Issue # 156 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

Roarshaq – ROARSHAQ:  This high-energy 8-song all-original release features Joel Visentin on piano, Mark Godfrey doing bass, Derek Gray on drums and Jeff Larochelle’s saxophones, and it’s well worth the listen!  Jeff’s reed work is scorching on the 7:47 opener, “Badleaf“… in fact, the whole band is “on” on this tune… some excellent time changes and solid playing throughout.  I just loved the piano on the 4:09 “Rewind“… again, the players are totally in synch with each other, and not one note is dropped.  Their music is so much more revealing than any inkblot test the head doctors could come up with… come to think of it, I guess jazz musicians are kinda’ like head docs, eh?  It was the 8:14 closer, “Three Ravens“, that took my vote for personal favorite (perhaps because of the beautiful Rhodes/electric intro)… the length gave each player an opportunity to show off their chops, too – again, Jeff’s reeds just shine on this tune!  l give this fantastic & fresh group a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the Roarshaq website.   Rotcod Zzaj

Bill McBirnie & Bruce Jones – GRAIN OF SAND:  Nothing pleases my ears more strongly than well-played jazz flute, and Bill/Bruce stand out from all the others because they “are” their instruments… I don’t believe I’ve ever heard original flute played more full of passion than this great 14-song release.  They’ve definitely “got their game on” with funky tunes like “Se Eu Fico Com Voce (If I Stay With You)“… man, folks, I’m swayin’ & slidin’ in my chair as I listen to the vocal/beat on this one!  The percussion on “Carnaval Blue (Blue Carnival)” is totally sweet – my only complaint is that it didn’t last longer than 3:26; but with fourteen tracks, you’ll find something you love (just like I did).  It was the 4:33 “A Ponte Para Carlton (The Carlton Bridge)” that captured my vote for personal favorite, though… full-bodied and rich, the percussion & flutes were just made for each other on this great tune.  I give these gents a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (a perfect) 5.00 – meaning that they also get the “PICK” of this issue for “best flute jazz”.  Get more information at Bill’s Extreme Flute page.        Rotcod Zzaj

Greg Black and the Blacklights – A LOT LIKE YOU:  For this reviewer, there’s nothing better than “local” talent (Greg & his band are from Olympia), & though Greg’s new release isn’t jazz, it’s jam-packed with the kind of energy we love here!  Many of my readers don’t know it, but I spent (nearly) 3 years in eastern Kentucky, and music like this abounded there… tunes like the opener, “Free Store“, are charged up & full of life, in an almost Bluegrass sense, but the keyword for Greg & crew is “fun” – something we need more of in music today.  That “good ole'” spirit pervades all dozen tracks on the album, in particular pieces like “Homegrown“… loved this one!  The fact that these pieces are all original makes it even more attractive to my ears… my personal favorite on the album is the totally upbeat “Mariposa“… loved that violin (or should it be called a “fiddle”?), and the horn arrangements are great.  I give Greg & crew a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information on this totally fun band at the Sun Break Records page for Greg.        Rotcod Zzaj 


Alban Darche & Hyprcub – CROOKED HOUSE:  This marvelous jazz adventure features Alban’s alto saxophone, tenor sax from Jon Irabagon, piano & Fender Rhodes from Jozef Dumoulin, drums by Christophe Lavergne and double bass by Sébastien Boisseau, & it’s a jazz ride you won’t soon forget!  Tunes like the far-ranging “Volutes” will send chills & thrills up & down your spinal column & have you hankering for every note of all eleven tunes.  Though I’ve reviewed a LOT of Jon’s sax mastery, this is my first listen to Alban, and I can tell you right now – there will be much, MUCH more coming our way from this adventurous musical spirit.  The richest composition, and my personal favorite, was the dark-toned “Opium“… this definitely reminds me of some of my late-night excursions through downtown Frankfurt (1960’s) in search of unique music/experiences.  I give Alban and his compatriots a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Alban’s website.         Rotcod Zzaj

