Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Roberto Vally – Pure Lines

Brooklyn born, L.A. based, and world influenced bass player Roberto Vally calls as his influences Paul Jackson, Stanley Clarke, and Jaco Pastorius. He has played with Michael Franks, Bobby Caldwell, Paul Brown, Boney James, Boz Scaggs, Arturo Sandoval, Michael Lington, and Randy Crawford. Meanwhile you can add the rest of the smooth jazz cats to this list.

His first solo album was Boom Boom Boom (2013), described by Vally as an eclectic mix of chill, lounge, world, and smooth jazz. His sophomore album Pure Lines (2017) just hits the stores. The album is a collaboration of Roberto Vally and Jeff Carruthers, who performs keyboards, guitars and programming.

As additional musicians are mentioned in the liner notes Dave Karasony (drums), Enrique Martinez (accordion), Andrew Neu (sax), Marc Antoine (guitar, vocals), Michiyo Kitagawa (sax), Tom Schuman (keyboards, piano), Gregg Manning (keyboards), Ramses Araya (percussion), Paul Brown, Carlyle Barriteau, Federico Ramos (guitars), Nick Cedillo (trumpet, sax, trombone), Fabiana Passoni (vocals), and Christine Carruthers (background vocals).

Read more …

Swiss Youth Jazz Orchestra – Heaven Help Us All

Take some 1960s and ‘70s jazz, soul and funk, and put them into the hands and hearts of some young people from Switzerland and other countries, you might be astonished by the result. Heaven Help Us All (Shanti Records, 2016) by the Swiss Youth Jazz Orchestra mixes old, new and lots of energy.

The orchestra is comprised of Sharon Renold, vocals and bass; Rit Xu, flute; Sara El Hachimi, alto sax; Felix Piringer, tenor sax and EWI; Mia Stauffacher, baritone sax; Gergo Szax and Dmitry Zinakov, trumpets; Florian Weiss and Sebastian Wey, trombones; Claude Stucki, guitar; Mary Rasshohovatskaya, keyboards; and Roberto Carella, drums. Additional players are Oli Rockberger, vocals and keyboard; Franke Greene, trumpet; Tony Lakatos, tenor sax; Marques Young, trombone; Neil Jason, bass; and Billy Cobham, drums. The orchestra is directed by Fritz K. Renold, who composed two original songs, “Blues for George” and “No Way Boss.”

“Ridiculous,” was written by and features Rockberger. He sings of a relationship with someone who seems not to notice him. He wonders if it’s ridiculous, if it’s really out of the question, for them to be together. The sense of longing comes through loud and clear in his singing. After a brief interlude by Stucki, an uncredited soprano sax player cuts loose on a blistering, pleading solo. The song is big band jazz meets old-school soul.

Read more …

Love Suggestions – Sax Night

Multi-instrumentalist Konstantin Klashtorni has designed the Love Suggestions series for lovers to spend nice evenings together. The main emphasis is on one instrument in the foreground without neglecting other instruments. That in mind he already released Piano Night in 2013 and Guitar Night in 2014. Now he returns with the long-awaited Sax Night.

With a romantic and melodious approach he creates R&B oriented smooth jazz with that certain twist. Listening to the first notes of Thick of It brings back in mind, what we miss since the release of his latest album in 2016. With the perfect balance of flavor coming out of the land of rhythm and groove Konstantin creates with sax, flute and guitar the magical melody line.

There Goes My Baby rides on an emotional wave incorporating gospel elements and some retro feeling. Sax and guitar are living in a fine neighborhood. The sweeping ballad Shape of You reunites flute and sax to a deceptively accessible celestial arrangement. Don’t Wanna Know flows in a coherent fluid music stream that is smooth like Italian ice cream.

Read more …

The Ray Charles Orchestra Zürich 1961 – Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series

It’s nearly 80 minutes of musical brilliance, presented by 17 songs. The Swiss Radio Jazz Series presents Ray Charles Orchestra, Zurich 1961 (The Montreaux Jazz Label, 2016).

