Archive for May, 2015

Maysa – Back 2 Love

One of the leading soul singers of her time Maysa has grown to the queen of hearts. Known as top vocalist of the British Jazz-Funk band Incognito she regularly release her own solo projects. Maysa (1995), All My Life (2000), Out Of The Blue (2002), Smooth Sailing (2004), Sweet Classic Soul (2006), Feel The Fire (2007), Metamorphosis (2008), A Woman in Love (2010), Motions Of Love (2011), Blue Velvet Soul (2013) and A Very Maysa Christmas (2014) are her previous albums. Back 2 Love is her newest project.

Maysa comments꞉ “The music represents who I am as a woman and a human being who lives to love people. As a professional singer I should be able to sing anything and my records are just me trying to love everyone. And that’s why I am proud to be able to go from Jazz to R&B to Pop, etc.”

The album already reveals with the first track the new direction. Back 2 Love is wrapped as a dance tune to appeal younger audience. Fortunately Maysa still presents her unaltered natural voice as we love it. Keep It Movin’ grooves in R&B style featuring Stokley, lead singer of the group Mint Condition. In the smooth jazz genre, we meet him on recordings by Brian Culbertson, U-Nam or Boney James.

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Dafnis Prieto Sextet – Triangles and Circles

Three horns and a rhythm trio can make for some of the most engaging jazz, especially when there’s cohesiveness and original music. That’s what you’re in store for with the Dafnis Prieto Sextet’s Triangles and Circles (Dafnison Music, 2015).

Drummer Dafnis Prieto is supported by Johannes Weidenmueller on acoustic and electric bass; Peter Apfelbaum on tenor and soprano saxophones and melodica; Felipe Lamoglia on alto saxophone; Mike Rodriguez on trumpet; and ever-present pianist Manuel Valera.

The title song begins with Prieto offering some tom rolls and working other elements of the kit. After he’s sufficiently warmed up, piano and bass signal the start of something. The horns may be the triangle of this piece. They blend during parts of the main theme, but then they split, each representing one side, playing nearly identical phrases in turns. The effect is like a rolling wave. Then Lamoglia goes on a jaunt with the alto, followed by Apfelbaum’s tenor. The horns then join as a unit, complementing Valera’s almost solo. Almost because while he’s doing his thing on piano, Prieto shows off a little on the side. It’s an interesting arrangement wherein the background players appear to be on equal footing as whoever has the lead.

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Nate Harasim – #Shades Of Nate

When Nate Harasim began his solo career with the album Next In Line (2007), he was literally showered with praise. Shortly after the release of his debut album, David Chackler (NuGroove Music) heard the record and signed Nate for Love’s Taken Over (2008), Nate’s first album on the anew founded label.

This big talent returned with Rush on Trippin’ N Rhythm Records in 2011. Now the eagle is landed with his album #Shadesofnate (2015) on Woodward Avenue Records. We all wish him not only a safe landing but a cool stay.

Nate comments꞉ “I’m experiencing complete creative freedom for the first time with Mark Nordman and Woodward Avenue. He encouraged me on #ShadesofNate to do whatever I wanted, to be myself – and for me, that meant putting all those genres on the album in a way that made sense.″

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Janice Friedman Trio – Live at Kitano

The piano-led trio is a staple of jazz. And when it’s presented with freshness and energy, the results can be wonderful. So it is with Janice Friedman Trio’s Live at Kitano (Consolidated Artists Productions, 2015).

Pianist Janice Friedman is joined on this date by drummer Victor Lewis and bassist Ed Howard. The songs are recorded from a July 20, 2011, performance at Jazz at Kitano in New York City.

On your mark, “Get Set” begins the show in delightful fashion. This brief selection showcases Friedman’s ability to get the audience engaged from the first note. One of three Friedman originals, it’s a promise of things to come. Think Bill Evans, Erroll Garner or any of several other classic jazz pianists. About midway through is a playful call and response between Friedman and Lewis.

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Rei Narita – The Color of Soundscape

Recently I had the opportunity to introduce Japanese pianist and composer Rei Narita to the smooth jazz community. The Color of Soundscape II is his current album. Already in 2011 he delighted the world with his debut feature The Color of Soundscape. As the successor Rei composed, arranged, programmed, mixed and produced the complete album.