Gene Ess – ETERNAL MONOMYTH:  Gene’s jazz guitar work has long been a favorite here… this new outing is a companion release for his “Fractal Attraction” release.  On “Eternal”, Gene explores the marriage of female vocal work with his guitar, and tunes like the wonderful opener, “Forsaken Island“, will let you hear why I love his music so much – Thana Alexa’s vocal is just superb on this track!  The 7:38 “Drakaina” is certainly high-energy, and reminds me of some of the old Gabor Szabo albums I used to listen to (in the late ’60’s).  It’s the 7:19 “Entrance | Exit” that got my vote for personal favorite, though… great changes under Thana’s high-talent vocal work – when she takes off into scat, it’s like heavenly jazz!  I give Gene & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information on this fantastic jazz guitarist at Gene’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Robert Kennedy Trio – BIG SHOES: The album title (apparently) comes from all the organ heroes Robert is in love with… players like Jack McDuff, Tony Monaco & Herbie Hancock are (just) a few of the names he mentions in the liner notes… & on his performances of tunes like the opener, “Long Strides“, you’ll hear that he’s learned their lessons well!  On the down & phonk-kee “Root Bound“, he again excels, & his co-players Mason Razavi (guitar) and Cody Rhodes (drums) round the tune out with high energy and talent.  Nowhere is that more evident than on the blues-laden title track, “Big Shoes“… this brings back memories of many late night sessions I had with the master of B-3, Jimmy Smith, in the old days and is my personal favorite of the nine tunes he offers up for jazz organ euphoria.  I give Robert & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at the Robert Kennedy website.        Rotcod Zzaj

DW3 – VINTAGE TRUTH:  On this great sophomore release from DW3, you can “re-acquaint” yourself with the powerful dynamic of old-soul R&B – in a B-I-G way… tunes like “Tribute (Right On)” (dedicated to their recently-passed drummer/mentor Ricky Lawson), they pull all the stops out and put you in the “soul zone” – right where you want to be in today’s troubled world!  The grand ballroom elegance of “Dance With Me” will thrill you to the bone, and have you swirling ’round the room (Maidenform or not, lol) for the entire evening!  Their magical performance and superb vocal work on Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” made the tune my personal favorite of the dozen offered up for your sonic pleasure.  I’m highly impressed and expect we’ll be hearing (much) more from this great band.  I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information on this most soulful band at the DW3 website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Sun Soul Orchestra – WHAT MATTERS MOST:  Well, of course, we here at I.N. know that it’s the MUSIC (that matters most); this April 2015 release proves that, without doubt.  Their music hearkens back to the soul music I grew up on, albeit with a 21st Century “edge”… love the orchestrals & peppy vocal arrangements on tunes like “In My House“.  No, it’s definitely not jazz, but remember, our criteria for reviewing music is “energy”, not “genre”, and the Steve Theard/Ginger Murphy team provide that for sure.  The string work on “Waiting In Vain” supports their vocals quite well, and reminds me (in some strange way) of old Stevie Wonder vocals.  It was the majestic soul presentation on “Zoom” that got my vote for personal favorite, though… old times (timeless) made new (think Four Tops or O’Jays reinvigorated).  I give this splendid duo a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the Sun Soul Orchestra website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Soft Machine – SWITZERLAND 1974:  If your ears are in the mood for some QUALITY rockin’, you’ll love this Soft Machine performance from ’74… it came with a SUPERB DVD which I’ve been watching over & over again.  The opener for the show this was recorded at is their famous “Hazard Profile“, and the beat NEVER STOPS… 16:46 minutes of pure unadulterated sonic wizardry that will trip you there & back (ALL the way)!  “Land Of the Bag Snake” reminded me somehow of some of the more epic Frank Zappa albums… use your headphones when you listen to this 4:27 super-tune.  By far the best tune for this reviewer (and the closest to “out-jazz”) was “Peff“… a lovely swirling horn in the lead & the whole band is providing power drive behind it.  This is one of the best rock/fusion/jazz releases I’ve heard (yet) in 2015, and it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 from me.  Get more information at the Cuneiform Records page for this great release.        Rotcod Zzaj

