Issue 132 Reviews

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Our latest reviews for your reading and listening pleasure!!

Olivia Foschi – PERENNIAL DREAMER:  What a splendid jazz CD to close out this issue with!  Olivia’s vocal work is “to die for”, & if you scope out her rendition of “Here’s That Rainy Day“, you’ll hear immediately how true that is!  She has some players with her that I’ve reviewed before, too, like Ulysses Owens, Jr., so that helps to make her music feel “right at home” here in my living room!  It’s high energy tuneage like “Bridge” (my favorite of the 13 songs offered up) that will help you realize that you’re in the presence of a star in the making… a highly impressive jazz vocal adventure that any jazz fan worth their salt will rush to get – like, NOW, ya’ know?  I give this debut effort a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Olivia’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Olivia Foschi: Perennial Dreamer

The Bill Harris Quintet – THIS TIME THE DREAM’S ON ME:  Jazz from Bill is always a pleasure for the ear to behold & this time around, his 10-song CD features high-energy tunes like the opener, “On A Misty Night“… the keyword for this kind of jazz is “solid” – through & through!  He’s played woodwinds for a long, LONG time (since second grade), and his dedication to on-time playing and skill for the craft is totally evident here.  If you’re not in love with what you’re hearing by “Nutville“, I’ll be really surprised – super energy on this track.   My personal favorite, though, was the full-bodied elegance of “Stablemates“; though one of the shorter pieces, it really took me back to my early days with jazz.  An all-around fun musical experience, this CD gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Bill’s website on FB. .       Rotcod Zzaj

The Bill Harris Quintet: This Time the Dream

Lisa Hilton – GETAWAY:  If a high-class boogie-based trio is what you have in mind for your escape, this one will take you all the way to oblivion… Lisa has married her piano up with drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Larry Grenadier to give you a taste of what joy sounds like, especially on tunes like the wonderful “Just For Fun“… if you aren’t having a grand ole’ time by the end of this song, your getaway will be behind bars somewhere… lol!  Of the 13 songs offered up for your aural pleasure, I found “City Streets” to be my favorite… takes me back to the first jazz sets I listened to on the avenues of Harlem (way, WAY back, I’ll tell ya’).  The trio is absolutely tight & gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Lisa’s page for this release.         Rotcod Zzaj

Lisa Hilton: Getaway

Scott August – HIDDEN JOURNEY:  Scott is no stranger in these pages… I’ve reviewed several of his works before, and this beautiful journey through the American Southwest with his flutes as your guide is among the best you’ll hear!  You can hear samples of tunes like (one of my favorites) “Awakening” to help you get familiar with his calming style – but be sure to listen with your headphones on s o you can absorb all the beauty – & then click on the BUY button (I don’t often recommend a buy, but this experience will be well worth it!).  There is some excellent drum work on my personal pick of the 11 tracks offered up, “Summer Horizons“… probably the best I’ve heard this year!  I give Scott my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (especially for listeners who want to hear something new), with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at the Hidden Journey page (& tell Scott I sent you there, please).         Rotcod Zzaj

Terra Guitarra – DRAGONFLY:  If you’re looking for high-life music full of spirit, you’ll definitely enjoy the 13 tracks on this great CD!  Guitarists Bruce Hecksel and Julie Patchouli encourage each other, especially on tunes like the lively “Troubadours” – you’ll be up & dancin’ ’round the floor in only seconds from the opening bars!  You can tell (just from listening) that this duo is in a state of total bliss as they weave their tunes to wrap you in their spell.  My personal favorite piece was “Elements“, where you can almost hear Mother Earth speaking to you in forward-looking tones! Though some jazz fans may not agree, this one gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the Terra Guitarra website.         Rotcod Zzaj

