Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Greg Chambers – Can’t Help Myself

After he recorded his debut album City Lights in 2006 and his self-titled album in 2011 some years passed by. Now sax player Greg Chambers returns with Can’t Help Myself (2014). Guest musicians on this album are Julian Vaughn, Nils, Nate Harasim, Paul Brown, Kevin Lewis and Matt Godina. Quality is guaranteed.

The title song is a collaboration with producer Nate Harasim, who also delivers keyboards, bass, synth and drum programming. Greg takes the lead on alto sax, while Nate adds the groovy things. A hooking song from the start.

In The Moment features Julian Vaughn on bass playing with Greg in a double. The attractive melody is filled with funky stuff by Matt Godina. So Into You shows not only Greg as intuitive performer but also as great composer and arranger.

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Jazz Funk Soul – Jazz Funk Soul

Three heavyweights of contemporary jazz joined to form the supergroup Jazz Funk Soul, keyboardist Jeff Lorber, guitarist Chuck Loeb and sax player Everette Harp. Chuck Loeb has an affinity for collaborations such as Metro and Fourplay. He comments this new formation꞉ “Making this album seemed like a natural extension of the fun and high level of creativity that was taking place on stage each night.” We will see concerts of this group in September, 2014.

On selected tracks the group is joined by Gary Nowak, Lionel Cordew and Brian Dunne (drums), Dave Mann (horns), Lenny Castro (percussion), James Genus and John Patitucci (bass), A. Ray Fuller (rhythm guitar), Till Brönner (trumpet), and Mark Hollingsworth (flutes).

The album starts with Speed Of Light designed by Jeff Lorber to bring the skills of the trio in the foreground. Jeff Lorber gives his Rhodes a lead, while Harp adds the alto sax accentuated horn segment, finally Choeb decorates it with quick chords in the style of Benson. If it ain’t got that swing, it don’t mean a thing. That’s the simple reason, why Chuck serves Swingette. A piece with that jazzy extra꞉ Combine that heart swinging groove with a sophisticated harmonic palette (Loeb).

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Catherine Grace – Marshmallow Man

Some people assert that Jazz is an “out-of-date model”, because there wouldn’t be enough young talented musicians, who engage themselves in that musical genre.

Australian Saxophonist and singer Catherine Grace is the best proof that this is not true. She started her young career, as so many others, playing on weddings, in cafes and restaurants.

She has already won competitions including the 2013 Sing For your Supper and 2013 Starquest. Having a huge repertoire from Jazz to Pop, she now presents her first professionally produced collection of five tracks on iTunes, which already shows the outstanding talent of this young lady.

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Artur Bayramgalin – Perfect Day

Multi instrumentalist Artur Bayramgalin is rather unknown in the American smooth jazz scene. It isn’t up to the music, his performance and style is brilliant. His debut album Interro Island came out in 2009, his sophomore album Electric Breezz followed in 2010. Perhaps something changes with his third album Perfect Day (2014).

I was somewhat surprised, because I did not receive a CD but an album in MP3 format. Anyway, the music is excellent and somehow it comes to the listener. Hopefully on a legal way. But this is another story.

Chris Peak writes in the Huff Post “Most bands will now give their music away for free in the hope that you’ll like them enough to see them live.” With Ufa in Russia as hometown and as an independent artist it is difficult for Artur to tour in USA in support of his own music. Furthermore with no liner notes inside it’s impossible to give the reader additional information.

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Michael Manson – Thumpin’

When you attend a concert of Kirk Whalum, Brian Culbertson, or Oletta Adams, you have a good chance to see bass player Michael Manson in action. He was also a side man of late keyboard legend George Duke. The elemental force of this bass player comes to explosion, when he takes the lead.

This moments are captured on his new double feature live album, which was recorded Thursday, October 28, 2010 at Mayne Stage, 1328 Morse Ave., Chicago, IL. Supported by a great crew of professional musicians, which are listed in the liner notes of this album, this was a festivity of Manson’s live work.

The first CD starts with Comin’ Right at Ya from his albums Just Feelin’ It (2005) and Up Front (2008). After a glorious bombastic intro filled with a horn arrangement by Steve Berry (trombone), Chris Greene (sax), Sam Hankins (trumpet) and Marqueal Jordan (sax) Mike performs the main theme on bass. A wonderful tune on the border line of smooth jazz and funk. On this expanded version Mike has enough space to show his solo qualities.

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Mindi Abair – Wild Heart

It’s probably not fair to pigeonhole Mindi Abair’s Wild Heart (Heads Up, 2014) as a smooth jazz album. Sure, there’s a smooth or contemporary jazz element. But this album is about Abair expressing herself through a variety of moods, touching on blues, rock, funk and an all-around good time.

The core band consists of Abair, alto, tenor and baritone saxes; Adam Berg, piano and keyboards; Itai Shapira, guitar and bass; Jake Najor, drums; Todd Simon, trumpet; and Elizabeth Lea, trombone. Special guests are sprinkled throughout.

Trombone Shorty sits in on the opening track, “Amazing Game.” Co-written by Abair with Jim Peterik, who also plays percussion, this track has a party vibe throughout. Abair, Shorty and other horns finish the song with a celebratory flourish.

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Les Sabler – Jobim Tribute

Canadian guitarist Les Sabler has constantly build his fan community with his albums Hidden Treasure (1990), Time For Love (1994), Bridge The Gap (2003), Sweet Drive (2007) and Crescent Shores (2010).

His new album Jobim Tribute (2014) presents 12 compositions of this legendary Brazilian composer, songwriter and singer performed by Sabler on his nylon string guitar. The album offers seven vocal tunes and five instrumentals. Sabler was accompanied by keyboardist Clay Perry, acoustic bassist Byron House, Brazilian drummer-percussionist Celso Alberti and the late percussionist Joe Lala.

The project starts with a rendition of A Felicidade, a song popular by the movie Black Orpheus. A song about happiness and sadness, about the carnival and the great illusion. Corcovado is known in English as “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars”. The song refers to the same mountain in Rio de Janeiro. A gentle bossa nova, both shining through his vocal content than the instrumental presentation.

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The Omar Hakim Experience – We Are One

It’s hard to imagine someone telling Omar Hakim that he doesn’t play enough solos. To be fair, the importance of a drummer isn’t limited to simply carrying the rhythm. Still, it isn’t necessary for a good drummer to solo in order to make an impact. Throughout his career, Hakim has done that numerous times, both as a sideman and as a leader. However, he has taken some flak for not playing enough solos. With that in mind, The Omar Hakin Experience presents We Are One (OZmosis Records, 2014).

The album title can be taken as a testament to the group dynamic, or how people have a symbiotic relationship with other humans. Whatever the underlying message, the 10 original tracks – Hakim wrote or co-wrote each song – offer plenty of originality with stylish contributions from all players. The corps ensemble consists of Hakim, keyboardist Scott Tibbs, guitarist Chieli Minucci, bassist Jerry Brooks, keyboardist Rachel Z and harmonica player Gregoire Maret. Additional players contribute to a few tracks.

Hakim and Tibbs teamed up to write the funky “Transmigration.” Brooks’ bass line helps set the mood. This is a group effort all the way. Hakim’s dexterity lays the foundation, but all the other players make significant contributions, whether leading the rhythm, injecting a solo or filling the background canvas. Special mention must be made to Minucci and Rachel Z. Regardless of which instrument is out front at a given moment, there’s always a sense of movement. Hakim splits time between the electronic V-Drums and the acoustic kit.

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Kim Scott – Rite of Passage

Kim Scott is one of the most sought-after classical and jazz flutists in the United States. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, she burst onto the jazz scene in 2011 with her debut CD “Crossing Over“. The record made it to the Billboard and charts, bringing her worldwide visibility.

She is in demand for her high-energy performances, having been invited to play the Preserve Jazz Festival, Atlanta Smooth Music Festival, and Catalina Island Jazz Traxx Festival, among others. Kim is Chair of the Music Department at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and has been an educator for 13 years. She is proud to pass her musical knowledge onto her students. Classically trained, she is a member of the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra and performs in solo recitals and concerts across the United States and abroad.

I’ve been a fan of flute, and jazz flute in particular, since the mid-70′s, with albums by Hubert Laws, Dave Valentin, Bobbi Humphrey and Kent Jordan on my shelves. I was intrigued to hear an album by a player I’d never heard before.

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Dan Goodman – Back Story

Being a multi-instrumentalist normally is an advantage, because you can do the most of your recording work by your own. But it can also be a problem, if you use too much electronic equipment and too many instrument-samples in your work. Then the music tend to sounding synthetic, like being created on a drawing board. This -at least- applies to some of the eight tracks of Dan Goodman‘s latest release, called Back Story.

No doubt: Dan Goodman is a good and experienced musician and arranger; his solid guitar playing shows a lot of talent and the compositions are mostly coherent but the use of too many electronic samples let some songs sound like canned music.

The record starts with the up-beat AYALA COVE, a smooth jazz song with mysterious synthesizer-chords in the background and an acoustic guitar in the lead, followed by SIERRA MOON, a pleasing melody on the acoustic guitar, flavored with electronic strings and a short E-Piano-solo.

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