Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

CCM Jazz Orchestra – In Search of Garaj Mahal

Guitarist Fareed Haque is a solo artist as well as a member of Garaj Mahal. The group’s approach to jazz inspires many, including Scott Belck, jazz director at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. The pair collaborated with Belck’s orchestra for In Search of Garaj Mahal (Harmonized Records, 2016).

There are two ensembles: the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Jazz Orchestra, and the CCM Jazz Lab Band. The orchestra is comprised of musical director, Dr. Scott Belck; Joe Duran, lead alto saxophone; Ryan Van Scoyk, alto sax; Josh Kline, tenor sax; Eric Wurzelbacher, tenor sax; and Nathan Hatton, baritone sax; Michael Dudley, lead trumpet; Ty Sheets, Eric Lechliter and Aaron Todahl, trumpets; Charles Dong, lead trombone; Jacob Neiderman, Christian Dawson, trombones, and Josh Omaits, bass trombone; Brad Myers, guitar; Jordan Pollard, piano; Will Wagner, bass; and David Albanese, drums. The Jazz Lab Band, featured on “Alvin,” consists of Dominic Marino, director; Curtis Holtgrefe, lead alto saxophone; Emily Jordan, alto sax; Royce Files, tenor sax; Kyle Kidwell, tenor sax; and Caleb Burkhardt, baritone sax; Michael Cruse, Sarah Muttyala and James Tilman, trumpets; Christian Dawson, lead trombone; and Michael Bauer, bass trombone; Niko Kordalis, guitar; Adam Sampson, piano; Julia Higgins, bass; and David O’Connell, drums.

“Chester the Pester” opens the set. The introduction is a haunting, symphonic sequence that quickly evolves into an upbeat hybrid of big band and fusion. Wagner’s thumping bass line is a constant. His middle solo is consistent with the schools of Pastorius, Patitucci and Miller. Haque uses effects to make his guitar sound like a keyboard. Albanese’s stick work is superb throughout. The horns cannot be overlooked as they play a lot of the lead melodies.

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Patrick Yandall – Ethos

EthosGuitarist Patrick Yandall serves with an amazing constancy and regularity the smooth jazz community with new releases. This year his new album is entitled Ethos. Ethos is the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution. The Greeks believed the power of music could alter ones emotions, behaviors and even morals!

On his new album Patrick is performing all instruments and has written all tracks. He also recorded and mastered the complete album at MoBop Studios San Diego. Good music doesn’t need a special place and when Patrick calls the starter Peytons Place, then just to give the film in your head some nutrition. The tune is obviously influenced by Weather Report’s Birdland.

Based on a flowing rhythm Patrick creates a guitar whirlwind on Ethos caring for much atmosphere. Biggah Mo Bettah provides funky guitar voicing and textures in the style of Brothers Johnson. Carlos Santana’s Europa meets Wham’s Careless Whisper to Say Goodbye. Pure emotion.

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Noah Preminger – Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground

The Mississippi Delta is a powerful force in the music of Noah Preminger. He again taps into the culture that gave birth to America’s music with Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground (2016).

Noah plays saxophone. On this date, he’s accompanied by Jason Palmer, trumpet; Kim Cass, bass; and Ian Froman, drums.

Trumpet and sax trade licks over a riveting bass line to begin “Hard Times Killin’ Floor Blues.” This Skip James composition takes on different modes. While the horns wail like so many field workers trying to survive an agonizing day picking cotton, the bass drives along. Then, the quartet takes off on a high-speed jaunt with Preminger and Palmer exchanging lines in an intense dialogue. Cass and Froman cut loose underneath. After a frantic middle, the horns step back while Froman stretches out. Then it reverts to the beginning mode.

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Damian Drăghici – The American Dream

The pan flute is usually allocated to the world or folk music. Gheorghe Zamfir is the best-known performer of this instrument. Pan flute and jazz? That is something new.

Damian Drăghici is such a seldom musician, who interprets with his instrument jazz, as we have never heard before. With his unique triple-tongue staccato technique he is the proven virtuoso on this instrument.

His new album is entitled American Dream (2016). Everyone associates with this term his own vision. “The American Dream has been a dream of mine for a while now,” Draghici recalls. “Here’s how the story started almost 30 years ago. When I was 17 years-old during the communist times in Bucharest, Romania, I saw and heard for the first time real American jazz musicians playing live.