Russell Suereth – SPIRITUAL HAVEN:  This is Russell’s third album, and though it’s the first time I’ve reviewed his work, it’s easy to tell that his unique blend of electronic/keyboards will be attractive to people from all ’round the globe.  Very clean mixes of sounds (like) harps on one of my favorites, “Distant Voices“… I loved the voices he blends subtly into this piece.  “Night Dances” will hold you spellbound and take you on a flight of fancy you’ll never forget.  Most of the tunes hit the mark right at about four minutes… it would be nice to have one or two longer pieces on the next release, perhaps.  The 4:21 “Sudden Awareness” got my vote for personal favorite of the dozen compositions offered up for your aural pleasure… nice percussion sounds, and full-body from the first note to the last.  I give Russell a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who love inspired electronic/keyboard work, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information on Russell and his work at Russell’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord – JEREMIAH:  This February, 2015 release from Hot Cup Records is among many that I’ve reviewed from Jon, and his jazz standard is still… PERFECTION!  Jon’s guitar work far outpaces his contemporaries in jazz today, & has for quite some time… just check out the 7:58 opener, “The Bottle“, to grok why I say that… Jon is joined by stellar artists in their own right… Jon Irabagon (soprano saxophone), Bryan Murray (tenor and balto! saxophones), Sam Kulik (trombone), Justin Wood (alto saxophone and flute), Moppa Elliott (bass), and Dan Monaghan (drums) all pull the stops out to give performances that NAIL it!  The oddly titled “W.P.S.M.” got my vote for personal favorite of the seven (long) tracks offered up, probably because of the complex rhythms they are playing on the tune – “layers” is the word that best describes it.  I give Jon & his talented crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for this release, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Jon’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Bob Bunce – RURAL DELIVERY:  Even if you haven’t listened to Bob’s totally upbeat Americana before, you’ll find your ears fallin’ in love with his energy & style, especially on tunes like the 4:13 “Giddy Up“… some great guitar, harp & vocals on this one.  I’ve been listening to his music since way back in my Home-taper days (mid-1980’s), so he’s been around the scene for a L-O-N-G time!  If it’s stride-blues you’re hankering for, try out “Money’s Getting Cheaper“… but be sure you’ve got your speakers (or your headphones) turned up to as high a volume as your ol’ ears can handle.  It was the stellar power guitar leads on “Snake In The Woodpile” that got my vote for personal favorite of the dozen tunes offered up on the album (though with that many songs, you may wind up choosing something different as your favorite).  I give Bob a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this one.  Get more information at Bob’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Azure Carter & Alan Sondheim – AVATAR WOMAN:  Azure’s vocals against various instruments from Alan (& others – check out the player list); this seems to be focused on “American Folk” music, in a most “non” traditional sense.  The guitars on “Dark Robe” were enchanting on the intro, and the vocal is in near-trance state.  The dozen songs on this release merit the attention of your ears, at least for one round… OTOH, this isn’t my personal “cup of tea”…. the reason it made it for review is because it does have significant energy levels on the part of the players.  Of the twelve tunes, my personal pick for favorite was the oddly-instrumented “Avatar Man With Dream Woman“… this one was quite interesting, actually.  For listeners interested in exploring “other” music, this gets a RECOMMENDED.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.95.  Get more information at the Public Eyesore page for this release.        Rotcod Zzaj

Dial and Oatts – THAT MUSIC ALWAYS ROUND ME:  Unfortunately for our readers, there are always submissions to us that get “stuck” in the queue… after my first listen to the wondrous vocal weaves against Walt Whitman poems, I’m simply blown away!  The opener on the first disc, “Poets To Come“, will give you immediate insight & pleasure, if you understand the power of spoken-word with music in the slightest bit… & after listening to this double disc adventure, you’ll be searching all the racks for more of Dial & Oatts powerful music.  Of course, it’s not “traditional jazz” at all, but our criteria for review here is based on the ENERGY and POWER the players are able to project through their art – and there are tunes that clearly are endowed with the most powerful elements of jazz, too.  Of all the tunes, it was the 9:19 “Sometimes with One I Love” that captured my vote for personal favorite of the fifteen beautiful tunes assembled here for your long-term musical enjoyment.  I give this release a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for folks who love chorales mixed in with music.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.99.  Get more information at the CD Baby page for this release (with the composer’s notes, too).        Rotcod Zzaj

