Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Gordon Goodwin’s Little Phat Band – An Elusive Man

Winning 4 Grammys and 20 Grammy nominations is a reliable indicator for constant and high-level professionalism. Gordon Goodwin built his fame with the Big Phat Band, a large 18-piece ensemble. Little Phat Band is his 8-member alternative.

Their debut album An Elusive Man is available since September 9, 2016. Beside Gordon (piano and tenor sax) are performing Wayne Bergeron (trumpet), Eric Marienthal (alto and tenor sax), Andy Martin (trombone), Andrew Synowiec (electric and acoustic guitar), Rick Shaw (electric and acoustic bass), Bernie Dresel (drums) and Joey De Leon (percussion).

The LP Shuffle is a striking example for a Big Band formation with natural energy and a blistering chemistry. The emphasis is on pure brass in straight swinging. Cot In The Act is full of fun and flavor with guitar and sax in expanding solos. But when the brass team gets underway, the music is reaching full steam.

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U-Nam – Surface Level

Guitar virtuoso U-Nam is not stingy with bright colors and catchy music. A herald of smooth jazz, he has led in the youngest past the music of George Benson to new heights. With Surface Level he returns to his roots, the music of the 80’s.

Besides U-Nam who performs guitars, bass, talk box, vocoder, programming, editing, keyboards, chimes are playing Shannon Kennedy (sax, flute), Christian Martinez (trumpet), Denis Bennarosh and Ramon Yslas (percussion), Dwayne “Smitty” Smith (bass), Maria Grig (viola and violin), Fran Merante and Jorel “JFly” Flynn (drums), Bill Steinway and Bob Baldwin (piano), Valeriy Stepanov (Fender Rhodes & Clavinet), Kim Chandler and Tim “Tio” Owens (vocals).

The starting Going For Miles spreads fun with a Nile Rodgers (Chic) inspired tune. Rhythm, guitar riffs and even the electric drums are in full effect. Groove Paradise copies dangerously well the spirit of the 80’s with flutes, strings and much percussion and detached from all U-Nam’s performing a Benson like guitar.

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Fabrizio Sotti – Forty

Fabrizio Sotti is onto something new and fresh. With Forty (Sotti Entertainment, 2016), the guitarist marks not only a milestone as in how many years he’s been alive, but also a quest for new musical discovery.

Sotti plays an EX-SS Fabrizio Sotti Signature Model guitar. With him are Peter Slavov, bass; and Francisco Mela, drums.

“Dangerous Walk” is brief but engaging. Sotti’s play is clean as a he parades through one series of single-note phrases after another, some of them in rapid succession. At times, an effect is used to suggest a keyboard is performing a duet with the guitar.

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Leon Foster Thomas – Metamorphosis

Perhaps there’s a subconscious connection between Leon Foster Thomas and the late Muhammad Ali. They hit hard, hit fast and keep moving. Thomas’ new recording, Metamorphosis (Ropeadope Records, 2016) is loaded with punches, counterpunches and poetry in motion.

Thomas plays steel pan and percussion. Accompanying him are Martin Bejerano, piano; Kurt Hengstebeck, upright and electric bass; Michael “Mike” Piolet, drums; Jean Caze, trumpet; Daivd Palma, tenor sax and flute; Fernando Ulibarri, guitar; John Daversa, trumpet and electronic valve instrument; and Sammy Figueroa, percussion.

Thomas lights you up from the first note. “Kai – Fusion” has a dynamic opening, blending the pan and horns before they give way to a bass-led groove, complemented by the drums. The melody, if any identifiable phrase can be called this, is a series of overlapping riffs with some combination of guitar, pan and horns out front while the others counteract. Many of these are high-speed passes. Things settle down some, and Palma takes over. Piano, bass and drums mix it up in the background, while the tenor goes on an adventurous jaunt. Upon a mood change, the guitar joins in to set up the solo’s climax. Things mellow a bit when it’s Thomas’ turn. But he, too, cranks up the heat as he gets deeper into the groove. As a listener, you might be blown away by the leader’s skill, but don’t get too entranced. You might miss something. Caze and Ulibarri get their moments to shine as well.

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Organic News – Game On

GameOnOrganic News is a formation founded by Klaus Graf (alto sax and rap), Martin Meixner (Hammond organ) and Michael Kersting (drums). Their first project is entitled Game On (2016).

Klaus Graf is influenced by jazz saxophonists Michael Brecker and Bob Mintzer. Berlin based Michael Kersting had the idea to this new band. Longtime friends Klaus and Michael invited Martin to join. They knew him by several band projects.

The album was recorded in a night-time session at the end of a concert tour. The band name is self explaining. Unlike many other contemporary overproduced recordings the band is going a rustic way.

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Sivan Arbel – Broken Lines

International flavor is what Sivan Arbel brings to listeners with Broken Lines (2016). The Israeli born songwriter and vocalist says the music is inspired by people and experiences she has encountered.

Performing with Arbel are Shai Portugaly, piano; Nadav Shapira, bass; Yogev Gabay, drums; Ron Warburg, trumpet; Jack Sheehan, alto saxophone; and Ori Jacobson, tenor saxophone. The vocal trio of Caleb Mason, Seth Weaver and Ben Tiberio join on the title song.

Arbel seamlessly weaves lyrics, chants, scats and instrumental breaks into a colorful tapestry of sound. Highlights are the opening track, “Over Sensitivity,” the improv special “Analysis” and the cover of Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green.” Her scatting ability could easily have been borrowed from the textbook of Ella Fitzgerald.

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Phil Palombi – Detroit Lean

Sitting behind the wheel and looking cool is the thought behind the title, Detroit Lean (Xcappa Records, 2016). A product of Ohio, Palombi says the material corresponds to events or feelings that he had when he moved to New York City in 1997.

Personnel are Palombi, Scott LaFaro’s Presscott bass, electric bass; Matthew Fries, piano, Vintage Vibe and Wurlitzer electric pianos; Keith Hall, drums and percussion; Tony Romano, classical, flamenco, steel string and electric guitars; Kat Gang, vocals; and George Walker Petit, percussion and special effects.

“Beyond the Wall” opens the set in dynamic fashion. Palombi’s riveting bass line introduces the song, augmented by a haunting chorus of instruments. The melody is tightly syncopated, with Romano, Fries and Palombi playing complementary lines. After two passes, the leader stretches out, taking the bass to its upper range and diving down to its depths. Romano and Fries get their turns as well, the latter doing his with the electric piano. Palombi says of the title that it represents the success of one who steps outside of his comfort zone. He says it’s built atop the idea that “we put up personal walls around us and can accomplish much if we get past them.”

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