Issue 151 reviews

Our latest and greatest reviews for your reading & listening pleasure

(Click HOME to see the index of all issues)


The links below are to REVIEWS I’ve written for Cadence Jazz World!!!

Michael Jefry Stevens – Angel’s Dance

Dom Minasi/Blaise Siwula – The Sunshine Don’t Mind My Singing

Dom Minasi/Hans Tammen – Alluvium Sun 

Dario Chiazzolino and Nico Di Battista – Rewriting Song

Dario Chiazzolino – Paint Your Life

Wally Schnalle – IDIOT FISH:  Here’s an absolutely splendid album to close out this issue with… Wally’s drumming and composing drive this wonderfully fresh set of nine tunes (the release also features the astounding guitar work of Hristo Vitchev on guitar, which is probably why we received it for review).  Tunes like “Breath Takers” will make you wonder why you haven’t been listening to this group on a daily basis for all these years!  The poignant percussion on “Prohibition 21” will w-o-w your ears & have you up movin’ ’round the room in search of the spirits; fusion just doesn’t get any better than this.  It was the tasty integration of keyboards with down & funky rhythms on “Erroneous” that made it my favorite tune, though… these guys clearly enjoy playing with each other, & you’ll catch their joyous vibe within the first eight bars… it’s most strongly recommended that you listen to this entire sonic extravaganza with headphones on, at least for the first sitting.  I give Wally & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this great set of music.  Get more information about the band at the Idiot Fish bio page.       Rotcod Zzaj

Runar Halonen and Tron Syversen – VOICES FROM HEAVEN:  Having been on an “OBE” (out of body experience), I can tell you that Runar and Tron come very close to capturing exactly the kinds of voices/sounds I heard on my short journey through those portals.  I reviewed Tron’s work back in issue # 28, and was most impressed by the elegance of expression.  This work with Runar focuses in on Runar’s great vocal work, particularly on pieces like “Voices for Mother Earth“… several sections to listen through, so get your headphones on and make sure you won’t be disturbed for at least 2 hours… you will be enriched mightily by the end of your listening experience!  It was the section title “Voices for Dreams” that got my personal vote for favorite, though… intricate and well-woven, it will have you captivated for the entire 18:32!  Very healing, to be sure.  I give this outing a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for lovers of music that reaches out and touches the soul.  Get more information at Tron’s pages for this release.        Rotcod Zzaj

Shepley Metcalf & Ron Roy – DON’T BOTHER TO KNOCK:  Ron’s keyboard work on this exudes the key element in piano/vocal jazz work – FUN!  & Shepley’s vocals are highly spirited & full of life, especially on cuts like the title-track opener, “Don’t Bother To Knock“.  There were a couple of sections where there seemed to be an “echo” in the recording, but not enough to make it a major crit.  Plus, as you listen to their laid-back & bluesy rapport on “Meet Me Where They Play The Blues“, you’ll know you’re hearing total professionals!  This isn’t “heavy jazz’, in fact the tunes are short & easy to relate to… as I said, the key thing is that you hear how easily the duo plays together & know that it’s pure entertainment.  My personal favorite of the fourteen tunes offered up was “You’re Not The Only Oyster In The Stew”; again, light-hearted & fun to listen to.  I give these folks a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) of 4.96.  Get more information at Shepley’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Shepley Metcalf: Don

Phil Bowler – PHIL BOWLER & POCKET JUNGLE:  Phil’s bass just KICKZ IT on this splendid 9-song rhythm extravaganza!  You won’t hesitate to get off yer’ duff & dance ’round th’ floor when you listen to the opener, “The Set-Up“… that fine bass is joined by Paul Carlon on tenor sax, Pete Smith doing guitar, William “Beaver” Bausch on drums & Scott Latzky on drums, and they are right in tune with each other, to be sure!  The 8:26 “Time Released” gives each of the players a clear shot at shining – & shine they do… it’s their own groove, with unique twists on the rhythm & arrangement that makes it such a fine listen.  It was the driving percussion on the closer, “Wights Waits for Weights“,  that got my vote for personal favorite, though… some of the finest jazz you’ll listen to this year!  I give Phil & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the Zoho label page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Phil Bowler & Pocket Jungle: Phil Bowler & Pocket Jungle

