Issue 126 reviews

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Our latest reviews for your reading and listening pleasure!!!

Matthew Montfort – SYMPATHETIC SERENADE:  Out of several takes Matthew sent me, I’ve chosen the “long version” to review for this mini-EP… he plays this on scalloped fretboard guitar (check the cover) and (as always) does a truly marvelous job of wrapping the listener into the spell he casts.  Just click on the link above to hear what he’s doing… actually, there are no CD’s being manufactured for this track, as it’s a purely digital release (now, that’s something I feel (at least) partially responsible for, by the way… I’ve been encouraging players from around the globe to “do it digitally” for many many years now).  Any way you get the tune, I strongly encourage you to do so…. this is some of the most beautiful work you’ll hear in 2012.  He gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information on this project and on Matthew at his ANCIENT FUTURE site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Cory Wong – QUARTET/QUINTET:  This young jazz guitarist is among the best I’ve heard all year, whether in quartet or quintet formation.  Firm aural evidence of that is available on “Vapors“, one of my favorite of the 16 offered up on this double-CD.  The energy, as well as the recording, is so “on” you’ll think you’re listening to a group who has been playing together for over 30 years.  I actually found the quintet portion of the CD to be more captivating, probably because it’s got some truly “down” & “funky” songs in more of the rock/jazz category… like “Approach“… man, this thang RAWKZ (it’s my favorite tune on the CD)!  You just won’t find more pulse-pounding high-energy playing than Cory & his crews put down for your enjoyment.  I give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00 (that’s the highest one can get here), & the “PICK” of this issue for “best guitar-jazz group”.  Get more information at Cory’s site.     Rotcod Zzaj

Cuong Vu – VU-TET:  There are several “extreme readers” in our audience – meaning that they just LOVE music like “Accelerated Thoughts” from this group!  I haven’t listened to anything quite as stimulating as what they’ve put together here in many years… players are Cuong Vu – trumpet; Chris Speed – tenor saxophone and clarinet; Stomu Takeishi – electric bass & Ted Poor – drums, & they be absolutely smokin’!  The entire 7-track epic is available at the TABLE 7 CHAIRS label (rapidly becoming one of our favorite labels, by the way).  They get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, especially for listeners who thirst for well-played improvisation.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.     Rotcod Zzaj

Juliann Kuchocki – BROKEN COMPASS:  When singers have a background in acting, they often come across in their vocals as “over-dramatic”, but Juliann is able to convey her passion for the music without hamming it up (at all)… check out one of my favorite tunes in the “laid-back & melancholy” category, “Missing“… not what I thought it would be at all, & she makes you FEEL IT!  Both the vocal and recording quality on each of the tracks is superb, but no more so than on gems like the groove-oriented “Like Mold- there’s some real “sting” to her message on this one and excellent musicianship behind her performance.  It was the boogie-like “15 Minutes” that captured my vote for favorite track; super energy.  I give Juliann & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Juliann’s site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Stephanie Nakasian – SHOW ME THE WAY TO GET OUT OF THIS WORLD:  Listeners in search of excellence in female jazz vocals will find this CD a marvelous addition to their collection… VERY high energy on the opener, “Lonesome Road“, with super depth to her vocal quality.  All kinds of variety in the 15 songs picked for your enjoyment.  I found lots to enjoy, but my absolute favorite was Stephanie’s “down home” rendition of “Times Are Gettin’ Tougher Than Tough… some excellent harmonica, & it’s easy to picture her as a gun moll with some Kansas City hood.  Perfect blend between the instruments and her incessant upbeat energy all the way through the album, whether it’s down&out or way-up-on-top.  I give this a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Stephanie’s web site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Larry Tarof – C IS FOR COSMOPOLITAN:  If your desire for fun piano playing is in high gear today, you’ll find this one enjoyable.  Larry pushes out 15 all-original compositions for you to enjoy.  He’s a local favorite in Ottawa, Canada & with this release, I’m sure his audience will grow larger.  What comes through clearly is that Larry just LOVES playing the keyboards… high energy and talent displayed on each trak, as with “Bellini!  Now, this isn’t “namby-pamby” piano, either… think more like your favorite lounge with a few friendly folks sitting ’round a hearth & hoisting a few along with Larry’s playing.  He gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who can’t do without a piano tune (or 15) daily… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at Larry’s site     Rotcod Zzaj

