Archive for September, 2012

Bill Cantrall & Axiom – Live At The Kitano

Sometimes, music defies oral or written description. It’s best just to listen. That’s the feeling created by Bill Cantrall and Axiom with Live at the Kitano (Up Swing Records, 2012). Recorded in 2010 at the Kitano Hotel in New York City, this recording is about as close as one can get to being there.

A follow-up to Cantrall’s successful Axiom (2007), the set brings back most of the players from that ensemble, performing six Cantrall originals and one Cole Porter song. The performance and the audience’s reaction are what one would expect in a straightforward jazz club.

The selections are “B.B.M,” “After You,” “Sharphead,” “Shaniece,” “Like I Said,” “Axiom” and “Maker’s.” With the exception of the very brief closing number, the songs range from nearly nine minutes to a blink shy of 24, totaling more than 75 minutes. Each song presents strong interplay among the musicians, audience response to solos as well as the end of each piece.

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Tim Cunningham – Tim Cunningham Live

When Tim Cunningham was faced with the choice between the football field or the musical stage, lucky for us, he chose the latter. Having played the saxophone for over half his life, Tim spent his college years at Michigan State splitting his time between playing defense and playing music. And although a football scholarship saw him through school, his passion for the sax has carried him well beyond, as he passed up an NFL contract and eventually pursued a career in music.

For decades the words “smooth , sultry, cool & funky” have been used to describe Tim’s high energy and emotional stage show as his sexy blend of smooth jazz and soulful R&B connects with people of all ages, races and genres of music. This unique and versatile style has earned Tim the pleasure of opening for such jazz greats as Dave Koz, Norman Brown, Chick Corea, The Yellow Jackets, Brian Culbertson, Winton Marsalis and George Benson. On the flip side, his bumpin’ R&B flavor has on occasion paired him with Earth Wind & Fire, Cameo, Boys II Men, Patti Labelle, Frankie Beverly, Jeffrey Osborne, and the late Luther Vandross.Tim’s experiences bridge beyond the live stage to TV as he co-wrote and performed the theme song to 20th Century Fox’s “Bertice Berry Show” along with appearing in three episodes of “The Untouchables” and BET’s “Jazz Central.

Signed to Atlantic Records in 1996 his first major label release, “Right Turn Only” featured the efforts of Will Downing, Brian Culbertson, Kevin Whalum, and Bobby Lyle. It’s featured single, “This is the Life,” hit #19 on the Smooth Jazz Chart and received much international airplay. Tim’s additional CD credits include “Sax Change Operation”, “A Change in Altotude”, “Waiting For Love”, “Inner Peace”, and “Manchester Road” which was picked up by Nite Breeze Music/Universal in 2008. His 2011 release entitled “Reflection”, features a cool collection of original tracks packed with smooth grooves and emotional ballads. Tim’s newest project, the eagerly anticipated “Tim Cunningham Live” album, where he covers some of his favorite songs, was released Aug 18, 2012. Now on sale at CDBaby.

Matt Marshak – Colors of Me

A soulful mix of Matt’s trademark late night urban groove, cuban tinged funk, straight up soul, down home blues, contemporary jazz, and even some pop for good measure. Defining a new era in instrumental and jazz music.

Colors of Me is just arrived at CDBaby.

Charles Compo – Foolish Pleasure

Something a little different, that’s Charles Compo’s Foolish Pleasure (Chaos Music, 2012). Though composed of all-new material, the music is a throwback to the days when horn players – saxophonists and trumpeters, mainly – stepped out from the jazz orchestra and fronted smaller ensembles, playing music their own way. Among them: Jackie MacLean, Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Cannonball Adderley. There’s a little bit of pop, a little bit of fusion and a lot of Compo’s showmanship.

Compo plays flute and tenor saxophone mostly, but he also contributes with guitar and 12-string guitar. Tony Stewart and Jeff Miller share the keyboard duties. Jerry Brooks and Dave Jones split the load on bass. The rest of the ensemble consists of Ted Daniel on trumpet, Camille Gainer on drums and Mustafa Ahmed on percussion.

“Keeping It Real” is an easygoing piece that features Compo on both his horns, layered. Jones sets the tone with a bass groove, and Stewart handles the Rhodes. The music can apply to many situations – a night stroll on the beach, a drive in the country or something sensual.

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Marco J. Santiago – Rudiments

Smooth voice, solid beat, classy songs; a bit of Doors & Clapton; more Beck less Hendrix; Barney Kessel 50-60s jazz meets Santana latin grooves; a taste of Scotch and a shot of James Bond; rhythm and blues pop-jazz from Hawaii.

Rudiments is a smooth jazz guitar album at CDBaby.

Duke Ellington Legacy – Single Petal of a Rose

The sounds of the legendary Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington continue with Single Petal of a Rose (Renma Recordings, 2012), by the Duke Ellington Legacy with special guest Houston Person. This mid-size ensemble revisits several of the songs that were written either by Ellington or his band member, Billy Strayhorn. One selection was penned by Legacy pianist Norman Simmons.

This is much of a family affair. Grandson Edward Kennedy Ellington II is the guitarist and leader of the Legacy. His sister, Gaye Ellington, created the cover art, which is also offered to the public in a limited edition reproduction. Proceeds of sales benefit the works of the Ellington Legacy Foundation. For details, visit www.shoreprintllc.com.

In addition to Ellington II and Simmons, the band is comprised of tenor saxophonists Houston Person and Virginia Mayhew, trumpeter Jami Dauber, trombonist Noah Bless, bassist Tom DiCarlo, drummer Paul Wells, percussionist Sheila Earley and vocalist Nancy Reed.

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Victor Magnani – Late Nighting

“I’m as proud of this record as anything I’ve ever done” says guitarist and composer Victor Magnani. “I came at this project with absolutely no preconceptions. I wasn’t worried about writing in any particular style, or for any particular instrumental combination. Without those constraints I was free to explore any ideas that I found interesting, and follow where they led me”.

The result is an album rich in contrast and mood, a varied and satisfying listen. Jazz, pop, soul, R&B, Latin, even classical music all inform the proceedings, but what ties it all together is the guitar playing. Whether wailing plaintively on the lush ballad “Two Doors”, slinking off into the night on “Slo-Jam”, functioning like a big-band sax section on “Coffee Ring Effect”, of building a wall of guitars on “V-Funk”, Magnani’s guitar is the centerpiece of each tune.

Radio friendly fare like “Totes McGoats” and “Cast A Net” sit beside more detailed pieces like the homage “Smooth as Steel”, and the touching bossa nova of “Second Chances”. This is a recording sure to please all fans of contemporary jazz, or any one who appreciates good guitar playing and strong songcraft.

Composed, arranged, produced and performed by Victor Magnani. Mastered by Henry Falco at Moon Studios, Staten Island, NY. Late Nighting comes highly recommendable at CDBaby.

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