Alicia Olatuja – TIMELESS:  There couldn’t be a better description of this fantastic jazz vocalist’s work than the CD title… every crisp tone she eeks out makes it evident, even to the novice listener, that she’s a master at her craft… tunes like the opener, “Truth In Blue“, will astound you with the simple soulfulness she exudes in every note!  As most of you reading this know, I listen to (probably) hundreds of vocalists in the course of a year, and can tell you (without qualification) that Alicia’s work is at the top of the heap.  Her players are “right with her” in spirit and in reality on tunes like the peppy & upbeat “Serrado“… clear evidence of how much they all enjoy playing together – you owe it to your ears to get this CD – it’s bound to become a classic in the jazz arena.  My personal favorite of the ten tracks offered up is “The One“… the vocal accompaniments & flow of the instruments are just superb!  Alicia can truly cook on any/all styles, which is why she gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as a (top of the line) “EQ” (energy quotient) score of 5.00… which means that she gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best vocal jazz”!  Get more information at Alicia’s website!   Rotcod Zzaj

Ezra Weiss – BEFORE YOU KNOW IT:  This is one very powerful sextet, and Ezra’s keyboard work on this release is some of the best I’ve ever heard him do (& believe me, I’ve heard a lot of his great jazz – a half-dozen releases, at least).  All live cuts from a show in Portland, featuring players Farnell Newton, John Nastos, Devin Phillips, Jon Shaw, and Christopher Brown.  Just the opening track, “Winter Machine“, makes the purchase of this release worth it… lively, but definitely in that high-jazz tradition that’s always kept my ears tuned for new releases from this brilliant arranger.  The beautiful blues vibe established on “Don’t Need No Ticket” made it a great listen.  It was the high-energy and pizzazz on “The Five A.M. Strut” that made it my personal favorite of the nine great tunes offered up… & the fact that its 15:15 length gave the players plenty of room to (each) stretch out & explore the innards of the tune added to that impression!  I give Ezra & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this great release!  Get more information at Ezra’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Ezra Weiss Sextet: Before You Know It (Live in Portland)

Ana Velinova – THE THIEF:  This (nearly) all-original set of jazz vocals from Ana is truly inspiring… light-hearted, yet full of promise… and her stylings are beyond compare!  As I listen to the opener, “Could You See Could I Say“, I can tell that this is one set of tunes I’ll be listening to over & over again (a definite “playlist keeper)!  The fun continues as Ana picks up the pace & takes you to the true heights of swingin’ it on “How Can I Sleep“… a truly well-crafted tune.  The Rhodes intro on “I Want You” is the perfect setup for one of the best bluesy ballads you’ll hear this year.  It was the down-under-creep rhythm on “Cool” that made it my favorite tune of the ten offered up for your long-term jazz listening enjoyment, though… this is chilly as an iceberg, folks… you’ll love it, too, I’ve no doubt!  I give Ana & her most musical pals a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 for this one.  Get more information at Ana’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Ana Velinova: The Thief

David Haney and Bernard Purdie – SELLING IT LIKE IT IS:  Just straight-up jazz keyboards (David) and elegant percussion/drums (Bernard) on this one; exactly the kind of “wake-up call” every true jazz lover needs.  The 7:37 “Gratisfaction” will sate your every desire – instantly, of course (just kidding, it will take at least 4 bars to wrap you into the groove they’ve got going).  What they are communicating to the listener (at least for me) is that jazz can be pure, unadulterated FUN… & it doesn’t get any better than that!  Though it was one of the shorter pieces, “Moped Girl Blues” will give you all the blues you’ve ever needed… tasty tuneage, indeed.  It was the 8:17 “Tesla’s Ghost” that “sold” me on the CD, though… plenty of room for David & Bernard to explore the theme they’ve created, and they’ll wrap you right into the enchantment!  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for jazz lovers of all stripes, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the DISCOGS page for this release.        Rotcod Zzaj