George Colligan and Theoretical Planets – RISKY NOTION:  Here’s a new one (for us, anyway)… George (the pianist) leading his Theoretical Planets band on drums… two tenor saxophone (Nicole Glover and Joe Mantis, Jon Lakey on drums and Tony Glausi on trumpet (3,4,5)… as I listen to the 8:15 “Con Woman“, it’s evident that his rhythm-keeping skills are just as healthy as his keyboard chops… the tune gives voice to each and every player, and they will “WOW” you!  The opener, “Gorgasaurus“, will thrill you, especially if you love those reeds… some killer sax here.  It was the 6:48 “Harmawhatics” that turned out to be my personal favorite of the ten tracks offered up for your aural pleasure… tasty horn-mesh, great drums & some superb brass all combine to make a tune you’ll not soon forget… good solid jazz that will (definitely) sate your thirst!  I give George & his compadres a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at George’s website or the Origin Records page for this great release.         Rotcod Zzaj

Ligro – DICTIONARY 3:  On this second go-round from this splendid avant-jazz-rock trio release (I reviewed their debut in issue # 127), guitarist Agam Hamzah is back in splendid & full regalia… he’s also joined by by keyboardist Ade Irawan, they take this into regions previously unexplored… the keyword for each of the five (long) songs is “out”!  There’s just no standard way to “classify” their great music… you might consider it a kind of “21st Century schizoid progressive”, but even that won’t do the trick… as you listen to the fantastic/cosmic opener, “Bilker 4“, you will realize that you’re hearing something brand new, especially at mid-point, where the guitar & keyboards just SOAR!  Rhythm & polyphonic overtones abound, and will take you right to the edge of the wormhole… especially on tunes like my personal favorite, the 13:50 “Tragic Hero“… about half-way through the tune, they jump out of the wormhole right into the other side of the dimension, and carry you ecstatically into new horizons… just GREAT work!  I give Ligro another MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (a perfect) 5.00… meaning they also get the “PICK” of this issue for “best 21st Century fusion jazz”!  Get more information at the MOONJUNE Records page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Linda Presgrave – ALONG THE PATH:  If it’s solid piano and all original jazz you’re yearning for, look no further than this excellent album from Linda!  Her piano work is joined by Harvie S on bass, drums & gongs from Allison Miller, soprano sax from Stan Chovnick, tenor sax by Todd Herbert, also sax frfom Vincent Herring and vocals by MJ Territo.  The opening track (also the album title), “Along The Path“, leads in with some great solo piano, & changes pace about mid-way through the 7:35 track… totally dug this tune!  Linda got high marks from me in issue # 113, and the tuneage is even better this time around.  The 7:41 “Blues For A Rainy Night” got my personal vote for favorite track, though with eleven tunes, you may like another better… it was the sax on this one (& the late-night-alley feel) that made it my favorite!  I give Linda & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the Metropolitan Records page for this release.          Rotcod Zzaj 

