Issue #154 reviews

Our latest and greatest reviews for your reading & listening pleasure

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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

Rupam Sarmah – OMKARA:  A truly interesting chakra-based outing that features multiple musicians (far too many to itemize here) performing traditional raga, Western and World music that is both calming and enchanting in many different ways.  This certainly isn’t “jazz” in the regular sense, but it really is high-energy… tunes like the wonderful “Root Chakra” contain just as many changes as a great jazz album would, and will carry you to worlds previously unknown… a total groove.  Oddly enough, the 14:34 “Throat Chakra” was my personal favorite, probably because it gave all kinds of room for the players to develop and display their talent… great energy and changes on this one, too.  If you weren’t enlightened before you started listening to Rupam’s music – you will be by the end of this great piece.  I give Rupam and his fellow players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the OmkaraDivineLove website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Rupam Sarmah: Omkara (The Sound of Divine Love)

Timothy Wenzel – SUMMON THE WIND:  If you’re yearning for some music that will lift your spirits into the stratosphere, Timothy’s latest keyboard album will do just that for you.  The opener, “Still The Wind“, will give you a perfect idea of the power Timothy is able to project… He plays most of the instruments, though he is joined by electric guitarist Michael Rud from Denmark (on “The Photograph”), and drummer Lenny Levash from Nevada, USA (on “Tesla’s Dream”); “Tesla’s Dream” was one of my favorites, but it was the 4:55 “Elven Dance” that got my vote as personal favorite of the dozen tracks… you can hear/see the tiny folk dancin’ ’round the fire he paints.  I give Timothy and his guests a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Timothy’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Timothy Wenzel: Summon the Wind

Peruquois – THE ORIGINAL ESSENCE:  There are some simply wonderful contrasts in Perequois’ songs… her music truly spans all the continents…  from wonderful, intricate and high-energy tunes like “Tribal People“, to pieces with an edge like “Mighty Man“, she paints in strong vocal tones that will wrap you into the emotions she is singing of in a very pleasant, yet powerful, way.  It was the swirling and deeply influencing “Aftermath” that captured my vote for personal favorite of the ten songs offered up… power personified.  Jazz?  Not at all… High-energy and reaching for the cosmic?  You bet!  I give Peruquois a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for this release, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the Peruquois website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Charles McPherson – THE JOURNEY:  Charles alto sax work is right at the top of the game, and he’s joined by vibrant players like saxophonist Keith Oxman, pianist Chip Stephens, bassist Ken Walker and drummer Todd Reid on this incredible February 2015 sonic trek!  I can tell you right now that you need listen no further than the beautiful “Manhattan Nocturne” to realize that you’re in the presence of jazz greatness, and at 10:04, there’s plenty of room for each of these high-talent players to express their energy for the music!  It was actually the title track, “The Journey“, that got my vote for personal favorite of the nine fine tunes offered up for your playlists.  Get more information at Charles’ website.  I give Charles & his marvelous crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with a (perfect) 5.00 “EQ” (energy quotient) rating, meaning it also gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best sax-led jazz”.        Rotcod Zzaj

Vance Thompson – SUCH SWEET THUNDER:  Vance’s arranging and trumpet skills on this great nine-song set will simply blow you away, especially if you’re a dedicated jazz listener!  Energy levels are at astronomic levels & tunes like the opener, “Pannonica“, will have you hitting “groove” from the first note to the very last bar!  They will even blow you away on country artist’s (Dolly Parton), as on “Little Sparrow“… some absolutely sweet horn work on this one.  It was one of the shorter pieces (5:07), “Rockin’ In Rhythm“, that got my vote for personal favorite, though… the tune won’t allow you to stay in your chair; you’ll be up & dancin’ ’round the room in only a few notes.  This fantastic album gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the Five Plus Six website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Ahamefule J. Oluo & Okanomodé – NOW I’M FINE:  Ahamefule called this marvelous music of his “experimental musical theater” on the Kickstarter campaign… I asked him to send it my way for review because of the skilled trumpet work I’d seen him doing with other bands, but was certainly not expecting such a dynamic production… storytelling that wraps you right into the story, and makes you wonder where you’ve heard it all before.  Songs like the 3:22  “Mourning Bird” give you a great feel for the high talent you’re being exposed to, but it’s full-blown story-operas like “Reverie I (In Spain) & Reverie II” that will make you understand that you’re in the presence of musical genius; 17:41 length gives perfect exposure to all players (there are 16 of them in all)… one of the most fresh approaches to creativity I’ve heard in the last five years!  I give Ahamefule a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this one.  Get more information at his NOW I’M FINE page.       Rotcod Zzaj