The Breithaupt Brothers – JUST PASSING THROUGH:  Jazz vocals that will floor you… a total of fifteen great songs in the Brothers’ songbook, with players/singers like Paul Shaffer, Tyley Ross & a whole host of others that were clearly selected for their ability to excite and inspire you!   The organ on Paul Shaffer’s appearance, “Bad Influence“, will simply blow you away… laid-back & easy, but some smokin’ keyboards!  I just loved “Where’s Mantis Evar“, featuring Monkey House… a very cosmopolitan groove that will have you hip-shakin’ in only moments (a truly “slinky” vibe goin’ on here)!  The totally jazzy groove on “(I’d Like To Think) Maybe He Loves Me” made it my absolute favorite of the fifteen tracks offered up… I give this one a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the Alma Records page for this release.     Rotcod Zzaj

Tesla Manaf – TESLA MANAF:  This is far (FAR) more than “just interesting jazz”… I don’t know exactly how our friends at MOONJUNE manage to find all these phenomenal players from Indonesia, but Tesla’s guitar work, compositional skill and supreme knowledge of how to have “fun” with the music he plays puts him in the zone for best playing, no doubt about it!   Tunes like “Counting Miles & Smiles” reveal a playful spirit with the kind of fresh outlook we are always looking/listening for in jazz!  His dexterity, along with superior recording quality, make “Moving Side” move you into regions you’ll want to be in over & over again (as in “replay”).  It’s the extended suite (6 parts) of “It’s All Yours” that gets my personal vote for favorite… each part of the suite is given ample room for Tesla & his many players to develop the theme and expand it into a musical adventure you won’t soon forget (the vocal sections are simple, but wonderful!!)!  I predict that you’ll be hearing much more from this high-talent guitarist in the coming years; he gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of a (perfect) 5.00 – meaning that he also gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best jazz guitarist”!  Get more information at the Moonjune Bandcamp page for this release.      Rotcod Zzaj

Harley Card – HEDGEROW:  Harley’s jazz guitar is one of the true pleasures of life… he’s joined by several of his mainstay players – David French on Saxophone; Matt Newton on Piano; Dan Fortin on Bass; Fabio Ragnelli on Drums; Jon Maharaj on Bass; Ethan Ardelli on Drums – in a recording you’ll elevate in your “repeat play” on your playlists.  The opener, “Get There“, is svelte and totally hip!  The 7:47 “Crossing The Berg” is one of the most engaging pieces you’ll listen to in 2015… total talent is on display here, and you’ll be surfing the web soon, looking for more of Harley’s works, after scoping this out with your headphones – the change in the middle of the tune will blow you A-way!  My personal favorite, though, was the lilting & smooth pace on “The Brain Chain”… every instrument gets a chance to shine, and the recording is flawless!  I give Harley & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  You can get more information about Harley at the Harley Card pages.      Rotcod Zzaj