Terra Guitarra: Dragonfly

Al Conti – THE BLUE ROSE:  Al’s beautiful sonic creations have been reviewed here many times… so many that I can’t even remember the last one… he sent me this superb new release at my request… & as you listen to totally engaging pieces like “Silk and Jasmine“, you will understand why I always want to hear new music from Mr. Conti!  As you’ll hear, the 10 songs have a decidedly “eastern” influence; perhaps that’s why I enjoyed “Blue Sapphire” so much – almost like I never left Korea.  My personal favorite track was “The Minstrel’s Song“… it definitely takes you on a journey!  I give Al another MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for those who enjoy well-crafted “new age” music; “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information about Al and his projects at Al’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Al Conti: The Blue Rose

Kyle Pederson – RENEWAL:  Those readers who have been with me since I started this magazine (back in the 1990′s) know that I often have an “aversion” to reviewing “church music” – mostly because I grew up in a church, and quite often the music that was played was only for the “good feeling” it gave those performing it, or was being used to coerce those in the setting to follow one path or another… so, it is with great pleasure that I let you know that even though the 10 tunes he’s selected are “strictly church”, they will help you to make up your own mind about your environment(s) and which roads you will travel.   Especially notable (for me, anyway) were Kyle’s renditions of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent” and “All Creatures Of Our God and King“… deeply emotional, but with not an ounce of guile!  I give Kyle a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (a perfect) 5.00 – this means he also gets the “PICK” of the decade for “best performance of religious music”!   Get more information at Kyle’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Kyle Pederson: Renewal

Dan Kennedy – INTUITION:  Dan has some very tasty pieces on this 10-song September 2012 release; pieces like “Could Be” stand out as particularly notable… some very nice piano there, mixed with plenty of other instruments to attract and hold your ears.  If you’re looking for something a bit more upbeat (almost in the rock vein), you’ll enjoy “Redline“, to be sure. My personal favorite tune on the CD was “Troubadour“… a full sense of adventure prevails and will keep this tune on your playlists for a good amount of time in the future.  I give Dan & his musical crew a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.96.  Get more information at Dan’s site.    Rotcod Zzaj

Dan Kennedy: Intuition

Jean-Marc Montera, Francesco Calandrino – IDI DI MARZO:  If “noise” is the language you speak, you’ll be all over this 6-song CD right away – ‘coz few others will comprehend what’s being expressed here.  I’ve been known to do some noise (in the old daze), so I have a fair comprehension, but I still had to absorb this twice (for an “average listener”, that will probably be more like 5 times).  My only complaint (as it often is with noise recordings) is that the tunes are only labelled “Track #”, etc.  I would prefer that some sort of moniker be attached to a sound effort… with that out of the way, this recording delves far down into the arsenal of the noise artist and, particularly on “Track 2“, with the haunting vocals, comes out in the “high art” zone.  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, but with the proviso that you “must” be devoted to discovery in the music you listen to.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.96.  Get more information at the PUBLIC EYESORE page for this release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Craig Wuepper – LEAPS AND BOUNDS:  Craig’s drums lead this 9-song CD very nicely; his com-padres on this outing, David Schnitter on tenor sax, Jim Rotondi on trumpet, David Hazeltine on piano & Dennis Irwin on acoustic bass are some of the finest jazz players on the scene, as evidenced by truly cool trax like “Left Foot, Right Foot“… plenty of drums at the beginning, but then the rest of them come in “right on time”… a very tight grouping & a solid jazz tune!  I also dug the down-under bass float on “I Concentrate On You” – just the kind of tune that would be great out on the road, spurring you on to jump out ahead of the pack.  My personal favorite was a Wuepper original titled “The Misfit“… just the right flavor for those head-noddin’ jazz cellars!  I give this quintet a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at the Cellar Live page for this CD.        Rotcod Zzaj

