Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Robert Christa – Smooth World

German pianist and composer Robert Christa is a musician you really should have on the radar. Since his debut Nightflight To Rio (2015) and his sophomore project City Lights in 2017 he has come out as an insider tip in the smooth jazz genre. This impression is convincingly confirmed by his third album Smooth World (2019).

Robert Christa performs on his new album keys, backing vocals and programming. He is joined on selected tracks by Robert Friedl (sax), Tom Reif (guitar), Bernd Hemminger (bass), Josiah Ruff, Stephanie Forryan, Mel Kamper (vocals), Mattias Hase (acoustic guitar), Llioba Bruns (cello), Natascha Weber, Lyn Conary, Daniana (backing vocals).

The album opens with Rise & Shine which reveals Christa’s penchant for perfect construction with a great opening. Saxophonist Robert Friedl and guitarist Tom Reif get plenty of opportunity to bring their own ideas to the play.

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Gabriel Mark Hasselbach – MidCentury Modern Volume 2

Denver Colorado born trumpeter Gabriel Mark Hasselbach‘s album Open Invitation (2014) is known as one of his latest smooth jazz album. His album MidCentury Modern Volume 1 (2018) shows Gabriel’s affinity for the classic jazz genre. With MidCentury Modern Volume 2 (2019) he continues this way.

The line-up of the new album differs only slightly from its predecessor. Miles Black (piano, organ, bass), Laurence Mollerup (acoustic bass), Joel Fountain (drums) and Olaf DeShield (guitar) played already on Volume I, new to it are Cory Weeds and Ernie Watts (sax), furthermore Cord Lemon (electric bass) on selected tracks.

Superblue is very melodious, even if the attitude is jazzy. Gabriel expands his trumpet performance on a swinging rhythm, while Miles Black just sets accents with tasteful piano chords. In the middle of the theme he unchains to a larger piano solo with different rhythm background.

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Scott Wilkie – Brasil

Keyboardist virtuoso Scott Wilkie is intrinsically a musician of the smooth jazz genre. Boundless (1999), More Than You Know (2000), Home Again: The Solo Piano Sessions (2008), The Wonder of Christmas (2013), All In (2014), Joy (2015), StudioLIVE (2017) are his known projects.

With Brasil (2019) he now focuses on Latin Jazz. The album was recorded live in studio with Scott Wilkie (piano, Minimoog, Rhodes), Jeff Olson (drums), Jimmy Haslip (bass), and Kleber Jorge (guitar). In addition to this quartet Scott invited special guests like vocalists Diana Purim (Flora Purim’s daughter), Josie James, Diana Booker, Hammond B3 player Ronnie Foster, percussionist Gibi dos Santos, conga player Kevin Winard and cellist Erdis Maxhelaku.

The principle according to which Scott chose the songs is very simple. He chose those who already gripped the listener because of their melody. What could be more natural than to start with the showpiece of Brazilian jazz. Mais Que Nada (Mas Que Nada) was  originally written and performed by Jorge Ben in 1963, and later widely known by a cover of Sérgio Mendes. Scott Wilkie throws the full volume of his piano into the balance and pushes the melody to new heights. Kleber Jorge and Jimmy Haslip add brilliant guitar and bass flavor to the whole something.

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Rainforest Band – Peace To The Planet

The rain forest of the Amazon Basin has been threatened by deforestation and slash-and-burn for many decades. In 1990 keyboardist and composer Merl Saunders terrified by the devastation assembled a group of musicians that included Grateful Dead front man Jerry Garcia. They founded the Rainforest Band and released the album Blues From the Rainforest – A Musical Suite.

Merl’s son bassist Tony Saunders connected with guitarist Vernon “Ice” Black and gospel keyboardist Sylvester Burks to create a new suite of songs dedicated to the rainforest. The new album Peace To The Planet follows the intention of the previous formation, to make a contribution to saving the rainforest through music.

The album opens with S.I.Z., an energy loaded contemporary jazz tune featuring Jeff Ryan on saxophone as melody determining factor. Consequences continues to glisten with the eloquence and proficiency of guitarist Vernon “Ice” Black.

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Kirk Whalum – Humanité

Sax legend Kirk Whalum is as I already stated in another review a wanderer between the two worlds of smooth jazz and Gospel music. With his new album Humanité he breaks through this scheme.

Humanité is an album, whose music is formed in mosaic shape by the musicians and their involved personalities they have brought in to the recording process. Among many others the following musicians are participating: Japanese jazz pianist Keiko Matsui, the young bass phenomenon Barry Likumahuwa, gifted singer/songwriter Grace Sahertian and global pop star Indonesian singer/actor Afgansyah Reza, known to many as Afgan, vocalist/guitarist Zahara, one of South Africa’s biggest stars, Kasiva Mutwa of Nairobi, and the veteran UK jazz vocalist Liane Carroll.

Curtis Mayfield’s song Move On Up has lost none of its radiance since its inception in the ’70s. Especially in the last months you can meet his song in ever new variations. Kirk Whalum goes his own way with his interpretation which is settled near a jazzy attitude in a Weather Report way. Singer Brendan Reilly is sensationally excellent.

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Igor Geržina – Sax & The City

May I introduce Croatian sax man Igor Geržina to you? He is an award-winning sax player, composer and the Croatian Radiotelevision Jazz Orchestra producer. He has graduated in saxophone from Zagreb Academy of Music, and has studied at Berklee College of Music (Boston, USA). Since 2003, as a permanent member of the Croatian Radiotelevision Jazz Orchestra, he has worked with many names on the jazz scene, he has taken part in studio recordings, concerts, TV shows and since 2009 he has been composing and making arrangements for the orchestra.

His discography encompasses 128 albums. In order not to confuse you, we will concentrate on his solo albums. It started with his debut album Sax Album in 2006, followed by Dalmatian Sax (2008), Metropolis (2012), One Click World (2013), Bucket List (2016), Svim na zemlji (2018), a Christmas album, and Sax & The City (2019).

Sax & The City is a compilation based on his albums Metropolis, One Click World, and Bucket List. The Whisper of Your Heart opens the collection, released as single in 2018. The song starts there, where Careless Whisper ends. A solid mixture of romantic tenor sax and guitar chords.

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Various Artists – Carols – The Sounds Of Christmas

At the beginning of autumn the first copies of the Christmas albums arrive. That’s as sure as falling autumn leaves. Some people who are already well equipped with Christmas albums ask themselves about the sense of buying another album. This can only be answered by saying that you should listen to the album first.

On Carols – The Sounds Of Christmas (2019) the label Trippin’ N’ Rhythm has inspired their best musicians to reinterpret well-known Christmas tunes. With Michael Broening, Nick Colionne, Nicholas Cole, Julian Vaughn, Kayla Waters, Skinny Hightower, Chieli Minucci as the main interpreters, the label has again succeeded in making a successful selection.

This label has already released The Very Best of Christmas in 2009 with other well-known artists of the smooth jazz scene. From the song material hardly overlaps another alternative for the collector.

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