Five Plus Six: Such Sweet Thunder
Ahamefule J. Oluo: Now I


Larry Fuller – LARRY FULLER:  Greg Hutchinson on drums and Hassan Shakur on bass join Larry’s great piano work on this exciting and vibrant little jazz excursion for a totally enjoyable new release from Larry (his second).  Pieces like “Parking Lot Blues” stood out for me, probably ‘coz there’s a heavy element of swing & boogie on his keyboards for this one.  The trio performances are full of life and some truly excellent skills that your “average” player wouldn’t be able to achieve.  There are ten trio performances for the dozen-song total, and pieces like my personal favorite, the 4:18 “C Jam Blues” will let you know that this is the “right one” for you if you’re looking for jazz that will last!  I give Larry & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Larry’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Tony Adamo – MILES OF BLU:  Tony notes to me (in private emails) that he’s not “high enough on the charts yet” to merit national recognition for his act(s)… well, folks, let’s CHANGE ‘dat… this is one of th’ funkin’est katz I’ve ever had the pleasure to listen to/review (as my earlier review in issue # 153 indicated).  He calls his style “HipSpokenWord”, & as you listen to the title cut, “Miles of Blu“, you’ll totally dig where he’s comin’ from (somewhere up near Harlem), & just how hip he IS, man!  With high-end drummer Mike Clark & Delbert Bump on organ (along with tons of other hip players), tunes like “Funkin’ At The Chicken Shack” are a “win-win” for listeners who want the “real WORD” raisin’ up from their players.  You get a total of fourteen killer songs… my personal favorite from those is th’ down & phonk-ee “The Power of Funky Madness“… you won’t hear any song cooler than this one lately… brings back a whole buncha’ Cold Duck & fried chicken kinda’ memories for this ol’ cat!  I give Tony & his heavy-duty krew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) of 4.99.  Get more information at his Urbanzone Records site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Tony Adamo: Miles of Blu

Steve Pouchie – NORTH BY NORTHEAST:  Steve’s January 2015 release is one of the best Latin jazz albums you’ll hear this year… all the hip-sway & Cuba Libre loose you could want jammed into a near-hour excursion of fine jazz with a Latin movement to it all.  Tunes like the magical “Tunisia By Day” will definitely have you up & dancin’ all ’round your living room (or in your car seat, depending on where you are).  Steve’s vibraphone work on all the tunes is flawless, and lends real energy to each of the pieces (not to mention the great conga/bongo & cowbell work by Wilson “Chembo” Corbiel).  My personal favorite of the ten tunes offered up was the 5:30 “Cuban Chant“… all the elements of performance, recording and talent just seemed to come together on this track (& it’s not what you’d think from the title, either).  I give Steve & his great band a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at the page dedicated to this fine album.       Rotcod Zzaj

Steve Pouchie: North By Northeast (feat. Wilson Chembo Corniel)

Judi Silvano – INDIGO MOODS:  This is Judi’s 20th anniversary release, and (having listened to many of her albums over those years), I can say it’s totally splendid!    As I listen to the opener, “Mood Indigo“, I’m reminded of the very first time I listened to her stellar vocal energy – & it’s even better (pacing-wise) on this go-round!  I’m not sure why, but it took the promoter a while to get this one to me (it was released in April, 2012), but Judi’s jazz is timeless, so songs like “But Beautiful” are just as poignant now as when she recorded/released this.  As you might imagine from the album title, this is focused on laid-back & bluesy tunes, and songs like my own personal favorite of the fourteen offered up for your aural pleasure, “Embraceable You“, are completely in that blues zone that we all want to experience once in a while.  I give Judi & her pals a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this great release.  To learn more about the album, visit the JazzedMedia label site.        Rotcod Zzaj

