Issue # 165 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

NOTE:  I normally only do 30 reviews per issue… due to the high volume of submissions, & the long recovery period for my recent surgery, I will be reviewing several more (20 additional, for a total of 50) for this issue (and future issues, until our backlog is honed down)… “normal” review cycles will resume when I’ve got the QUEUE down to under 100!

Guilherme Dias Gomes – LESTE:  A truly fine 9-song release from Brazilian trumpeter Guilherme, who’s been on the jazz scene far longer than I realized… most of his work was for a company called TV Globo… his all-original compositions on this superbly crafted sonic wonder  show the depth and breadth of his jazz skills, & any “true” jazz fan will enjoy this one!  His high-energy jazz is fully complimented by a cast of players far too long to itemize here, so check out the ALLMUSIC credits page to get the scoop.  I especially enjoyed the sense of rapid movement and high flight on the 4:43 “Flor do agreste“… just super, with great energy for the playing from every member of the group!  I expect you’ll hear a lot more from this talented player over the next year or so, particularly when the promoters & DJ’s listen to tunes like my personal favorite, the git-down & funky “Moak”… all the instruments have a part on this 6:18 jazz gem, but it is the percussion that made it my personal favorite!  I give Guilhereme & his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this keeper!  Get more information on this fantastic player via his ALLMUSIC listing (I tried his website, but it wouldn’t come up).           Rotcod Zzaj

Al Muirhead – NORTHERN ADVENTURES; CANADA SESSIONS, VOL 1:  Al’s superbly mellow trumpet work is joined by an “A-list” of Canadian jazz players – Don Thompson (piano/bass); Reg Schwager (guitar); Guido Basso (trumpet/flugelhorn); Tommy Banks (piano); Laila Biali (vocals); Ben Wittman (percussion); Kodi Hutchinson (double bass); Mike Murley (saxophone); Chris Andrew (piano); Campbell Ryga (saxophone) and Mike Rud (guitar), in a set of a dozen great jazz tunes that will eat up your listening time (for a long time) after you get your initial listen.  Laila’s vocal on the classic “Night And Day” makes the purchase well worth it; full of life and so nicely complimented by the players!  I just loved the piano intro & the interaction between Al’s trumpet on “How Insensitive“… totally cool tune that will be getting played on “repeat” many times.  Of the twelve tracks offered up for your jazz enjoyment, it is “Come Rain Or Come Shine” that got my vote for personal favorite… truly one of the best (& laid-back) performances I’ve (ever) heard of this great song.  I give Al & his musical cohorts a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this fine release.   Get (much) more information on Al’s page for this album.       Rotcod Zzaj

Norbert Stachel – SHADES OF THE BAY:  If you’re lookin’ for somethin’ that will make ya’ shake yer’ hips, & GET hip… you’ll just HAVE to get Norbert’s great sax and flute work in your library… you can’t help but think “Tower of Power”, but the riffs & rockin’ rolls that Norbert provides on tunes like the high-energy opener, “Crawdaddy Dance“, will let you know that his is a unique musical energy & talent (Peter Horvath’s organ on this tune is KILLER; you can find the list of the rest of the players on Norbert’s discography); the track is only 4:26, so be sure to setup for “repeat play” if you’re inclined to funk ’round yer’ living room, lol.  If you want funky, down & dur-tee blooz, you’ll fall in love (in the immediate) with the ultra-cool “sua-ve” on “Last Minute Blues“… Norbert & his katz rip th’ room up & tear down that phroggin’ roof on this superbly bouncy number.  All the rest of the ten tunes offered up are “right on time”, but my personal favorite is the powerful “Mandela“; some wonderfully engaging flute from Norbert on this tune, & the percussion is supreme!  I give Norbert & his players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this fully funk-certified album.  Get more information about Norbert & his inspiring music on Norbert’s website.         Rotcod Zzaj


 David Singley – GOOD HOPE:  I’m not sure exactly why, but this is my first encounter with David’s excellent jazz guitar work… smooth and flowing, as you’ll hear on songs like the most comforting “Metamora“… loved this one, & find myself hitting repeat on the track quite often.  The title tune, “Good Hope“, is also in a very laid-back mood; kind of like a country song, rhythm-wise, but it definitely stays in the jazz realm, & morphs into one of the most solid guitar solos you’ve ever heard!  David has performed with many great players… all the way from Bob Brookmeyer, George Shearing, & James Moody to Perry Como, Debbie Reynolds andShari Lewis & Lambchop… talk about “diversity”.  My personal favorite of the eight pieces offered up is “Inside The Mobius“… lots of fantastic “swirly” things going on, and the beat is top-dollar – very impressive!  I give David a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all listeners who must have some amount of great jazz guitar in their daily musical doses, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  You can get more information about this high-talent, high-energy jazzer at the David Singley website.         Rotcod Zzaj