It’s a legendary concert recording featuring a young Ray Charles at the start of a tour that was a turning point in his career. The performers are Ray Charles, piano and vocal; trumpets: Marcus Belgrave, Wallace Davenport, Phil Guilbeau and John Hunt; trombones: Henderson Chambers, Dickie Wells and Keg Johnson; Rudy Powell, alto saxophone; Hank Crawford, alto saxophone and band leader; David Newman, tenor saxophone and flute; Don Wilkerson, tenor saxophone; Leroy Cooper, baritone saxophone; Elbert “Sonny” Forriest, guitar; Edgar Willis, bass; Bruno Carr, drums; and Quincy Jones, arranger of several tracks. Background vocalists, the Raelettes, are Priscilla “Pat” Lyles, Margie Hendricks, Gwen Berry and Darlene McCrea.

Set highlights include “Happy Faces,” “My Baby,” “Sticks and Stones,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Hit the Road, Jack” and “I Believe to My Soul.”

Read more …

Amsterdam Connection – Isn’t She Lovely

Not only tulips come from Amsterdam. From the canal city derive Tim ‘Harmony’ Welvaars & Naomi Adriaansz with their new formation Amsterdam Connection. Under their previous group name Team Harmony both already released the debut album Two Souls One Breath (2015). Their new project is entitled Isn’t She Lovely (2017).

Tim Welvaars is a prolific veteran harmonica player with more than 30 albums on his belt. Naomi Adriaansz’ instrument of choice is the tenor saxophone. The album title indicates it, the CD is dedicated as an instrumental tribute to the legendary Stevie Wonder, an artist that Tim himself played together yet. All songs were previously composed and performed by Stevie.

The album was recorded in Los Angeles and produced by multi Grammy Award-winning producer and guitarist Paul Brown. Guest musicians on selected tracks are Gordon Campbell, Jeffrey Caruthers, Marco Basci and Lew Laing Jr. (drums, bass, keys), Paul Brown and Marc Antoine (guitars), Nathan East and Roberto Vally (bass), Jessy J (flute).

Read more …

Firey String Sistas! – That’s What She Said …

Celebrating the power, beauty and creativity of women through original compositions. That’s the aim of the Firey String SistasThat’s What She Said … (A&EC Music, 2016).

The players are Nioka Workman, cello, vocals and percussion; Marlene Rice, violin, vocals and percussion; Melissa Slocum, acoustic bass; Mala Waldron, piano, vocals and percussion; and Karina Colis, drums and percussion.

“Ellie,” composed by Waldron, is a lively jaunt, with the main theme led by a vocal scat. Colis and Slocum set the groove, playing emphatically underneath whoever has the lead. Rice, Workman, Waldron and Slocum deliver riveting solos, and Colis stretches out subtly but effectively throughout.

Read more …

Special EFX – Deep As The Night

A formation with long-lasting tradition. Special EFX was founded by drummer and percussionist George Jinda and guitarist Chieli Minucci in 1982. The musical concept of the group changed from world fusion to contemporary jazz and smooth jazz. Body Language (1995) was the last album Jinda and Minucci recorded together. In 1997, Jinda had just completed the album Here to Stay, he suffered a massive stroke, from which he never recovered until he died in 2001.

Chieli Minucci continues the project in memory of his former teammate with the 22nd Special EFX album Deep As The Night (2017), which will be released on the Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm record label. The new album features a cast of musicians, who are sharing Chieli’s musical activities, like bassist Jerry Brooks, drummer Lionel Cordew, keyboardists Jay Rowe, Nicholas Cole and Lao Tizer, percussionist Mino Cinelu, violinist Antoine Silverman, saxophonists Elan Trotman and David Mann.

The title song starts the set with guitarist Minucci and saxophonist Mann united in the creation of an eclectic work of harmony. Another Day, Another Smile shines with a wonderful sonic bliss of acoustic structure. The special nearness between Chieli’s guitar and Antoine’s violin is somewhat rare in the more traditional world of smooth jazz. A combination, aficionados of such music tend to expect in the music of Django Reinhardt.

Read more …