Issue 121 Reviews

 Our latest reviews for your reading and listening pleasure!

Kathryn Kaye – HEAVY AS A FEATHER:  My first encounter with Kathryn’s beautiful piano work was in issue # 113, where she got a good rating from me… on this new CD, it’s up a notch, to be sure… just listen to the beautiful opener, “Mountain Laurel” to hear why I love her laid-back approach to the keyboards so much… unhurried, unrushed, no “points to prove” – just “her to you” and that’s about all you can ask from a performance!  I didn’t know it until this CD, but Kathryn’s from southeastern Kentucky (wonder how close to Breathitt County she was… I spent two interesting years in the hills there)… I imagine that has something to do with why she comes across as unconcerned about rushing things.  My favorite piece on this 11-track CD was “Earth“, where her vibrant keyboards are joined by a whole host of players you may well recognize.  This is, quite simply, the best piano/orchestral work I’ve heard this year, & totally merits the MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED it gets for lovers of well-performed piano music; “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at Kathryn’s site.     Rotcod Zzaj 

simakDialog – PATAHAN:  Five very inspiring and high-talent tunes from a marvelous group based in Jakarta… I never realized it as I listened through this one (about 100 times) in prep for my review, but this group has been together for a long time… 14 years to be precise!  That explains quite nicely why they are so cohesive on pieces like the grand-scale opus that is the opener, “One Has To Be“… Riza Arshad’s keyboards are just stunning on this 13:34 track!  The rest of the band (TOHPATI ARIO HUTOMO – electric, synth & acoustic guitars; ADHITHYA PRATAMA – electric fretless bass; ENDANG RAMDAN – kendang, toys; EMY TATA MAKASSAR – kendang, ceng-ceng, kethuk, vocals, poetry reading (Bahasa Indonesian language)l NYAK INA RASEUKI “Ubiet” – vocals (Tracks 2 and 5)) are just as awe-inspiring on pieces like my favorite, “Worthseeing“… fantastic percussion intro, & then everyone else joins in… just wait until you hear the ear-grabbing change at 2:15, not to mention the killer guitar at 4:05; definitely worth hearing.  I give this band my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (top-end) 5.00… they also get the “PICK” of this issue for “best new jazz discovery”!!!  Get more information at the MOONJUNE page for this CD.      Rotcod Zzaj

The Jon Hemmersam/Szilard Mezei Quartet – THE JON HEMMERSAM/SZILARD MEZEI QUARTET:  I’m not 100% sure why it seems to be so hard to find digital samples of these CD’s from the Konnex label, but I can tell you it’s well worth the exploration… & that’s exactly what the opener, “Reception“, is – a highly energetic journey of discovery that is much more “mellow” than some similar CD’s.  I’ve no doubt that those who love intricate string-based jazz (featuring Jon Hemmersam’s acoustic guitar and Szilard Mezei’s violin, with double bass from Ervin Malina & drums by Istvan Csik) will find this pure joy to behold.  You can actually hear the joy streaming through on portions of the 18:50 “Pure“… players whoopin’ it up if you listen carefully – this was my favorite of the 6 long tracks offered!  I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at KONNEX label (tho’ you won’t find a lot there – they need a serious revamp of their site, to include incorporating English language as a choice).    Rotcod Zzaj

Soft Machine Legacy- LIVE ADVENTURES:  If you want a taste of what the “legacy” is (& essentially what it was all about in the first place), you’ll HAVE to scope out “Grapehound“… this is definitely the kind of high energy we stand for (& just can’t do without, to tell the truth) – John Etheridge’s guitars will BLOW you away (not to mention great sax/flute by Theo Travis, bass by Roy Babbington & drums from John Marshall).  There are nine (9) killer trax here for your continued pleasure & mind expansion… among the best of them is certainly “Song of Aeolus“, with it’s beautiful flute work… but it’s actually the driving pace on “Gesolreut” that gets my vote as favorite track… splendid bass, sax, drums & guitar that will make the CD cover come true for you… explore new planetary vistas from the comfort of your couch (or hammock, whichever you prefer).  I give SML a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners who want to hear prog/jazz in a high-energy vein; “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at the MOONJUNE Records page for this CD.    Rotcod Zzaj

