Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Jeff Lorber Fusion – Prototype

Jeff Lorber is the most sought keyboardist of the smooth jazz genre, but his heart is still beating for fusion jazz. Influenced by groups like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Return to Forever he founded the group Jeff Lorber Fusion and released in 1977 the self-titled debut album. Soon followed Soft Space (1978), Water Sign (1979), Wizard Island (1980), and Galaxian (1981).

After a period of solo albums he returned to his centerpiece with Now Is The Time (2010), Galaxy (2011), Hacienda (2013), and Step It Up (2015) on Heads Up Records. Prototype is his first album on Shanachie Entertainment. The new group consists of keyboardist Jeff Lorber, bassist Jimmy Haslip and saxophonist Andy Snitzer.

Jeff explains: “I came up with the name Prototype because we are always trying to up our game and come up with new exciting music that could be a prototype or innovative harbinger for the future of our musical style.” The project begins with Hyperdrive, a horn driven funky loaded piece of excellence. The sonic fury of high speed jazz is the ultimate platform for Lorber’s progressive fusion act.

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Nathan East – Reverence

A musician’s musician, platinum awarded bassist Nathan East has performed with Barry White, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Beyoncé, Barbra Streisand and Stevie Wonder. Just the most known stars of music entertainment are mentioned.

The smooth jazz genre loves his activity as a founding member of the super group Fourplay. He started his solo career with his self-titled debut album in 2014. Reverence is his sophomore project released this year on Yamaha Entertainment Group.

East invited on his new album such top players like Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Philip Bailey and Yolanda Adams to name a few. The voice of Earth, Wind and Fire Philip Bailey gives Love’s Holiday an unmistakable and exciting profile. Originally the song was composed by late Maurice White for EWF’s Grammy awarded album All ‘N All (1977). East brings on his rendition the glamour back to shine.

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George Anderson – Body And Soul

If you have been a fan of British jazz-funk and soul music for more than twenty years, you’ll know Shakatak. And if you know Shakatak, you’ll know George Anderson – he’s been holding down the low end since the early 80’s.

His touring schedule, both with Shak and with his own band is very hectic – you only need to look at his Facebook page to see that.

Let’s talk about what came out of the sessions for his latest solo CD…

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Ron Helman – It Never Entered My Mind

The music is billed as autobiographical, but it’s something Ron Helman hopes everyone would be able to apply to life. The flugelhorn player remakes some standards, accompanied by an all-star cast of luminaries, on It Never Entered My Mind (Ron Helman Music, 2016).

Mike Mainieri produced the record and plays vibraphone, as well as contributes some arrangements. Grammy winner Rachel Z Hakim is on piano, bringing with her touring experience with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. James Genus, whose discography and concert appearances includes stints with Bob James and Terri Lyne Carrington, is the bassist for the television series “Saturday Night Live.” Joel Rosenblatt, formerly of Spyro Gyra, is the drummer. Guitarist David Spinozza has played with three of the four Beatles and has a share in most arrangements. Steve Wilson plays soprano and alto saxophone. Vocalist Ann Hampton Calloway is special guest for “Born to Be Blue.”

“Just Friends” is a finger-popping, head-bopping, toe-tapping groove. Its bright mood is sure to make you smile. Anchored by Rosenblatt’s deft stick work and Genus’ fingering, Helman sets the stage for this audio delight. Then he steps aside while Hakim and Wilson on alto offer engaging interludes.

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Kayla Waters – Apogee

Contemporary jazz pianist, composer and writer Kayla Waters, the daughter of famous saxophonist Kim Waters, debuts with her first work Apogee (2017) on Trippin N’ Rhythm Records.

Along side of Kayla, Kim was also executive producer for her album. Apogee is another word for the highest point in the development of something, a climax or culmination. For Kayla this album is the first highlight of her musical career. She has written all songs of the CD.

The album was recorded in six days straight. The album has biographical references. So for example Earth Arrival tells the story how Kayla arrives on earth, the point when everything started. The song grows with a constant flow, a springy rhythm and vibrant keyboard works.

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Scott Tixier – Cosmic Adventure

It’s not often that the world of jazz welcomes a violinist. Although many have played the instrument in this genre, it still seems a rare event, relative to artists who play saxophone, trumpet, guitar, piano, drums or trombone. A few names that stand out over history are Stepane Grappelli, Jean-Luc Ponty, Ornette Coleman, Regina Carter and Mads Tolling. Scott Tixier joins that crowd, furthering his imprint with his second release, Cosmic Adventure (Sunnyside Records, 2016).

Performing with Tixier are Yvonnick Prene, harmonica; Glenn Zaleski, piano; Luques Curtis, bass; and Justin Brown, drums. Pedtrito Martinez adds congas on two tracks, and Chris Potter plays tenor saxophone on “Beam Me to Mars.”

Tixer and the gang come right out of the gate, sizzling. “Maze Walker” is a hard-charging piece, driven heavily by the congas. After a dynamic opening, Tixier takes the violin on a free-spirited jaunt, augmented superbly by the rhythm section. Prene steps up next, giving more to enjoy. The scene shifts a bit when Zaleski changes the mood, and Martinez stretches out for the next series. The song ends with the main theme repeated.

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Sean U – Electrify

electrifyContemporary jazz pianist and producer Sean Uliasz has performed with his band at numerous venues throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts. Now he reaches out to a wider public with his debut album Electrify (2016).

On his album perform besides Sean (piano, keyboards, synths), Rohn Lawrence (guitar), Steve Clarke (bass), Trever Somerville (drums) and Idalberto Perdomo (percussion). All songs are composed by Sean and produced together with Warren Amerman.

Sean counts Brian Culbertson, Jeff Lorber and David Benoit to his influences. Listening to 60 Miles these idols are evident and striking. Is stylistic proximity a problem now? By no means! The aesthetic brilliance and emotional impact of his work is no less memorable than the music he looks up to.

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