Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

WaKaNa – Saxess Story

Chiba, Japan born saxophonist WaKaNa is member of the upcoming band LUCA and in Korea and China of the band IN YA MELLOW TONE. Her first solo project is Saxcess Story (2018). The album was produced by keyboardist Greg Manning, who also performs on six of the eight tracks.

WaKaNa seamlessly joins the smooth jazz sax community with the fresh and modern I Told You So. Adam Hawley adds a funky rhythm guitar beat and Greg Manning delivers a fashionable environment on keyboards and programming. WaKaNa’s intonation on alto sax is strong, unadulterated and superb.

With elegant beauty WaKaNa absolves the Saxcess Story in organic conversations of melody and counterpoint. Her lively music is up to date and will certainly reach the attention of the smooth jazz audience. Greg peps up the song with furious solo interludes. Pillow Talk is a central theme in the smooth jazz genre. WaKaNa shows up with a very emotional interpretation perfectly supported by Adam Hawley on his intuitive guitar.

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Dan Siegel – Origins

According to his official biography keyboardist Dan Siegel has already released twenty solo albums. With Origins he has just launched his newest project. Anew a collaboration with bassist Brian Bromberg.

Beside Dan and Brian are performing Allen Hinds (electric guitar), Ramon Stagnaro (acoustic guitar), Craig Fundyga (vibraphone), Rogerio Jardim (voice), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) and Lenny Castro (percussion). All compositions and arrangements are by Dan.

The term Rite of Passage envelops the visitor in an aura of the mysterious and mystical. Siegel, however relies on the familiar environment, proven chords and harmonies. There is nothing wrong with that, because he perfected them. Alexander Graham Bell made the famous announcement “When one door closes another opens”. When One Door Closes musically distributes the optimism that underlies this statement.

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Isamu McGregor – Resonance

For something a little different, give a listen to pianist Isamu McGregor’s Resonance (Ghost Note Records, 2017). The music moves from breathtaking to symphonic to placid to hard-charging.

The players are Evan Marlen, bass; Gene Coye, drums; Bennie Maupin, bass clarinet on “The Drifter”; Seamus Blake, tenor sax on “Relentless”; and Dean Anbar, guitar on “Thor vs. James Brown.”

“Relentless” begins softly as if a sun slowly rising. Blake opens, with McGregor slowly building until the music warms up and the others join in. Coye injects some broken-time strikes. For the opening and much of the melody, the piano remains rooted in a static beat, changing up every so often. The music rises and softens, suggesting it may be over. But as the name suggests, the respite is temporary. On the next pass, things become intense with Blake out front, the leader doing his thing and Coye augmenting it all.

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Chris Standring – Sunlight

Guitarist Chris Standring has already received a variety of positive reviews. All critics agree that his music is innovative, captivating and always reinventing itself. His high recognition value is confirmed by the high attendance of his notable concerts. His newest album, Sunlight, is exactly on this success line.

Among the valuable artists are Rodney Lee (guitar), Andre Berry, Jimmy Haslip (bass), Chris Coleman, David Karasony (drums), Mica Paris (vocals), John Novello, Bob James (piano), Roberto Vally (upright bass), Peter Christlieb, Brandon Fields (sax), Hans Zermulen (keys). Chris Standring performs on this album guitars, keyboards, programming and arranging.

The first tune Static in the Attic awakes the memory of magic Acid Jazz. This blend of jazz riffs with acid sounds reminds of the late guitarist Ronny Jordan who spearheaded the Acid Jazz movement in the early 1990s. Aphrodisiac is a libido increasing substance. Standring proves that even music can have an intoxicating effect.

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SWR Big Band – A Cool Breeze

Led by Sammy Nestico, the SWR Big Band delivers big time with A Cool Breeze (SWR Music, 2017). Nestico brings elements of fusion, swing and orchestral sounds with a mix of original songs and classics.

The saxophones: Klaus Graf, Matthias Erlewein, Axel Kuhn, Andreas Maile and Pierre Paquette; trumpets: Nemanja Jovanovic, Felice Civitaraele, Karl Farrent, Claus Reichstaller and Rudolf Reindl; trombones: music director Marc Godfroid, Ernst Hutter, Ian Cumming and Georg Maus; Klaus Wagenleiter, piano and keys; Klaus-Peter Schopfer, guitar; Decebal Badila, bass; and Guido Joris, drums, percussion, mallets and Celtic dulcimer.

“Along Came Betty” is given a pop slash groove treatment, noted especially by the rhythm guitar, drums and laid-back mood of the entire piece. Soloists are Wagenleiter (keyboard), Godfroid and Maile (tenor). The beauty of big band music comes through on this and other tracks, and that’s when different sections of instruments carry the melody at one point with others as background or counter-melody, and then another family steps up. Here, all three groups – trumpets, trombones and saxophones – take a turn.

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Demetrice Everett – Life

Versatile drummer Demetrice Everett is known by his stage name “Meatdadrummer”, which is also the name of his website. He is influenced by dynamic drummers such as Buddy Rich, Dennis Chambers, Dave Weckl, Calvin Rodgers, Will Kennedy, John Robert, Vinnie Colaiuta, Calvin “Coon” Napper, George “Spanky” McCurdy, Chris Coleman and his mentor Jeremy Haynes.

He already performed on albums by Paul Whitley (Come Groove With Me), Sam Hankins (Do That Thang), Marcus Anderson (Style Meets Substance) and David McLorren (Reesonz). His debut solo album is Life (2017).

Featured artists on his first project are saxophonist Marcus Anderson, guitarists Dan Jost, Darnell Taylor, Jonathan DuBose, Kevin Wilson, Rob Barcarrosa, bassists Reginald Jessup, Ashley Doe, Bernard Harris, keyboardists Bertron Curtis, Nile Hargrove, vocalists Marcus Cole, Tyra Scott and rap singer Aniya Williams among others.

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Alex Hahn – Emerging

It’s fresh. It’s invigorating and at the same time calming. It’s Alex Hahn’s sophomore release, Emerging (2017). The title could be a testimony of the recording artist’s status. The sound culls elements of jazz, symphony, cinema and instrumental soul.

Hahn plays alto and soprano saxophones. Other musicians are Ramsey Castaneda, tenor saxophone; Jon Hatamiya, trombone; Simon Moullier, vibraphone and synth; Paul Cornish, piano; Logan Kane, acoustic bass; Colin McDaniel, drums; Connor Kent, percussion; and The Andrew Tholl Strings.

“Long Ago” opens softly with a moderate piano. The soprano comes, soon after joined by other instruments. With the trombone and sax blending, the mood quickly warms up, enhanced by the thunderous play of McDaniels. Things then settle down for a lively, yet tranquil theme. With Hahn out front on the alto, piano, bass and drum fill between phrases, resembling a call and response but with other voices whispering across the room. Hahn really stretches out on this piece, and as his mood becomes more intense, the supporting players become more of soundscape. Mouller then takes point on the vibes. The horns come back during the climax, setting up a return to the main theme and the fade.

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