Harley Card: Hedgerow

Salsa de la Bahia – VOL 2, HOY Y AYER:  Our long-time musical friend Wayne Wallace plays trombone with this splendid Bay Area Latin group – & they are KILLIN’ it, folks; of course, after listening to Wayne so frequently, I’d expect nothing less from any group he’s involved with… & you’ll agree when you scope out the high-energy track, “Montuno Street“… if you aren’t up & dancin’ within seconds of the first note, I’ll be very surprised.  The 4:50 “Angola” is emotionally full & explores the depths of percussion in most enlightening ways.  The other very cool thing about this release is that it’s a full-bore double-CD… hours & hours of great listening that just won’t quit… you’ll have tracks like (my personal favorite) the 9:48 “Operation Mambo” set to repeat on your player, so you can keep the groove going from sunrise to sunset.  This group certainly merits the MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED I’m giving them… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at the Patois Records page for this excellent release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Marc Seales Group – AMERICAN SONGS, VOL 3:  When your favorite tunes are those like “Pusherman“, you’ll find long hours of listening ahead in Marc’s excellent keyboards on this great release!  He’s joined by guitarist Fred Hamilton, bassist Jeff Johnson, with Dave Captein on electric bass & Gary Hobbs on drums & they can COOK it!  The other great thing about the recording is that it’s all done right here on my home turf; a January 2015 release that you’ll just want in your library!  If it’s laid-back & groovin’ that you’re thirsting after, you’ll love “Remember Why” just as much as I did!  The capstone for this reviewer, though, & my favorite cut of the eight offered up, was Curtis’s “Freddie’s Dead“… down-home & funky, you’ll be spinning this one over & over again, I’ll guarantee; it’s truly one of the most inspired versions of the song I’ve ever heard.  I give Marc & his group a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information about this release at the Origin Records label page for it.       Rotcod Zzaj

Music For Hard Times – CITY OF CARDBOARD:  If you’ve been wondering where those chipmunks went, you’ll find them in the innards of this CD, no doubt… chewing their way through the “Obstacle Coarse” as they hone their molars in sheer sonic ritual.  Sounds (to me) as if they picked up some kinda’ “demons” along the way… if you don’t believe me, listen to the edicts of the “Shantytown Council” – they’ll tear your head to shreds as they issue policies (much like our own politicians, I’d say).  Beyond the shadow of (any) doubt, however, are the “boring” nuances of “Bad Bolts“, my personal favorite of the seven shredded tracks offered up for your sonic heaven/hell (whichever you prefer); 14:26 moments filled with every second of your wildest after-hours nightmare.  For those who freak totally on great noise, this gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, though I’d caution those who are too deeply embedded in “normal” to move on to the next rack in the record shop.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at the Public Eyesore label page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Indù – JAGGERNAUT:  DIG those headphones out – NOW!  You can’t listen to this (at least for the first go-round) unless you’re totally “wired in” & in need of a musical fix!  & I don’t care what you call it, for me, this is “power jazz”… as you listen to the wonderful Rhodes work on “Icarus“, you’ll know exactly what I mean… man, this is some fiery keyboard work… it will infuse you with a sense of energy you’ve never experienced before.  From Italy, Andrea Grillini on drums and percussions Claudio Vignali (piano & keyboards), with Achille Succi on alto sax and bass clarinet, the group will just blow you away… my personal favorite of the nine tunes offered up is the 7:04 “Eyeliner” – just loved the keyboard on this, and you’ll hear all the other instruments in their splendid glory, too!  If you’re looking for high-energy and highly creative, this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED; “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at the SLAM Productions label site for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Ramdesh Kaur – STRESS RELIEF MEDITATIONS:  This is exactly the kind of music we listened to (eons ago, it seems) when I went through my own therapy… a gentle voice guiding you to both inner depths and outer universes, often calm.  Is it jazz?  Hardly!  Is it worth listening to?  Definitely!  I particularly enjoyed the 10:12 “Guided Meditation for Expansion & Light“, which uses the underlying chant to help you focus on nothing… yes, you heard that right… focus away from all the “stuff” that surrounds you and move your mind to that gently guided state that allows you to imagine all you need to become.  Though this isn’t music “just for enjoyment”, it can be used to bring you pure, enlightened, joy.  I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for those with a need for “a little help from their friends”, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) of 4.96.  Get more information at the Spirit Voyage label site for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey – WORKER:  Keyboardist Brian Haas handed this off to me during a show at one of our local jazz haunts… the album also features guitarist Chris Combs and drummer Josh Raymer in a sonic adventure you’ll be hard-pressed to put down!  Rollicking tunes like “Say Nothing” will have you scorchin’ the floor & askin’ for more… Brian’s Rhodes work on this is par excellence!  This band is definitely “different”… you can NOT “classify” them or “pigeonhole” them… musical maturity shines through on compositions like the 5:10 “Hey Hey NSA“.  JFJO is one of the best trio jazz/experimental/out bands I’ve heard this year (or last, for that matter), and tunes like my personal favorite on this release, “The Finder’s Keeper“, display all the high talent and energy you’ll need if you’re looking for music that isn’t “just another this/that band”.  I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, but only for listeners who aren’t afraid to explore spaces that aren’t conventional; “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at The Royal Potato Family website for this release.        Rotcod Zzaj

David Wahler – SPIRITUS:  It’s been quite a while since I’ve heard/reviewed David’s wonderful music (issue # 95)… he got high marks from me on that one, and this new 2015 release is even better!  The wind-swept layer under the keys on the opener to “Whispers From Eternity” is simple, but full of the kind of sonic beauty that will ingrain itself in your mind and stay with you for days (if not weeks/months) to come.  The 5:16 “Devi” easily wraps you in and holds you in the spell it weaves for you.  What’s especially poignant (for this listener/reviewer, at least) is David’s use of strings and vocal backgrounds that make you feel like you’re listening to sirens enchanting you.  Those strings were especially gratifying on my personal favorite track of the eleven offered up, “Chela“… I haven’t heard a prettier tune (yet) in 2015.  I give David a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information about David and his works at his website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Bob Bunce – COME ON IN:  Bob was reviewed many, MANY years ago in our pages… so far back, in fact, that I don’t have it in the DB (heck, I even recorded with him somewhere back in those home-taper days).  Suffice it to say that his pickin’ and playin’ is about as down-home as you can get – particularly on tunes like the title track, “Come On In“… he calls it “new century folk”, & that’s about as apt a description as I think you’ll get.  All-original high-energy music that takes us back to when people could actually “play” their instruments (& not rely on gadgets to make their music for them).  My personal favorite of the fourteen tracks offered up for your listening enjoyment is the 4:09 “When The Water Ain’t Water“… driving rhythm that will have you kickin’ up yer’ heels!  I give Bob a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Bob’s web page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Bob Bunce: Come On In

Rejyna – IDIO:  Git yer’ tie-dye kits out… & paint this album – PSYCHEDELIC!  My first exposure to her guitar & compositional work was in issue # 93, so it’s been a bit since I heard her working her magick.  If anything, it’s gotten more spellbinding… take a dash of folk, combine it with eye of rock & maybe even a few tails of metal… whatever, when you scope out tunes like the amazing “Beyond My Back Door“, you’ll know you’re being treated to the work of a musical genius; her guitar leads on this tune just SMOKE!  There are actually sixteen grand tracks for your to feast your ears upon… but it was the instrumental “Dusty Ridin’ Nugget” that got my vote for favorite… heck, she’s even got the hooves of Hopalong Cassidy’s horse in there!  I give Rejyna a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at her FB page!     Rotcod Zzaj


Rejyna: Idio

James Kennedy – 25:  It’s been a good while since I listened to & reviewed James high-energy  guitar work (issue # 53, to be precise), & this superb new release brings back nice memories of his well-qualified playing.  Tunes like the jumpin’ opener, “Bye Bye Blues“, will have you boppin’ right along with his changes.  The 5:10 “Persuasive” will make you slink around the room – you won’t be able to just toe-tap on this one – you’ll have a NEED to get up & dance.  My personal favorite was the near-rocker “So Much For Justice” that closes the ten-song aural adventure… brings reality right into your headphones (& yes, I’d recommend that you do your first listen with them on); believe it or not, there are shades of Zappa on this one.  I give James a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at his Heart Consort Music site.       Rotcod Zzaj