Ron Anderson/Robert L. Pepper/David Tamura/Philippe Petit – CLOSED ENCOUNTERS OF THE 4 MINDS:  If your mind is “closed” (in any sense of the word), you won’t find yourself enjoying pieces like the opener, “Untitled 1“… on the other hand, if your mind isn’t “open”, you probably aren’t here reading this anyway.  I.N. readers are known to be looking for “different”, & this live recording from 2010 is definitely in the “out zone”.  Lots of static overtones and carryovers from Ron’s electric guitar, plenty of tweet/whistle from David’s sax & Robert (Korg Ms 200/Electric Violin & Pilippe (turntables, electronics, etc.) will do a great job of wrecking your brain tunnels as they bore through your ears – this actually reminds me of some of the works Ernesto Diaz-Infante & I put together in the late ’90′s, albeit with better recording quality.  For improv/experimental fanatics, this gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED… for all “average listeners” – watch out!  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at the Public Eyesore site.     Rotcod Zzaj

Curtis Fuller (with Keith Oxman) – DOWN HOME:  If there’s one thing players from the old days like Curtis know how to do, it’s have FUN with the music… that’s nowhere more evident than on the rousing opener (& also the title track), “Down Home“… some truly sweet trombone this cat knows how to cajole your ears with – great jazz!  A total of ten juicy jazz solids for you to relish as tho’ you were at one o’ those “down home BBQ’s”, I’ll say.  From a jazzy blues perspective, it doesn’t get any finer than “C Hip’s Blues“… enough brass here to thrill you all the way home!  For your more solitary moments, you’ll dig down deep on tracks like Sadness and Soul“… sticks to your ribs with gusto.  I’m (as always) impressed by the total talent Curtis & crew display; it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the Capri label site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Hristo Vitchev & Weber Iago – THE SECRETS OF AN ANGEL:  This is the last CD in a (huge) package I received from guitarist Hristo (we will always welcome more from these folks)… the opener alone, “Waltz By Chance Alone“, makes the purchase well worth it – this song will get played over & over on your player!  Weber’s piano is in fine form throughout, but especially on the marvelous “When It Rains“; energy enough for 10 pianists on this one.  My personal favorite of the 8 compositions, though, is a two-parter titled “The Last Pirate“… Hristo’s guitar work shines, but is intricately meshed with Weber’s keyboard throughout!  If your interests in jazz listening run more towards introspective (yet pleasing) compositions, you’ll agree when I declare this one MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED; it gets an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Hristo’s website    Rotcod Zzaj

Nigel Potter – THE DISTANCE:  My friend Nigel has been punchin’ out progressive for many years now… I first met him on the (original) MIXPOSURE site & reviewed his works there, + a CD he released a couple of years later.  He’s clearly outdone himself on “The Distance” with deeply emotive tunes like “Shadowland“, one of the most powerful songs I’ve heard in the last five years (go on – CLICK on that link – you don’t want me to try & explain where Nigel’s power comes from, but his song (as well as his guitars) will tell you – in the IMMEDIATE moment!!!!).  My personal favorite track of the 11 Nigel included for my review was “Ghost In The Summer Fields“.. if Nigel’s well-spoken/sung words don’t capture your heart and make you look UP (somewhere) – you’re not going to (ever) GET UP!  Though prog-rock isn’t a constant here, Nigel’s music will stay on my player/lists for months/years to come!  I give him a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Nigel’s page on SOUNDCLICK.     Rotcod Zzaj