A Day at the Park is a cheerfully serene tonal description of a life moment which remains a positive memory. These mood swings with in subsequent piece of You Lift Me Up. This sparkling lightness in the treatment of the piano is the coincident feature. Shining Sunrise receives a coloring by the light Latin touch.

Indigo is a color that is traditionally regarded as a color on the visible spectrum, while Indigo Rain is a phenomena outside our normal perception sonically however detectable. The Wind in L.A brings in the casual rhythm. The music reminds me of the German formation Dancing Fantasy.

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Manuel Valera Trio – Live at Firehouse 12

Five albums in less than two years, including four as a leader? Unheard of. But pianist Manuel Valera has done it.

In late 2013, with his band, New Cuban Express, Valera released Exectativas. In early 2014, he released Self Portrait, a solo piano effort. Later in the year, he joined his father, Manuel Valera Sr., for Recuerdos. And again in 2014, with New Cuban Express, he released In Motion.

Valera is clearly a musician who loves to play, and he loves to share what he’s playing. The Manuel Valera Trio now releases Live at Firehouse 12 (Mavo Records, 2015). With Valera are bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer EJ Strickland.

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Lin Rountree – Soulfunky

Chicago based trumpet player Lin Rountree started his solo career in 2006 with the album Groovetree, followed by Sumthin’ Good (2008), Soul-Tree (2011) and Serendipitous (2013). Soulfunky (2015) is his fifth album and the second for CutMore Records. His new project is supported by many label mates and fellow musicians.

Lin is the master of groove. How he handles his trumpet on Wish It Was is more than funky. He doubles his instrument with clever overdubs and creates the accurate harmony. With Julian Vaughn on bass and Nicholas Cole on keys he improves the song and pitch the ball in the centre of the strike zone.

Pushin’ On written by Nate Harasim presents guitarist Nils in a powerful solo, however Lin is really perfect in drawing the notes like a trombonist. On Just Know It bass and trumpet melt to an irresistible vibe. Detroit fellow citizen Demetrius “Krayon” Nabors aptly creates magic on ivory and ebony.

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Carey Frank – Keep Smiling

As a long-time Jazz fan it is always great to realize that there is a new young and fresh generation of musicians, who dedicate their great talent to that musical genre.

One of them is pianist Carey Frank from Los Angeles who recently released his debut CD. Frank mentioned that he named the CD ‘KEEP SMILING’, because his grandfather was always saying that. And you can feel that positive message on every single track

Frank, who holds a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California, presents his music in a classical trio with himself on the piano, Sezin Ahmet Turkmenoglu on bass and Jamey Tate on drums, only in two tracks a saxophone (played by Bob Mintzer) is added.

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Juan Carlos Mendoza – Thanks To Life

What could be more exciting than to discover a previous unknown musician and his music? In the case of Spanish guitarist Juan Carlos Mendoza and his album Thanks To Life the whole is an adventure.

Unbound by genre thinking Juan puts on his album the music that is close to his heart. Some of the best musicians of Spain are joining this project such as Norbert Fimpel and Inaki Arakistain (sax), Cristina del Valle and Ivana Manzotti (vocals), Gherardo Catanzaro, Javier Mora (keyboards), Javier Barral (guitars), and a lot more.

Limoncello Break is launching a massive deluge of Funk. Inspired by an Italian liqueur the musicians let it hang out with a zesty groove. On top the outstanding Norbert Fimpel on sax, who defines Funk in a new way.

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Benny Sharoni – Slant Signature

With a style compared to that of Sonny Rollins, Benny Sharoni delivers a beauty in Slant Signature (Papaya Records, 2015). It’s a set that simultaneously showcases his mastery of the tenor saxophone and the elegant side of jazz.

Accompanying Sharoni are Jim Rotondi, trumpet; Joe Barbato, piano; Mike Mele, guitar; Todd Baker, bass; and Steve Langone, drums.

“Minor City,” one of five original songs in the set, starts in dynamic fashion. Sharoni and Rotondi share the lead during the opening sequence. Then the two take turns out front, delivering high-energy, rapid-fire phrases. The rhythm section is locked in throughout. Barbato also gets to stretch out. Sharoni and Rotondi then alternate in call-and-response passes with Langone.

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