Child Is This“… the “saving grace” for this set are the Latin guitars… quite nice, actually, and they paint a different picture for the holidaze… for those who can’t do without some “background” music for their egg nog, this one gets a RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.94… up to you, of course.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Gilson Schachnik and Mauricio Zottarelli – MOZIK:  I swear, folks, it only gets easier when the review queue is filled with high-talent/high-energy music like pianist Gilson and drummer Mauricio Zottarelli have put together with these 8 tunes!  If it’s “feeling” you go for in your listening experience, you’ll just love “Eye Of The Hurricane“… totally focused playing, but very easy to listen to (again & again & again)… in fact, it’s just this style of music that influenced me so strongly towards jazz in the first place!  The flute interplay on the high-spirited “A Felicidade” will make you want to get up and dance all day (& night) long!  Gilson’s lilting touch on “Pannonica” is another one that won’t come off your playlists anytime soon!  Fans of Chick Corea or Herbie Hancock’s masterful keyboard artistry will wax nostalgic as they listen to the opener, “Web’s Samba“… too cool to be true, & absolutely my favorite track on the CD… (if you’re still “angry” after you listen to this one, you better switch to metal, I reckon).  I give these folks a (well-deserved) MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  What a way to start off a new issue!!!  Get more information at      Rotcod Zzaj