Lisa Hilton – AMERICAN IMPRESSIONS:  If “introspective”, “original” or “unique” are words that attract you to a players music in the immediate, you’ll find Lisa’s wonderful jazz piano to be all of that and more… particularly on tunes like the laid-back opener, “Too Hot“, a 4:35 gem that will spin over & over on your player.  She’s been reviewed here many times now, so be sure to search our back issues – a great creator & player.  I especially enjoyed the hustle/bustle on “Subway“… high spirit and total movement will capture your ears!  My pick for favorite, though, was the boogie-influenced “Underground“… totally expressive and full of great energy.  I give Lisa my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Lisa’s pages.      Rotcod Zzaj

Bruce Kaphan Quartet – BRUCE KAPHAN QUARTET:  What you’ll be able to say with complete certainty after listening to the fantastic pedal steel jazz that Bruce & cohorts perform for you on this CD is – you’ve never heard any jazz work like this before – totally unique style, with all the talent you could ever want.  “Been Here Soon” is among my favorite jazz tunes for the year 2012… melancholy with a sense of real hope, if you will.  The player list is significant; you can read it here!  My absolute favorite of the 11 tracks was Bruce’s interpretation of Zawinul’s “Birdland” – super energy and high talent are the hallmarks of significant players, & you can rest assured that you’ll be hearing much (MUCH) more from these folks!  I give Bruce’s quartet a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, particularly for those players who want to hear “unique”, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Bruce’s site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Ran Blake & Christine Correa – DOWN HERE BELOW:  If you’re a fan of “traditional” female jazz vocals, move on along… this CD between pianist/composer Ran and ocalist Cristine requires intense concentration… it’s their third CD together, and (just as on the earlier ones), it’s a gem for listeners who love hearing what can be created from artists who understand the dynamics of intricacy… one of the best tunes to realize just how complex their web can be is the beautiful “Freedom Day“… of the nine shiny gems offered up, this one spoke to me in a way that had it repeating on the playlist over & over again.  Both players truly understand that “loud” doesn’t (necessarily) equal “good”… they know how to use the quiet spaces to maximum effect.  So settle back & prepare for an album that comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Ran’s site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Gourmet (Mikko Innanen, sax; Esa Onttonen, guitar; Ilmari Pohjola, trombone; Veli Kujala, accordion; Petri Keskitalo, tuba; Mika Kallio, drums) – COSMOPOLITAN SIDESHOWIf your head is in musical “circus mode”, & you can’t get away from it, you’ll need a track like the rousing opener, “Ain’t Goin’ Back To Yuma” to calm you down, no doubt about it.  What Mikko & his marvelous crew prove beyond all doubt with the 15 tunes on this CD is that they know what the key ingredient for a great musical experience is – F-U-N!!!  Another totally engaging track is “Hindenberger Stomp“, where cowbell & tuba interactions will knock you right off your feet.  Personally, I have enjoyed the entire package of wonderment Mikko sent our way, & will look forward to many more from him!   I give the band a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for this one, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at the label site for the CD.     Rotcod Zzaj

Virginia Mayhew Quartet – MARY LOU WILLIAMS/THE NEXT 100 YEARS:  My listening experience(s) with Virginia’s sax work goes back years now… this latest effort puts her tenor right out in front of guitar from Ed Cherry, bass from Harvie S & drums from Andy Watson.  Obviously, it’s a tribute to Mary Lou Williams, and on tracks like th’ jumpin “Medi II“, you’ll get the kind of full-bore jazz you’re seeking.  There’s nothing “slick” about the music on this great CD, it’s all from the heart and fully engaging… check out “What’s Your Story, Morning Glory” if you’re looking for something a bit more laid-back.  From a purely jazz perspective, though, I found the track that kept popping back up on my playlists over & over was the rousing “One More For Mary Lou“… all the players are “on” with this tune… my absolute favorite!  I give Virginia & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at her website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Eric Erhardt – A BETTER FATE:  If tasty woodwinds are what turns your musical krank – you’re in for a real treat.  Eric (a veteran player/composer) has produced a superb 8-piece CD that will put you in “woodwind seventh heaven”, especially on tunes like the gentle & introspective “Ambivalence“… the keyword here is laid-back… 6:41 of pure bliss.  I also loved the intricate musical exchanges on “Powwow Now“… you’ll hear different things each time you listen to this 8:38 gem!  My personal favorite, though, was the closer, “Tyler Park“… this is truly one of the more “on” jazz compositions I’ve heard in 2012… it spins a lot on my ACER pad!  You’ll love the broad rhythmic brush Eric paints his sonics with… all the way from Brazilian to rock to 20th Century classical, it certainly merits the MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED I’ve given it, as well as an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97. It also gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best acoustic jazz fusion”.   Get more information at Eric’s website.      Rotcod Zzaj