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John Daversa – Kaleidoscope Eyes – Music of The Beatles

I saw recently where someone said The Beatles were overrated. That’s a bold statement to make, considering the group’s immense popularity, nearly six decades after their debut in the United States, and nearly five after their breakup. Their songs have been covered by artists of many genres, and some have done entire sets based on the music of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr. John Daversa enters the fray with Kaleidoscope Eyes – Music of The Beatles (BFM Jazz, 2016).

Daversa plays trumpet, EVI (electronic valve instrument) and vocals. The orchestra consists of Jeff Driskill, alto and soprano saxophones, flute and piccolo; Phil O’Conner, alto sax, clarinet and bass clarinet; Tom Peterson, tenor sax, clarinet and flute; Phil Feather, tenor sax, flute and oboe; Katisse Buckingham, tenor sax, flute and alto flute; Bob Carr, baritone sax, bass clarinet and bassoon; Nancy Newman, bass sax; trombones by Alex Iles, Bill Booth and Paul Young; George Thatcher, bass trombone; trumpets and flugelhorns by Daversa, Ron King, Bijon Watson, Glenda Smith, Bob Schaer, Jay Daversa, Daniel Rosenboom and Aaron Smith; Tommy King, piano and keys; Andrew Synowiec, guitar; Zane Carney, guitar; Nick Mancini, vibraphone; Jerry Watts Jr., basses; Gene Coye, drums; Joe Martone, percussion; violins by Susan Chatman, concertmaster Peter Kent, Gina Kronstadt, Songa Lee, Jordan Slocum and Yihuan Zhao; violas by Matt Nabors, Kate Reddish and Jimbo Ross; celli by Peggy Baldwin, Giovanna Clayton, Paula Hochhalter, Liza Liu and Judy Kang; and the choir: Genevieve Artadi, Zane Carney, Carol Huston, Kate Reid, Ann Sheridan and Greg Whipple. Additional instruments recorded: Chad Bernstein, trombone; Derek Ganong, trumpet and flugelhorn; Tyler Giroux, valve trombone; Christine Guter, voice; Sharon Jackson, violin; Guy Manning, tuba; Jesus Mato Jr., trumpet; Javier Nero, trombone; Chris Palowich, bass trombone; Kathleen Robertson, violin; Nike Ross, cello; and Will Wulfeck, trombone. Singer Renee Olstead joins for a few tracks.

Olstead performs the stellar opening, “Good Day Sunshine” and “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” She brings her own soulful jazz style to complement the arrangements.

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Konstantin Klashtorni – Led By You

Saxophonist Konstantin Klashtorni continued his solo career with his sophomore album Led By You in 2006. It’s different to most of his other projects, because he invited several other artists to join his recordings.

Udo Demandt (drums and percussion), Yerman Aponte (bass), Roy Lewis (guitar), Michael Simon (trumpet), Santiago Cananda Valvere (trombone), Ibernice McBean as backing vocalist and Mitchel Brunings as lead vocalist are sharing his compositions on selected tracks.

The album begins with Back It Up. A stirring tune with Konstantin’s vibrant sax in progression. So Lovely inspires with sax, flute and natural sounds. Nice warmth and accessibility captures the audience. It Dews is the redeeming call after a long and severe winter period. Konstantin tracks musically the way of every single drop. An emotive flow pushing the music over the sonic edge.

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Myriad3 – Moons

A trio that sounds like something bigger. That’s Myriad3. And the group continues to impress with Moons (Alma Records, 2016).

The players are Chris Donnelly, piano and synth; Dan Fortin, upright bass, fretless and synth; and Ernesto Cervini, drums and Glockenspiel.

Highlights include the opening track, “Skeleton Key,” “Unnamed Cells” and the one cover song, “Counter of the Cumulus.” When one thinks of the piano-bass-drum lineup, the music usually covers jazz standards or is confined to the acoustic sounds of those instruments, often both. But the inclusion of synths and the Glockenspiel immediately gives these songs more depth and diversity. The electronic element adds a contemporary, or modern, feel. And the compositions range from the simple melody to the complex symphony, a soundtrack of life.

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