Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Neamen – Moment Of Truth

Arizona native sax performer Neamen Lyles aka Neamen began his solo career striving to be a smooth jazz star. In this rare case, claim and reality coincide. Recordings and performances with the likes of Jeff Lorber, Rick Braun, Mel Brown, Mindi Abair and sharing events with Dave Koz, Jay Soto, Greg Karrukas and others speak a clear language.

He dispelled all doubts with his debut work So Free (2011), which was highly praised by critics. Now he continues his earlier success and has released his second album Moment Of Truth together with Jay Soto, with whom he also produced his debut album.

Neamen performs on the new album tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, Jay Soto guitars and keyboards. Jay also made mixing and engineering. Additional musicians are Austin Carthell, Rachelle Youngberg, Eric Loveres,  Erika Schiff, Steve Lane and Crystal Stark (lead vocals), Jodi Light (background vocals), Tom Gioia, Marlon McClain (guitars), Mikey B (B3), Mel Brown, Mario Mendivil (bass), Tony Mora, Yon Yokobian (drums and percussion), Rick Peron, Carlos Chavez (trumpet), Bobby Hastings, Bradon Larson (tenor sax) and Hiram Perez (baritone sax).

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Keiko Matsui – Echo

Keiko Matsui personifies an enchanting mixture of Asian charm with distinct virtuosity. Her outward appearance harmonizes ideally with her spiritual music full of emotional power. With more than 35 solo albums she is an integral part of contemporary jazz with a melodious character.

Her new album Echo will be released on Shanachie Entertainment on February 22, 2019. This masterpiece belongs to the most rare albums with an unbelievable star cast of illustrious musicians.

The credits list Jimmy Johnson, Marcus Miller, Rico Belled (bass), Vinnie Colaiuta, Jimmy Branly (drums), Paul Jackson Jr., Tim Pierce, Robben Ford (guitar), Louis Conte (percussion), Randy Waldman (keyboards, programming), Brandon Fields, Kirk Whalum (sax), Nick Lane (trombone), Walt Fowler, Wayne Bergeron (trumpet), Ramon Stagnaro, JP Murao (acoustic guitar), Bud Harner (vocals), and Kyle Eastwood (acoustic bass).

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Norman Johnson – The Art Of Life

Kingston, Jamaica born guitarist Norman Johnson was inspired by guitar players like George Benson, Wes Montgomery, and Earl Klugh to learn this instrument. If Time Stood Still was his solo debut on the label Pacific Coast Jazz in 2010. Soon followed Get It While You Can (2013) and this year The Art Of Life.

On his new album he plays guitar, bass, piano, vocals, programming and is accompanied by Alex Nakhimovsky, Mitch Chakour (piano), Grayson Hugh, June Bisantz (vocals), Atla DeChamplain, Lisa Marien, Polly Messer (background vocals), Bill Holloman (horns), Chris Herbert, John Mastroianni (sax), Steve Davis (trombone), Jeffrey Holmes (trumpet), Matt Dwonszyk (bass), and Ed Fast (drums).

The album begins with Slide. This is a particular technique for playing the guitar that is often used in blues-style music. In this case the title is simply describing the dance moves as often mentioned by other critics.

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Tomás Martin López – Rhythm Rising

New York based percussionist Tomás Martin López started his musical career with salsa bands in his local area. He additionally performed with jazz greats such as Billy Cobham, Bill O’Connell, Mark Egan, the West Point Jazz Knights, Louie Ramirez, Ray De La Paz, Lalo Rodriguez and many more.

His solo projects are On The Beat Path (2010) and Rhythm Rising (2018). The new album was recorded by Bill O’Connell (piano), David Mann (saxes & flute), Jeff Ciampa (guitar & synth), Richie Barshay (drums), Ruben Rodriguez (bass), and Tomás Martin López (congas & percussion).

The album starts with the title song. As expected with an album by a percussionist, the song is full of various rhythm elements of Latin American provenance. Phenomenal star interpret is however Bill O’Connell on piano, who deserves his distinctive jazz style, which he has rightly earned in decades of collaboration with everything that has a name in Latin jazz.

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Eric Essix – Moments (Anthology)

Recently I reviewed Eric Essix’s album More with a survey of his already released works. A  short time after this review he released his album Moments, an anthology of his previous albums spanning a period of three decades.

With Street Scene Eric shows his best side right away. A high infectious melody taken from the album Small Talk (2012). Greg Manning on piano adds a joyful groove and Melvin Butler on sax a mellow note. Steel is from Eric’s album Birmingham (2009), the ode to his hometown. Birmingham was a great iron and steel producer in the decades after the civil war.

On Drive Time from Somewhere In Alabama (2004) Eric shines with a sing along guitar playing in the style of George Benson. The Distance is from Eric’s self titled album (2012), which presents a special blues-rock attitude. Southbound is the title song of the album, which was released in 2000. Kelvin Wooten delivers a phenomenal accompaniment on piano and Hammond B3.

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Kool&Klean – Volume VIII

Germany based multi-instrumentalist Konstantin Klashtorni has already released a plethora of album series. The Kool&Klean series is undoubtedly one of the most popular. Not only the groovy music is attractive, but also the extremely pretty women depicted on the covers.

Starting with the infectious Kool&Klean Volume I in 2010, followed by Volume II (2011), Volume III (2012), Volume IV (2014), Volume V (2014), Volume VI (2016), Volume VII (2017), we now reached Volume VIII in 2018.

If one listens to Islands Of Tranquility, one easily gets into raptures. Then attributes such as dreamlike, picturesque or beautiful will easily come to your mind. Again Konstantin is able to create the highest degree of harmony with his proven concept.

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Patrick Yandall – When Its Hip

To classify Patrick Yandall as a smooth jazz guitarist would not do justice to his stylistic spectrum. Smooth jazz, contemporary jazz, blues, rock, every genre is a facet of his musical personality. Patrick’s new album When Its Hip has exactly these edges that make up the whole Yandall package.

Patrick performs all instruments on the new album. With the exception of three covers he has written all songs. The album is launched with the title song. While the lead guitar is focused on chords offers the main part variations of trumpet, bass and guitar underlined by synth strings. King James is somewhat harder due to the use of distortion effects. Even a short piano solo is included.

B Boy is called a break-dancer, who follows the athletic path of street dancing. Piano and guitar alternate in the presentation of the main motif. Most friends of smooth jazz will know Who’s That Lady through guitarist Peter White, who helped the 1973 Isley Bothers song to new fame. Unlike Peter White, Patrick lets the wildness of the guitar shine in its untamed form.

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