Todd Boston – TOUCHED BY THE SUN:  Here’s another gem that’s been “touched” by the masterful guidance of Will Ackerman (you DO remember the Windham Hill label, right?)… Todd’s guitar work is rich and full in it’s own right, so I’m sure that made it all the easier for Will to produce; especially on tunes like (one of my favorites) “Twilight“… pure and gentle beauty for all ears to behold.  The chords/overtones on “Sol Rising” are sublime and will easily remind you of the gentle rising of the early morningMy personal favorite was the marvelous and intricate “Waves“… nothing short of wonderful, and with the kind of heartfelt playing that will touch even the hardest of hearts.  I give this one my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information on Todd’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Story City – TIME AND MATERIALS:  If you’re yearning for some well-evolved instrumental/jazz/rock, you’ll love this group.  There are just certain CD’s I get in which “automatically” creep to the top of my playlists for several weeks, & the opener, “Drake Place“, has stayed there for a couple of months now.. the keyword is “lively”!  The down & funky sax/keyboard intro on “Fitzwright Inn” made it another favorite, without doubt… it’ll have you up & groovin’ instantly, I’m sure.  It was the slow build on the 10:35 “Truth To Power” that won my vote as favorite of the 9 pieces offered up for your aural pleasure… there’s no doubt that these players have the power that music brings to lives ’round the planet.  Would I play this for the stodgiest of my relatives?  You bet… it would calm them & in some cases (like the sultry mystery & high energy of the closer, “Silent Joe” – super guitar & horn work on this track), groove ‘em!  I give these folks my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at their web pages.     Rotcod Zzaj

Mark Bruland – BEeing Human:  This is my first exposure to Mark’s splendid piano work… while it’s not strictly “jazz”, there are tasty hints of such in the mix… enough so that (combined with the obvious joy he has for playing) when you put it all together with his talent and skill at various instruments (piano, synths, guitars, bass & trumpet & lots more), you come out with some very pleasant listens from the 18 tracks he offers up for your ears.  I especially enjoyed tunes like the fairy-tale-like “Elk and Little G“… what’s really nice about his multi-instrumental work is that it doesn’t come across as “one guy trying to play everything” – if you’ve listened to many of those types of CD’s, you know that it often winds up without any quality at all… but as you scope out the beautiful synths on “No Matter What“, you’ll hear what I mean… tasty indeed!  Mark gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my old ears, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at Mark’s pages.     Rotcod Zzaj

Duke Ellington Legacy – SINGLE PETAL OF A ROSE:  Issue # 82 is where I was first exposed to the highly energetic music of D.E. Legacy, & here they are again with a fine release for July 2012.  Lots of brass & woodwind on cuts like “Johnny Come Lately“, & the percussion is fine on this tune, too… 10:55 moments of pure sonic pleasure.  For a slightly more mellow mood, I think you’ll enjoy the laid-back trombone & horn work on “Blood Count”… really nice music that jazz fans will engage with totally!  The svelte bass lines in “Upper Manhattan Medical Group” remind me of back alley jazz joints I used to roam back in the ’70′s… if you’re looking for something way cool to introduce a friend to jazz with, this is your ticket.  These folks got a fine rating from me earlier, & I’m telling you, you’ll be hearing lots more from them in the years to come… they get another MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at their website    Rotcod Zzaj