Mark Weber, Michael Vlatkovich & Ion Zoo – ELASTICITY:  Anyone who has read this magazine for more than 6 months knows (by now) that I’m a big fan of any music that includes spoken-word… Mark Weber has always been one of those artists who penetrates “normal” better than any others in the field… on tunes like “Poem 4“, the point is proven beyond all shadow of doubt… the jazz just melts between Weber’s descriptions of “staying home, reading a cup of tea” (etc.)… total cool, & you won’t want to be without this album in your cool-lection!  His descriptions of the practice of Zen is more other-worldly than you’ve ever heard, and clocking in at just over ten minutes, every theme is explored to it’s fullest depth.  Be forewarned, this isn’t music to serve as background for your “Sunday revival dinner”… many Baptists probably won’t dig this… but, from our most highly-jaded corner, it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information the pFMENTUM label site for this release.        Rotcod Zzaj   p.s.  Here’s a small snippet from Mark to “make your day”:

Delfeayo Marsalis – THE LAST SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN:  If “laid-back” & “supreme jazz” are your preferences for listening today, then you’ll be repeating this great release on your player all day; day AFTER day!  Delfeayo’s trombone is excellent against his dad Ellis’s piano work… they’ve also got John Clayton on bass and Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums, and each tune is carefully crafted to enhance your enjoyment!  Just scope out the opener, “The Secret Love Affair” to hear what I mean.  Old standards like “Autumn Leaves” never sounded better, and the pacing is perfect on every tune!   It was the jumpin’ “Speak Low” that made the strongest impression of the thirteen tunes offered up… man, what energy these guys play with… simply stellar!  I give Delfeayo & his high-talent players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information about this release at Delfeayo’s page for the album.       Rotcod Zzaj

Rick Sparks – ENDLESS:  From the cover art and the liners, it’s clear that Rick was thinking of (or maybe looking at) the sky when he composed this… some simple, yet wonderful, sonic experiences that remind us of how timeless music can be.  All you have to listen to is the first few bars of the opener, “Beautiful“,  to be convinced of his mastery in music.  I’m highly impressed with his gentle, yet emotionally filling, touch on the keyboards, and the sonics he’s woven together with tunes like the majestic “Wexford Carol” will fill you with the kind of joy that only high talent in music can bring.  It was the wonderful weave of voices on “Loch Lomond” that made it my favorite of the ten tunes Rick offered up for your listening pleasure… the pacing on this one is just fantastic, like you’ve never heard it before.  I give Rick a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information about this great artist at Rick’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Rick Sparks: Endless

Lyn Stanley – POTIONS:  Wow – this takes me back a few decades… like, to the ’50’s, when I was growing up… watching Red Skelton, Frank Sinatra & a whole lot of other crooners… all the songs, like “A Summer Place” bring back mem’ries (both fond & sad) for me, and Lyn’s high-energy talent is the perfect way to really get in the right mood.  She’s got a great band behind her vocals, and they definitely complement her great work.  Old Standards like “Fly Me To The Moon” take in a breath of fresh air, & even if you’re not a big fan of jazz vocals – you’ll find yourself lovin’ this one.  I’m highly impressed, and that takes quite a bit of skill when it comes to vocalists… Lyn just “owns” these fifteen songs, and you’ll hear that from the first note right to the very last bar.  Her soulful rendition of “The Thrill Is Gone” is definitely my favorite… she knows these blues whereof she sings.  I give her a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Lyn’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Lyn Stanley: Potions [From the 50s]-CD-SACD

Connie Evingson – ALL THE CATS JOIN IN:  & don’t forgive ’em if they don’t, ‘coz Connie’s vocal work on this splendid & lively set from Connie & her cats means joining in is mandatory!  Her performance on “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” will convince you beyond any doubt that every player who walks in the door will be wanting to sit in with her!  The 3:12 “I’ll Follow The Sun” is a different mood, to be sure, but her spitfire spirit just KICKS it, even at this slightly slower pace.  The style Connie does best is clearly reflected in “Jersey Bounce“… of course, there are a total of fourteen tunes here, so something else may convince you to join in… the more the merrier, I’m sure she would say.  The song that was my personal favorite on the album was the opener, “Love Me Or Leave Me“… late-night hot-club jazzin’ yer’ ears up & cheering your heart through & through.  I give Connie a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Connie’s website.    Rotcod Zzaj

