Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Urban Jazz Coalition – XXII

The Columbus, Ohio based formation Urban Jazz Coalition was founded by bassist Phil Raney. Further members are percussionist Hector Maldonado, keyboardist Brendon Howard, saxophonist Richard Randolph, drummer Rich “Rico” Adams and guitarist Duane Tribune. Keyboardist Brian Skeel joins the group on the new recordings.

This album is entitled XXII (2018), what means no more or less than the group has already played together since 22 years. Their website has little information about their earlier works. We already reviewed their albums Contempo (2002), Into The Night (2003), and Long Street (2004). Further albums are Down To Get Up (2006), A New Day (2008), Gravitate (2010) and One Step Closer (2013).

One of the special features of this engaged group is that they perform since over more than two decades about hundred gigs a year, and at the same time they are proud of the attribute given to them by Michael Schivo (The Las Vegas City of Lights Jazz Festival): “Urban Jazz Coalition is the best kept secret in smooth jazz.”

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Dirk K – Blue Sky

German-born and L.A. resident guitarist Dirk K has already released fourteen albums as a recording artist and eight albums in band projects, furthermore, he worked on over thirty albums of other musicians. His newest album Blue Sky (2018) is available on his website.

With the exception of one cover, Dirk has written all tracks. The album is featuring C.C. Thomas Jr., Darryl Williams, Al Turner and Hussein Jiffrey on bass, Bill Zappia on keys, Andre D’Angelo on drums and Kurt Rasmussen on percussion. The title song was already released as single in 2015 and the song Change is Gonna Come as single in 2016.

Can’t Let Go is the first strike on the new album. Dirk’s performance is elegant and stylish, very self-assured and absolutely confident in the mastery of his instrument. A miraculous Blue Sky will transfer you in a good mood. It’s exactly this positive atmosphere that Dirk brings with the song.

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Cody Carpenter – Cody Carpenter’s Interdependence

Cody Carpenter, the son of movie genius John Carpenter, steps out the huge shadow of his father. In addition to contributing music for two of his father’s films, Vampires (1998) and Ghosts of Mars (2001), Carpenter composed and performed the full-length score for “Cigarette Burns” and “Pro-Life” in Showtime’s Masters of Horror (2005) movie series.  Cody co-wrote, co-produced, and performed on the acclaimed Lost Themes (2015) and Lost Themes II (2016) with his father and Daniel Davies.

One can meet Cody under his alter ego “Ludrium”. Infiltrate The Mother Ship for example offers progressive rock, game music, fusion, and synth stylings. His newest solo project is Cody Carpenter’s Interdependence, released in 2018 on Blue Canon Records.

Cody planed to create this time music in the jazz rock realm. So he first contacted bass player Jimmy Haslip, with whom he already worked some years ago. Influenced by the early Genesis and keyboardist Keith Emmerson he wanted to try something in that direction. While on the albums by Ludrium are mostly vocal tracks, Cody decided to make a pure instrumental album this time.

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Marion Meadows – Soul City

Marion Meadows understands it perfectly to put himself in the limelight. So that the light does not blind him, you can see him on many of his covers with sunglasses. This underlines the aura of mystery, created and wisely cultivated by him. Musician friends and fans know him however as a sociable person who likes to have a small talk.

Keeping soul in mind his new album is titled Soul City (2018). Marion performs on this album mostly soprano sax, on several tracks tenor sax. He reached out to two familiar producers and keyboardists, who designed the album with him. We talk about Chris Big Dog Davis and Rahni Song.

Marion also invited prolific guest musicians such as Will Gaines, Julio Hernandez (bass), Norman Brown, Peter White, Rohn Lawrence, Wayne Gerard, Kaimi Hananoeau (guitar), Joey Sommerville (trumpet), Maysa, Peabo Bryson, Kim Fleming, Will Downing, Dana Lauren (vocals), Maria Meadows, The Super Choir of Atlanta, Timmy Maia (bg. vocals), Roberto Vazquez (piano), Orlando Hernandez (drums, percussion), Jeff Bradshaw (trombone), Jorel “Jfly” Flynn (drums), Justin Gilbert (keyboards), Nicole Neely String Chicks Music LLC (strings), Bob Baldwin (string edits), Niger Troutman (Timpani).

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Lin Rountree – Stronger Still

Chicago based trumpet player Lin Rountree returns to the charts with his sixth album Stronger Still (2018) on Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm Records. Against many obstacles and challenges Lin has the power to spread his musical wings.
The list of musicians participating in his project is impressively extensive. Lin himself performs on his new album trumpet and on selected tracks keys, pads and programming. Lin has written all tracks, in part with other artists. Michael Broening has written one song and two together with Lin.

In the center of Lin’s music is the groove. He addresses this on all albums or I better say he celebrates the groove. The starting tune Pass the Groove is a fine prototype to set the audience into move. Even the romance is not left short. On My Time with You Darryl Dixon serves the right flavor with his acoustic guitar. Peter White couldn’t do it better.

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Eric Valentine & Velvet Groove – Velvet Groove

Washington, DC native multi-instrumentalist Eric Valentine is known by his performance as drummer on smooth jazz albums such as Blue Bolero, Don’t Talk, Dance! (Chris Standring), Another Time (Rocco Ventrella), Just Come On In (Nick Colionne), Here To Stay (Darryl Williams), Supersonic (Will Donato), Magical (Jonathan Fritzen), Groovin’ (Peter White) and many more.

Eric started his solo career with the album Eric Valentine’s Jazz Impressions in 2003. Now he returns with Velvet Groove (2018) on the label Matcha Entertainment LLC. Eric composed all songs, partly in collaboration with other musicians of the album with the exception of Joy Inside My Tears, which is written by Stevie Wonder.

Performing with Eric are Keith McKelley, Richard Elliot, Kirk Whalum; Elan Trotman, Gerald Albright (sax), Adam Hawley, Darrell Crooks; Kay-Ta Matsuno (guitar), Brian Simpson, Allyn Johnson (piano), Benjamin J. Shepherd, Dwayne “Smitty” Smith, Nathaniel Philips, Andre Berry, Darryl Williams (bass), Gary Stanionis, Munyungo Jackson (percussion), Anthony Crawford (keys), Greg Manning (synth, vocals), Rick Braun (trumpet), B. Valentine (lead vocals), and more.

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Under The Lake – Jazz, Groove & Attitude

The formation Under The Lake consist of Jayson Tipp (keyboards), David Evans (tenor sax), John Moak (trombone) Brian Foxworth (drums), Evan Mustard (guitar), and Kenny Franklin (bass), furthermore Nat Caranto (alto sax), and Joe Powers (harmonica) as special guests.

Their debut album was Dive In (1993), followed by Up For Air (1995), People Together (2007) and Jazz, Groove & Attitude (2018). All songs were written by Jayson Tipp with the exception of George Is His Name, which he co-wrote with sax player Quintin Gerad W. The Portland, Oregon-based group will release their fourth album on February 23.

The album takes off with Breaking Through, a solid horn enhanced tune with a fine arrangement. Undoubtedly, the strength of the group lies in their live qualities, in which all band members contribute equally to the success of the piece as in the contemporary jazz tune Good Things.

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