Jeff Hamilton Trio – RED SPARKLE:  Jeff’s red-hot jazz drum work is so familiar here that it’s always a treat to hear something new from him – & this CD is no different… pure pleasure, especially on tunes like the opener, “Ain’t That A Peach“… all the players (Jeff on drums, Christoph Luty on bass & Tamir Hendelman on keyboards) shine like fire!  The drum intro on Monk’s “Bye’ Ya” is absolutely “on time”, & Jeff’s drums are a highlight throughout the tune… one thing that must be said about this trio is that they never try & “outdo” each other – most pleasant for the listener, ‘coz all you have to do is enJOY the music!  My personal favorite of the 10 tracks was “Hat’s Dance“, featuring some wonderful interplay between Jeff’s drums & Tamir’s piano… this excellent jazz trio gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Jeff’s Trio page.     Rotcod Zzaj

Cristina Morrison – I LOVE:  Ooo… Oooo… what a lovely and creative jazz vocal excursion this is.  Cristina wrote the lyrics & did the vocals for this debut CD.. as you groove to tunes like the totally laid-back (yet upbeat at the same time) “Summer In New York“, you’ll realize that you’re being treated to something like you’ve never heard before.  She’s completely at ease with “gentle & lovely”, or “husky & full-bodied”.  The players she has with her are too numerous to itemize here, but she surely knows how to pick players who will be right “with her” on all 9 of the tracks.  The harp on the intro to “Stand Still” will lull you into thinking that this is to be a sad ballad… but Cristina grabs hold of it at at about 41 seconds & OWNS the groove!  My personal favorite was the down/funky “Red Mafia & Jass“… some smashing horns on this bluesy track.  I give Cristina & friends a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Cristina’s pages     Rotcod Zzaj

Tohpati Bertiga – RIOT:  We’ve reviewed Tohpati’s work on several CD’s (over the last 4 or 5 issues), & he’s a stellar player – no B.S., either… that’s not just reviewer hype.  As you scope the solos on the opener, “Upload“, you’ll understand (in the IMMEDIATE, folks) why I get excited every time I hear something new with this cat on it.  You don’t find this kind of high-energy creativity anywhere else on the planet right now… & if you’re looking for something just a tad more “cosmic”, you’ll love the 7:22 “Lost In Space“... it just doesn’t get any better in the guitar/jazz arena.  My personal favorite of the 10 trax offered up, though, was the down&funky jump of “I Feel Great“… man, this thing will PICK u UP!  Tohpati & crew (Indro Hardjodikoro on bass & Adityo Wibowo on drums) get a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00 (top of the scale), & the “PICK” of this issue for “best guitar-based jazz/rock”!  Get more information at the MOONJUNE page for this CD.       Rotcod Zzaj

Alan Holdsworth – NONE TOO SOON:  Our friends at MOONJUNE know how to pick ‘em, for sure; especially when it comes to rock-based jazz guitar players who know no limits.  That’s especially true on pieces like the rousing opener, “Countdown“!  For something with a lil’ more bounciness, albeit still right in the mainstream of cool jazz, you’ll like “Isotope” – I did (Gordon Beck’s keyboards just SHINE on this gem).  Their rendition of “Norwegian Wood” is some of the silkiest jazz I’ve heard this year.. though it is actually a re-issue of a 1996 release.  My personal favorite on the CD is Gordon’s composition “San Marcos“... not only Beck’s wonderful keyboards, but Alan’s guitar lays down some of the most freedom-filled lines I’ve ever heard from him (& bass from Gary Willis, with drums by Kirk Covington round it all out).  This gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at the label site for this CD!     Rotcod Zzaj

Lenny Marcus Trio & Friends – SUN RAY… A TRIBUTE TO RAY BRYANT:  Lenny’s keyboards with his friends (far too many to list here) are right up at the top of my playlists again… especially on tunes like the opener, “Blues for Norine“, a catchy blues-rooted track that will capture your ears right away.  Another favorite track was a Lenny original titled “Sun Ray“; absolutely solid keyboard style from Lenny, & the whole set of players is right “on time” behind him.  You get a total of 14 tunes on the CD, & you’ll have (absolutely) no trouble finding one that will stay at the top of your spin cycle.. my personal favorite was the upbeat & spirited “Minor Trouble“.  If piano jazz is your listening forte, you’ll agree when I declare this one MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED; “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at Lenny’s site!      Rotcod Zzaj

