Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Marc Antoine and David Benoit – So Nice!

Guitarist Marc Antoine and pianist David Benoit are both intriguing personalities of the smooth jazz genre. Together they are the surprise packet of the year 2017. So Nice! is their fiery contagious portrait of Latin jazz.

David Benoit performs on this album piano and Rhodes, Marc Antoine acoustic and electric guitars, John “JR” Robinson drums, Ken Wild bass and Luis Conte percussion. Most of the tracks are composed by David Benoit or Marc Antoine, some by other composers.

Anyone who has visited a café in Paris, estimates the flair and the atmosphere of this environment, the view on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées with all its activities. French Café is in contrast to the title no tribute to this institution, but more a mirror of Antoine’s development and affinity for Spanish music. Inspired by the Bossa Nova rhythm Benoit and Antoine sink deeply into the magic of their interplay.

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Joe Policastro Trio – Screen Sounds

Take what is known and juice it up. The Joe Policastro Trio revisits some themes from popular television series and movies on Screen Sounds (JeruJazz Records, 2017).

The trio consists of Policastro, bass; Dave Miller, guitar; and Mikel Avery, drums.

An ambitious taking, Policastro melds two hit songs from a hit movie in one of the coolest tracks in the set. “Everybody’s Talkin’ – Midnight Cowboy” moves back and forth between the two. One is a slow, easy listening ballad. The other is an upbeat, pop/folk tune. And the trio weaves in and out of each, changing the pace, and mood, as it suits them. Policastro leads the first melody, but gives way to Miller, who takes off, mixing familiar phrases from the two songs, with improvisation. The signature, descending four-step phrase from “Midnight Cowboy” is worked in and out of numerous passages. As the piece starts to wind down, Policastro uses the bow on his bass to take one more shot at “Everybody’s Talkin’” before handing it back over to Miller.

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Peet Project – The Bad Boys of Budapest

Hungary has a lot to offer, its specialties, its nature, the beautiful capital. However its famous export is music. In the smooth jazz genre a new Hungarian group has established, Peet Project. The group comprised currently of violinist, composer, producer Peter “Peet” Ferencz, saxophonist Attila Závodi, keyboardist Olivér Magán, bassist Martin Gudics, and drummer Marcell Gudics.

Everything started with their debut Pink Spirit, released in 2010. Their sophomore album Turn You On already followed in 2011, then Overseas (2013) and Love (2015). Their newest endeavor is entitled The Bad Boys Of Budapest (2017) and offers guest appearances by keyboardist Jonathan Fritzén, saxophonist Dave Koz, bassist and singer Gáspár Laci and singer James Copley from the band Electro Deluxe.

Downtown Therapy is the music the community need, crisp like a freshly laid egg, with the dynamic of the youth and the violin in the lead, a rare sound in the world of smooth jazz. The group has no reservations to pop music as it provides with Don’t Wanna Know, which could easily make the jump into the charts with intelligent instrumentation and astounding energy.

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Ted Chubb – Gratified Never Satisfied

One can be pleased without being ecstatic. But one might find it difficult to separate the two when listening to trumpeter Ted Chubb’s Gratified Never Satisfied (Unit Records, 2017).

In assigning that title to his third album, Chubb acknowledges that life, like jazz, is handed down, absorbed and practiced daily. Though you may achieve goals, tomorrow is a new day and may present new challenges. It’s also an idea brought to him by trumpet player and teacher, William B. Fielder, who inspired him to maintain curiosity and continue to grow.

Accompanying Chubb are Bruce Williams, alto sax on several tracks; Seth Johnson, guitar; Oscar Perez, piano and Fender Rhodes; Tom DiCarlo, bass; and Jerome Jennings, drums.

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Buff Dillard – Feel My Passion

Buff Dillard has just released his ninth album Feel My Passion (2017). Jazzful Hymms (2008), Genesis (2009), Awaken (2010), Christmas Moments with Buff Dillard (2011), Against All Odds (2012), and Mr. Bonejazz (2015) are some of the others.

In the smooth jazz domain are the saxophonists the kings. Trombonists have to struggle for acknowledgement, even those who have like Buff an academic qualification. So bringing his instrument to the front of the stage, was his premier impetus. With much energy and pleasure he is pushing forward his life target.

Feel My Passion is the aptly title of his new effort. Buff is supported by his friends like Davien Bailey (trumpet), Nicci Canada, Ryan B. (vocals), Derek Harling, Tony “Teaspoon” Witherspoon (keyboards), Paul Dozier (guitar), Clayton Turnage, Calvin Napper, Brian Houze (drums), and Melvin E. Gray (bass). Buff has written and produced all tracks with the exception of three covers.

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Marc Copland – Better By Far

Sometimes, a jazz artist just wants to play good music – feel-good music. No crossing over to attract a diverse, or younger, audience. No enhancements or gimmicks to pick up on contemporary trends. Just the musicians, their instruments, quality songwriting and an hour of your time. That’s what you get with Marc Copland’s Better By Far (Innervoice Jazz Records, 2017).

The players are Copland, piano; Ralph Alessi, trumpet; Drew Gress, double bass; and Joey Baron, drums.

“Day and Night” opens the set. It’s a bright, warm piece that features some crisp stick work by Baron. Bass and trumpet share the lead when the melody begins. Alessi takes the first solo, taking the trumpet on an easygoing jaunt, a stroll in the park that’s occasionally broken up by a few hops and skips. Copland takes it to another level. With Gress and Baron firmly engaged, the pianist takes the baton and turns the jaunt into a sprint. Gress downshifts a bit when it’s his turn, slowing down to enjoy the scenery.

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Andre Cavor – Road Trip

Cleveland based saxophonist Andre Cavor follows with Road Trip (2017) his idols Kirk Whalum and Jonathan Butler on their path to the ideal blend of smooth jazz and gospel music.

Andre started his journey performing sax in church and then founded The Cavor Project, an 11 piece ensemble spreading a good reputation around the area. This album mirrors his biographical development shifting Cavor’s artistic life to a new level.

In the implementation of the project Andre is perfectly supported by the producer Darren Rahn. Darren contributes his high level of artistry, experience and the certain refinement of a genius as composer, arranger, producer and musician.

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