Heidi Anne Breyer – LETTERS FROM FAR AWAY:  Firstly, I must apologize to Heidi (who has been reviewed here a couple of times before, with my first review being in issue # 109) for the long delay in getting ’round to reviewing this January 2015 release… she got high marks from me in both of the other reviews, and on this double-CD release, the ratings soar!  What makes this album so enjoyable is that she plays “instrumental” on one CD, and “solo” on the other.   This provides the listener with beautiful contrasts between the two styles of playing.  The player list for the non-solo versions is far too long to list here, but you can read it on the liner notes page for the album.  As you listen to pieces like “1960“, you will be just as mightily impressed as I was with the breadth and depth of her marvelous ability to integrate her magical piano playing in with the other instruments.  Since there are a total of 22 compositions on the album, I won’t list each one, but my personal favorite was the instrumental version of the awe-inspiring “Touchstone“… if you’re a piano lover, you won’t be able to stop listening to this tune (or the others for that matter); the pacing and timing are PERFECT!  I give Heidi and her bandmates a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this very enjoyable musical adventure.  You can get more information at the Heidi Breyer WEBSITE.         Rotcod Zzaj



Anaya Music – ETERNITY:  If we get to spend the hereafter listening to beautiful piano, harp and string music like Anaya performs on this very refreshing acoustic adventure, it will be worth any trials or tribulations we had to put up while in this earthly sphere. Every note is beauty, especially on tunes like the wonderful “New Skies“… intriguing sounds from nature are woven in to make your experience even more enjoyable, too.  It’s unfortunate that the album is only 32:52; it would be nice to have closer to an hour to partake of her soulful playing.  That’s only a minor criticism, though… as you listen to my personal favorite of the seven compositions offered up (and also the longest piece, at 6:38), “Gaia“, you will realize that you are listening to a master – & all you need do is hit repeat (on this song, or any of the others that catch your fancy) again & again.  I give Anaya a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 for this release.  Get more information on Anaya’s website.    Rotcod Zzaj

Louis Colaiannia – FOUR DAYS IN MY LIFE:  Louis’s piano work is always welcome here for review, and this beautiful ten-track set is among his best… just listen to pieces like the beautiful and calming “By The Sea“, and you’ll hear why I say that.  This round focuses on piano, though there are some strings woven in by the legendary Will Ackerman and his folks.  He wrote most of these pieces while on the Oregon coast, and his impressions of that beautiful country (& I know, because it’s just down the road from my home) are both intriguing and captivating.  The simple opening piano lines on “Starry Night” are thoroughly complimented by bass, strings and some great percussion… a very soulful piece of music that I listen to over & over again.  It is the opening track, “Aurora’s Light“, that got my vote for personal favorite, even though it is one of the shorter tracks (4:19)… full-bodied keyboards with excellent recording.  I give Louis a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any listeners who love piano accompanied by various instruments.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at Louis’s website.          Rotcod Zzaj

Gene Ess – ABSURDIST THEATER:  I’ve reviewed a ton of Gene’s fabulous jazz guitar work, all the way from “straight-ahead”, to “a bit out there”; this September 2016 release goes in a decidedly different direction from most of the work I’ve heard him do to date.  He’s joined by an absolutely stellar crew of musicians (Thana Alexa – Voice, Lyrics; Manuel Valera – Piano, Keyboards; Yasushi Nakamura – Acoustic and Electric Bass; Clarence Penn – Drums), and as you listen to Thana’s beautiful vocals on “Jade Stones“, you’ll hear (right away) that Gene’s compositions on this outing are much more “in the ether” than those earlier albums I reviewed (most recently in issue # 156)… I just love her vocals on this one, and all the players are tightly woven together – truly professional jazz!  Great attention to detail has been paid on each of the pieces, but I found “Out of the Ashes” to be one of the most emotive of the eight pieces offered up… the intricacy of the piano together with the vocal will lead you to the sublime.  From a jazz guitar standpoint, though, the clear winner for my personal favorite on the album is the 8:38 “Circe’s Compassion“… jazz that’s truly full of the beauty (and sadness) of life.  I give Gene & his compatriots a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this splendid release.  Get more information about this engaging guitarist on Gene’s bio page.         Rotcod Zzaj


Elektra Kurtis and Ensemble Elektra – BRIDGES FROM THE EAST:  Elektra’s jazz violin work is more like a super-highway than a bridge… comparisons are impossible to make, as her work is decidedly her own, as you’ll hear on the stunning 4:03 opener, “Triton“… a rousing entrance for the Greek sea god on this high-energy piece!  It is definitely her wisdom in rhythmical structure, and flawless execution of it on tunes like “334” that make her an “instant hit” here at Zzaj Productions; Ms. Kurtis shines brilliantly on this powerful song!  The bass is heavy on the intro, and the spoken-word snatches are superb on “Like Rocks“… many who have been reading this magazine for a while know that I am a big fan of spoken-word, and this is among the best I’ve heard in the last several years.  Of the sixteen marvelous pieces offered up for your inspiration and listening enjoyment, it is “Kalamatianos” that gets my vote for personal favorite… again, most scintillating rhythms, with a taste of many cultures!  I give Elektra a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this powerful album.  Get more information at Elektra’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj


Sound Underground – QUIET SPACES:  The most striking aspect of this high-talent trio (David Leon – alto saxophone; Alec Aldred – trumpet & flugelhorn; Jonah Udall – guitars) is their exuberance, though I expect it goes with the territory – very young & full of energy for well-composed & well-played jazz!  As you listen to the oddly-titled “Horseback In Faded Grey“, you’ll know that you are listening to the jazz players of tomorrow – now; their pacing is perfect, & they have every note right in it’s proper place!  It’s a strange juxtaposition of instruments, but it works well, especially on songs like (the longest on the album, clocking in at 6:55) “Me Vs. Me“… lots of room for each player to speak to you, and they do it with a laid-back, almost bluesy, groove that will enchant you for the long-term.  My personal favorite of the thirteen tunes offered up, though, is the 5:39 “Trio Tune For Tal”… the guitar and the horns are blended together in a sweet way, and this will bring out emotions you didn’t even realize were lurking.  I give David, Alec & Jonah a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this excellent release.  You can get more information about the group on the Sound Underground bio page.         Rotcod Zzaj

Sergio Pereira – SWINGANDO:  I absolutely love Sergio’s high-spirited Latin jazz guitar work on this new 2017 release!  He’s joined by a cast of players far too long to itemize here, so check the album page to get those details (Many of these famous players have been reviewed here, as well). Just listen to the blending of vocals in, around & through Sergio’s guitar on “Chega Ai“, and you’ll know you’re in the presence of a true Brazilian jazz master (our dearly departed musical friend George Duke would have loved this)!  The only critique is that it would have been nice to have a full 60 minutes; maybe on the next release.   If you’re looking for something with a bit more laid-back feeling, you’ll definitely be groovin’ smoothly on “Leblon“… Sergio’s guitar on this one is highlighted, and it’s genuinely soothing for the soul.  He first started playing at the tender age of 8, and his many years of experience just shine through on my personal favorite of the seven songs offered up, “My Girls Mix“… beautiful vocal, and all the other instruments will make your jazz day, I’ve no doubt.  I give Sergio and his high-talent players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this great jazz experience.  Get more information on Sergio’s Republic of Jazz page.            Rotcod Zzaj


Scott Reeves Jazz Orchestra – PORTRAITS AND PLACES:  Wow!  Players keep “coming back”, now that I’ve been at this for a good while (I first reviewed Scott’s work in a quintet setting, way back in issue 89).  This March 2016 release is his first recording as a jazz big band leader, and he nails it, no doubt!  Just listen to the lovely “Aquas de Marco” to hear how powerful Scott’s conducting, arranging &* alto flugelhorn work are… exciting also, because he’s woven some beautiful vocal work in, around & through the changes that abound… one of the best Latin-influenced jazz pieces I’ve heard in a long time.  If you’re looking for something that will make you get up & dance the whole night long, you’ll totally dig “3 ‘N 2‘… super high-energy and power on this great tune.  The totally cool fluidity on the opener, “The Soulful Mr. Williams“, made it my personal favorite of the eight offered up… no question that “soul” runs rampant through this splendid track.  I give Scott and his players (list is way too long, so check it out at the Origin Arts page) a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this cutting edge big band sound.  Get more information on the aforementioned page for Origin Arts.         Rotcod Zzaj

Glauco Lima – ONCE UPON A TIME:  Glauco’s jazz piano work will be a (totally) new experience for your ears… there is often a tendency for jazz pianists to try to “play like someone else”, but his strident style shows both his classical and jazz roots on all of the songs he offers up for your adventuresome ears… and he doesn’t just stick to straight-piano keyboards… the electrifying Rhodes-like sound he uses on “Sevenk” is just superb, and shows his diversity without question, and his players (Saxophone-Livio Almeida; Bass-Eduardo Belo; Drums-Joao Mota) on this track are jazz professionals through & through!  Tunes like the 6:35 “Wave” (Jobim) reflect an ultra-cool energy and fresh approach that you don’t always hear these days in jazz.  I’m impressed, and will predict that this release will make him much more familiar to you over the coming months & years.  It is the 7:12 “Ababacabe“, a Glauco original, that I fell totally in love with right away, and he’s joined by bassist John Patitucci; this is definitely my personal favorite of the eight songs offered up… lots of rhythm changes, yet the clear beat of life keeps moving you to new places.  I give Glauco and crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this fine release.  Get more information about him on Glauco’s bio page.         Rotcod Zzaj


Phill Fest – THAT’S WHAT SHE SAYS:  Phill got good marks from me in an earlier review of his excellent jazz guitar work (issue # 137).  That album was more “blues-oriented”, while this March 2015 release is closer to fusion jazz.  As you listen to ultra-cool Latin-based pieces like the wonderful “Frajola“, it will be easy for you to realize why I dig his style in a big way… loved the integration of vocals and harmonica (Hendrik Muerkens, one of my favorite jazz harp players).  Though this is a “catch-up” review from the huge stack of CD’s that have been waiting, I’m sure you’ll agree that Phill’s playing easily falls into the “timeless jazz” category, especially when you listen to songs like the fluidly moving “Chora Baiao“… this piece is a perfect example of why Latin jazz is among the best on the planet.  In the end-run, though, it was the superb percussion on the 6:01 “Guararapes” that captured my vote for personal favorite of the ten tracks offered up… wow, this music MOVES!  I give Phill and his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this splendid album.  You can get more information on this fine artist at Phill’s website.         Rotcod Zzaj