Michael Brant DeMaria – BINDU:  Michael’s music is pure magic, there’s no doubt about it… the opener, “The Way Beyond” is among the best tunes I’ve ever heard him perform (& believe me, I’ve reviewed almost every one of his releases); he calls the music on this CD “wellness driven”, and I couldn’t think of a more apt description – if you’re down, this will bring you up into the light!  The other part about his compositions is that they are always fresh, always something new… we’ve all been through the “new age” genre CD’s where every other tune is the same rhythm, the same flow as the second tune back; none of that is present on a De Maria release… it’s pure Michael, boiling to the top… for best evidence of that, listen to my favorite piece on this 10-song (nearly 60 minute) excursion – “Tripura Sundari“… it’s like watching a universe expand and unfold right before your ears!  I give Michael my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (the top) 5.00… he also gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best and most original new-age”.  Get more information at Michael’s BINDU page!     Rotcod Zzaj

Wadada Leo Smith’s Mbira – DARK LADY OF THE SONNETS:  If you’ve been reading this ‘zine over the last couple of years (or more), you know that I’ve been reviewing a LOT of work from Wadada and his many cohorts.  What’s most impressive about all his work (in my mind, anyway) is that each new effort has something totally fresh and new… certainly that’s true with this international release on the TUM Records label.  The opening track alone, “Sarah Bell Wallace” (a memorial for his mom), is an 11:53 stunner that changes moods & instruments often and keeps you guessing at every chord!  Wadada’s trumpet is splendid and quite mellow on this outing.  You can read the tune sketches at TUM to get a much better idea of what each piece is about & where it came from.  Pheeron akLaff (drums) and Min Xiao Fen (pipa, traditional 4-stringed Chinese instrument).  This is a highly energetic CD that combines cultures into a very palatable & enjoyable 56 minute listen that you’ll spin over & over… it gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who love improvised and intriguing music, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99!  You can watch a very informative video clip of Wadada’s 70th birthday to get more information about his projects.  Rotcod Zzaj

Mili Bermejo-Eugene Friesen-Tim Ray-Dan Greenspan – LOVE SONGS OF THE AMERICAS:  What an absolutely stark contrast… from Bonnie Barnett’s spoken-word to some of the most beautiful romantic vocal work I’ve heard in the last 10 years!  As I listen to the opener, “Pasarero“, I’m totally wrapped up in the emotion conveyed, even though I understand hardly a word…. stunning, indeed!  As Mili switches to English on “To Say Goodbye“, the fantastic violin intro sets you up for the sadness of farewells.  Eugene’s cello & voice, Tim’s piano and Dan’s bass are also joined by the Berklee World String Orchestra (under Eugene’s direction, by the way)… & this combination is a total winner for Mili!  I’m impressed & give Mili and friends a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who demand a daily dose of romantic vocal jazz energy.  “EQ” (energy quotient) is 4.97.  Get more information at      Rotcod Zzaj