Connie Evingson: All the Cats Join In

Hank Marvin – DJANGO’S CASTLE:  What an absolutely refreshing change of pace Hank’s high-energy release is!  He plays lead guitar on the songs, joined by Nunzio Mondia on accordion and Gary Taylor on rhythm guitar, and tunes like “Swingtime In Springtime” will wake up your spirit to another refreshing slice of life!  I didn’t know it until reading the liner notes, but Hank was an inspiration to Jimmy Page & Clapton… W-O-W!  He loves Django’s music, & that’s totally clear on his playing for pieces like “Swing Guitars“… what a romp; it’s amazing that this small trio can generate so much passion through simple tunes like this, but that must be why Hank loves this kind of music – he sure can PLAY it!  My personal favorite of the fourteen songs offered up for your aural enjoyment is “Noto Swing“… light, airy, yet full of life & the spirit of living!  I give Hank & his mates a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the WIKIPEDIA page for his background.       Rotcod Zzaj

Hank Marvin: Django

Denise Young – PASSIONATA:  There is truly nothing more inspirational on an early Sunday morning than beautifully played solo piano, and Denise absolutely knows how to convey her passion for the music through her keyboards.  Pieces like “Above the Clouds” take you to a world where beauty knows no bounds, and gentle is a given.  She says in her liner notes that she wishes you “all the happiness that love promises”, and tunes like “Awakened” will lend credence to her statements.  I had listened to (and reviewed) only one of her compositions before (issue # 128, on a CD titled “The Gathering”), so this full release of eleven songs (many originals) was most welcome.  My personal favorite was the soothing “Cobblestones in the Rain“… it is definitely this kind of music that needs to be played in our schools today, to help teach our kids that far more exists than what they think… I give Denise a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for those who love solo piano work, and an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information about the release at Denise’s CD Baby page for this CD.         Rotcod Zzaj

Denise Young: Passionata

Peter Jennison – COMING HOME:  Peter’s piano is simple, yet beautiful, on this sequel to his earlier release (reviewed in issue # 107)… the music is about the joy and relief that a soldier feels when returning from a war zone… songs like “Farewell My Friend” will reach right inside your heart and let you feel the emotion-packed memories in tribute of a fallen friend (the cello from Eugene Friesen makes it even more special, I think).  Many folks these days have never experienced the pain of war, or the joy of the return, but Peter’s title track, “Coming Home“,  will bring it all right to your ears… the vocals on this one (Rory Sullivan and Noah Wilding) are total talent and packed with vibrant spirit.  It was the haunting symmetry of “Remember Me” that got my vote for personal favorite track, though… no dry eyes will walk away from this song.  This is one of the most pleasant listening experiences you will have this year… I give Peter and his many cohorts a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Peter’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Peter Jennison: Coming Home

Irek Wojtczak & The Fonda-Stevens Group – FOLK FIVE:  This rousing jazz show features Michael Jefry Stevens – piano; Joe Fonda – bass; Herb Robertson – trumpet; Harvey Sorgen – drums and Irek Wojtczak – Saxophones/Bass Clarinet… I’ve reviewed Michael & Joe’s work on other albums before, & can say with certainty that this is the most “lively” I’ve ever heard them playing… of course, the moods they convey are different from song to song, but the one that truly stood out for this reviewer was “Ale Zagrajze Mi Kowola“… nice drum solo intro, then it jumps right on into some KICKIN’ jazz that will thrill devoted jazz fans tghe world over.  The horns (both reed & brass) lend some serious energy, and will RAWK-it for ya’… in fact, I’m not going to highlight any of the other tunes (you can check them all out at the link below), ‘coz this is my favorite jazz tune (yet) for 2015!  I give the group a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Michael Jefry Stevens page for this release.      Rotcod Zzaj