Simon Frick – SIMON FRICK SOLO:  Hardcore old-school jazzheads may not enjoy this as deeply as I did… Simon does solo violin with heavy effects, and coaxes very interesting sonic visions on this May 2015 album.  One thing that’s very different about his playing style is that once a song starts – it doesn’t stop until the end!  Just listen to the full-blown orchestral-sounding “Internal Bleeding” to get a hint at how able Simon is at pulling your emotions right up to the top of your being and making them real again; tasty, tasty indeed!  His use of “different-sounding” violin & effects is very pleasant to listen to on pieces like “Atwa” (until he gets to the “power” sections of the tune, where he reminds you that his creativity is a force to be reckoned with).  Great recording, and talent beyond measure… my personal choice for favorite of the dozen tunes offered up is the roiling (almost metal-like) “Human“… tension and release, indeed… at 7:59, the composition gives him plenty of room for twists and turns, and you’ll find yourself coming back to listen to this one over & over again.  Simon’s playing does require a desire for hearing something different than the norm, but that’s what makes it so attractive (for this writer, anyway).  I give him a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this very creative release.  You can get more information on his page for this album.            Rotcod Zzaj  


Billy Lester – UNABRIDGED:  it’s been a long time since I reviewed Billy’s fantastic jazz solo piano work (the last review was in issue # 134).  On this May 2015 release, he again proves himself as a master of the keyboards – in a BIG way!  If you’re not sure about that – go LISTEN to “Jamba Swing“… rills & riffs like you’ve never heard before, and if you’re a totally dedicated fan of piano adventure, you won’t be able to stop listening to his timeless playing.  If you look up the definition for “unabridged”, you’ll realize that this is a perfect title for his album… “complete, entire, uncut”… this is raw playing purely for the pleasure it can bring (for both the player and the listener).  One of the oddest blues I’ve ever heard is Billy’s “Blues for Charlie Christian“… odd because it’s not at all what you would expect a blues to be – yet it clearly IS blues, with lots more notes than you’re used to hearing.  “Spontaneous” is the best word to describe what he’s doing, I believe; and that’s especially true on my personal favorite of the eight tunes offered up, the 6:06 “Spree–Ing“… I give Mr. Lester a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this adventurous album.  You can learn more about this fascinating player by reading Billy’s bio.        Rotcod Zzaj


Federico Britos – HOT CLUB OF THE AMERICAS:  Federico’s highly accomplished violin leads this splendid excursion into Latin jazz on his April 2015 release… I had listened to it initially, but got caught up in personal concerns, and only now have I had a chance to sit down and seriously listen to Federico’s genius on this dozen-song album.  You’ll definitely hear similarities to Grapelli, especially when you realize that he has included famous guests like Gonzalo Rubalcba, Giovanni Hidalgo, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Hendrik Meurkens, Antonio Adolfo, many of whom have been reviewed here before.  I just loved the liltingly smooth energy on “J’attendrai” (featuring Hendrik), and have no doubt you will, too.  The string intro on “I’m Confessin’ That I Love You“, and the piano work will make you think you’re sitting in one of those smoky nightclubs (that I used to frequent)… beautiful!  Since I always listen for the really high-energy tuneage with stronger leanings towards jazz, it was easy to declare the percussion-laden “Dark Eyes” as my personal favorite… I could (and have) listen to this for days.  I give Federico and his band a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 for this fine album.  Get more information about this high-talent band at the Hot Club of the Americas band website.          Rotcod Zzaj


Steve Cromity – ALL MY TOMORROWS:  Steve’s second CD, released in March 2015, is being reviewed as a “catch-up”… but, his jazz vocals on these standards is still right at the top of the heap!  You’ll agree as you listen to his soulful singing on great tunes like the bewitching “Sugar“… his vocal style is very much “up-front”, and full of the soul that makes jazz my choice in music (every time)!  The killer musicians he has backing him up (Kenyatta Beasley, trumpet; Patience Higgins, flute, tenor sax, and soprano; Eric Wyatt, tenor sax; Marcus Parsiani, piano; Eric Lemon, bass; and Darrell Green, drums) make this an “alive” set that you’ll keep coming back to, no doubt!  He doesn’t stick to just one-style singing, either… his love for bossa shines right on through on “My Little Boat“.  There are so many jazz vocalists out there that it’s often hard for them to get good marks & ratings from me, but as Steve demonstrates on my personal favorite of the ten tracks offered up, “How Little We Know”, with the excellent bass going on down under his voice, he’s far above the rest!  I give Steve a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information on Steve’s website.         Rotcod Zzaj