Jose Luis Serrano Esteban – ANDROID DREAMS:  I first reviewed Jose’s work in issue # 122, quite favorably.  His ability in the space music arena is even further enhanced with this new release… tunes like “Capturing Time” emphasize his splendid guitar sensibilities, and will capture your mind after only a couple of bars.  The vocal work on the opener, “Walking To The Stars“, displays significant talent and catapults you into the nether regions of the galaxy, to be sure.  If you’re looking for a piece with a more ambient flavor, you’ll love “Zero Gravity“… great energy for a laid-back tune.  My personal favorite of the dozen tracks offered up here was “Orbiting Saturn“… tasty energy with plenty of room for the tune to develop (5:04).  I give Jose & his players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this great sonic outing.  Get more information about this fantastic artist at Jose’s site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Julie Lyon Quintet – JULIE:  A fresh approach to jazz vocals is what Julie offers up here, and it’s most appealing.  Her rendition of “All Or Nothing At All“, and the arrangement of the tune make it an instant favorite here in my listening studio – tasty, indeed, with top quality players (Tom Cabrera on drums/percussion, Mat Lavelle on trumpet/alto clarinet, Jack DeSalvo on guitars/mandola and Bobby Brennan on double bass)!    The total groove she establishes on “Born To Be Blue” will bring back memories of the dark, back-alley haunts and late-night blues, to be sure.  It was the upbeat pace on the 4:10 “Strollin‘” that captured my vote for personal favorite of the ten tracks offered up for your aural pleasure, though… definitely a fun tune.  I give Julie and her entire crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for lovers of vocal jazz.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at Julie’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Kyrbgrinder – CHRONICLES OF A DARK MACHINE:  I don’t get a lot of power-rock in here, which is amazing to me, since the whole criteria for review here is ENERGY… & that’s something this London-based trio has in spades!  It’s a “metal” sorta’ thing, featuring drummer Johanne James, guitars by Aaron Waddingham & bass by Dave Lugay… & this stuff just RAWKS th’ house, particularly on pieces like “Captain America“… perfect for grindin’ on down thee road on yer’ Harley, I’ll tell ya’!  If it’s power blues yer’ thirstin’ after, check out “I Feel Blue”… if ya’ didn’t when ya’ started listening, you certainly will after the song’s done.  My personal favorite, though, is the 4:58 “Take Your Soul Away“… the guitar just SOARS on this one… I remember ridin’ with the Chinook pilots ’round & through the mountain terrain of South Korea when they were on missions – & this is just the kinda’ rock they preferred rollin’ through their headphones!  This is killer music, & I for listeners so inclined, it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at the Krybgrinder FB page (& tell ’em ya’ read about ’em here).   Rotcod Zzaj

Phil Markowitz & Zach Brock – PERPETUITY:  Some VERY interesting work here… I just loved the undercurrent of vocals on the title/opening  track, “Perpetuity“… Phil’s piano is spot-on throughout the piece & Zach’s violin is truly energizing for the listener – a totally fresh and vibrant tune!  The piano intro on “Fractures” will hold you spellbound, and as the other instruments join in, you’ll realize you are listening to masters of the jazz craft.  This isn’t music for the faint of heart or unadventurous… and that’s evidenced most poignantly on tunes like my personal favorite of the ten offered up – the 8:13 “Notorious Z“… there are moments when it’s easy to remember Frank Zappa’s “Jazz From Hell”… to & fro, verzure.  These gents are totally “on” while they’re playing, and this is an album you’ll continue coming back to on your playlists.  I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the Dot Time Records page for this fine release.         Rotcod Zzaj

