Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Daniela Schächter – Van Heusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen

Take some well-written songs, a charming voice and excellent musicians, put them together, and you’ll come away with a feast for the ears. Daniela Schachter accomplishes this with Van Heusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen (2016).

The set consists mostly of songs composed by the celebrated songwriter for whom it’s named. Many of Van Heusen’s songs were recorded or performed by Frank Sinatra. Schachter sings, plays piano and composed all arrangements. Her accompanists are Mike Tucker, tenor saxophone; Michael O’Brien, acoustic bass; and Mark Walker, drums.

The quartet is solid throughout, with Schachter performing elegantly on the keys, and her voice expressing the love and joy of playing this music. Her voice is at once soothing and enchanting. The musicians complement one another well, each getting an opportunity here and there to stretch out a bit. A few highlights are “Here’s That Rainy Day,” “Darn That Dream,” “Come Fly with Me,” and the one original song, Schachter’s “Vanheusenism.” Schachter even employs a delightful scat during her rendition of “Polkadots & Moonbeams.”

Read more …

Gordon Goodwin’s Little Phat Band – An Elusive Man

Smaller ensemble, same leader, equally good sound. That’s the essence of An Elusive Man (Music of Content, 2016) by Gordon Goodwin’s Little Phat Band.

The band consists of Goodwin, composer, arranger, piano and tenor saxophone; Wayne Bergeron, trumpet; Eric Marienthal, alto and tenor saxophones; Andy Martin, trombone; Andrew Synowiec, electric and acoustic guitars; Rick Shaw, acoustic and electric bass; Bernie Dresel, drums; and Joey De Leon, percussion.

A cool bass line, percussion and stick work help set the table for “Behind You,” a bouncy, delightful piece. Muted trumpet accents the melody. After two passes on the theme, the horns deliver a drama-building sequence, setting up Synowiec’s dancing, prancing solo. Goodwin follows with a spirited jaunt on tenor sax. Back on piano, he engages in a call and response with Dresel and De Leon. The horn section returns with the main phrase, also calling and responding with Dresel. A transition, and the melody comes back in full.

Read more …

Christoph Spendel – Jazzmatics Vol. 1 New York Sessions

Jazzmatics Vol. 1 New York Sessions is the first album in the Jazzmatics series by jazz genius Christoph Spendel. The addition New York Sessions is explained by the fact that Christoph Spendel recorded these pieces during his stay in the USA in the 90’s.

Christoph was supported by top notch musicians, with whom he performed on many events in the years 1993 – 1994. The album starts with the powerful City Life, described by Spendel with mighty keystrokes. Near the epicenter of fusion jazz he is also toying with other formats.

Backed on a precise and snappy percussion rhythm Christoph exercises on Strong People the noble art of piano driven jazz. From the Past allures with elevated pristine synth sounds in opposition to a stroke of piano genius.

Read more …

Anna Danes – Find Your Wings

During the summer, as vocalist Anna Danes planned the marketing and promotional aspects of her new album, Find Your Wings (DLG Records, 2016), she learned that she has breast cancer. She penned a motivational blog, Cancer Part 1: Vanity Saved My Life, to educate and inspire others who are dealing with their own health challenges.

Accompanying Danes are Rich Ruttenberg, piano; John Ferraro, drums; and Trey Henry, bass. Richard Shelton joins for a duet on “That’s All.”

“I Will Wait for You” has a moderate, finger-snapping, toe-tapping pace. Danes opens with a haunting chant before delving into the lyrics. She sings of a lover whose gone away for some purpose not mentioned in the song. What matters is that she’ll is patient, longing for his return. Ruttenberg complements with fills underneath her lead, as well as a middle solo. Ferraro and Henry are steady throughout, with the pair coming out more during the instrumental fade.

Read more …

Christoph Spendel – Jazzmatics Vol. 2 New York Sessions

The Jazzmatics series is for Christoph Spendel a resume of the last 40 years. It started 1971, when Christoph watched on TV Miles Davis and his band during the Berliner Jazztage. The Miles Davis cast made it clear how interesting it is to combine different styles and cultures.

Christoph is a child of the 70’s, when fusion jazz and rock jazz were developed, later copied to a high level. The mixture between America, Africa and Europe is a huge musical treasure trove for him. He always surrounded himself with musicians, who also shared his philosophy. So with his bands in Germany and in USA as a member of Special EFX.

He had the opportunity to perform with Chuck Loeb, Dave Samuels, Dave Valentin, Lee Ritenour, Marion Meadows, Chieli Minucci, and more. His love for Weather Report and his longtime friendship with Joe Zawinul have also shaped him. His passion for Latin music was fueled by his numerous Cuba visits.

Read more …

Anthony Branker and Imagine – Beauty Within

Where he leads, they gleefully follow. Anthony Branker and Imagine present Beauty Within (Origin Records, 2016), an engaging set of all-original music.

Branker is composer and musical director. The Imagine musicians are Ralph Bowen, tenor and soprano saxophones; Pete McCann, guitar; Fabian Almazan, piano; Linda Oh, double bass; Rudy Royston, drums.

Oh goes it alone to introduce the title song. The nearly two minute solo shows the bassist’s dexterity. A little stick work from Royston cues the band. The song has a haunting, enchanting mood, whether Bowen or Almazan has the lead. Royston, rather than keep a steady beat, mixes rolls with independent strikes, deftly shifting from cymbals to toms and back. The melody is a duet between tenor sax and guitar. Entering the final phase, Bowen stretches out, bringing more energy and passion.

Read more …

Reza Khan – Wind Dance

Bangladesh born Jazz guitarist Reza Khan has already released the albums Painted Diaries (2008), A Simple Plan (2011) and The Dreamwalker (2013). His new project is entitled Wind Dance (2016).

His new album features saxophonist Andy Snitzer, trumpeter Rick Braun, bassists Mark Egan and Gary Granger, guitarists Miles Gilderdale and Marc Antoine, saxophonist/flutist Nelson Rangell, drummer Greg Granger and keyboardist Philippe Saisse. In addition perform members of his longtime live band, bassist Ray Dienneman, saxophonist Nigel Innes, drummer Bill Donnelly and guitarist Brian Taylor. Furthermore drummers Graham Hawthorn and Sean Dixon, bassist Paul Frazier, and percussionist Davi Vieira.

The album starts with the smoky Ride inspired by the rock fusion sound of the Rippingtons. The song lives by Andy Snitzer’s sonic heartbeat and Reza’s emotionally charged and furious guitar play.

Read more …