Keri Johnsrud – THIS SIDE OF MORNING:  As most of you know, I kinda’ “fell behind” back in 2015 & 2016 on my reviewing (due to a very invasive operation), so there are still a lot of albums backed up in my queue… but I’ve always been dedicated to reviewing EVERYTHING I accept for review.  Keri’s wonderful April 2015 release certainly merits high marks, I’ll tell you… as I listen to the high-energy opener, “From Here“, I’m more than “just impressed”; she gets every note “on the mark”, and will transport you into an etherspace you didn’t even know existed.  Her all-original lyrics are packed with meaning for every listener, and her backing players (Kevin Bales on piano/rhodes; Larry Kohut on upright bass; Neal Alger on guitar; Jon Deitemyer doing drums; and Stephen Lynerd on vibes) shine most brightly, especially on tunes like the lilting “If and When“!  Of the ten tunes offered up for your jazz listening pleasure, though, it is the jump&funk on the closer, “The Chameleon“,  that just floored me, and easily won my vote as personal favorite… Keri’s scat/technique and energy are clear and apparent on this great tune.  I give Keri and her players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this fine release.  You can get more information, and listen to samples, on Keri’s page for this sonic adventure.          Rotcod Zzaj

Lawson Rollins – 3 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT:  If your ears are thirsting for swirling guitar work that will thrill your heart and bring you up out of whatever funky mood you’re in – Lawson’s new (January 20th, 2017) release is just perfect for doing that… as you listen to songs like the ultimately cool “Light The Way“, you will be sated in your thirst.  Lawson is certainly no stranger here; I’ve reviewed a lot of his work, most recently in issue #155, where he got high marks (as he always does).  He calls his compositions “multicultural”, and that reality can certainly be heard in full force on the high energy “Driving Force“!  He’s joined by Dominic Camardella (piano, Rhodes, Hammond organ), Dave Bryant (drums & percussion), Randy Tico (bass), Charlie Bisharat (violin, viola), Stephen Duros (drum programming), and Forrest Marquisee (pedal steel)… all recorded very professionally by Sahin Shahidal.. and it’s clear just how much these folks love playing together on my personal favorite of the twelve tunes offered up, “Eternal“, a beautiful piece that will draw all your emotions forth, and fill you with the joy of your most urgent pursuits.  I give Lawson & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this fantastic album.  Get more information, listen to samples and watch videos of the recordings on Lawson’s page for this release.        Rotcod Zzaj

Popa Chubby – THE CATFISH:  Ev’ry once’t in a blue moon, a submission from an Indie promoter just ROCKETS to the top of my personal charts; & such (definitely) happened with this November 2016 release from the artist known as Popa Chubby, born Ted Horowitz!  It’s good ol’ rawkin’ BLOOZ, & Popa GOT da’ goodz, folks… his guitar on tunes like “Cry Till It’s A Dull Ache“, not to mention his KILLER vocal work on the tune, will take ya’ right back to the ROOTS of what the blues is really all about!  If yer’ lookin’ for somethin’ to git yo’ “git on” with (i.e., dance ’round th’ floor), you’ll just LOVE Going Downtown See My Old Gal Sue“… this stuff don’t come from “deep deliberation”… it comes right from th’ GUT!  There was no doubt in my mind, though, as to the track I’d pick as personal favorite… hands-down, it is “Blues for Charlie” that got picked… in great part, that’s because of the guitar work, but the real deal is that this IS the “real deal”… I give Popa & crew (Bass – Matt Lapham; Drums – Dave Moore; Richard Monica; Guitar, Vocals, Percussion – Popa Chubby; Keyboards – Popa Chubby; Piano, Organ – Dave Keyes; Trumpet – Tipitina Horowitz and Vocals – Dave Keyes) a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this fine rawkin’ blues release.  Get more information at the Popa Chubby website.       Rotcod Zzaj

São Paulo Underground – CANTOS IVISIVEIS:  When I reviewed these players way back in issue # 135, I pointed out that despite the band name, which would indicate “Latin”, their music was not (at ALL) what you might think of when imagining Latin music… OTOH, they got great marks from me, because they are truly unique in their approach to what they term “trans-global” jazz; and it’s easy to verify how unique they are… just listen to “Cambodian Street Carnival” to get a taste of the ultimate melodic mayhem they are able to create (this one is a “slow build”, so you’ll need to listen to the entire 6:46 – preferably with your headphones on).  The players are quite a “mix” themselves… you’ve got Rob Mazurek (cornet, Mellotron, modular synthesizer, Moog Paraphonic, OP-1, percussion and voice); Mauricio Takara (drums, cavaquinho, electronics, Moog Werkstatt, percussion and voice) and Guilherme Granado (keyboards, synthesizers, sampler, percussion and voice), with guest Thomas Rohrer (rabeca, flutes, soprano saxophone, electronics, percussion and voice) on several tracks…. any way you listen to it, this is “different”… I give the band a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 for this most adventurous sonic event.  Get more information at their Bandcamp page for this album.        Rotcod Zzaj

