Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Itamar Borochov – Outset

Debuts for jazz artists can be challenging. Some play it safe, reinventing standards or covering pop tunes. Others are more adventurous, delivering not only original material but going beyond the cookie-cutter, radio format-friendly tunes but testing the listener: Do you want your jazz to be quick, catchy, familiar? Or do you want something more complex, something you haven’t heard before?

It’s the latter that’s targeted by trumpeter/composer Itamar Borochov. Outset (RealBird Records, 2014) features seven original songs, totaling approximately 55 minutes. Accompanying him are Hagai Amir, alto sax; Avri Borochov, bass; and Aviv Cohen, drums.

“Pain Song” is an epic piece. At nearly 13 minutes, it offers the artist plenty of space to express. The mood is dark, brooding. The trumpet begins softly but rises when joined by the sax. All this is part of the setup. Then, Borochov goes exploring, with bass and drums representing the rugged terrain he must cross. After a few minutes journey, Amir takes point, going in a different direction but with the same sense of wonder. The pair rejoin and gradually wind down, accented by Cohen’s cymbal splashes.

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Steve Khan – Subtext

I’ve said on occasion that Steve Khan can do no wrong. Having heard his solos in performances with some of my old favorites, Maynard Ferguson and Steely Dan, I’ve come to know a different side of him as a solo artist. He never disappoints. Subtext (Tone Center Records, 2014) further validates the point.

The lineup is Khan; Ruben Rodriguez, electric bass and baby bass; Dennis Chambers, drums; Marc Quinones, timbale, bongo and percussion; and Bobby Allende, conga and bongo. Keyboardist Rob Mounsey performs on a few tracks and handles orchestrations for several others.

Special guest Randy Brecker plays flugelhorn on the first track, “Bird Food (Comida para Pajaros),” an Ornette Coleman remake. Quinones and Allende get quite busy beneath the leads as Khan and Brecker carry the melody. After the opening sequence, Brecker delivers a bright, sunny solo. When it’s his turn, Khan moves seamlessly between single notes and chords. Guitar and flugelhorn blend for tightly syncopated phrases several times during this piece. “Blue Subtext,” one of three original songs on this date, has a placid, tropical vibe. Mounsey comes through a bit more. Khan puts the guitar through a few high-speed passes, yet he does it in such a way as not to sound like he’s speeding up the song. That mellow, easygoing feel is present throughout.

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U-NAM – C’est Le Funk

Originally from Paris guitarist U-NAM delivers one gem after another. With The Past Builds The Future (2005), Back From the 80’s (2007), Unanimity (2009) and Weekend in L.A. (A Tribute To George Benson) (2012) he set milestones of smooth jazz. His new album C’est Le Funk will be released on September 8th, 2014 in digital version, the physical follows on 15th.

Multi-instrumentalist U-NAM is joined on this project by Dwayne “Smitty” Smith and Darryl Williams (bass), Tim “TiO” Owens, Gennine Francis-Jackson (vocals) and Shannon Kennedy (vocals, saxophone and flutes), Michael White (drums), Denis Benarrosh (percussion), Bill Steinway (Fender Rhodes, Piano), Kim Hansen (Fender Rhodes and keyboards), Christian Martinez (trumpet), Raymond Gimenes and Maria Grigoryeva (strings).

After the release of the first single, C’est Le Funk, and after writing and producing RSVP featuring Donnie for James Day U-NAM had the idea to create this new album. Following the collaboration between Daft Punk/Nile Rodgers, James asked him to do a “Chic” influenced-tune that heavily featured funky guitar.

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Allison Adams Tucker – April in Paris

“April in Paris” is a tried-and-true song that has proven popular among singers and musicians. However, it takes on a different feel when the singer is actually in the city of love. That’s the approach taken by Allison Adams Tucker for her second release, April in Paris (Allegato Music, 2014).

The album was recorded at a Paris studio on April 30, 2012, the first UNESCO International Jazz Day, at the end of Tucker’s European tour. The album presents a mix of vocal jazz, Brazilian, French and other styles. Accompanying Tucker are Emmanuel Massarotti, piano and Fender Rhodes; Evona Wascinski, contrabass; and Julie Saury, drums. Appearing on selected tracks are Ze Luis Nascimento, percussion; Mirko Guerrini, saxophones and Peruvian flute; and Peter Sprague, guitar.

Tucker’s voice is rich, soothing, as she croons the delightful, “It Might as Well Be Spring.” The guitar, Rhodes and percussion complement her, along with the other instruments. Massorotti goes on a jaunt not unlike some early Bob James. The bass and drums are in tight syncopation.

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Paul Marinaro – Without a Song

Let’s face it. There aren’t a lot of people writing jazz lyrics nowadays. So what’s a singer to do? Options are basically limited to remaking standards or covering popular music (include rock, soul, R&B, country). So what sets one new release apart from others are two factors: selection and delivery.

For Without a Song (Myrtle Records, 2014), Paul Marinaro handles the selection by giving us 14 songs, with only a few of them among those that have been recorded ad nauseam. And he handles the delivery by being himself and not trying to emulate a particular artist, like Sinatra or Torme.

Chris Sargent, Chris White, Judy Roberts and Tom Vaitsas split piano duties. Guitarist Andy Brown sits in on a few. Bassist Joe Policastro and drummer Jon Deitemyer appear on all but four tracks – two of those being previously recorded material featuring Joseph Marinaro. And guest violinist Marielle De Rocca-Serra contributes to “May the Music Never End.”

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Elias Haslanger – Live at the Gallery

Play loose. Play happy. Have fun. And the audience will appreciate you. That seems to be the message Elias Haslanger gave his sidemen for Live at the Gallery (Cherrywood Records, 2014), which refers to the Continental Club Gallery, where the saxophonist and his band play regularly on Mondays.

Haslanger plays tenor sax. With him are Dr. James Polk, Hammond B3 organ; Jake Langley, guitar; Scott Laningham, drums; and Daniel Durham, bass.

“One for Daddy O” starts the set. It’s gritty, soulful, no-nonsense. The tenor growls at its lowest depths, then wails at some of its highest heights. The audience responds accordingly. Langley stretches out during the middle, playing like an old-school blues artist. Polk gets his chance to shine as well.

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Da Phatfunk Clique – Phat Jazz

There are a few instruments in the Funk/Jazz-Genre, which are very unusual as a lead-instrument. One of them is definitely the electro-violin, here played by Darrell “D-Funk” Looney.

In 1998 Looney founded ‘Da Phatfunk Clique‘, first as a project with different musicians on every processing step. In 1999 he released his first album called “Pandemic Love“. In 2000 ‘Da Phatfunk Clique’ became a steady band, utilizing local talents in support of the new album release.

The violin, almost always in the lead on every track, gives the whole sound of the album an exotic touch. The musical style is an entertaining mixture of Funk, Pop, and Jazz. Looney himself names some of his influences, such as violinist Jean Luc Ponty, John Mc Laughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, George Clinton, Herbie Hancock and George Duke.

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