Archive for May, 2014

fo/mo/deep – The Groovy Goodness

I set out my stall when I reviewed fo/mo/deep’s previous record A Beautiful Bang and I’m glad to have been able to keep up with the band between the release of that record and 2014’s deliciously titled The Groovy Goodness.

As I type this, summer seems like it’s upon us and the burst of energy that is ‘1974’ just makes it feel all the more real. The passionate sax and electric piano solos reinforce what the rhythm section has told you from minute one – it’s on! I just went back and listened to this song after drafting this first paragraph – because I can’t get that sax hook out of my head, in fact this whole song has grabbed me and won’t let go. Funk lovers are in more familiar territory with ‘Block Party’, which is a sax-led head-nodding number. There is a lot of air in Ron Holmes’ fretless bass line and André Scott’s snare drum pattern – which I always love – this must be a great jam live.

Is it a Motown track, or a big band number creepin’ up on you? Neither – it’s ‘Groidology’. It has a real swagger, helped by the loping upright bass line. I loved this song the first time I heard it and it gets better all the time. The rhythmic figure on piano and *that* trombone solo bring it on home. Mighty, mighty. Blues? Is John Lee Hooker in the house? ‘Peach Cobbler’ has an old Crusaders sound – and I mean that this sounds like Wilton Felder and Joe Sample circa 1972. The break midway through has an almost carnival vibe – it sounds like someone is having a ball in the studio!

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Ark Ovrutski – 44:33

Born in Kiev, Ark Ovrutski began playing violin at age 8 – influenced not by classical music but by his father’s love of American jazz stars Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. Now, Ovrutski releases his third album as a leader, 44:33 (Zoho Records, 2014).

Ovrutski plays double bass. With him are trombonist Michael Dease, saxophonist Michael Thomas, pianist David Berkman and drummer Ulysses Owens. Benito Gonzalez plays electric piano on one track.

The set begins in Bourbon Street fashion with “New Orleans.” Owens’ gumbo drum play mixes well with Berkman’s piano. Thomas plays the soprano on this track, alternating lines with Dease. During one sequence, the two horns sound like police sirens. Then they overlap with independent melodies, like the Dixieland style. The pair then step aside for a moment, leaving things to the trio of Berkman, Owens and Ovrutski. All three stretch out plenty, complementing one another. The horns return for the finale.

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Gabriel – Selah

SelahGabriel was born in Oregon, later he went to Columbia, MO. After a rehabilitation program he decided to make music. His new album Selah showcases his great talent as pianist.

Listen to this album at CDBaby.

Michael Manson – Thumpin!

ThumpinAfter 5 years of working on my love project, the Musical Arts Institute, I am finally back, to release a record that I’ve always wanted to do. My 1st live record. It features some new tracks and some reworking of some other tracks. On this recording, no special guests from my friends, but just a showcase of my band and I “getting it in”.

Most importantly and personally, for me is a tribute to my friend and mentor George Duke who I dedicate this project to. This project, along with a DVD of the same name, will be release on the NuGroove 2 label. I’m looking forward to everyone hearing this music. I believe that it will be a blessing in your life and you will get to know who Michael Manson really is.

I have enjoyed my time with all the great artists that I’ve had the opportunity to share the stage with over the years. They all have encourage me to follow this path in release this, my 4th album. I want you, you, and even you to enjoy this musical experience. Listen to the music!!!


Robert Miller – Twenty

During his career, New York bassist and composer Robert Miller has been creating jazz music with a lot of different musicians for several decades. He started with solo projects and formed bands like “The Robert Miller Group” and “Project Grand Slam” with some of the best musicians of the genre. Several Grammy-nominations and Top 20 Jazz-Radio-Hits were the result of that creative process.

For his new Album Twenty, Miller has chosen sixteen tracks from his huge oeuvre, mostly taken  from the two releases Play (2007) and Spring Dance (2012) together with some older songs of Miller’s solo work.

The whole album describes the unique career of Robert Miller and is -at the same time- like a journey through the different styles of Jazz Music of the last twenty years.

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Sam Rucker – Tell You Something

Saxophonist Sam Rucker released his debut album Heat from the Heavens in 2011. This album is still available as download at or iTunes. His new album Tell You Something (2014) is supported with stronger promotion.

At the new project musicians are involved with veritable names: Norman Connors produced several songs, also credited are Carlton Savage (guitar), Brian Eubanks (bass), Greg ‘Termite’ Rich (piano), Bobby Lyle (keyboards), Duke Jones (trumpet) and many more.

Rucker starts the album with the title song showcasing a special affinity for a sophisticated horn arrangement. With a tenor saxophone in the lead he he designs his melody line with dynamic blowing.

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Ulysses Owens Jr. – Onward & Upward

Ulysses Owens Jr. is counted among the new breed of young drummers on the New York scene who are fast approaching veteran status. Onward & Upward (D-Clef Records, 2014) establishes that status.

Owens is a member of bassist Christian McBride’s trio. The Jacksonville, Florida, native and 2006 Julliard School of Music graduate brings a mix of original songs and covers on his third outing as a leader. Accompanying him are Anat Cohen, tenor saxophone and clarinet; Jason Palmer, trumpet; Michael Dease, trombone; Gilad Hekselman, guitar; Christian Sands, piano; and Reuben Rogers, bass. Appearing on selected tracks are Charles Turner, vocals; Adam Rongo, alto saxophone; Benny Benack, trumpet, vocals and percussion; and Matthew Rybicki, bass.

Onward and Upward is bookended by two drum solos, the title song in which Owens is complemented by hand claps, and “Drum Postlude,” which pays homage to Max Roach’s “The Drum Also Waltzes.”

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