Issue 128 Reviews

Our latest reviews for your reading and listening pleasure!!

Torben Waldorff – WAH-WAH:  Truly nothing can be finer (for a reviewer, anyway) than closing out an issue with a favorite player… Torben was reviewed in issue # 101 (a while back); I found his jazz style unique & different then, & that holds true even more on this current release!  You can watch vids or listen to samples at his ARTIST SHARE page… be sure & tell him you read about his music/projects here, ok?  I believe this is his most adventurous project to date, blending blues, jazz & improvisation into a whole that will be difficult for him to follow.  You can watch a sample of the title track, “Wah Wah, being recorded (on YOUTUBE – where you’ll also find several other videos of his work).  I’m highly impressed with this CD… it’s been playing on my playlists for over two months now… it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears (especially for those who love guitar-based jazz), with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Torben’s site.       Rotcod Zzaj

Beth Duncan – COMES THE FALL:  Beth’s silky jazz vocals are a perfect front for the “heavy” band of jazzers (9 of them) she has lined up behind her.  As you listen & groove to “I’m On A Cloud“, you’ll hear how talented Beth (& her players) is!  There are lots of standards, all sweetly done, with pieces like “Moon River” standing out as “new listens” for you, even though you’ve heard them before – Beth grabs hold of this piece & “owns it”.  My personal favorite on the 14-track CD, though, was “Give Me The Simple Life“… high-energy love for jazz is fully evident – this one will stay on your playlists for months to come.  I give this great vocal jazz CD a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Beth’s site.       Rotcod Zzaj

Yoron Isreal High & Standards – VISIONS:  Any CD that has a drummer in front of it is bound to be “on time”… Yoron’s tribute to Stevie Wonder’s music is wonderful in many ways!  He assembles some great players, as you can see on the player list, & when they tackle tunes like “Bird of Beauty“, you know they “mean what they’re playing”.  10 absolutely solid sonic visions for your ears to absorb and thrill to.  The superb drum/bell work on “Contusion” is without equal in my listens this year & gets my vote as favorite cut on this CD.  I’m not always thoroughly enchanted with tribute works, but this one is an exception – you’ll love it, I’m sure.  I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Yoron’s site.       Rotcod Zzaj 

Johnny Hodges – YEAH, ABOUT THAT:  Johnny’s trumpet playing is totally solid on the 9 tunes offered here… since he left his Oklahoma City home, he’s cruised ’round th’ world a lot & you can hear that in his compositions/playing.  High-depth pieces like “Cityscape” really stuck out for me as demonstrating a world view far removed from Midwestern roots, & say a lot about this cat’s ability to translate life into music that will reach right out & GRAB your ears!  Heavy groove with high talent evident through & through… scope out my personal favorite track, “Kung Phu”, if you want to know why I’m giving Johnny’s debut CD an absolute MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  This is one of the best trumpet-led jazz CD’s I’ve heard in 2012 (& believe me – I’ve heard a LOT of them this year)!  Get more information at Johnny’s website.      Rotcod Zzaj

Eric Person – THOUGHTS ON GOD:  One of the loveliest things about having reviewed jazz for so long is that the promoters continually send me music from players who’ve been on the scene for many years, but not necessarily graced our pages yet… Eric’s newest CD is one of the best I’ve heard in 2012… his alto/soprano sax and flute work are splendid, as you’ll hear when you listen to one of my favorite tunes on this 12-tune CD, “Song Of Praise”… excellent changes throughout the track and a surging energy that just won’t stop – you’ll wind up spinning this one over & over again!  It’s actually the close-out track, “Faith Forward”, that won my vote as best track… man, this cat can COMPOSE that jazz, & then executes it flawlessly!  I give him my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00 (tops here)… he also gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best saxophone-led jazz CD”!     Get more information about Eric & his music on his website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Michael Feinberg – THE ELVIN JONES PROJECT: It was a few issues back (issue 113, to be exact) that I “jumped” one of Michael’s CD’s to the “head of the line”; that’s something that only happens when the music is of such exceptional quality that it MUST be heard/reviewed right NOW!  As you listen to Michael’s bass on the opener for this new CD, “Earth Jones”, you’ll realize immediately why I’m so impressed with his talent… jazz that just won’t quit!  To get a taste of something that really MOVES, you’ll want to scope out “Taurus People”… raw & ready jazz energy that will energize your mind & your soul!  I’ve been spinning the 7 tracks on this CD incessantly, & you will too… it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me for any/all who are “serious jazz listeners”.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.99.  Get more information at Michael’s website.      Rotcod Zzaj 