Peter Kater – RESONANCE:  If your inner soul isn’t “shimmering” after you listen to Peter’s masterful contemporary piano work on this new 2016 release – you weren’t listening… SO, make sure you map out a full hour or so before you sit down to absorb his splendid work… as you listen to the wonderful string-wash intro on “Echo Inside“, you will find yourself contemplating your inner reaches and the possibilities that exist for the rest of your life!  It’s actually very important in times as troubled as those we live in right now to find something sonic you can anchor to, and Peter’s work is clearly memorable and timeless.  I’ve reviewed him many times here, most recently in one of my “Special reviews“, and can tell you that he is among the artists I consider to be capable of healing hearts.  In that regard, my personal favorite from this newest album is the totally inspirational “Rebirth“… high-talent artists like this don’t cross your path often in this life, so take advantage of this beautiful sonic adventure as soon as you can… you can learn more on Peter’s New Earth Records page for the album; I truly loved this one, and give Peter a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for the release.         Rotcod Zzaj

Matt Venuti – THE RHYTHM OF LIFE:  Though this is my first listen to Matt’s wonderful percussion work… he’s actually a multi-instrumentalist (in a BIG way), having started on piano at an early age, and then switching over to the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument), and his solid skills at composition make his music easy to “grok”, as you’ll hear on tunes like the 5:03 “Loosen the Grip“!  Many albums that feature multi-instrumentalists seem to be all-too easy to “classify” & place in their “proper” cubicle, but that’s not so (in the least) with Matt’s music – as you’ll hear on the splendid opening track, “A Place to Breathe“… I just totally dig on his opening line on this track “Don’t need more words”… which is very true in the case of this song; it says it all in/of itself.  My personal favorite of the ten pieces offered up, though, is the 5:50 “Desert Dreams“… his weave of flutes, percussion and superb spoken word will stay in my mind for the entire year (& longer, I expect).  I give Matt a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this fine musical adventure.  To learn more about this very interesting creative, visit Matt’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Deuter – IMMORTELLE:  The song titles are healing plant names; Deuter is a very talented multi-instrumentalist/artist who is fully capable of healing with his music… I’ve reviewed his work several times already, most recently in issue # 160, and I have no doubt that you will be listening to him over and over again, especially on tunes like the beautiful “Lily of the Valley“… he has a very unique way of leading in to a song that captures your ears and won’t let go until the conclusion of the tune (& then the next one; & the next one) – you’ll even get to hear him do a tad of vocal work.  The “haunting” quality on the strings for the introduction to “Sonnenbraut” is truly among the best I’ve ever heard (and as most of you reading this know, that’s saying something, because I listen to a LOT of music)… and when the bass/percussion kicks in, it’s easy to realize that this is my personal favorite of the eight long tunes offered up!  I give Deuter a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this excellent album.  Get more information on Deuter’s page for this release.           Rotcod Zzaj

Uwe Gronau – PARADISE PAINTING:  It’s not been that long since I reviewed a project from this prolific keyboardist/composer… issue # 160 was the last review, but you can just do a SEARCH to find all the others (& there are many) I’ve reviewed by him!  The “thrust” on this new one is ever-so-slightly more towards the “New Age” side of things, but Uwe’ really knows how to GET DOWN, too… just check out one of my favorites of the thirteen dynamic tunes offered up, “Prophecy“… this certainly brings to mind the dire warnings of folks like Nostradamus, and will hold you spellbound for the entire 4:01 length (but be sure you listen to this with your HEADPHONES on – at least for the first sitting)!  The funky beats on “Carpe Diem” will have you up & slidin’ ’round th’ room in only seconds… kinda’ like a 21st Century Ramsey Lewis feel – lovin’ it.  When it comes to music that defies categorization, Mr. Gronau is a total master – and nothing proves that more than my personal favorite track on this release, the gently swaying “Sounds Like A Smell“… as always, I’m captivated by the creativity Uwe offers up… he gets another MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this fine album.  Get more information on Uwe’s page for the CD.         Rotcod Zzaj

Rich Halley 4 – CREATING STRUCTURE:  I’ve been an avid fan of Rich’s albums ever since he first started sending them… this high-energy 2015 release featured features trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, bassist Clyde Reed and drummer Carson Halley in addition to Rich’s scorching sax work, and it’s one of those that just “won’t quit” if what you’re looking for is free-float gruop improvisations… absolute KILLER music!  As you listen to the “sneaky” bass opening on “Echoes of the South Side“, you’ll realize (right away) why I fell in love with Rich’s music from the very first disc he sent me for review.  The other thing that’s ultra-neat is that you get sixteen full-blown songs… one of my favorite improvs (all time) is the oddly titled “Rain Percolates Laterite“… you’ll be a-bubbling after listening to this very unique tune!  Unfortunately, despite the relatively short distance, I haven’t been able to make it down to Portland, where Rich & his crew are based, but if I ever get down that way, I’ll be hoping they perform tunes like my personal favorite on this release, the bass-driven “Street Rumors”… at 6:08, it’s one of the longest songs on the album, and gives you a perfect view of the “street” (no matter what city you live in).  I give Rich & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this great release.  Get more information, and listen to samples, on the CD Baby page for this album.        Rotcod Zzaj

