Archive for August, 2015

Eric Marienthal and Chuck Loeb – Bridges

Saxophonist Eric Marienthal and guitarist Chuck Loeb are both veteran musicians of the smooth jazz and contemporary jazz world. Who should do the extra work to count their albums, will have a Sisyphean task. Both have performed or written on more than 50 singles in the top ten smooth jazz charts.

Although both have shared stage on many events and also played on albums together, Bridges is their first joint venture. The album starts with the dreamy Westward. With pizzicato guitar strings and soprano sax Eric and Chuck create a sound atmosphere in soft shades.

The romantic Crossing features Byron Landham, John Patitucci & David Charles. This tune will be the first single of the album. Chuck Loeb has long been a soft spot for the Spanish music. This he lives entirely on Puentes.

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Terell Stafford – BrotherLee Love

One could call it a musical love letter, brother to brother. Trumpeter Terell Stafford presents BrotherLee Love (Capri Records, 2015), a tribute to Lee Morgan.

On this date, Stafford is joined by Tim Warfield, saxophone; Bruce Barth, piano; Peter Washington, bass; and Dana Hall, drums.

The set begins with the jaunty, swinging “Hocus Pocus.” Trumpet and sax blend for the delightful melody. Stafford then takes point for an extended run. He mixes some rapid-fire phrases with quick stops and turns. Warfield follows with a series of high-speed, notes-per-beat lines. Barth and Washington get to lick their chops as well. Throughout, Hall remains firmly engaged, throwing in some dexterity on the toms as Stafford and Warfield go back and forth.

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John Dillard – Let’s Ride

Hailing from Rochester, NY bassist John Dillard counts to his influences famous names such as Jaco Pastorius, Marcus Miller or Nathan East. He currently performs with Stephanie Mills, LeJuene Thompson, Brian Simpson, Matt Marshak, Jeff Kashiwa, The Sax Pack, Nick Colionne, and Four80East. Now he starts his own career with the debut album Let’s Ride

While John plays on his album bass and keys, he is supported by Quantavius Dillard and Richard Jenkins (drums), Lovell Bradford and Oli Silk (Rhodes), Lin Rountree (trumpet), Buff Dillard (trombone), Joe Lindsay, Reggie Graves, Matt Marshak and Marc Antoine (guitars), Marcus Anderson (sax, EWI), Gabriel Bello (synth), Ard Sherrod Jr. (sax), Paul Whitley (keys and organ), Chad Lawson (keys) on selected tracks.

Mix deep funk with with spoken words of Quentin Tailey and heavy slides on bass and you get Funk This – The Intro. A glooming business card with what could be. Playing funk is probably the most fun thing to do with a bass guitar. This wisdom heeded John and presents the funky Let’s Ride.

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Allegra Levy – Lonely City

Allegra Levy is a refreshing talent to enter the jazz scene. Her debut release, Lonely City (Steeple Chase Productions, 2014), departs from the usual fare offered by up and coming vocalists. Rather than revisit standards from the American Songbook category of oldies that have been remade to infinity, Levy composed music and lyrics to all 11 tracks.

The core band consists of Adam Kolker, tenor sax; John Bailey, trumpet; Carmen Staaf, piano; Jorge Roeder, bass; and Richie Barshay, drums and percussion. Guest musicians are Steve Cardenas, guitar on “Anxiety”; Lolly Bienenfield, trombone on “I Don’t Want to Be in Love”; Mark Feldman, violin on “Everything Green” and “Clear-Eyed Tango”; Andy Green, guitar, and Aubrey Johnson, vocal, on “Lonely City”; and Fung Chern Hwei, violin, Victor Lowrie, viola, and Mariel Roberts, cello, on “The Duet.”

“Anxiety” opens the set. It has a moderate, low-swing groove. Levy sings of an emotion she wishes would leave her, make her stop worrying about a relationship. Her voice is soothing, despite the lyrics of unease. All the musicians on this track have significant impact, even those who are mostly background. Kolker, Staaf and Cardenas stand out.

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Terry Gomes – Blue.Green.Aquamarine.

Terry Gomes’ chosen instrument is the guitar. Hailing from Ottawa, Canada his guitar-based music is encompassing jazz and Latin flavors. His discography shows Gomesongs Side A (2006), Gomesongs Side B (2007), Loose Ends (2009), Shh. (2013), The Sand In My Shoes (2014), and Blue. Green. Aquamarine. (2015).

Terry plays on this EP guitars, keyboards and Ukulele. He is joined by Dave Milliken and Al Morier (acoustic guitar), Stu Watkins (bass), Ross Murray (drums and percussion), Rene Fortier (percussion), Nick Dyson (trumpet), David Renaud (sax), Brian Browne (piano), Norm Claude (bass) and Tom Denison (drums) on selected tracks.

Then She Danced is already a good start to recognize, in which direction this album is conceived. A brisk Bossa nova with lilting guitar music that invites you to dance. The melody is played without much technical bells and whistles.

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Chantale Gagné – The Left Side of the Moon

Rod Serling would love this. Pianist Chantale Gagné takes us on a trip whose boundaries are that of imagination with The Left Side of the Moon (2015).