Bonnie Barnett Group – IN BETWEEN DREAMS:  The word that best describes the intro to the opening track on this 7-tune improvised & vocal CD, “Badinage“, is “strange”… & anyone who has read my rantings or listened to my own improvised works know that for me to declare it in that light, it’s really “out there”.  Bonnie’s vocal will have you puzzling from her opening note… you may think (to yourself) “speaking in tongues”, who knows?  When Dick Wood’s blows the hard line at about 2:30, though, the tune takes off into the ether & just never stops… great piece.  The totally straight-ahead spoken-word piece “Matisse” will blow your mind & wrap you up in the words more than you may want to get rapt…. lol.  If you’re a fan of words & jazz together, you’ll agree with me that this one is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… I give Bonnie & krew an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the pFMentum label site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Hugh Hopper, Simon Picard, Steve Franklin, Charles Hayward – NUMERO D’VOLThe beautiful “build” on the opener, the title track, “Numero D’Vol” is some of the most intriguing “free jazz” you’ll ever hear… there’s a bit of wailing from Simon’s tenor sax, but Hugh’s solid bass stride keeps the movement going ’round & ’round… a most solid tune!  Steve’s keyboards & Charles drums are woven together beautifully with Hugh & Simon on the magnificent 7:41 “Bees Knees Man” (man, where did they come up with these titles   lol); just the kind of fusion you’d expect in a hive. My absolute favorite, though, was the jaws-like bass intro on “Twilight“, which evolves into the deepest/darkest mystery sonics you’ll hear in 2012… great tune!  I give these folks a well-merited MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners with a little adventure in their ears.  “EQ” (energy quotient) is 4.97… get more information at the MOONJUNE Records site!      Rotcod Zzaj

Jimmy Owens – THE MONK PROJECT: Many of the readers of I.N. grew up on the magic that Thelonius Monk knew how to create, seemingly from the ether… Jimmy (trumpet, flugelhorn), Wycliffe Gordon (tombone), Marcus Strickland (tenor sax), Howard Johnson (tuba bariton, sax), Kenny Barron (piano), Kenny Davis (bass) & Winard Harper (drums) join together to sonically take you back to that era, & on cuts like the down-home-bluesy “Blue Monk“, they meet & exceed all their goals for you!  Their rendition of “Well, You Needn’t” is right on target as well… in fact, all 10 tunes provide a suitable degree of challenge for the listener, whether a “junior” in jazz or the most hardcore listener; I just loved Kenny’s piano solo (at about 2:00) on this one, too!  It was Jimmy’s brass on “Reflections” that made it my favorite on this outing.  A decidedly well done tribute to Monk that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Machine Mass Trio – AS REAL AS THINKING: There’s nothing worse than opening up a CD billed as “jazz” & finding out that there’s not one LICK of such on the tracks…. OTOH, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BETTER than finding out that what the players have put together is “out there”, totally creative and jam-packed with the kind of energy only true professionals can generate – and that IS what you get with MMT… just listen to the opener, “Cuckoo” – you’ll find instant enchantment here from leader Tony Bianco (drums, percussion, loops), Michel Delville (guitar, synth guitar, bouzouki & electronics) and Jordi Grognard (tenor sax, flute, bass clarinet & electronic tempura)! The shortest track (4:56), “Let Go“, has some absolutely SCORCHING sax lines, & these guys are right ON time all the way through the track…. I’m lovin’ this one.  My favorite (of the eight presented) is the 10:13 “Hero“… nice slow intro, until (at about 2:25) Michel’s guitar leads take you into ORBIT (or OBIT, mayhaps?  lol)… anyway you hear this tune, it’s destined to be a chart-topper for all the “heads” (yikes, are there still those characters around) ’round th’ globe looking for some psych-substance… I guarantee they’ll groove on this track.  I give these cats a well-deserved MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners who demand something “different” in their nu-jazz experience.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is a perfect 5.00, top of the scale at this magazine.  Get more information at the MOONJUNE Records label page.      Rotcod Zzaj

Slivovitz – BANI AHEAD:  Anyone who implies that this rockin’ band doesn’t know jazz deserves a kick in th’ head much like you see pictured on the CD cover!  They’re from Italy, but they’re universal in the scope of their talent, to be sure… just scope out the fantastic opener, “Egiziaca” to hear why I’m raving about ’em!  The gentler opening tones on “02-09” will let you glide in relative peace until about 2:25, when the pace kicks up & the high-end rock/fusion/jazz will carry you off into th’ nether-land of ga ga!  It was the driving bass line on “Cleopatra Through” that made it my favorite of the 8 brilliant pieces offered up here for your aural appendages… solid jazz in high energy form that will rocket these players into the 22nd Century well-ahead of their peers.   I give them my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 (right up next to the highest mark on the peg)!  Get more information at the MOONJUNE Records site (& be sure to tell MOONJUNE that we sent you)!      Rotcod Zzaj