Anna Webber’s Simple Trio – BINARY:  Something I can guarantee you, if you’re into music that has an “edge”, and “takes no prisoners”… Anna’s reed and flute work on this fantastic October 2016 release just NAILS that!  You’ve never heard sweeter “deconstructed” jazz than “Impulse Purchase“, and she easily captures the feeling that goes along with the title of the song… what’s clear from this 14:30 opus is that the players (John Hollenbeck on drums and Matt Mitchell on piano) haven’t forgotten the “prime directive” when it comes to jazz/music – HAVE FUN!  Despite the title – “Underhelmed” – you’ll be simply FLOORED after listening to this raucous and far-ranging 5:43 piece… don’t try to listen to this when driving, or you’ll be picked up for sure, lol.  She actually used the Internet (using sites that turn words into drumbeats), but this certainly is not “just another” hacked-together piece with no real players… ’tis most assuredly “real music”, though if you’re still stuck in the 19th Century definition of what “good jazz” is, you may opt out.  My personal favorite of the dozen tracks offered up is actually the title track, “Binary“, which intros with a very cool piano solo, but has a totally cool “slow-build” to total madness & insanity… loved this tune!  I give Anna and her musical pals a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this most interesting album.  Get more information at the Skirl Records page for this release.            Rotcod Zzaj

Cameron Mizell – NEGATIVE SPACES:  Some wonderful and stimulating jazz guitar from Cameron on this fine October 2016 release… he’s joined by keyboardist Brad Whiteley and drummer Kenneth Salters, and you’ll hear (right away) just how well-acclimated the players are with each other, especially on tunes like the rock-like “Yesterday’s Trouble“… definitely a “sneak & creep” feel that’s perfect for listening (at full volume) as you cruise on down th’ road on yer’ Harley!  One of the most notable things about the group’s style is that they know how to “play the silent spaces” better than many others… & that’s best-evidenced on pieces like the laid-back, but ever-building energy you’ll hear on “Clearing Skies“… there’s no rush to judgement here, only pure (& heartfelt) playing that will easily take your ears hostage for the entire 7:39 length (the longest track on the album).  Of the dozen songs offered up, though, it was the dow-un & funky “Barter” that got my vote for personal favorite… the “hints” of organ from Brad are just superb on this track, & Cameron’s guitar is strident all the way through.  I give Cameron & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 for this fine album.  Get more information on the Destiny Records website.          Rotcod Zzaj

Nick Sanders & Logan Strosahl – JANUS:  A truly simple configuration, with Nick’s piano meshing very nicely with Logan’s alto/tenor saxophones on this October 2016 release that’s sure to capture your ears, as it did mine.  You’ll hear their talent immediately on the splendid opener, “Sigma“… excellent pacing, with nothing rushed, yet there’s a sense of immediacy that will keep you focused on their playing… one of the better duet tunes I’ve heard in 2016.  Another nice thing about their music is that they don’t confine themselves to any particular time period or genre, as you’ll realize when you listen to their beautiful rendition of “Old Folks“… their timing together is perfect, and every note is recorded flawlessly.  Logan’s composition on the title track, “Janus“, though short (3:38), uses wildly fluctuating time signatures to achieve a very lively session… loved this tune.  It was the 4:25 “Thelonious” that got my vote for personal favorite of the dozen songs offered up, though… they just ROCK this one out… superb and fresh jazz that every aficionado will want in their collection.  I give Nick & Logan a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this fine album.  Get more information on the Sunnyside Records page for the release.        Rotcod Zzaj

Luis Perdomo – MONTAGE:  This reviewer is a sucker for any well-played, high-talent, piano work… some of that has to do with my own experiences on keyboards (I released over 60 albums on which I played keyboards – “back in the day”, so to speak).  My player friend, Mimi Jones, sent me this CD of his fantastic CD work, and it only took a quick listen to tunes like “Monk’s Dream” to realize just how skilled he is!  In fact, here’s a live performance of these two magical musicians for you to “catch their vibe”:

Luis’s “Montage” album, though, is a different story… totally solo, with some of the finest piano improvisations you’ll ever listen to!  It will only take one listen to pieces like the strident “Mambo Mongo” to hear his mastery… of course, I’m hoping that Luis (& maybe Mimi as well) will do a “Left Coast tour”, so that I might get to meet these fantastic players.  My personal favorite of the fifteen solid piano works that Luis presents is also the longest on this album… “The Boundary Law” is full of chord changes and colorful passages that will delight your ears and bear out the title of the album… artful pieces tied together to make true sonic art.  I give Luis my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as a (perfect) “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00… meaning that he also gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best jazz solo piano”.  Get more information about this superb player at Luis’s website.          Rotcod Zzaj