Brian Pareschi – BRIAN PARESCHI AND THE BP EXPRESS:  Brian’s superb trumpet work on his debut CD as a leader is among the best jazz releases I’ve heard (yet) in 2015!  He’s certainly got the sense of rhythm required to keep this octet/nonet just chuggin’ right on down the line, especially on tunes like the lively opener, “Angle of Repose“.  His background as a sideman for varied & sundry types of music (all the way from Bruce Springsteen to Quincy Jones) lends real credence to the songs chosen & played on this fine release.  The title track, “B P Express“, will carry you away to a land of jazz energy seldom heard these days & let you “live the jazz dream” for it’s 5:25 length.  My personal choice for favorite of the nine tunes, though, was the 7:15 “Congo Blue“… just loved the bass intro & the slow build to the great horn work (at about 1:48) that truly energizes the piece.  I’m really reminded of some of the great moments on old songs like “Peter Gunn”, but that’s probably too old for many of you to remember.  I give Brian & his high-end crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Brian’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Steve Luceno – GET UP & BEAT THE BLUES:  & the best way (I know) to do that is with great jazz, something bassist Steve has always been able to do… I first met him during my initial year in the Magickland of Olywa – even did some poetry with him & other players backing it.  During a recent gig he was playing at (in my favorite Olympia jazz haunt, Rhythm & Rye), I got to watch him pull out all the stops & chat a bit with him.  Steve handed me off several CD’s (keep an eye on future issues for more reviews of his work), & “Get Up & Beat The Blues” was the first one in the stack… as I listen to “Patience“, it’s clear that his talent on the bass has matured (greatly) over these many long years, and the players he has with him on this outing really make it a special occasion (Dan Blunck: alto saxophone; Tony Grasso: trumpet; Brian Kent: tenor saxophone; Ryan Burns: keyboards; Steven Bentley: drums)… these are all folks who I’ve watched (and/or) reviewed before, so I was familiar with them already.  The 8:47 “Get Up Blues (a suggestion)” was my personal favorite of the eight great tunes offered up… in Steve’s own words – “an invitation to dream the wheel away”… too cool!  The real bottom line is that if you want great jazz & you live in Olympia – you need go no farther, with great players like this to be heard.  I give Steve & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (a perfect) 5.00… meaning they also get the “PICK” of this issue for “best all around jazz”!  Get more information at the AllMusic page for this release.   (NOTE:  You can order this CD direct from Steve by calling 360-754-7630)    Rotcod Zzaj

Dave Bass – NYC SESSIONS:  Dave’s jazz piano is excellent, and his players on these sessions (Phil Woods, Ignacio Berroa, Conrad Herwig and Harive S) are top of the line!  Tasty tunes like “Dark Eyes” show true talent in all aspects of jazz, and sophisticated lines crafted to tug at your heartstrings.  The 4:35 “Lost Mambo” will have you up on the floor in only moments… cool rhythms & great interplay.  As the CD title indicates, this work has a decidedly “east coast” flavor, especially on ultra-cool tunes like “Baltic Bolero“… starts off with a laid-back intro, then segues ever so gently into something you might have heard back in your ballroom days.  It was the swingin’ vibe on the high-energy opener, “The Sixties“, that got my vote for personal favorite of the eleven tunes offered up for your aural pleasure… this one JUMPS, folks!  I give Dave & his players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at the Whaling City Sound label page for this release.        Rotcod Zzaj

Renee’ Michele – SEASONS OF THE HEART:  This is some of the prettiest solo piano/small ensemble music I’ve heard (yet) this year… as you might expect, the recording was done at one of the best studios in the country, Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studios.  Tunes like the beautiful “Beside You” will move you close to tears at times, as her wonderful piano brings back memories.  For something a shade more deep, you’ll love “Eyes of the Soul” just as much as I did… Renee’s keyboard weaves a most telling story, to be sure.  Radical jazz fans may not find this to their liking, but lovers of music that opens windows to the heart will treasure this sonic experience for years to come.  My personal favorite of the ten songs offered up is the joyful and inspiring “Follow Your Heart“… simply wonderful music!  I give Renee’ and her cohorts a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Renee’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Renee Michele: Seasons of the Heart

Henry Kaiser & Ray Russell – THE CELESTIAL SQUID:  Our friends at CUNEIFORM Records know exactly what to send to liven up any musical day… I’ve listened to quite a bit of Henry’s guitar antics, though this is the first time (I believe) I’ve heard the craziness that Ray (also) projects with his guitars.  As you listen to the closer, “Construction #14“, you’ll wonder where you are in the celestial order (in fact, you’ll wonder if you’re on another planet altogether)!  The boys continue to rip the universe apart on the 13:33 “The Enumeration“; though it starts off at a bit slower pace, by the two-minute mark they have kicked into a groove that is cosmic, no doubt… these guys are “naturals” for playing together, to be sure.  The main defining quality of their music together is that it is (totally, man) impossible to “define” or “classify” their work into any neat little pigeonhole… that’s especially true on my personal favorite of the seven (long) songs offered up, the 9:07 down/funky opener, “guKTen LIMPo“… you’ve never heard guitar that smokes hotter’n this (which is probably why they put it in the opening slot)!  I give Henry, Ray & their collaborators (there are many) a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (a perfect) 5.00 – which means they also get the “PICK” of this issue for “best cosmic guitar works”!  Get more information at the Cuneiform Records page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