Craig Wuepper: Leaps and Bounds

Jeff Kaiser and Phil Skaller – ENDLESS PIE:  There just isn’t anything to say about this CD… I mean, I’m phroggin’ “speechless” (or “wordless”, maybe, since I’m not actually speaking out loud).  A live romp betwixt Jeff’s trumpet and Phil’s prepared piano – nothing preconceived, all “on the fly improv”, & the beauty of the whole affair is that this music MEANS something (to someone, somewhere – not sure who yet, but I know it’s “affected” me – ha! ha!).  Check out the (one) sample on the label page, “The Puppet Does Not Have A Soul” to get a taste for what you’ll get on this 18-track adventure.  This is definitely one of the most creative efforts I’ve heard (yet) in 2013… not for everyone, but those with a true sense of “abandonment” will grok this right away.  I give this duo a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for those who love well-crafted live improv!  Get more information at the Endless Pie site.      Rotcod Zzaj

Rich Halley 4 – CROSSING THE PASSES:  Even if you’re not a native of the great NW, you’ll understand (right away) the power of mountainous jazz you’re hearing on this all-original 11-song release… just scope out “The Only Constant” to hear what I’m talking about… super group improv, to be sure!  Rich is a frequent contributor here, & I can say (without question)  that his sax work with trombone by Michael Vlatkovich, bass by Clyde Reed & drums by Carson Halley is the “best one yet”!  Yah, I know, reviewers say that too often, but I’m not kidding – this is raw, pure power!  My personal favorite of the 11 was “Rain, Wind & Hail“… I can “feel” the spirit of the NW in this superb music, & you will too!  I give this one a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99. Get more information on Rich and his music at the Pineeagle site.       Rotcod Zzaj

Rich Halley 4: Crossing the Passes (feat. Michael Vlatkovich, Clyde Reed & Carson Halley)

David’s Angels – WHAT IT SEEMS:  There are forms of jazz/art that invite you to delve deep – & this 10-song release features some super-strong jazz vocal work (from Sofie Norling) that will give you cause to pause… as evidenced by one of the strongest (& freshest) vocal pieces I’ve heard in the last 10 years, “Rid Of You“!  One of the reviewers called their particular form of exploration “new arty death jazz”… while that may be true, the “upside” of music like this is what merits mention – the beautiful Rhodes work (Maggi Olin) on my favorite track, “Magica“, will transport you to the other side of the ether and make you realize that – “yes, it is worth it”!  I give David’s Angels a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.8.  Get more information the David’s Angels FB page (& be sure to tell them we sent you their way)!       Rotcod Zzaj

Dewa Budjana – DAWAI IN PARADISE:  One thing is for sure – you can always count on the MOONJUNE label to dig out the “gems” in the musical pile; if you haven’t realized that yet, Dewa’s excellent guitar work on this CD is the perfect introduction to musical perfection!  The sheer focus on energy during the opener, “Lalu Lintos” will make a believer out of you, to be sure (this surely hearkens back to the sense of discovery one had when we first listened to Jimi way back in the day) – just STUNNING!  I found the mystical high-energy note-weaves on “Kromatik Lagi” to be my favorite of the even-dozen songs Dewa offers up for your ears.. tho’ it’s one of the shorter tunes, there’s some truly volcanic energy pouring forth from the players, along with gentle moments you wouldn’t expect in that particular place in the song!  The days of other players “dissing” artists from Indonesia & that region will be FIRMLY put out to pasture… this is the best guitar work I’ve heard in the last five years… it gets my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” of (a perfect) 5.00 and the “PICK” of this issue for “best guitar jazz”!  Get more information at the label page for this CD.      Rotcod Zzaj

Adina Even-Zohar – FOR THE FIRST TIME (IN A LONG TIME):  This CD is just the kind of thing to kick back with, pour a glass of your favorite poison & chill out for the rest of the afternoon & evening to.  Logically, start at the start, with the gentle, yet passion-filled, “The Very Thought Of You” (those are BANDCAMP links, so the songs won’t go direct to open the song up – that’s a suggestion for next time – put the samples up on AMAZON, please).  What’s very clear on the performances is that Adina is totally “IN” to the singing!  The 13 songs were recorded in Paris, which lends an air of romance to it, I suppose.  Very enjoyable jazz vocal work that gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.96.  Get more information at Adina’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Maria Jacobs – ART OF THE DUO:  Maria’s vocals on this (her fourth) CD are quite enchanting, and she’s chosen players who emphasize her strengths, especially on tunes like “Alone Together“, as you’ll hear.  Unfortunately, Amazon didn’t have any samples posted, so I can’t post links to samples – one mark down for the package.  On the other hand, she’s chosen perfect players to support her voice – Bob Fraser’s guitar, Steve Cipriano’s guitar, Tony Dumas’s bass & keyboards by Dan Maier.  9 songs that will hold you & will stay on your playlists for a good while to come.  I give Maria & krew a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at Maria’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Helena Espvall & Ernesto Diaz-Infante – A HALLOWED SHELL OF ASH AND RUST:  It’s been quite some time since I had the treat of listening to my friend Ernesto, and on this 12-song gem with Helena, it’s clear he hasn’t stopped being one of the most insightful improvisors on the face of the planet.  Songs like the opener, “Breathing Structures“, sonically reveal depth and breadth you seldom hear on recordings of this nature… of the dozen pieces on here (some short, some longer), this turned out to be my favorite, no doubt – very intense, but not at all “scraping” or “jarring”… a pleasant listen indeed!  “Something Ancient Being Born” is another one that will carry you away into the ether.  Those readers who are “only” into jazz & not into anything the least experimental may not enjoy the CD as deeply as I did, but for those with a sense of adventure in their aural appendages, this comes MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is a perfect 5.00, which means it also gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best improvised music”!    Get more information about Ernesto and his musical projects at the EROTOTOX Recordings page for this CD release.       Rotcod Zzaj

Dann Zinn 4 – GRACE’S SONG:  & what a (set of) song(s) it is.. his sax work on the opener, “Live and Learn” reveals the depth of his jazz knowledge and passion – this is a killer tune, to be sure!  Though there are only 8 tunes on the CD, you still get (nearly) an hour’s worth of straight-up & (very) solid jazz.  No gimmicks, just playing their hearts out (Dann is joined by Taylor Eigsti on piano, John Shifflett on bass & Alan Hall on drums), especially on pieces like (my favorite of the eight) the high-energy “Jumpstep” – if you’re not jumpin’ when this one’s over, you’ve got a foot (or two) in the grave already!  This smokin’ hot jazz crew gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information about Dann and his music at Dann’s website.        Rotcod Zzaj

The Dann Zinn 4: Grace

Cory Weeds; Bill Coon Quartet – WITH BENEFITS:  Smokin’ hot through & through, these 10 tracks will have you dancin’ in only seconds!  Cory’s tenor sax is elegant and full of life, especially on tunes like the luscious “There’s A Small Hotel“… & the highly energetic weave on “Smile Stacey” will take you to your jazz nirvana – check out Bill’s wonderful guitar work on that one!  One thing you can tell as you listen to these four play is that they want to pass the message of jazz along to all who are willing to absorb it – it’s FUN!  My personal favorite on this ’round was the beautiful & laid-back “Search For Peace“… nothing fancy, but it sure will wrap you in!  I give Cory & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners who love jazz with meat on it’s bones.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information about Cory & his projects at Cory’s website.      Rotcod Zzaj

Stephen Savage – FUTURE MEMORY:  Stephen’s keyboard work is some of the most powerful (and intricate) I’ve listened to (yet) in 2013… it’s strange that he’s a classical teacher, but for his debut CD, he created and performed some of the strongest synth/space music you’ll ever hear… for the evidence, listen to the marvelous “Then There Is Here Now“… I fell in love with this one immediately!  If something a bit more in the mellow lane is what you’re after, try the strings on “Gravity“… just great music! What makes Stephen’s music truly stand out from the rest, though, is tunes like (my personal favorite) the beat-driven “Riding The Cusp“… you won’t “own” this CD – after the first listen, it will own YOU!  I give Stephen my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners with adventurous ears, and “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 5.00 (very top of the scale), and the “PICK” of this issue for “most innovative and creative music”!  Get more information about his musical projects at Stephen’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Stephen Savage: Future Memory

Lisa Kirchner – UMBRELLAS IN MINT:  Lisa has some (very) high-energy jazz vocals going on with this CD release… tunes like the opener, “Salty And Blue (I Don’t Believe In Romance)” make this one a jazz winner for the listener on the first spin!  The players she has with her (look at the album cover to the left) add elements of energy that can’t be surpassed by most in the jazz arena today!  My personal favorite of the 12 offered up on this February 2013 release was the bluesy “Old Shoes” – Lisa’s vocal just shines on this track!  I give Lisa & her crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98.  Get more information at Lisa’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj

Lisa Kirchner: Umbrellas in Mint

Craig Urquhart – FIRST LIGHT:  This is my first time listening to Craig’s beautiful solo piano work, but I can tell you right now – it won’t be the last – just listen to the gentle/sway dancing on “Summer Waltz” to hear why I’m happy (indeed) he sent this CD to us for review!  If you’re looking for a song that will reach back to your childhood years (IOW, “Row, Row, etc.), you’ll find the enchanting simplicity of “Round and Round” totally attractive.  There are 11 tasty compositions that will greet you every wake-up and help you carry on through each day.  The melancholy chords on “Autumn Wind” made it my favorite on the CD.  Craig gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from my ears, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information at his Craig Urquhart site.         Rotcod Zzaj  

Craig Urquhart: First Light

Anthony Branker & Word Play – UPPITY:  Those who read my reviews on a regular basis know that I’ve been reviewing Anthony’s music for a long, long time now… but after the last one I reviewed, Anthony got right on the horn to let me know he had this one ready for release/review!  I can tell you – this is the BEST I’ve heard yet from him.. scope out the odd-opening “Let’s Conversate“… it won’t be long (only a bar or two) before you realize that what you’re hearing is pure jazz genius at work… pacing is excellent, & you’ll know the “language of jazz” when this power-packed gem is over (though I can guarantee you’ll be spinning it over & over again)!  It was the gentle sway (at the start) & penetrating sax lines on “Dance Like No One is Watching” that captured my vote for personal favorite, though… an absolute killer track!  I give this one my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (even for novice listeners – in fact, there’s no better place to start listening to jazz than this CD right now), with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at Anthony’s website.      Rotcod Zzaj

Soft Machine Legacy – BURDEN OF PROOF:  The word that resonates most clearly from the notes that accompany this great CD is “powerful”… straight-up, I’ll tell you right now, I haven’t heard  a more powerful product (yet) this year… just scope out the excellent changes on “Fallout“… simply smokin’, I’ll tell you, & chock full of pure power!  John Etheridge on guitar, Theo Travis on tenor sax/flute/Fender Rhodes, Roy Babbington on bass & John Marshall on drums… if you can’t hear the crackle of raw energy on “Pump Room“, then you’ve got a serious musical defect in your listening tube… in fact, this one is my favorite on the album.  I’m impressed enough to give them a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99.  Get more information at the MOONJUNE site for this CD.        Rotcod Zzaj

Melvin Taylor – TAYLOR MADE:  I truly dig this gents’ blues… I first heard is scorching blues-guitar work when I reviewed his double CD in issue # 127. This 6-song EP packs the same bluesy punch… songs like the opener, “Whenever I See You” keep this album at the top of my blues playlists & if you’re a blues fan (even a little bit), you’ll follow my lead, no bout-a-doubt-it!  The organ on “Heartache” made it my choice for favorite tune on the CD; if you can’t relate to this, you’re either a monk or have never been in a relationship!  This is a highly impressive blues set – if it had (let’s say) another 2-4 songs on it, wouldn’t have hurt my feelings.  I give Melvin a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information on Melvin and his music at Melvin’s website.   Rotcod Zzaj 

