Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

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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Thom Douvan – Brother Brother

Apart from a few selections from dance music and R&B from the 1980s and ’90s, it’s all about the soul – even the blue-eyed kind. Guitarist Thom Douvan presents Brother Brother (2014), a 15-song tribute to the Funk Brothers, with whom he has played.

Douvan spent much of the ’80s performing with a group of former Motown session men, who were collectively known as the Funk Brothers. They were the background to many Motown hits in the 1960s and ’70s. And some of the members went on to record more of the hits that are referenced here.

Accompanying Douvan are Duncan McMillan, Hammond B3 organ; Tony Malfatti, saxophone; with drum duties split among Ralph Penland, Frank Wilson, James Gadson , Michael Barsimanto and Tony Moore. Bobby Pierce takes over on the organ for one song.

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The Blu J’z – Feeling The Moment

The Blu J’Z is a group founded by guitarist, composer, and vocalist Reggie Silva. His son Richard Silva (saxophonist) joined the band a short time later. Further members are his brother Joe Silva (saxophonist, vocalist, percussion), Julian Molina (bass), Ricky Gonzalez (rhythm guitar), and Juan Chevalier (drummer, vocalist). All are performing in Fresno’s jazz music scene.

The band already opened for Fred Yonnett, David Sanborn, Bob James, Brian Culbertson, Boney James and Patrick Lamb. Even some popular smooth jazz magazines have spread the word. 2001 was the debut of their CD Feeling The Moment, which is still the only release.

The album starts with Keepin It Tight. The first impression of a committed band, in which the shares of the involved musicians are equally important. Beside the above mentioned musicians Darrell Devaurs is joining this recording as pianist, keyboardist and supplier of additional strings.

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Brenda Earle Stokes – Right About Now

Newlywed Brenda Earle Stokes has undergone some changes over the past few years. But now that she’s somewhat settled, she’s back in business as a pianist, composer and vocalist. Right About Now (2014) captures seven original songs and a few remakes.

Stokes also plays Rhodes and triangle. Accompanists are Matt Aronoff, bass; Jordan Perlson, drums; Steve Cardenas, guitar; and Joel Frahm, saxophone.

“It’s High Time,” one of Stokes’ original compositions, has an upbeat, 3/4 tempo. Stokes’ inflections add emphasis on key beats. The band solidly supports the voice. One gets the sense the singer has reached the limits of patience and is ready for the object of her affections to act. This song is right at home in a smoky jazz club where most of the patrons opt for hard liquor on the rocks rather than wine, beer or cocktails. The way Frahm and Stokes play their instruments contributes to that vision. As if the song weren’t enjoyable enough already, Stokes injects some Fitzgeraldesque scatting toward the end.

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Euge Groove – Got 2 Be Groovin

For the log꞉ Euge Groove has just released a total of nine albums and his fourth for Shanachie Entertainment. The amount of publications is of course not a crucial factor for the quality of a musician. However, it casts a revealing light on his popularity.

The list of accompanying musicians is overwhelming long, the core musicians are Tracy Carter (Rhodes, piano), Cornelius Mims (bass), John “Jubu” Smith (guitar), Trevor Lawrence (drums), Lenny Castro (percussion). In addition, Euge adorns himself with Peter White, Althea Rene, Paul Brown, Elliot Yamin and Chanel Haynes, notably mentioned as featured artists.

Forever And A Day can be summed up under the heading of “sweet romance″. With the duet of Euge’s soprano saxophone and Althea Rene’s flute loveliness has already done enough.

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