David Gopoian – SLEEPING IN A TREE:  One of the best things about writing this magazine is that every month or so, I get a CD in that features an artist new to me who is right up there at the very TOP of the heap… talentwise, energy-wise & in all other ways… David’s work is definitely in that category!  In addition to stellar keyboard work, David will astound you with his song-writing & total dedication to keepin’ th’ “buzz” going on tunes like “Business As Usual“… one of the best vocal jazz pieces I’ve heard (yet) in 2015.  Think “Mose Allison”, albeit in a 21st Century mode… the rambunctious “Rise & Shine” will simply “wow” you!  It was the 4:51 “Close The App” that got my vote for personal favorite of the ten tunes offered up, though… a great tune for dancin’ & spinnin’ your nights away.  I give David a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at David’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

David Gopoian: Sleeping in a Tree

Kathryn Kaye – PATTERNS OF SUN AND SHADE:  I’ve reviewed a lot of Kathryn’s beautiful piano works, and this recent recording is among the best I’ve heard yet.  She’s been involved in music from a very young age, and has developed keyboard skills unparalleled by other similar artists.  Tunes like the gentle and wonderful opener, “Julia’s Eyes“, will thrill you for years to come!   If you’ve been feeling down & out, your spirits will soar again as you listen to “Something Like A Dream“… simple, yet totally vibrant and full of life.  As with so many solo/accompanied piano albums of late, this was recorded at Will Ackerman’s Imaginary Road Studios, and the recording is flawless.  My personal favorite of the eleven tunes offered up for your aural pleasure was “Adrift In Falling Light“… if your spirit isn’t soothed by this wonderful music, you’re well beyond any repair.  I give Kathryn a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (a perfect) 5.00.  Which also means that she gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best piano album”.  Get more information at Kathryn’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Kathryn Kaye: Patterns of Sun and Shade

Glenn Wilson – TIMELY:  If you haven’t listened to a lot of bari-sax work lately, you’ll find yourself falling in love with Glenn’s polished & (very) hip style on this great eight-song jazz excursion!  Glenn is joined by trumpeter John D’Earth,  with pianist John Toomey, bassist Jimmy Masters and  drummer Tony Martucci in one red-hot smokin’ session as indicated clearly when you listen to the title track, “Timely“… super tight from the opening note to the closing bar!  You can preview the other seven tunes on his I-Tunes page for this release.  My personal favorite was the ultra-jazzy “Fat Beat“… this truly takes me back to the halcyon days (as in “carefree” & “joyful”) of the old-time jazz & bop I was first exposed to in the early 1960’s… the 10:06 length of the tune also gives lots of time & space for each player to show off their stellar skills.  I give Glenn & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the All About Jazz page for Glenn.    Rotcod Zzaj

Bill O’Connell and the Latin Jazz Allstars – IMAGINE:  Bill’s keyboards on this great 9-song release are superb, & the players he has with him (Conrad Herwig on trombone, Steve Slagle on sax, Luques Curtis on bass, Richie Flores on percussion & Richie Barshay on drums) are truly stars in their own right!  His arrangement skills are most noticeable on tunes like Lennon’s “Imagine“… some truly inspired jazz that certainly deserves a wider audience – it’s nothing like you thought it would be.  The lively 6:23 “Jigsaw” will surely get you up off yer’ duff & movin’, unless the grim reaper already took you, lol.  I’m highly impressed with all nine songs, but the capper for me was the high-energy movement on the closer, “Whitecaps“… man, this tune just cooks – listeners who grew up on players like Horace Silver will be very pleased with this classic jazz piece!  I give Bill & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at the Savant Records label page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj