Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Dan Siegel – Faraway Place

Dan-Siegel-Faraway-PlaceEach musician has a different approach to dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic. Common to many is Dan Siegel‘s concept of recording a new album while stopping all performances. Siegel’s 22nd recording is Faraway Place scheduled for release July 31, 2021.

Most parts of the album were recorded by the musicians in their respective home studios. However, the rhythmic foundations were laid by drumming legends Steve Gadd and Vinnie Colaiuta at East West Studios in LA. From the credits you can see the numerous jazz greats who have contributed to this project.

The title of the album illustrates the unreality of the situation and the difficulty of processing it psychologically. After all, for our generation, this form of pandemic and its drastic accompanying circumstances is something completely new that needs to be overcome with. Isn’t it gratifying then to be able to hold on to music that brings familiar things back to you. With Old School, Dan Siegel takes us again to safe ground.

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Greg Chambers – No Looking Back

nolookingbackStruck by personal fate and affected by pandemic isolation, saxophonist Greg Chambers has maintained a positive attitude toward music and life. No Looking Back is his credo and also the title of his album, which will be released this year.

As with his previous productions, this time he has also placed emphasis on good quality and has secured this commitment with numerous professional musicians as listed in the credits.

He already expresses his joie de vivre with the opener Let’s Dance. That way Greg manages to get people of the ground. No Looking Back shines with outstanding sax harmonies and an eclectic melody.

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Mark Jaimes – Hear At Last

HearAtLast_Two people have significantly influenced the musical life of British guitarist Mark Jaimes. One was the lead singer of the group Simply Red Mick Hucknal, with whom he toured for several years as a guitarist and also recorded various records. The second was the legendary producer, songwriter and musician Rod Temperton, with whom he had made first contacts before the latter prematurely departed from artistic life.

He met a variety of smooth jazz musicians as the house guitarist at Pizza Express, whose respective performances he ably supported. It was radio DJ and promoter Jimi King who motivated him to finally start a solo career. It was the Corona crisis that ultimately gave him the time to realize this project at last.

Hear At Last will be released this month. Mark has written most of the tracks, one with Oli Silk and two with Danny Saxon. The album also contains a cover of a famous Rod Temperton track. Mark performs on the album guitar, bass and programming. Further musicians are Danny Saxon (keyboards, backing vocals, programming), Oli Silk (keyboards), Westley Joseph and Oscar Seaton (drums), Dwayne “Smitty” Smith (bass) and Patti Austin (vocals).

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Wayne Alpern – Frankenstein

FrankensteinThe title and cover of this album are eccentric not only for a jazz album. Nevertheless, it is ingenious to name a jazz album Frankenstein. It’s understandable when you recognize Wayne Alpern’s approach. Wayne is a master at breathing new life into familiar tunes from whatever genre.

The New York based composer, arranger and scholar is very well known among critics, judging by the numerous reviews. His ideas are implemented by well-known musicians, who are listed in detail under Credits.

The album opens with a cover of Carole King’s You Got A Friend. A song of timeless beauty whose message and melody touches the heart. At the beginning you don’t recognize the song, but the voice of the announcer seems familiar. Then the winds set in and the well-known melody miraculously crystallizes.

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Lin Rountree – Fluid

fluidDetroit, Michigan based trumpet player Lin Rountree has just released his seventh album on Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm Records. Fluid (2021) is, despite or perhaps because of the limitations of the pandemic, an all-around successful work with the participation of numerous musicians.

For a complete listing of those involved in the production and performing, see Credits. Lin relies on the well-known producers like Michael Broening, Chris “Big Dog” Davis, Matt Godina, and more.

The album opens with a shining piece composed by Michael Broening simply titled Release. A pleasant and well crafted trumpet melody right up your alley. Fluid has some influence from Herb Alpert’s late work offering an organic flow covering the beloved melodic ground.

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Steve Cole – Smoke And Mirrors

12_8Saxophonist Steve Cole celebrates the release of his tenth album. After Stay Awhile (1998), Between Us (2000), NY LA (2003), Spin (2005), True (2006), Moonlight (2011), Pulse (2013), Turn It Up (2016) and Gratitude (2019), he returns with Smoke + Mirrors (2021).

The title is derived from the art of magic, although Steve does not hide behind smoke or mirrors but strives to show his true self. Like many other musicians, he has used the standstill in live performances to give free rein to his creativity and not rest on achieved laurels. In doing so, he has drawn on his proven longstanding partnership with musician and producer David Mann, who is also involved in all tracks on this production.

Other backing musicians are Bernd Schoenhardt (guitar), Trevor Neumann (trumpet, flugelhorn), Mel Brown (bass, piccolo bass), Brian Dunne (drums), Ricky Peterson (organ), Mark Egan (bass), and Todd Sucherman (drums). As you would expect, the album bristles from the start with a perfect horn arrangement featuring David Mann on numerous instruments. Living Out Loud is not just the title, it’s meant to be.

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Jeff Lorber Fusion – Space-Time

space-timeKeyboard wizard Jeff Lorber has already pressed his idea of fusion jazz into the black grooves with his group Jeff Lorber Fusion in various lineups. With albums like the self-titled debut album (1977), followed by Soft Space (1978), Water Sign (1979), Wizard Island (1980), and Galaxian (1981) he has served the spirit of contemporary jazz for decades..

He continued this glorious period with albums such as Now Is The Time (2010), Galaxy (2011), Hacienda (2013), Step It Up (2015), the GRAMMY awarded Prototype (2017), and Impact (2018). On the new album Space-Time (2021) Jeff Lorber is joined by his longtime friends drummer Gary Novak and bassist Jimmy Haslip.

Further supporting musicians are flutist Hubert Laws, guitarists Paul Jackson, Jr., Michael Landau and Robben Ford, saxophonists Bob Mintzer, Dave Mann, Gary Meek and Gerald Albright (on bass). Bob Mintzer is thus back as on the previous albums, just not on all the tracks. The album opens with the title song, a sparkling up-tempo tune showcasing Lorber’s elegant keyboard play to the fullest. Lovers of Jeff’s Rhodes performance will be enchanted. Bob Mintzer on tenor sax takes over the melody line to a perfect finish.

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Brian Simpson – All That Matters

193746406_3833975360034816_5705152487936156656_nIt’s time to look at Brian Simpson’s previous releases. His solo albums Closer Still (1995), It’s All Good (2005), Above The Clouds (2006), South Beach (2010), Just What You Need (2013), Persuasion (2016) And Something About You (2018) have been instrumental in shaping the face of smooth jazz. With All That Matters (2021), he adds another piece to the mosaic.

The pandemic gave Brian an opportunity to break away from the daily grind and internalize what was actually important to him. Thus, the album title is also the result and quintessence of his own reflections. One’s own family plays a major role in it, as does music, of course.

Brian plays piano and keyboards as usual on his new album, but also likes to take cues from other keyboardists like Nicholas Cole and Oliver Wendell. Label mate Steve Oliver contributes some musical ideas. Brian has won for his project excellent studio musicians such as Michael White (drums), Alex Al (bass), Ray Fuller (guitar), Brian Kilgore (percussion), Najee (flute), Steve Alanis (sax), Ron King (trumpet), Roberto Vally (bass), Tony Moore (drums), Yarone Levy (guitar), Dwayne “Smitty” Smith (bass), and Jim Pisano (tenor sax).

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Patrick Yandall – Chasing The Light 

chasingthelightGuitarist Patrick Yandall is a musician who is fully committed to record production. Under one or two releases a year it does not go. His newest project is Chasing The Light (2021) and will certainly not the last one.

Like many other musicians these days, he is a multi-instrumentalist and has all the production in his own hands. He also wrote all the music himself. This development was undoubtedly furthered by the pandemic, because for months the musicians could not perform life. The title of the album describes the state of the musicians, who after the long period of stagnation finally want to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Whats Cookin is the curious question that fellow musicians also ask to find out what’s new. Patrick offers a new treat from his kitchen, where everything is not only coherent but also sounds perfect.

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Chris Geith – Invisible Reality

Invisible RealityKeyboardist Chris Geith has made a name for himself in the smooth jazz world with albums like Timeless World (2007),  Island Of A Thousand Dreams (2010), Chasing Rainbows (2014) and Well Tempered Love (2016). His newest album Invisible Reality (2021) will be released this month on all digital platforms.

The new album is completely written, performed and produced by Chris. Guest musician on one song is saxophonist Vincent Ingala. Opener of the album is the title song. A high-energy piece driven by syncopated drums forms the backbone of the catchy melody.

The title already hints at it. Whispers In The Night is the musical guideline for a nocturnal excursion. Alive is the hopefully desirable state after the long quarantine in pandemic times. A harmonic melody at peace with a simple structure. The contemplative piece Love Anchors the Soul features Vincent Ingala on saxophone, gently accompanying the piano line.

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