James Kennedy: 25

Joe Doria – SINE:  I can tell you right now, you’ve never heard B3 Hammond like Joe plays it… if you’re like me, you’re addicted to organ-based jazz, and the dozen songs Joe & his cohorts play for you on this outing will transport you to Hammond heaven!  The groove they establish on “Wisdom The Prize” is laid-back, but full of the rich funk you’d have if it were Jimmy Smith in your living room; mighty mellow, to be sure.  If you’re more in the mood for some “jump”, you’ll dig down deep on “Sinner“… great rhythm-based tune.  The real winner, & my personal favorite track of the twelve offered up was the 6:47 “Let Him Think That“… some of the tastiest jazz I’ve heard (yet) in 2015, and I’ll be looking forward to much more from Joe & his pals.  This release gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information (and purchase the CD direct from the artist) at Joe Doria’s website.    Rotcod Zzaj

Theo – THE GAME OF OUROBOROS:  It’s been a good long while since I’ve reviewed genuine prog, but this superb (January 2015) debut CD certainly qualifies… & under the leadership of Jim Alfredson, they’re very capable of rockin’ it right ON out!  As you listen to the intro/phone loop on “The Blood That Floats My Throne“, you’ll hear the gentle segue into the haunts of this new century invading your space, and the excellent dreamlike vocal that warns you of the doom to come!  The 13:28 “Idle Worship” is my personal pick of the six tunes, taking me back to marvelous groups like “Touch” from the early ’70’s… Theo’s changes on this epic track are like a 21st Century of that splendid group!  I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the Generation Prog page for the group.      Rotcod Zzaj

Theo: The Game of Ouroboros

Anthony Pirog – PALO COLORADO DREAM:  This is my first listen to Anthony’s superb experimental guitar work – and I can guarantee you I’ll be listening to him again!  In addition to his formidable guitar chops, it’s clear he also has an innate sense of what “works together”.  Tunes like the rollicking “Minimalist” (not as minimal as you might think) show total skills in the rhythm arena and firmly establish him as a (musical) winner in my mind!  The 5:47 “Heads” will just blow you away, and will keep you coming back to it for more insights into Pirog’s skills.  The keyword for what he puts together is “different”… as you’ll witness when you listen to my personal favorite of the eleven tracks offered up – “Vicious Cricket” – this is killer experimental, but totally accessible work that adventurous listeners everywhere will thrive on!  I give Anthony a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this one.  Get more information at Anthony’s website.      Rotcod Zzaj

Carmen Rubino – AQUARIAN DREAM:  Here’s a dream you won’t soon forget… Carmen’s keyboards are rich, full of life and totally engaging on this eleven-song aural extravaganza.  As you listen to the opener, “Transcendence“, you’ll realize why I’m so happy to have this one in my hands for review… Carmen builds suspense with ease, and even on this 3:19 piece, is able to wrap you into & under his spell (string sounds and flutes abound).  The orchestral-sounding “Tears Of Joy” with impress you deeply, and having you coming back to visit this tune over and over again.  It’s certainly not “heavy jazz”; more along the lines of “inspired new age”, but in the end-run, Carmen escapes all cliches, and provides the kind of sonic pleasure that is eternal.  My personal favorite is the sweeping title track, “Aquarian Dream”… Carmen is at his best here… I give him a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 for this fine release.  Get more information at Carmen’s web page for this release.      Rotcod Zzaj

Carmen Rubino: Aquarian Dream

Tim Ferguson Inside-Out – HOLD THAT THOUGHT:  Tim’s bass does a wonderful job of leading this excellent jazz trio (Rob Henke is on trumpet/alto horn) and Diane Moser plays piano) through paces & changes your mind will enjoy grooving to!  It’s an October 2014 release that will “hold” you spellbound through all nine tunes (7 original compositions)!  The lively & rambunctious “Only A Dream” is a perfect example of jazz that lives (& will continue living through repeated listens)!  The players come through as totally in to what they’re doing, & won’t let your ears down… listen to Diane’s “One For Mal” to get an idea of just how lively this set gets.  It was Tim’s tune, “Un Bel Lago“, that got my vote for personal favorite, though… 10:04 gives the players plenty of time to explore the theme and move in directions that will provide pure listening pleasure for months and years to come.  I give this release a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of a (perfect) 5.00 – meaning that it also get the “PICK” of this issue for “best trio jazz”!  Get more information at Tim’s website.     Rotcod Zzaj

Tim Ferguson Inside / Out: Hold That Thought!

