Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Mike Holober – Balancing Act

Work vs. play. Sharing vs. keeping. Dreams vs. realities. And so on. Pianist Mike Holober says we all have acts to balance. Expressing his personal take on this concept, he presents Balancing Act (Palmetto Records, 2015).

Performing with Holober are Kate McGarry, voice; Marvin Stamm, trumpet and flugelhorn; Dick Oatts, alto and soprano sax, flute; Jason Rigby, tenor sax, clarinet and bass clarinet; Mark Patterson, trombone; John Hebert, bass; and Brian Blade, drums.

McGarry’s whispery scat opens the tranquil “Book of Sighs.” When the musicians join in, she sings Holober’s lyrics with bass and piano responding to her calls. After a few verses, she cedes to the instruments. Oatts is first to delight the ear with a riveting, blistering tour on the alto sax, punctuated by Blade’s dexterity on the kit. As Oatts continues, Patterson joins in with overlapping lines. Stamm and Rigby add fills. Then subtly, Oatts steps back and hands the reigns to Patterson. McGarry signals a transition to the main theme with a wordless chant that matches the phrase played by Holober and Hebert. It’s an engaging piece that has many textures and moods.

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Mark Etheredge – Connected

Los Angeles, California based composer and keyboardist Mark Etheredge started his solo career with the album As Dawn (1990), a New Age debut. With Dean Wong he founded the duo Mark & Dean releasing the albums Walking Into Freedom (1999) and Man Of My Dreams (2000). 2012 followed adult contemporary vocal session Change Coming. With his new album Connected he reached the contemporary jazz realm.

Mark calls his new project his happiest album. The album was produced by Paul Brown and lists prolific musicians like guitarists Paul Brown and Chuck Loeb, drummer Gorden Campbell, bassist Roberto Vally and percussionist Richie Gajate Garcia, further trumpeter Lee Thornburg and saxophonists Greg Vail and Andy Suzuki.

The relaxing Groovin’ With My Baby starts the album with a catchy warmhearted melody. Be Who You Are follows continuing the uplifting and positive mood.

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Nicole Glover – First Record

Sax legend Wayne Shorter is making his mark on the musical world in a way that doesn’t involve his playing an instrument. Instead, he’s using his wisdom to inspire others to focus their skills and share them with the world. So it is that saxophonist/composer Nicole Glover releases her debut, aptly titled First Record (2015).

Glover plays tenor and is joined by George Colligan, piano, trumpet on “Snow Dance”; Jonathan Lakey, bass; and Alan Jones, drums.

“Water Ritual” opens the set. It’s an upbeat, ambient song that hints on being a waltz. The piano sets the elegant mood while the tenor leads. Shortly into the piece, both step back for a brief bass solo. After a return to the main theme, Glover takes point for an adventurous workout. The drums stand out a bit more during this passage. After another pass on the theme, the piano opens up, bass and drums become more firmly locked in, and the tenor goes on a rambling, blistering jaunt. If the main body of the song represents a baptism or similar ceremony, the ending is a raucous celebration wherein individuals catch the spirit and let go of their inhibitions.

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Peter Horvath – Absolute Reality

Hungarian-born pianist and keyboardist Peter Horvath performs with the who is who of jazz such as Victor Bailey, Lenny White, Arturo Sandoval, Randy Brecker, Marcus Miller, and many more. While he is a in demand recording musician on numerous albums his solo career has only seen two albums yet. His debut album Foreign Matter (1995) and his sophomore album Absolute Reality.

Peter has assembled for the recordings of his new album a great amount of luminaries Victor Bailey, Marc Van Wageningen and Larry Kimpel (bass), Ricky Lawson and Lenny White (drums), Dean Brown and Ray Orbiedo (guitar), Norbert Stachel (sax), Randy Brecker (trumpet) among many others.

Peter Horvath has composed all tracks, some in collaboration with Norbert Stachel. The album shows up with Absolute Reality. A funky horn arrangement in the style of Tower of Power or East Bay Soul is the launching platform for Peters’ rocket like journey over the keys of his grand piano.

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David Gilmore – Energies of Change

It took five years, but the wait was well worth it. Guitarist David Gilmore releases Energies of Change (Evolutionary Music, 2015), a philosophical as well as musical journey.

With Gilmore are Marcus Strickland, soprano, alto and tenor saxes, bass clarinet; Luis Perdomo, piano; Ben Williams, bass; Antonio Sanchez, drums; and special guest Kofo Wanda, talking drum on “Dance of Duality.”

The title song opens the set. It’s a moderately paced, easygoing piece. Guitar and sax blend on the melody with each taking a turn on the lead. Strickland overdubs, bringing in the bass clarinet for depth and diversity. After a few passes, Strickland switches to the sax for a passionate solo, with the rhythm trio turning up the heat in the background. The group mellows some when it’s Gilmore’s turn to stretch out. Still firmly locked in but softer. That mood remains when Perdomo takes point. Williams and Sanchez are brilliant throughout. Intensity returns when guitar and trade phrases during the frantic closing.

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Al Turner – Simply Amazing

Bass guitar player Al Turner, called “The Burner”, started his solo career in 2005 with the debut album It’s Good To Have Friends. Soon followed his next albums Movin’ (2009), Sunny Days (2011) and last year Simply Amazing.

Al is joined on his new project by a stunning array of prolific musicians such as Earl Klugh, Barry Eastmond, Ray Parker, Jr., Marlon McClain, Paul Jackson, Jr., Greg Moore, Randy Bowland, Brett Farkas, Darnell Taylor, Eric Marienthal, Tom Braxton, Dave McMurray, Marcus Anderson, Darryl Wakefield, Mark Mitchell, Leroy Hyter, Charles Scales, Dana Davis, LaShawn Gary, Monty Q. Pollard, Jordache Grant, Al Duncan, Ron Otis, Calvin Napper, Marlon Curry, Rayse Biggs and Gino Castillo.

The album starts with the forceful Upright on which Al plays the bass with various finger styles from Slap like Victor Wooten to the soft attack as an upright bass player like Brian Bromberg. The tune is wonderfully embedded in a fine drum/percussion arrangement by Dana Davis on drums and Gino Castillo on percussion. Beside the bass the tune also offers a special keyboard solo.

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Kirsten Edkins – Art & Soul

The music has a touch of the familiar, if only in the approach to playing it straight – no gimmicks. However, the songs of Art & Soul, the debut of composer and saxophonist Kirsten Edkins (Kirsten Edkins Music, 2015) are all new.

Edkins plays tenor, alto and soprano saxophones. Her primary accompanists are Larry Goldings, piano and Hammond B3 organ; Mike Valerio, bass; and Mark Ferber, drums. Guitarist Larry Koonse appears on two tracks. Friend and mentor Bob Sheppard, tenor sax and bass clarinet, appears on three tracks. Other guests are Mike Cottone, trumpet; and Ryan Dragon, trombone.

Sheppard offers the distinctive sound of bass clarinet as part of the bass rhythm for “Good Blood.” This is an old school band piece with blended horns, Cottone and Dragon joining Edkins for the melody. Solos are by Valerio, Edkins (soprano), Dragon and Goldings (piano). The overall mood is easygoing, placid and at times adventurous. Some of the background sounds add a haunting element.

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