Jon Hemmersam & Michael Jefry Stevens – DEAR JONAS:  Certainly you’ve heard intricate guitar and piano duos before, but I daresay not nearly as engaging as “The Amber Suite – Part 2 – DREAM“… I’m actually not used to hearing Jon & Michael in such a nocturnal mode – but if you listen closely, you’ll feel (as did I) a part of the dream; the piano keys and guitar strings somehow seem woven together, but it’s just the players sensing right where to go with each other.  If you want your jazz “straight-ahead”, and not exploratory, you’ll probably move to the next CD bin, but if (like me), you want to hear what two totally talented players can do when they’re not in any hurry, you’ll enjoy all 7 tunes immensely.  My personal favorite was the 12:40 “Andrea“… they way these two paint her, you feel like you know her!  This is beautiful duo work that gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the KONNEX Records label site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Marbin – BREAKING THE CYCLE:  If you thought there was no jazz in Israel – think again!  The band title apparently comes from the guitar player (Dani Rabin) & saxist (Danny Markovitch).  A whole host of other players join these two here on 11 songs that have been spinning on my Zen Touch 2 since the day the label (MOONJUNE RECORDS) sent them my way!  Dani’s guitar work on one of my favorite tunes, “Bar Stomp“, is nothing short of fantastic – it will bring back many pleasant mem’ries (or brief flashes of you at the booking desk after the party – lol!).  If you want something a bit more moody/reflective, try the slightly darker “Outdoor Revolution“.  No matter, though, any track you select will hold you spellbound and totally in awe of the energy these folks project!  My personal favorite was the closer, “Winds Of Grace“… you won’t believe the changes in this 8:39 epic!  I give Marbin a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the label site linked in above.      Rotcod Zzaj

Jon Hemmersam, David Liebman Rakalam Bob Moses – DUENDE:  Issue # 93 is my latest review of Jon’s fantastic jazz… he (just) sent me a whole host of CD’s to review, and this is the first one out of the pack.  Jon’s guitars on this 14-song epic album will wow your ears; the drums by Rakalam Bob Moses are superb (especially on pieces like “Hand Drum Peace“), & David’s sax work is a forceful (yet pleasant) force on each of the tracks.  This is actually the kind of improvised/experimental jazz that sneaks right up on you… I was all the way through 7 songs before I realized I was halfway through (almost like a “contact high”, eh?  lol!!)  The tune that had the most life for these old ears was the energetic “Sprint“… you can hear every little nuance of this piece as though the trio was right there in your living room – EXCELLENT & definitely my favorite!  I give this CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 – as well as the “PICK” of this issue for “best improvised jazz trio”.  Get more information at the KONNEX Records site.     Rotcod Zzaj

Bryan and the Haggards – STILL ALIVE AND KICKIN’ DOWN THE WALLS:  Those of you have followed all the HOT CUP Records releases we’ve reviewed over the last 10 (or so) years will know that this label produces & releases music that is absolutely different… to call it anything else would be just plain wrong.  Bryan Murray (tenor/balto! sax), Jon Irabagon (C-melody/alto/soprano sax), Jon Lundblom (guitar/banjo), Moppa Elliott (bass) & Danny Fischer (drums) bring new life to the “country” form with some injections of jaded jazz that probably ‘ave never been heard in those not-so-hallowed walls above… just grab hold of “Seeing Eye Dog” with your ears to hear what I’m talkin’ about!  Jazz verzure, but totally twisted, as on my favorite of the 8 offered up, “Mixed Up Mess of a Heart“.  If your jazz tastes run to “normal” – move on – but if (like me), you like a little “strange” mixed in, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

BORIS SAVOLDELLI – INSANOLOGY:  There may still be a few of our readers who don’t realize how much I like the marriage of spoken-word/vocal work with jazz form… well, after you listen to the opener on Boris’ earlier (2007) release (this is a re-release of the one issued in Italy back then), “Andywalker“, you’ll hear (instantly) why I’m so attracted to this guy’s extreme talent.  Lots of comparisons will be (& probably already have) made to Mr. McFerrin, & while there is a certain resemblance, Boris milks even more out of a short tune than Bobbi has lately (don’t get me wrong, either, McFerrin’s still a superb performer).  “Moonchurch” will carry you through a month o’ Sun-daze, verzure  lol!  What’s ultimately clear on any vocal work I’ve heard Savoldelli do (yet) is that he understands the KEY ingredient – FUN!  Nowhere more evident than on the beautiful “Bluechild“, my favorite track of the dozen offered.  I give Boris another MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners who love vocal enchantment.  Get more information at the MOONJUNE Records site.     Rotcod Zzaj

Dick Wood – NOT FAR FROM HERE:  Not far from “there”, either, mi amigos… like, OUT there, man!  What a wallop this CD packs… you can read about (all) the players on the pFMentum page for this release.  This excellent 6-track adventure starts off with a 7:07 monster, “Ignatious“, which clearly demonstrates the kind of exploratory jazz spirit that makes product from this label so outstanding… this tune sounds like a New Orleans funeral marching band on steroids!  It was recorded in 2008, but didn’t get release-mastered until 2011… if you’re lookin’ for “smooth, gentle & soothing”, you’ll have to move along to another rack, but if your tastes run to sonic adventure, you’ll agree when I declare this MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED; “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  The other thing that’s important is that I give this one the “PICK” of this issue for “best improvised jazz”.  Get more information on the page linked in above.     Rotcod Zzaj

Axel’s Axiom – UNCOMMON SENSE:  Axel Schwintzer & crew (Casper Gyldensoe on guitar, Marko Djordjevic on drums, Evan Gregor on acoustic & electric bass, Alex Terrier on alto sax & Aki Nishiguchi on tenor) offer up 10 high-energy tunes that go the full range… from the superb sax work on the stunning opener, “Leaps & Bounds” to the jazz march atmosphere of “Pretty Ugly“, they play tunes that will remain at the top of your playlists, with great changes (especially on the rhythm side of things) that will totally enchant your ears.  The down & funky beats on “Second Guess” made it one of my favorite tracks (thus farly) in 2012.  It was the rhythmic cross-talk on the 6:43 “No Brainer” that made if my favorite track… no matter what your “style” of jazz listening, you’ll find something to love on this great CD.  I give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at      Rotcod Zzaj

Ryan Davidson – RYAN DAVIDSON TRIO:  Absolutely tasty & totally invigorating work from three Ryans… Davidson on guitar, Ryan Hagler on bass & Ryan Jacobi on drums.  Their treatment of classics like “Ghost Riders In The Sky” will appeal to your ears in a big way… light & airy pieces like “Captain Positive” are very nice as well, especially for listeners who can’t get enough of talented jazz guitar.  It was the 6:52 “Out Of Nowhere” that really got my attention, though… once I started listening to it on my Zen Touch, I couldn’t get enough… in fact, I think I played through this about 15 times during my first run-through… the players are truly “in synch” on this one!  A total of 8 very engaging pieces for you to feast upon… I give these gents a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Gary Joseph Hassay – REKONSTRUKT:  I’m totally at a loss to say what Gary was “on” when he performed this tuva-throat masterpiece  – except to say that it was a “ROLL”… lol!  Something totally different from what my ears have witnessed from him before.  One track, a full-blown 33-minute scorcher that bears the same title as the CD.  Surely he needs to hook up with a long-ago pal of mine from Olympia, Arrington Di Diyonsio (though who’s to say he didn’t hook up with him already… Arrington performed something pretty close to this already on a CD I released in Olympia in the late ’90’s).  If you’re expecting work similar to his alto sax performances that I reviewed in issue # 57, you’re in for a surprise (though he does do sax, too, about 11 minutes in).  This is a very engaging performance, but I most strongly recommend you do it with ‘phones on – it demands concentration.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those jazzers inclined towards adventure in their listening (unadventuresome listeners need not apply).  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.95.  Get more information at the re:konstruKt site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Neil Cowley Trio – RADIO SILENCE:  It was perfectly clear (on first listen) that this CD can’t be “pigeonholed” into any category – & that includes jazz.  I can say, however, that those who love the mysterious and engaging elements of jazz will find much to like on cuts like the opener, “Monoface“… Neil’s piano work has much to do with that, but bassist Richard Sadler and drummer Evan Jenkins help take the tune to the “next level” – great piece!  I always like titles that make the listener think, and “Vice Skating” makes that happen – the trio is totally in synch on this one; recording is crystal clear, so you can hear every little nuance (headphones are recommended).  My personal favorite, though, was “Hug The Greyhound“… totally rambunctious & full of energy.  I give Neil & his cohorts a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Mary Louise Knutson – IN THE BUBBLE:  There is absolutely NOTHING more uplifting than keyboards that froth (and bubble) with the life’s energy that jazz can be… as most listeners know, that doesn’t always happen – but with Mary’s keyboards & her compatriots high-talent offerings (Gordon Johnson on bass, & drums by Phil Hey, Greg Schutte & Craig Hara), life is fully evident.  The opener, “It Could Happen To You” clearly tells you that these folks know absolutely what they’re doing, and that the ten tracks on this one will remain up at the TOP of your jazz playlists for years.  I just loved the deep tones and groove vibe on “Sea of Qi“, one of Mary’s originals.  In fact, this turned out to be my favorite… the closing (title) track, “In The Bubble” came in a close second!  I give Mary & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, & predict that you’ll be hearing much more from her.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Eddie Daniels & Roger Kellaway – LIVE AT THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS:  I’ve been reviewing wonderful jazz from Eddie & Roger for a long time now, most recently in issue # 95… this CD is the “sequel” to the on in # 95.  This performance is, I believe, the best I’ve ever heard from them.  The opener alone, “Strike Up The Band“, makes the entire CD worth the purchase.  This will hit the racks on 1/12/2012, so get lined up NOW to get it… it will stay in your collection (& at the top of your playlists) for a long, LONG time to come.  Nice and intimate, with all the “extra energy” that comes from being recorded live.  Eddie’s clarinet meshes with Roger’s masterful piano style perfectly on “Rhythm-A-Ning“, and skillfully displays their penchant for the KEY element in jazz (for this writer, at least) – FUN!  You get nine tracks full of life and a true zest for living it!  I give Eddie & Roger my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED; “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Liz Childs Quartet – TAKE FLIGHT:  Though I was able to find an image for this CD cover, Liz’s 17-song album won’t be released until the first day of February, 2012 (as soon as the promoter pushes more content out on it, I’ll come back (to this issue) & link it in, to include links to the songs).  Liz is joined by guitarist Ed MacEachen, bassist Dan Fabricatore & drummer Anthony Pinciotti, & on tunes like “Baby All The Time”, th’ vibe is pure & unadulterated hip jazz… I’m lovin’ this one, for sure!  The 4:36 “Softly” shows just how tastefully skilled Liz’ is on vocal jazz… you won’t find a finer groove-scat than the one she does on this track.  Ed’s guitar on “Bluesette” shines brightly, and when combined with Liz’ lilting vocal, it turned out to be my favorite track.  I give Liz & pals my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Liz’s page.      Rotcod Zzaj