Mark Elf – MARK ELF RETURNS!:  If jazz guitar is what “turns your crank”, you’ll totally dig this “return” album… after about 8 years out of the scene, Mark returns in fine form, with Hazeltine (piano), Washington (bass) and Nash (drums)… tunes like Mark’s original, “Jacky’s Jaunt” (in honor of his sister), will tell you right away that you’re in jazz guitar heaven, & not likely to leave there any time soon.  To feel Mark’s pain, listen to the totally absorbing “The Sandy Effect“, which captures his feelings about the destruction of Hurricane Sandy.  My personal favorite of the ten tunes offered up was the upbeat blues original “Low Blow” (featuring Mark’s baritone guitar)… heavy energy here!  I give Mark & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this fine release.  Get more information at Mark’s Guitar Conservatory page.       Rotcod Zzaj

Ritmos Unidos – RITMOS UNIDOS:  As you listen to the splendid rhythms on tunes like “Chaweleke” on this debut CD, you’ll hear why it was (very) easy to fall in love with this band’s music!  Our long-time readers will know that when it comes to Latin music, one of my favorites is Wayne Wallace, & he composed some of the music here.  Strong Afro-Cuban roots are reflected with full focus and high talent, and their rendition of Wes Montgomery’s “Road Song” let you know that this is far more than “just another Latin jazz” album.  It was the high-energy calypso beat that captured my vote for personal favorite on the 10:15 closer, “Pan Rising“… a thoroughly engaging performance that surely merits my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information on this great band at the Ritmos Unidos website.     Rotcod Zzaj

Mitch Shiner and the BloomingTones Big Band – FLY!If you aren’t gliding after you listen to the highly spirited opener, “Dragon Express“, someone must have clipped your wings along the way…. man, this is lush, rich & lively!  His drumming & percussion have a lot to do with how stellar the energy is on each of the tunes the band plays for you… the 6:03 “Malibu Jump” is perfectly balanced, and will have you up on the floor groovin’ & dancin’, no doubt in my mind – the horns are about as sharp as I’ve heard (yet) in 2015 (this was an August release, but I’m only getting ’round to the review now – sorry, Mitch).  It was actually the closer, “Brother To Brother“, that got my vote as favorite of the ten magic tracks offered up for your listening pleasure… it’s just possible that the vocal had something to do with that tune getting the pick – though the guitar leads are SMOKERS!  I give Mitch & his Blooming Tones Big Band a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information about this release at Mitch’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Mitch Shiner: Fly!

Ben Bailey & The Nashville Big Band – A BIRD IN THE HAND:  What a rip-snortin’ way to start off a new issue…  Ben’s drumming leads this humongously B-I-G band into territories you’ve never heard groups like this go before!  I’m not always a fan of these large-group CD’s, because (somehow) the individual players get “buried” in the mix… but if you’ve ever listened to & loved players like Buddy Rich, you’ll totally relate to the heavy dynamic Ben & his crew establish on pieces like “If I Were A Bell“… man, this jazz COOKS!  For that old “road-style-boogie” stuff, you won’t find anything better than the 6:16 “Big Dipper“… every little nuance is captured perfectly in the recording, and a whole host of instruments (especially the brass & reeds, of course) will overwhelm you… I’ve no doubt you’ll be up on your feet & dancin’ ’round th’ room as you scope this all out.  My personal favorite was one of the shorter compositions, the 4;40 “Why Bother“… if you can’t do without high-energy, high-talent music – this is your TICKET to Nirvana, folks!  I give Ben & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) of a (perfect) 5.00 – which means that this one also get the “PICK” of this issue for “best big band jazz”!  Get more information at Ben’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Ben Bailey: A Bird in the Hand