Non Stop – ANCIENT CURRENTS:  & that’s just what guitarist extraordinaire John L. Holmes and high-talent keyboardist Mike Friedman manage on this eleven song powerhouse of a release… “non-stop” musical adventure!  As you listen to the horns on the Latin-influenced “Beyond Blue Redux“, it will be clear that these are some totally talented players who are downright comfortable with each other!  All-original jazz that comes to you from the “other side” of my state, Washington (Walla Walla, to be specific).  Mike’s composition called “Holmesbrew” features some fantastic keyboard sounds, as well as high-end guitar and bass work, to be sure, and each of the players gets a chance to shine on this little 5:44 gem.  The “layered” guitars on the title track, “Ancient Currents“, will catch your ear & hold on; in fact, you’ll find yourself hitting the replay or repeat button often on this great track.  Of the eleven songs offered up, though, it was the high-energy performance on “Long Gone” that got my vote for personal favorite… strong blues influences, & heavy on the horn section, too – I loved this song!  I give John & the rest of the players in Non Stop a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) of 4.99 for this stellar release.  Get more information, listen to samples, & purchase at the Non Stop Bandcamp page for this release.          Rotcod Zzaj


Heather Houston – PRAYERS FOR THE WATER:  It’s very easy to imagine Heather’s excellent vocal work encouraging those who stood guard against the forces of the “Blue Meanies” at Standing Rock, especially on tunes like (her rendition of) “Wade In The Water“… she’s joined by some excellent players, too, like Todd Boston (guitar, multi-instrumentalist), and the length of this track (6:45) leaves plenty of room for each artist to contribute to the overall flow of the piece.  Her voice melts over the beautiful guitar on wonderful songs like “Surrender“, and she’ll have you enchanted by the first two bars of this wonderful song.  It’s too bad we can’t get a few of those “power brokers” in the Nation’s capitol to listen to this music… there’s no doubt in my mind that if they listened to the penetrating piano on my personal favorite of the nine songs offered up, “I Dreamed Of Rain“, we might get their backing for preserving our dwindling planetary resources… for me, this song best illustrated Heather’s magical vocal pacing at work.  I give her a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this fine album.  Get more information on Heather’s page for the album.        Rotcod Zzaj

Casey Golden Trio – MINIATURE:  Artists and promoters will tell you that it’s seldom I review “EP’s” here… I definitely prefer full album submissions, but when I listened to Casey’s superb piano work on this four-song album (most of them long, by the way), I made that rare exception.  As you scope out pieces like the dynamic 9:18 opener, “Miniature, Part I“, and hear just how intricately woven together the players are (Casey’s piano is joined by Bill Williams on bass and Ed Rodrigues on drums & percussion), you’ll hear why I added this album to the queue.  It’s quite clear that the trio enjoys playing together, especially on pieces like my personal favorite, “Miniature, Part III“; some very intricate sonic weaves here that will get your blood pumping & keep it at an accelerated rate, to be sure; some nice “extra” instruments are integrated into this segment of the composition, too.  The main critique I have is that this album is too short… next album needs to be at least eight songs, and spend at least a hookah or two creating more imaginative titles for the songs.  Nevertheless – this wouldn’t be in my queue if it wasn’t high-talent & high-energy… I give it a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information on Casey’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

B’shnorkestra – GLOBAL CONCERTOS:  One thing I know I can count on when the music is created by Samantha Boshnack is that it will be totally “new”, and not anything I’ve heard before (except maybe in some of my wilder dreams).  I’ve reviewed her work in several different contexts, but in this “B’shnorkestra” configuration, my most recent review was in issue # 135.  What you will find and hear in these five extended original compositions (from live performances, by the way) is a well-formed and well-thought out set of modern “chamber music”… but, it’s not boring, or plodding, or any of those terms that are often associated with the genre.  On pieces like “Concerto for Julio“, you will hear some of the “sneakiest” piano licks ever, and she has all the other players (the list is too long, so check it out on her Bandcamp page) totally engaged in glorious and inspiring rhythms that are definitely leaning towards the jazz side of things… with some “changes” your ears will find hard to believe.  Of the five compositions, though, it was the wonderfully upbeat “Concerto for Talking Drum” that got my vote for personal favorite… you will hear Gypsy caravans, Hollywood horns and some of the most energetic up-front percussion that’s ever been recorded.  I give Samantha and her “B’shnorkestra” a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  You can get more information and purchase the album via the aforementioned Bandcamp page.        Rotcod Zzaj

Szilard Mezei Septet – CET:  If your ears are in an adventurous mood, and you’re looking for music that’s totally “out of the norm” – you MUST get this one!  I reviewed Szilard’s music way back in issue # 143, and he got high marks for his work with the International Improvisor’s Ensemble, and this latest (2016) release is even more exciting!  The one critique is that the artist’s that make up the group aren’t listed anywhere (that I can find)… not even on the Odradek Records label page for the release.  Minor critique, though, because as you listen to tunes like the high-energy and oddly-rhythmed “Hep 13“, you will know that you are in the presence of pure musical genius… and since it clocks in at 12:00, there is room for each player in the seven-member septet to express their sheer and unadulterated joy at playing – too COOL, folks!  My personal favorite of the seven long compositions offered up (none are under 6:00) is the rhythmically driven “Szil/Elm“… full-bodied, it’s like an “orchestral improv” session, & I just loved listening to it (over & over again, I might add).  I give Szilard and his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this fantastic musical adventure.  Get more information on the aforementioned label page.        Rotcod Zzaj