Jordan De La Sierra – GYMNOSPHERE:  “Experimental ambient” – how’s that for a genre?  Actually, the original recording was done way back in 1976, so what he’s doing on this first digital release with tunes like “Music for Gymnastics” is actually quite amazing, considering when it was done.  It was the 27:13 “Music For Devotional Past” that really caught my ear up & held it for the long-term, though… people, this is some beautiful and inspiring music that deserves to be heard ’round this troubled ol’ world of ours; as you might imagine, with that long a composition, there is lots of room for building themes and total focus on the object at hand – the spirit!  I’m very impressed and will be recommending this to anyone who is in need of something to lift them out of any pits they may have dug themselves into.  I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information about Jordan’s music at his DISCOGS link.       Rotcod Zzaj

Gundriver Main – GUNDRIVER NO 1:  This lil’ rocker from L.A. is just (exactly) the kind of music the chopper pilots used to listen to when they were on a “thunder run”… & I know, ‘coz I used to ride with them (Thailand, Vietnam, even the “big desert”)… tunes like “Against The Darkness” will “toodle yer’ do” & have you running full-tilt against whatever it is that’s in yer’ way!  If “upbeat” is really what yer’ krankin’ for, check out the “Gundriver” track… killer rock – ON THE MOVE.  There haven’t been a (whole) lot of rock bands in my pages, quite simply ‘coz they don’t submit very often – & I’m glad these guys (Tom on guitar, Alex Rivas on drums, Crazy Tomes on vocals, guitar & bass & Rev Jones on bass) did – you know, ya’ need somethin’ to get yer motor runnin’ every-once-in-a-while, & the energy these guys project will do it FOR ya’!  It was the bluesy feel (not to mention the superb guitar leads) on “Never Meant To Be” that got my vote for personal favorite, though… I give these gents a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who dig a bit o’ rock in their listening experience… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at the GUNDRIVER MAIN ReverbNation page.       Rotcod Zzaj

Jason Yeager Trio – AFFIRMATION:  This October 2014 album is far more than “just another jazz trio” release… a dozen solid tracks featuring Jason’s high-talent (& high-energy) piano; Danny Weller on bass; Matt Rousseau on drums; & guest shots from Jean Caze – trumpet (6) & flugelhorn (10); Aubrey Johnson – voice (5, 12); Noah Preminger – tenor sax (3, 6).  The 5:19 “Aurora” is one of the most sensitive & inspired jazz pieces I’ve heard (yet) in 2015, perhaps because Jean does trumpet on it… any way you listen to it, though, this is PRIME playing and the talent just shines through!  If you’re looking for “boogie-jump” jazz, you won’t find it here, but pieces like my personal favorite of the dozen, the 7:38 “Blues For Billy P“. have all the energy and intrique you need in your listening experience.  I give Jason & his crew of players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Jason’s website.    Rotcod Zzaj


Jason Yeager Trio: Affirmation

Kaoruko Pilkington – BRIGHT SIDE OF MY LIFE:  Kaoruko’s vocal work is clearly a bright spot for any who truly dig jazz sung by those who love it.  On tunes like “All The Things You Are“, she makes it totally evident that her music (& the singing of it) brings great pleasure to her.  Though based in Boston, I suspect she gets ’round the circuit quite frequently… those pipes have to be in strong demand.  The opener, “Bright Size Life“, shows her skills at scatting… a full range of notes, of course, and a true zest for life & the living of it!  You get a total of eleven shining vocal/tunes to treasure for many years to come.  It was the laid-back & bluesy mood on “Dreamsville” that won my vote for personal favorite… if you’ll pardon my expression – a jazz lover’s dream come true.  I give Kaoruko & her cohorts a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97… get more information at her website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Kaoruko Pilkington: Bright Side of My Life




Bob Mundy – SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL:  Bob’s clear love of vocal jazz shines through on this release… he’s from Queens/Long Island, so he grew up right in the thick of an era that worshiped great jazz singers, & he managed to start singing his dream at the age of 5… cool!  His music is, too, particularly on delectable tunes like the opener, “East Of The Sun“… it doesn’t hurt that he has a stellar crew of players behind him, but the real “mainstay” on this set of tunes is his voice!   If you’re looking for tunes that are just jam-packed with emotion, you’ll love “Laura” as much as I did… Bob makes it perfectly clear that he’s honed his talent to (near) perfection with this piece.  It was his 4:32 rendition of “Besame Mucho” that won my vote for personal favorite of the dozen tunes offered up for your enjoyment.  I give Bob and his players a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Bob’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Bob Mundy: Something Beautiful

