Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Todd Hunter Trio – Eat, Drink, Play

Life experience is the inspiration for the Todd Hunter Trio’s Eat, Drink, Play (Dexterity Records, 2016).

Hunter plays piano. Dave Robaire handles bass on all but one track. Rufus Philpot covers it on the closer, “210 to the 15.” Drum duties are split between Steve Hass and Aaron Serfaty.

The opening track is the sunny, upbeat, “Big Bird.” It’s a happy, proud strut through the neighborhood, occasionally changing pace to toss a ball back to a group of kids, or wave to someone on the porch. Hunter can hardly contain his excitement as he plays those keys with the vigor of one who has no troubles on his mind. About two-thirds of the way in, the leader steps aside, giving Robaire a moment to stretch out. The title was inspired by someone Hunter met during travels. The individual reminded Hunter of the Sesame Street character.

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Sam Curo – Every Day

Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, that are the professions of South Los Angeles native Sam Curo. His seasoned baritone voice recalls the singer and front man Mark King from the group Level 42.

In 2014 he released his album Everyday. All songs are written and produced by Sam Curo and Albert Lucero. Guest musicians are Danny Clay Williams on bass and George Quirin on guitar.

The title songs offers a wide harmonic approach. A fundamental basic for Sam Curo to express his vocal virtuosity and intensity. The muted trumpet underlines this melancholic impression. Fundamental topic of his songs like Then There Was You is the dual relationship with all its implications and conflicts. Vocal intonation, resonance and phrasings are amazingly versatile and adapted to the mood.

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Motor City Jazz Octet – Sanctuary

Drummer and band leader Joe Syrian brings together one of multiple lineups of the Motor City Jazz Octet to present Sanctuary (2016), a short set of six arrangements of jazz classics and pop hits.

The octet is made up eight members at any one time, but the band is a larger collection of Detroit-area musicians who vary from one performance to the next. Press materials show the entire group has 28 players. However, the liner only lists the following for this recording: Steve Wood, tenor sax and flute; Jimmy Smith, trumpet; Mike Rumbell, trombone; Mark Berger, baritone and alto saxophones; Gary Schunk, keyboard; Steve Carryer, guitar; Don Lewandowski, bass; Andrew Lloyd, bass; and Joe Syrian, drums. George Benson and Rick Margitza are listed as guests.

The set begins with a cool, ’70s fusion take on the Beatles’ “Come Together.” Syrian’s high hat work is a constant, as well as the bass line. The horns control the theme, with one trumpet taking lead briefly. A haunting guitar solo is followed by a free-spirited bass interlude. After a bridge the signals a reset, they split for overlapping phrases, with the baritone sax out front, before reverting to the melody.

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David P. Stevens – Love City

Philadelphia based guitarist, producer and songwriter David P. Stevens returns with his 5th full album Love City featuring the stellar lineup Najee, Pamela Williams, Jackiem Joyner, Frank McComb, Selina Albright, Chelsey Green, Dezzy, Isaac Byrd, Vandell Andrew, Lin Rountree and Tracey Preston.

On the starting tune Night Life David teams up with saxophonist Jackiem Joyner melting the fluidity of his electric guitar with Jackiem’s unruly directness to a concentrated energy pack. Jazz Party features the young lion Vandell Andrew, who gives his sax a deep roar.

Two Occasions was released on The Deele’s third studio album Eyes of a Stranger (1987). David covers the original in familiar sovereignty offering a remarkable vocal duet with Michelle Ayers. Grateful presents singer Selina Albright in a significantly R&B-influenced song.

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Kris Allen – Beloved

How about a change of pace. A jazz album by a saxophonist that’s neither pop nor smooth nor covers, nor anything trendy. Kris Allen plays it straight with all-original songs on Beloved (Truth Revolution Records, 2016).

Allen plays alto saxophone, switching to soprano for “Bird Bailey.” With him are Frank Kozlya, tenor saxophone; Luques Curtis, bass; and Jonathan Barber, drums.

The highlight of the music is that Allen and Kozlya often share the melody, whether in unison, harmony or offering counter melodies. Curtis and Barber team up to open some tracks, but mostly enjoy their roles as accompanists, firmly engaged though underneath the leaders. The saxes play well off each other, at times engaging in snappy dialogue. A few standout songs are “Lowborn (Proverbs 62:9),” “Flores,” “Bird Bailey,” “Hate the Game” and the closer, “Threequel.”

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Shakatak – Times and Places

In the long lasting time of their band history they were welcomed worldwide at countless festivals. This year for example they traveled to Germany, The Netherlands, Japan, Mexico, Serbia, Bulgaria and Lithuania. They have released numerous albums in a period of nearly four decades. We talk about UK’s first ambassadors of Brit Funk, the legendary group Shakatak.

Their new album Times and Places was released in Europe and US in September, 2016 and in Japan already in July. Shakatak are vocalist Jill Seward, keyboardist Bill Sharpe, drummer Roger Odell and bassist George Anderson. Guest musicians on this album are Alan Wormald (guitars), Jacqui Hicks and Debby Bracknell (background vocals), Derek Nash (saxes) and Ron Burgundy (flute).

I Will Be There singer Jill Seward promises in a skillful way of melodic bliss. Bill Sharpe shares the melody with flavored key strokes. On Time And Place Jill spreads her optimistic view of our own fate and personal relationship. Check In displays joy and lightness of heart in Bill’s effortlessness and fluffiness playing the piano in a wonderful flow with some brush pats of Derek Nash on soprano sax.

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Trumpetology – This Is Trumpetology

Maynard Ferguson. Doc Severinson. Louis Armstrong. Randy Brecker. The list goes on. The trumpet is a longtime favorite lead instrument in jazz. And Dr. Walter Simonsen celebrates that legacy by presenting his group, Trumpetology, and the album, This Is Trumpetology (Simonsen Sounds, 2016).

Five trumpet players are combined with an acoustic rhythm section and one rapper.

The “ologists” are Walter Simonson, vocals on “I Wish”; James Blackwell; Brian Owen; Tim Gill, vocals on “Summertime”; Brian Mantz; and Cameron Summers. The “rhythm-ologists” are Kait Dunton, Cooper Appelt and Jake Reed on most tracks; and Adam Bravo, Alex Frank and Adam Alesi on three songs.

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