Fred Hess Big Band – SPEAK:  Over the last many years, I’ve been privileged to get many (if not most) of Fred’s CD’s delivered personally to my doorstep by him as soon as they’re released.  No matter the formation he is performing in (quartet, trio or big band), the music is always fresh, new & exciting!  Check out my favorite track on the 6-song CD, “Chutes and Ladders”… the changes are scorching on this one & will leave you with nothing but FULL moments! It matters not a whit if jazz is your forte, Fred’s music WILL “speak to you”… if you don’t believe me, you’d better listen to my favorite track on the CD, the beautiful & laid-back “Speak To Me”… this tune is what big-band jazz is really all about – the reeds are stellar on this composition/arrangement!  I give Dr. Hess & his superb crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information about the CD, & the players, at Fred’s page for this CD.       Rotcod Zzaj

Mahogany Frog – SENNA:  If you wrap up each & every sonic snippet from the psychedelic dreams I used to have during the 1960’s & early 1970’s & blend them together – Mahogany Frog is what you wind up with.  As you scope out the power material on “Expo ’67”, you’ll hear what I’m talkin’ about!  What makes this truly amazing is that it’s only 4 players, & they are just KICKIN’ tail.  Though I hadn’t listened to them before, this is their 6th album… the standout track (my absolute favorite on the 8-song album) is “Flossing With Buddha”; but I’m not so sure it has to do with dental health as much as it is concerned with mental health – whatever – floss on!  If you’re looking for a taste of “different” – this is your ticket to ride!  It gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those inclined towards musical deja vu, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at their website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Kalle Kalima & K-18 – OUT TO LYNCH:  Readers who’ve been with us for the last 5 years or so know that there is a whole host of very avant-jazz coming to us from up Finland way… much of it by one of my favorite “out” sax/flute players, Mikko Innanen…  there’s nothing “simple” or “gentle” in the music from Kalle Kalima, as you’ll hear when you scope out one of my favorite tracks on this 12-song CD, “Eraserhead”… think of Frank Zappa on reeds & you’ll probably have a pretty good idea of what’s going on here!  Of course, you do have to “develop a taste” for this kind of madness, because it’s nothing like the “regular jazz” you’re (probably) used to.  My absolute favorite on the CD is “The Mystery Man” (inspired by a film called “Lost Highway” by David Lynch)… unfortunately, I couldn’t find a soundbite for that track.  So, your only resolution for that is to visit the TUM Records page for this MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED CD & purchase it!  For lovers of structured “outness”, this gets an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at the TUM site shown above.     Rotcod Zzaj

Ciro Hurtado – LOS ANGELES BLUES:  An absolutely beautiful & most relaxing guitar CD… I had the pleasure of meeting Ciro (through his music) in issue # 97 (2009)… this new CD features the same passion for playing, well-evidenced on tunes like “Camino a Cuzco”… an absolutely lovely road!  You’ll also enjoy “La Negrita Tomasa”, with tasty and fresh strokes all the way through.  There are 11 heartfelt audio interludes here for your enjoyment, & though this may not be what a hardcore jazzer would choose, it’s still wonderful music!  My personal favorite was “Reflection” – I can almost see myself in the stream of chords Ciro pours out for my ears! A very enjoyable musical experience that gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Ciro’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Lua Hadar (with Twist) – LIKE A BRIDGE:  Lua’s vocals are just as attractive & alluring as my first encounter with her music back in issue # 86.  She totally understand that “laid-back thing”, as evidenced on the opener, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”… & she OWNS the song with her voice!  For something with a bit more Latin flavor, you’ll enjoy “Raha Mbola Misy”, though it’s actually from Madagascar… excellent flutes on this track.  My personal favorite tune, though, is “Child Of Man” – this clearly lets Lua’s vocal & high-spirit shine through for all to hear.  What separates her, I believe, from all the other “lady jazzers” is her broad travel and theater experience… truly a world-class performer, Lua gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Lua’s website.     Rotcod Zzaj

Nicky Schrire – FREEDOM FLIGHT:  I’m (definitely) in a position to be able to say this – I haven’t heard female jazz vocal work this fresh in the last two years… just scope out her stunning voice on her original composition, “Journey”… absolutely nothing over-complicated, yet you can tell that Nicky’s “lived” this song.  Raised in South Africa but living & performing in NYC now, she’s clearly set a tough road ahead for herself with this stellar debut CD release… I mean, it’s gonna’ be really hard to follow pieces like “Ode To A Folk Song” (another original)…  her pace is just so “right on”… nothing rushed, yet always able to keep up with the changes.  Some of her impeccable timing may be attributed to the fact that she also plays saxophone… but no matter… she gets an unqualified MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00 (the very top here) & a “PICK” of this issue for “best female vocal jazz”.  Get more information at Nicky’s pages.     Rotcod Zzaj

Gato Libre – FOREVER:  I’ve been reviewing trumpeter Natsuki Tamura’s work with Gato Libre (nearly) since the group started up… review the rest of the player list at the SQUIDCO Label site.  This release is a sad occasion for the band, actually, as their bassist Norikatsu Koreyasu passed – per the page above, this will get Gato Libre’s last CD.  One of the most fascinating tunes I’ve heard (on any CD this year) is the laid-back, yet totally jazzy “Court”…  of the 8 tunes offered, this is very attractive for the listener who wants to experience “unique” in!  Out of all the jazz artists in Japan (& there are many these days, more than you may realize), I think Gato Libre stands right at the TOP of the heap.  It turns out that the closer (& title track), “Forever”, was my absolute favorite… I’ve never heard such a calm approach to jazz (particularly trumpet jazz) & for that reason it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at the SQUIDCO site linked in above.     Rotcod Zzaj

Shuffle Demons – CLUSTER:  Tho’ I’ve never (intentionally, anyway) hung with demons before, this funky tri-sax group has been on th’ scene since Beelzebub was a Corporal (or so I’m told).  Some amazing git-down fonk here, as is evident on the spidery “Daddy Long Legs”… man, these cats can jazz-rock it OUT!  An even dozen fun-filled tunes that will have you up & dancin’ in no time!  The player list is far too long to itemize here, but you can check it out on their band members page.  My absolute favorite track of the 12 is “Strollin'”, probably ‘coz of that “back alley” feel they have on the tune!  Any way you listen to it, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by my ol’ ears, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the SHUFFLE DEMONS pages.      Rotcod Zzaj

Daniel McBrearty – CLARINET SWING:  Daniel’s love of New Orleans jazz shines right through on these nine songs… though originally from Wales, he visited N’Aw’leans in 2011 & immediately hired some players (a rhythm section) to help him pay homage to the music of that fair city with him playing his beloved clarinet (he’s been playing since his teens).  As you listen to him on an original composition called “A Swing For Paolo”, you’ll realize that this is a player who DIGS playing… an excellent jazz tune with all the body of the players he most admires.  It was another original, “March of the Bluestones”, that got my vote for favorite track.. no doubt after listening to this that he’s got that swing sound down.  I give Daniel & friends my HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Daniel’s website.    Rotcod Zzaj

The Odd Trio – BIRTH OF THE MINOTAUR:  The cut sheet say that fusion was created for bands like this – & that’s not far off th’ mark!  The trio is made up of Brian Smith (guitars), Marc Gilley (saxophones) & drums by Todd Mueller, & as you listen to the Sharrock-like guitar burn on “Pasiphae’s Wild Ride”, you’ll “get it” immediately – wild, indeed!  What’s truly neat (aside from the fact that they’re from th’ deep south – Athens, GA) is that their music is painted on a much broader palette than free-form…. scope out the blues-root/power drum combo on “Whiskey”, where you’ll get a true feel for what it feels to wake up in th’ mornin’ with a “head on”, ready to ride that HARLEY!  I enjoyed this CD & give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who relish the rambunctious!  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at their FB page!      Rotcod Zzaj 