Ananda Gari – T-DUALITY:  Drummer Ananda is joined by alto sax player TimBerne, Rez Abbasi on guitar & Michael Formanek on doublebass for a jazz adventure you will NOT (ever) forget!  The opener, “Trucks“, establishes a clear baseline for splendid original jazz works that will thrill even the most jaded of jazz aficionados out there; as you might expect with a title like that, this is all about “movement”, and the quartet carries it off very well!  The 11:32 “Fields” starts off with Michael’s doublebass and evolves very nicely into a full-on session for each of the players… I truly liked this one & expect it will stay right up at the top of my playlists!  The (oddly titled) closer, “Don’t Forget to Pet Your Cat“, turned out to be my personal favorite of the seven splendid tunes offered up, though… richly dense and full of the undercurrents of life.  I give Ananda & his bandmates a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this great little release.  Get more information about Ananda at the AUAND label page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Trevor Gordon Hall – MIND HEART FINGERS:  I’m often amazed with the high quality of music that comes in for review here… Trevor’s wonderful and sensitive guitar playing is certainly right at the top of that stack!  As you listen to the opener (after the intro), “Morning Sidewalk 3.0“, you’ll immediately know why I said that… he uses his acoustic skills flawlessly to draw you into his subtle sonic web, & you’ll find that you don’t want to leave anytime soon.  I was particularly impressed with that talent on the 3:40 “Turning Ruts Into Grooves” (also titled “The Shining Barrier” on some sites)… a very simple rhythm, but the recording captures every single nuance, every slap on the guitar board, everything you can imagine.  I just love music that’s all original, straight from the author… in this case it was the beautiful “The Blue Hour” that got my vote for personal favorite.  I give Trevor a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (a perfect) 5.00… which means that he also gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best acoustic guitar”.  Get more information about this fine artist at Trevor’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Trevor Gordon Hall: Mind Heart Fingers

Leonardi, Pastor, Blumer, Geisser – CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THOMAS CHAPIN:  This very interesting improvised jazz recording features the following players:  Bass – Fridolin Blumer; Flutes – Stefano Leonardi, Percussion – Heinz Geisser and    Violin – Stefano Pastor; all are extremely adept and will keep your mind totally engaged as you listen to this one.  I’ve reviewed a lot of Stefano’s violin work over the years, and can say (without qualification) that this is the most accessible recording yet.  On the title track, “Conversations About Thomas Chapin“, the 18:23 time of the song gives each of the players a chance to shine… & they literally glimmer with creative energy.  If your ears are in the mood for something a bit more exploratory, you will love “The Melody Remains“… it’s my favorite of the seven splendid sonic journeys presented for your aural pleasure.  I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners who can’t do without a bit of the creative force in their listening program.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at the DISCOGS page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Kiki Ebsen – THE SCARECROW SESSIONS:  This is actually my first listen to Kiki’s subtle jazz vocal work… as you might be able to tell from the name, her dad was Buddy Ebsen; he told her (way back when) that she needed to learn how to sing the songs of jazz, & now she’s followed his advice with this dozen-song jazz vocal standard set.  Her rendition of “Moon River” is just superb, and quite different from what you might expect… very nicely done!  Her vocal approach is full of life, yet she doesn’t (at all) “try too hard”.  I especially liked (in fact, it’s my favorite tune on the album) her tasty vocal on “St. Louis Blues“… there’s no question that if she’d been born in a different time, she’d have already hit the top of the charts… this tune alone makes it worth purchasing this great release.  I give her (& her cohorts) a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 (& I can tell you, that’s high marks for a vocalist here at my ‘zine).  Get more information about her at Kiki’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Kiki Ebsen: Scarecrow Sessions