Kate Reid – THE LOVE I’M IN:  When a singer’s able to play, it’s usually a sign that your ears are in for a treat… in Kate’s case, the talent is totally evident from the opening bar of the opener, “Just Squeeze Me“… her vocal intro, with Steve Reid’s muted trumpet accompanying her, is smooth & zesty!  The 6:04 “Where Do You Start” runs your ears through the whole range of emotions you might expect with a title like that… very, very pretty.  An even dozen tunes that will rotate through your playlists often.  Kate’s piano work on the laid-back “I’m Through With Love” is totally engaging and will enchant jazz lovers of all stripes.  If you love well-executed jazz vocals, you’ll agree with me that this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at    Rotcod Zzaj

Jackson Garrett – LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE:  This high-energy band got high “EQ” (energy quotient) marks from me back in issue # 106… they go up a point, to 4.97 on this great 14-song CD.  As you listen to the superb sax from guest Gary Bias (E,W & F) on “Don’t Tell Me What To Do“… you hear that?  Jazz with some zerious ATTITUDE!  This is definitely “in your face”, & if you dig it as much as I do, it’ll be IN YOUR EARS all day & all night long.  There’s a kinda’ “Blues Brothers” vibe on the title cut, “Owed To The Dan“… slinky horns & all that!  My favorite track, though, was the (very) jazzy “You Dirty Dog“… some great guitar work on this one.  I give this krew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… get more information at their REVERBNATION site!     Rotcod Zzaj

Chris Bauer – IN A YULETIDE GROOVE:  Ain’t that just th’ way it goes, though?  I declare that harmonica is not played that often for jazz – & the next CD that rolls out of the review stack is harmonica jazz.  As you can see from the cover, this one is seasonal, and while that’s not (always) my favorite class of music to review, Chris definitely makes it FUN (the prime ingredient for music)!  I just loved his treatment of “Frosty The Snowman“, & unless you’re more of a curmudgeon than I am, you will too.  Chris is joined by Glenn McClelland on piano, Matthew Parrish (upright bass), Chris Ziemer (guitar) and Dave Mohn (drums), & they kick that jazz all ’round under th’ tree for ya’!  My favorite of the 16 tracks offered was their rendition of “My Favorite Things“… it “bounces” right along and catches the spirit of the season quite nicely (in a jazz way).  I give these folks a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj   

Hendrik Meurkens – LIVE AT BIRD’S EYE:  Hmmmm… good!  Tasteful jazz from a master… I’ve reviewed Hendrik’s work before (issue # 89), but this is the first time I’ve heard him with the music recorded live.  He’s got a whole host of totally talented players with him on this outing… Adriano Santos (drums), Gustavo Amarante (bass) and Misha Tsiganov (piano) My earlier reviews featured Hendrik playing (primarily) harmonica, but on this ’round he’s also doing vibraphone, as he’s done on previous albums.  The music featured has a decidedly Latin “bent”, but every tune, whether slow or faster, is scrumptious… for the slower side, you’ll fall in instant love with “Body and Soul“… Misha’s piano is excellent on this one, too.  My favorite of the 9 tunes offered, though, features Hendrik’s harmonica on “Lingua de Mosquito“… high-spirited and fun music that everyone will enjoy.  I give Hendrik & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at     Rotcod Zzaj

Silvano Monasterios – MIAMI JAZZ (though the label calls it “JAZZ IMPRESSIONS”): The piano work that Silvano & his cohorts Mark Egan (bass) and Paul Wertico (drums) perform for you is, quite simply, some of the most amazing on the jazz scene today.  Unfortunately, the only place I could find any samples was at ITunes, so unless someone provides me with other links (I don’t use ITunes & never will), you’ll have to take my word for it that the smooth-flow piano lines on “Very Early” are top-of-the line, & that when the trio kicks in after Silvano’s masterful solo intro, the universe comes ALIVE (yes, it’s that good, folks).  A perfect way to start off a new year… hope and promise are abundant in all 7 tracks, especially on my favorite of them, “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise”… this kind of jazz takes one back to the earliest days of the genre, when it was all about the music, not some “gimmick” an artist had cooked up.  I give Silvano & his trio my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Superb and most memorable!   Get more information at Silvano’s pages (click on BUY).    Rotcod Zzaj