Elika Mahony – GLIMMERINGS:  This is my first exposure to Elika’s beautiful piano talent, and I’ve no doubt it is just like  a “preview”… songs like the vibrant “Awakening” reach right out and touch your heart with feelings from ancient times and minds.  If you’re not a big fan of solo piano work, you’ll probably switch CD’s, but if you find solace in lovely key/vocal tunes, you’ll spin this over and over again.  My personal favorite of the 12 songs was the appropriate-sounding “Daybreak“… just like a new day rising – a chance to start anew.  Elika’s touch and sensitivity to tone make this one stand out from the rest.  I give her a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97.  Get more information about Elika and her music at Elika’s page for this CD.       Rotcod Zzaj

Elika Mahony: Glimmerings

John Stein – BING BANG BOOM!:  I can’t actually tell you how many times I’ve reviewed John’s great guitar work (because I only started my database about 5 years ago)… but as you listen to the wonderfully energy-filled (yet relaxed) opener, “Sugar“, you’ll know why every CD he’s on that’s been sent my way for review has gotten high marks. & on this 10-tune jazz marvel, there are some of the best tunes I’ve ever heard from John! The quartet John brings together is in fine form from the opening note to the very last bar, especially on tunes like my personal favorite, the totally upbeat “Belo Horizonte“; the other thing I’ll note about every single one of these pieces is that they are the most mellow playing I’ve heard coming from Mr. Stein – and that does NOT mean “smooth” – pure pleasure to listen to, but he challenges you to keep up with him at every turn.  I give this my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of (top-o-the-line) 5.00.  In fact, it gets the “PICK” of this issue for “best guitar jazz”!  Get more information about John and his music at his John Stein Jazz site.         Rotcod Zzaj

Annette Cantor – SONGS TO THE GODDESS:   A definite change of pace from when I reviewed Annette’s “SONGS TO THE EARTH” in issue # 116.. & certainly from the jazz we’ve been listening to for this issue.  What makes her vocals so totally unique on this outing is that there are no “words”… the music is more oriented to “new age”, to be sure, but what Annette projects through her high talent vocal work is POWER (which, in my jaded mind, is equivalent to energy, & that’s the prime ingredient for music being reviewed here).  8 wonderful songs, my personal favorite being the upbeat kalimba and swaying energy vocal on “Yemana” – love this one!  I give the CD a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who want to experience something apart from the norm, yet not so far out-of-bounds as to not be pure enjoyment.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information at Annette’s web pages.      Rotcod Zzaj

Annette Cantor: Songs to the Goddess (Feat. C.G. Deuter)

Ben Sidran – DON’T CRY FOR NO HIPSTER:  Listening to the opener, “Back Nine“, I can hardly help myself from comparing Ben’s vocals to Mose (Allison, that is).  Since I lived a good portion of my life in that “hip” mode Ben sings of, I can relate to all 14 songs, & even the “uncool-est” listener will be able to find a tune they love on this one.  I had no idea that Ben was so prolific… this is his 35th CD release, & that’s an accomplishment for any player, hipster or elsewise.  My personal favorite is the bouncy closer – “Hooglin‘” is among the best jazz/hipster tunes I’ve heard (yet) in 2013.  I give Ben & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97 on this great CD.  Get more information at Ben’s (very hip) website.        Rotcod Zzaj

Ben Sidran: Don

Bob Szajner – DOWN BEATRICE STREET:  I’ve reviewed a lot of Bob’s splendid jazz over the last 3 or 4 years, but can say without any qualification that this is the best CD yet!  Unfortunately, I could only find samples on ITunes (& we don’t do ITunes here)!  Bob’s piano playing has the kind of energy that makes his songs (all 15 of them) stay right at the top of playlists!  I especially enjoyed pieces like the vibrant & bouncy “Five Flats Up“.  Bob’s piano is joined by Ray McKinney on bass and Roy Brooks on drums for some rousing tunes… my personal favorite on the CD was the rollicking “Royal Outhouse Blues”, but with 15 tracks, you’re bound to find something you like even more.  I give the trio a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for listeners who love straight-ahead jazz with no “tricks” involved.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.  Get more information about Bob’s extensive discography at ALLMUSIC.     Rotcod Zzaj