Reynold D. Philipsek – LAST SUMMER:  Though Reynold’s work is usually more oriented along the “gypsy jazz” line (one of his prime influences was Django), he shows us some other aspects of his abilities here… scope out the superb “Sunflower” to get a taste of the “other Reynold”.  He clearly demonstrates that he understands one of the more important elements of great jazz everywhere – have FUN with it – & fortunately for you (the listener), he has no compunctions about sharing the gaiety!  My personal favorite track of the 10 offered was “Bangkok Sunset… Reynold & his cohorts fuse their energies into one high-sounding piece that will whirl you ’round th’ globe.  I give Reynold a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at his website.      Rotcod Zzaj

Rebecca Oswald – WHEREAS:  If tasteful and elegant solo piano is what you’re in the mood for, Rebecca delivers one of the tastiest sonic dishes you’ll hear this year with this wonderful CD.  I was particularly inspired by captivating compositions like “The Constantly Pulsing Universe Inside Me”… the concepts of fluidity and expansion are perfectly painted (sonically) for your ears to devour.  “The Place Where Dreams Shine and Fade” is simple, but full of engaging chords and notes of beauty.  You’ll spin the 13 tracks over and over again.  Of course, if you’re looking for freeform jazz, this isn’t where you’ll go – but if you believe that musical variety is what life is really all about, you’ll agree with me when I declare this wonderful CD to be HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at Rebecca’s site.     Rotcod Zzaj

David Caceres – DAVID CACERES:  The keyword for David’s style is “hip”.. yah, I know, that dates me a bit, but I can easily see him crooning up there with Frank & Sammy on the LV stages of yesteryear.  What makes his vocal work so nice (not to mention his alto sax) is that he melds several cool singers style together (Tom Waits comes to mind, of course; a slice of Stevie Wonder, too) & makes it come out purely “David original”… lovin’ it, especially on cuts like “The Way Young Lovers Do” (his reeds are SO bold on this track)!  His cover of Monk’s “‘Round Midnight will give you a whole new perspective on this classic jazz winner.  There are a few times when his use of “oo-oo-oo” phrases seem a bit repetitive, but his overall performance is inspiring & totally “on”!  I give him my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, in particular for those who love vocal jazz; “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.97.  Get more information at David’s site.    Rotcod Zzaj

Yelena Eckemoff – FORGET-ME-NOT:  Yelena’s classical piano training shines through, but not in a negative light at all… in fact, her tender treatment of the ten thoughtful tracks lets you know right away that jazz is alive & well in her most capable hands, particularly on tunes like the intricate “Five“… her co-players shine on this one as well… tasty drumming from Marilyn Mazur and some truly beautiful double-bass work by Mats Eilersten.  These folks are master crafters, & they prove it beyond all shadow of doubt on the vibrant “Seven” (my definite favorite on the CD)… they’re totally in the groove on this one!  I believe Yelena is the most skilled jazz pianist I’ve heard (yet) in 2012, so it’s a natural that she gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED on this outing… expect we’ll be hearing lots more from her, too!   “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at her press kit page.     Rotcod Zzaj

Ric Harris – CHOICES:  Ric has put together a very nice jazz set for us on this CD… gives you lots of, ah, “choices” – when you read the CD liner notes, you’ll realize that there’s a real personal dimension to the CD title as well… 10 absolutely splendid pieces that feature lots of original works, as well as covers.  I particularly enjoyed cuts like “Paula’s Waltz” (for his wife)… some really nice vibe work on this one, too (Micah Rutschman)!  The other players (Mike Daly on bass, Tom Haugan on drums & guest saxophonist Chris Greene – who has been reviewed in our pages many times) are stellar, especially on cuts like the closer, “Footprints“… my favorite piece on the CD; though Ric’s original composition “Across The Divide” came in a close second, mainly because of his energetic guitar mastery on it!  This is a high-energy, high-talent group that surely merits my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Ric’s website.     Rotcod Zzaj