Wadada Leo Smith – THE GREAT LAKES SUITES:  As usual, Wadada’s trumpet is totally engaging on this double CD from TUM Records. He’s also got Henry Threadgill doing alto saxophone, flute and bass flute; John Lindberg  on double bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums, so you know (just from reading the album cover) that you’ve got high jazz talent involved here… & of course as I listen to the opening suite, “Lake Huron“, I’m reminded of why we all keep coming back to Smith’s playing… he’s definitely a jazz giant, and you need to get this one!  The 17:39 “Lake Erie” was my favorite, and not just because I grew up on those shores…. more because of the dense, dark vistas he paints it in… just like my memories of a true beauty turned into an industrial wasteland.  Great long tunes that will keep you totally engaged from the first note on CD 1 to the last note on CD 2; I give Wadada & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information on this fantastic avant-garde adventure at the TUM Records link mentioned above.       Rotcod Zzaj

Easy Roscoe – KEEP THE DANCIN’ DANCIN’:  Jon, guitarist from this band, sent this interesting little release in… the rockin’ quartet from Nashville plays some truly fun stuff that takes me (almost) all the way back to my “bubblegum days”… lol.  Actually, on tunes like “Man in a Cell“, the guitar playing elevates it to a far higher level of talent than that – plus, it’s clear the players are havin’ a BLAST!  The boogie blast on “Happy to See You” makes me remember all those ‘tonks we used to hit down ‘Bama way… pretty cool stuff!  Again, the primary element that’s well-expressed is F-U-N – great energy on all ten songs offered up.  If you’re lookin’ for a bit of rock with a bit of funk in it to spice your day up, you’ll dig my personal favorite track, “Cheap Thrill”, & will keep on playin’ it again & again (as did I).  Is it “heavy” rock?  Not at all… Is it “cool” rock?  You bet – & that’s why I give them a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the band’s Reverbnation site.        Rotcod Zzaj

Easy Roscoe: Keep the Dancin

RedLight – ASTRONAUTS:  Now we now with certainty what was on the moon when Armstrong stepped down… SHROOMS!   If you don’t believe that, listen to the opener on this great rawk-in’ CD, “Faulty Track“, & you’ll hear exactly what I’m talkin’ ’bout!  Naw, it isn’t jazz, but it’s fully loaded with th’ kind of energy we love here at I.N.!  If you’re in the mood for something more “desert-like”, try “Dust“, where you can hear th’ sagebrush rolling.  When it comes to truly rockin’ out, though, you’ll get right on down with one of my favorites of the dozen tracks offered up, “Backward Evolution” – Darwin would be mortified, but you’ll love it, I’m sure.  My personal favorite, though, was “Charlie Chaplin Disco Mobile“… if you can’t see the humor in this, Chaplin will be rollin’ in his grave.  A surefire fun rocker that gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the Redlight Bandcamp site.       Rotcod Zzaj

Philip Wesley – TRANSCEND:  If it’s highly-charged & talented solo piano that you are wanting to hear – Phillip’s got it – in spades!  Very nicely executed keyboard work, especially on compositions like “Haunted Past“… simple, yet full of beauty.  If freedom is something you desire in your listening experience, you’ll enjoy “Unbridled Spirit” as much as I did… truly captures your ears.  Phillips’ strident touch on “Moonlight and Jasmine” made it one of the more powerful tunes; I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I didn’t realize it until I read through the liner notes a bit more carefully… Phillip has been recording a lot over the last few years – this is his seventh album.  Of the thirteen pieces offered up for your solitude, the closer, “Echoes Through Eternity“,  turned out to be my personal favorite… again, very nicely played.  I give Phillip a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information about this excellent pianist at his website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Philip Wesley: Transcend

Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble – MOSAICA:  The timing is just right… this CD is a perfect way to start off a new issue!  Eugene’s music has been reviewed in my pages for many, many years now, and this new release, reimagining Hebraic songs in what’s clearly a jazz vein, is just further proof that Doctor Marlow “has his jazz together”, no matter where the songs originated from.  His piano work on tunes like “Eliyahu Hanavi“, when combined with the beautiful vocal from Shira Lissek and heavy-duty sax work from Michael Hashim, is closer to the blues than some “blues artists” can get.  The keyboard intro & subsequent vocals merged with the piano on “Erev Shel Shoshanim” made this my personal favorite of the nine tunes offered up.  Everything about these songs, and Eugene’s interpretations of them, show sensitivity for the songs, and total talent for making them stand out in the jazz colors he is painting in.  I give Eugene and crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Eugene’s web page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj