Archive for January 10th, 2010

Jimmy Haslip – Blues for Tony

When drummer Tony Williams died of a heart attack on February 23, 1997, at the relatively young age of 51, it was a tremendous loss for straight-ahead post-bop and hard bop as well as for fusion. Williams had numerous acoustic jazz credentials, and his band Lifetime was one of the most important fusion outfits of the `70s.

The late drummer’s fusion side is what electric guitarist Allan Holdsworth, electric bassist Jimmy Haslip (of Yellowjackets fame), keyboardist Alan Pasqua and drummer Chad Wackerman pay tribute to on Blues for Tony, an excellent two-CD set that was recorded live in 2007. Forming a quartet, the improvisers remember Williams not by trying to sound like a carbon copy of Lifetime, but rather, by celebrating the overall spirit of Williams’ fusion output.

Holdsworth, in fact, worked with Williams when he replaced John McLaughlin as Lifetime’s guitarist in 1975; it was a brief association (Holdsworth left Lifetime the following year), although certainly a noteworthy one. And like Lifetime, this quartet (which performs mostly material by Holdsworth and Pasqua) demonstrates that being influenced by rock and funk and making extensive use of electric instruments doesn’t mean that a group cannot maintain a jazz mentality.

In fact, Blues for Tony thrives on a jazz mentality. Improvisation and spontaneity prevail, and even though Blues for Tony is by no means straight-ahead acoustic jazz, the quartet’s amplified performances can easily be described as “the sound of surprise” (to borrow a term coined by the late jazz critic Whitney Balliett). These performances underscore the fact that–contrary to what myopic jazz purists and bop snobs would have us believe–fusion is not pseudo-jazz. Fusion is authentic jazz, but it’s authentic jazz for people who also appreciate rock and funk. Blues for Tony is an album that fusion lovers shouldn’t miss –  Alex Henderson.

Ava Lemert – From My Soul

Ava Lemert is a Sacramento siren of soul. She is both a powerful singer, songwriter and electrifying saxophonist. Her original songs range from the acclaimed Kiss You which feature her singing lead, harmonies and layers of her alto and tenor saxophones to the amped up I Wanna Funk It Up, which is her own house-quaking nod to Zapp and Roger and the Isley Brothers.

It has electrifying vocal and saxophone effects sure to get you moving to the sound! If seductive, passionate soul music move you, the CD From My Soul has much more to offer you, from the lilting, softly sexy Rhodelea to the big tenor sound on the contemporary urban instrumental Soft and Silky, there won’t be anything to feel by the end of the CD but pure satisfaction.

You can’t listen just once! From My Soul is not just one genre of music nor is Ms. Lemert just a ‘vocalist’ or a ‘saxophonist’ she is all that and much, much more. Catch a star on her rise and enjoy a unique multi-faceted, talented lady. For more information about the artist and to read the rave reviews about her album visit her website.

Her album is available at CDBaby.