John Orsi – A ROOM FOR THE NIGHT:  Friend John has (once again) outdone his own splendid sound sculptures on this 6-song collage… I’ve been a fan of John’s music for many (like, MANY, man) moons now & have reviewed (I think) nearly all of his output!  As you listen to the sonic strangeness on “Hodges Lodge”, you’ll hear what attracts me so much to his methods/madness.  There’s nothing “magical” or “pseudo-swami” about what John does – he takes sounds and mixes them together to form a complete whole, even though you may not know what the end-run is until several hours (maybe even days) later, when a snippet of his playing comes back into your head & will NOT let go!  My particular favorite on this CD was the synth-based “Companion Wheel”… the woven sounds & high-end electronic swatches put the listener into near-nirvana, especially if the headphones are on!  I give John a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at John’s page for this CD (& be sure to tell him you read about his CD here).       Rotcod Zzaj

Kevin Coelho – FUNKENGRUVEN:  There’s truly nothing I enjoy more than good Hammond B-3 jazz… but when it’s done by a 16-year old keyboard genius, it takes on whole new dimensions.  As I listen to the opener (& title track), “Funkengruven“, I’m amazed at what this young cat’s able to do, & you will be too!  Ten absolute winners for organ-lovers…. this thing will be spinnin’ (like it was for me) on your playlists for days, months, years!  He’s a lucky young fellow, as this CD was produced by another Hammond-meister who we’ve reviewed here before, Tony Monaco.  Just scope out my absolute favorite track, “McJimmy“, to get a taste of why I know (& you will too) this kid’s gonna’ be a HIT for you… killer stuff through & through!  Not only does Kevin get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00 (the absolute TOP here), but he gets a “PICK” for “best Hammond-B3 jazz”!  Get more information at his site.          Rotcod Zzaj

Sylvia Brooks – RESTLESS:  If these four words – tasty female jazz vocal – fit into your plan for the day, you’ll be itchin’ (as in restless) to listen to Sylvia’s high-energy “Jazz Noir” (her own words, by the way) on this eleven-song gem!  Particularly on pieces like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” – if you don’t come away from this with a tear in your eye, you’ll never “get” it.   There’s no doubt Sylvia “has her way” with the songs she sings for you… just scope out my favorite on the CD, Sylvia’s rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Be Cool“… you’ll understand right away what “above it all” is all about… this is cool as a cube!  I give Sylvia & her cohorts a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any & all who love female jazz vocals.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at Sylvia’s page for this CD.       Rotcod Zzaj 

Tron Syversen – SACRED DREAMS:  It’s not necessary to go to Tron’s home in Norway to witness the sonic beauty he creates for you, especially on tunes like the wonderful “In A Silent Place“… while it’s not an earth-shattering composition, it will put you right where silent comes from.  The (seemingly) moonlit strings on “Moonlight Reflections” combine perfectly with strum-style guitar to put you in mind of the clearest nights on the planet.  It was the oboe-sound on “All Through The Night” that kept me listening over & over – it clearly won my vote for favorite track of the ten offered up for your aural enjoyment.  I give Tron a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… not so much for hardcore jazzers, perhaps, but for those who love well-crafted & spirit-infused musical adventure.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at Tron’s pages.     Rotcod Zzaj    

Natsuki Tamura; Satoko Fujii – MUKU:  Any time I get music in from Natsuki & Satoko, I know my ears are in for a tret, but the tireless duo has outdone themselves on this excellent release.  The opener, “Dune And Star“, literally glows with their cosmic high-energy, low-drag approach to the trumpet/piano duet; & at 9:41, there’s plenty to absorb.  Satoko’s piano opening on the title track, “Muku“, will hold you spellbound, and when Natsuki’s trumpet joins her, you’ll declare you’re at the entrance to the jazz gates of heaven – absolutely splendid!  The kind of tuneage I’m used to from these folks is most evident on my favorite track of the 7 offered up, “Galvanic“…  nothing starts & nothing stops – until the end!  I give Tamura & Fujii (yet) another MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the SQUIDCO label site.      Rotcod Zzaj  

Carla Hassett – CIRCULO:  If you’re looking for jazz that’s delectable, with tastes of Brazil as only Carla can convey them – this is your ticket to ride, folks!  She absolutely SHINES on tunes like the opener, “Janela“…  shades o’ Billy Joe, but with th’ bridge somewhere over the Amazon, perhaps.  In Carla’s own words, she “wants people to experience the joy of music, to see where that passion comes from”… & nothing does that better (for this listener, anyway) than th’ low-down back-street alley flavor of “Just Another Day To Run” – I can easily see this one as the backing track to a feature film!  I’ve listened to a lot of Carla’s music & can say (without qualification) that this is the best yet – she gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 from me.  Get more information at Carla’s pages!       Rotcod Zzaj  

Mark Masters Ensemble – ELLINGTON SAXOPHONE ENCOUNTERS:  Some jazz experiences are just so thick & rich that you’ll never forget them… Mark & his ensemble have clearly created such an album… the opener alone, “Esquire Swank“, makes the CD worth the price!  If big-band swingin’ blues is what you go for (whether on Route 66 or I-5), “Lawrence Brown Blues” will thrill you to the core, no bout-a-doubt-it!  “Full-bodied” are the keywords here – you don’t often hear a recording that captures the spirit of jazz as well as this CD does – killer!  “Used To Be Duke” is my favorite track, probably ‘coz it reminds me of those boogie licks I learned so many decades ago!  Mark is a wizard & gets (yet another) MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz fans of every stripe… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at this page about Mark.       Rotcod Zzaj

Ted Hefko & The Thousandaires – IF I WALKED ON WATER:  Though I somehow doubt I’ll see Ted walkin’ on th’ surface of the pool, there’s no doubt that he & his krew know how to have FUN with music – especially on tracks like the rollicking “It’s Cold In Here“… an absolute blast from th’ past!  A true New Orleans spirit pervades all 9 songs, & there are moments when those vocals take me back to mem’ry’s of Dr. John & cats like that from down south way.  Nice folk touch on “Color Me True“, but Ted & folks keep it feelin’ jazzy all th’ way, too.  I give this act a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at Ted’s pages.     Rotcod Zzaj

Drew Paralic – WINTERTIME TUNES OF DREW PARLIC:  This ‘zine is now (& always has been) about artists who DO IT themselves… this 4th D.I.Y. release from Drew features all-original compositions by him performed by some stellar players… I especially enjoyed pieces like “On the Occasion of Wet Snow” – one of the most relaxed (yet still highly energetic & inspiring) jazz tunes I’ve listened to in 2012!  For something with a bit more of a blues feel, you’ll love “Steps” just as much as I did… piano is superb, & the arrangement keeps you guessing for all 4:20 – great jazz, to be sure, no matter what the season.  It was the combination of vocal & piano on “How Bill’s Heart Sings” that won my vote as favorite, though… every note on this one is totally “on”… Drew’s CD gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00 – which also gets it the “PICK” of this issue for “best jazz compositions”!  Get more information at Drew’s pages.      Rotcod Zzaj

Various Artists – THE GATHERING (produced by Will Ackerman):  In the earliest days of my fascination with great music, jazz/blues/folk/new age & the whole gamut, a mainstay was Will’s WINDHAM HILL label… think of this release as a kind of return to the SAMPLERS his label used to produce.  Beautiful and calming pieces from 22 artists that will thrill you to the bone… pieces like “Bread of Angels” will reach right out and touch your mind!  Jeff Oster’s “Serengeti” was a full-blown winner for high energy and aural adventure as well… it was Frank Smith’s “Porch With A View” that won my heart as most representative of what Will’s continuing to do with his productions… simple, yet shining through & through!  I give this new CD from Mr. Ackerman my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any listener who is willing to venture into new sonic territory without stereotypes or fear.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at Will’s page for this CD.      Rotcod Zzaj

2 Comments so far:

  1. Grace – all you have to do is REGISTER on the sidebar of any page… then you will automatically receive notification of any new post/page – you will NOT get notifications of each comment, only POSTS or PAGES. Try it, you’ll like it!