She’s accompanied by bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash, who both appear on Gagne’s earlier releases, Silent Strength (2008) and Wisdom of the Water (2010). Joining them for this trek is saxophonist Steve Wilson.

The introduction to “After You” is like something out of the classical music catalog, featuring Gagne on solo piano, joined by Wilson’s alto. Then Nash enters in high gear, turning this into a fiery, high-energy piece. Wilson leads much of the way, put the sax through a series of frantic rolls. Gagne then takes point, tickling the keys in a way to get the head bopping and the toes tapping. Bass and drums are firmly locked in throughout.

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Jazmin Ghent – Boss

BossJazmin Ghent is a smooth jazz saxophonist versed in classical, gospel, jazz standards and smooth/contemporary jazz stylings. This versatility is evident in her rich, eclectic, soulful, jazzy style and approach to music. She is described as an explosive combination of absolute beauty and beautiful music.

Boss combines smooth, soulful jazz saxophone stylings reflecting a wide range of eclectic jazz phrases that makes the head bob and the body move. Get the CD now at CDBaby.

Jason Carroll and the Smooth Jazz Symphony – 2 Smooth

2 SmoothThe album 2 Smooth by Jason Carroll and the Smooth Jazz Symphony is ingenious, mesmerizing even. It highly relies upon creativity. There is an unmatched harmony within the music. Once you listen, your mind is sharpened as it is highly intellectual, an imaginative form of art. 2 Smooth is a combination of cultures and this makes it unique. It is a smooth manifestation of unspoken words that generate a great sense of equanimity. The style used is complex yet simple at the same time: simple to the listener but prepared with sophistication.

The album cannot be tied to a specific time and will not die with the passage thereof. It forms a special relationship with the soul. Carroll’s style is broad and shows the effort put into this piece of art. The combination of the instruments is excellent and binds together in harmony. The instruments are played in varied tones and the result is a variety of unique sounds that come out in unison. And Carroll is certainly no fluke as an instrumentalist. The instruments have been played in an interesting manner at a seemingly flexible tempo. Carroll is spontaneous at the very least, and his music feels vital in mirroring a person’s feelings in many situations. It speaks to all regardless of the language, culture or nationality. The album, 2 Smooth, also expresses emotions such as joy, sadness, irritation, and everything in between, in a way that normal words would not be able to describe. It links to and affects emotion in a deep sense. It compels you to love it, embrace and even attempt to sing it: it is that good. The emotion of the moment is captured and a new interpretation can be obtained every time one listens each song.

The composer exudes passion, one that cannot be found elsewhere, and one is able to form an intimate connection with his music. The album is a source of fresh air that energizes and can be compared to a stimulant. It is the new caffeine in town called 2 Smooth. The album is fresh and can be considered a friend in the time of need. It is an artistic expression of normal life and beautifies the ordinary. It draws from the experiences of life and the emotions experienced by people daily. It is like a person who talks to your inner self to calm you down and at the same time entertain you. It seems to fit into many situations in life: during a game, wedding and corporate events. It is not restricted and incorporates all individuals (a democracy of some sort). The instrumental diversity has been merged into the composition. It is a great addition to the artistic community and deserves a standing ovation. There is power in the ambiance created by the music which is welcoming, comforting and above all, serene.

Jason’s contribution to smooth jazz is remarkable. There is a familiarity that is found in his music that is friendly and addictive. It is a resourceful explosion which only pushes forward good feelings. You are missing out by not listening to 2 Smooth. It is a musical conversation that lets you bond with the album, a bond which will not be easily broken. Now get this whole package at CDBaby.

Bob James and Nathan East – The New Cool

Play what you want! That could be the request to Bob James and Nathan East by Yamaha Entertainment Group label president Chris Gero. A studio full of Yamaha equipment and two legends to work with.

The New Cool shows an intimate duet between pianist Bob James and Nathan East on acoustic bass. Improvisation and melodic essentials are weighted equally. Oliver’s Bag helps the swing on the legs. Nathan’s acoustic bass is very present, you can hear the vibration of each string.

On All Will Be Revealed both play with different stylistic elements. Instrumentation, orchestral strings by the Nashville Recording Orchestra and Nathan’s celestial vocals are woven into a captivating whole.

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Laszlo Gardony – Life in Real Time

The Berklee College of Music in Boston is a prestigious institution, well known in jazz circles. Many artists have been there as students or instructors. It’s also a venue for live music. Laszlo Gardony’s Life in Real Time (Sunnyside Records, 2015) was recorded in September 2014 at the Berklee Performance Center.

Gardony, a pianist, is accompanied by drummer Yoron Israel, bassist John Lockwood, and a trio of saxophonists: Stan Strickland, Don Braden and Bill Pierce.

“Bourbon Street Boogie” is aptly named. The song has a brassy, New Orleans vibe. The saxophones lead the melody, with two harmonizing and a third offering fills to give it a hint of Dixieland. Pierce and Braden stretch out plenty, each putting his instrument through some frantic paces. Gardony gets a turn as well. From start to finish, the band gets the listener engaged, playing with an attitude of, “Let’s just get out there and enjoy ourselves.”

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