Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Kenny Wellington – Free Spirit

Jazz trumpeter Kenny Wellington is one of the founders of the legendary British jazz funk band Light Of The World. Wellington is also a member of the offshoot band Beggar & Co. Kenny performed with Tom Browne, Tina Turner, Incognito, Spandau Ballet, Boy George, and many more.

His new solo project Free Spirit (2016) is inspired by the horn players of the past Donald Byrd, Jimmy Owens, Chuck Mangione, Eddie Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis and continues the tradition of British jazz funk and the acid jazz genre.

Kenny performs on the new album trumpet, flugelhorn, keyboards, percussion, backing vocals, all the programming and bass. Further musicians are David Baptiste (sax, flute, backing vocals), Jerome Harper (trombone), Clifford Rees (strings, violin, cello), Camelle Hinds (bass, percussion), Breeze McKrieth (guitar), Toby Baker (synthesizers), Steve Salvari (keyboards), Billy Osborne (drums), Ian da Prada (vibraphone), and Augie Johnson, Bobbie Lee Anderson, Gee Morris Osborne, David Lee Andrews (vocals).

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Steve Watson – Playtime

Guitarist Steve Watson was in earlier time a member of The Bruce Hornsby Band. Currently he is an adjunct professor at Furman University. His solo projects are Watson’s Riddle (2011) and Heat Up (2015). In May 2016 he released his latest album Playtime.

Watson is joined on selected tracks by Chuck Loeb (guitar), Jeff Lorber (piano, keyboards), Jimmy Haslip, Greg Alewinne (bass), Gary Novack, Tim Blackwell (drums), Ramon Yslas, Jeff Holland (percussion), David Mann (horns), Hazen Bannister, Wendel Donald (keyboards).

With the exception of one cover song Steve has written all songs, in parts with Chuck Loeb and Jeff Lorber. The set opens with Playtime, which is in his perfection comparable to the style of Fourplay. There is an infectious and captivating spirit that springs forth from the guitar conversation between Steve and Chuck, a stunning milestone in history of contemporary jazz.

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Lawson Rollins – 3 Minutes to Midnight

Lawson Rollins is one of the most prominent protagonists of Latin jazz. He gives a new meaning to acoustic guitar music. His solo albums Infinita (2008), Espirito (2010), Elevation (2011), Full Circle (2013) and Traveler (2015) are contemporary witnesses of a stunning career.

3 Minutes to Midnight is a new stellar release in the music history of this genre. Valuable companions on this recording are Dominic Camardella (piano, Rhodes and Hammond organ), Dave Bryant (drums, percussion), Randy Tico (bass), Charlie Bisharat (violin, viola), Stephen Duros (drum programming) and Forrest Marquisee (pedal steel).

The set opens with the title song, on which Lawson sounds similar to an evolution of Django Reinhardt. The uplifting Light the Way rises the mood with hand clapping, melodic drums and Lawson’s acoustic guitar elating in its transgression like a lark in springtime.

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Thomas Motter – Somewhere Out There

German keyboard genius Thomas Motter has always followed his own path in creating music of the finest vibrant quality. His albums No Return (2005), Nite Angel (2006), High (2012) and Lost & Loved (2013) are spectacular occasions of sounds. Somewhere Out There (2016) is the next level of musical evolution.

The album is enriched by an elite group of musicians. Ralf Gustke, Rodney Holmes and Camille Gainer Jones (drums), Larry Kimpel, Nathan East, Victor Bailey, Francis Hylton, Alvin Mills and Dany Martinez (bass), Bill Evans, Keith Anderson, Nathan Crosse (saxophones), Kalle Knecht (loops), Nene Vasquez, Dalma Lima (percussion), Greg Pena (trombone), Ebo Shakoor (flute), Kirt Dallaway (trumpet) are listed in the liner notes. In addition a large gathering of singers decorates the album.

While Bill Evans hits on his own albums the rock vibe, he lives on Your Smile the contemporary jazz dream. The impressive tune offers space for two guitar solos by Jimi Wilkes and Danny Martinez. With an deceptively subtle artistic sense of harmonic movement vocalists Angie Brown and Eric Conley make Call & Response 1 to a bluesy event.

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The Pan – Peligro Andante

Calgary, Canada based bass guitarist Pan Sciore is The Pan. Pan plays all sorts of bass (electric 4, 5, 6 string, fretted, fretless, and upright acoustic), along with a little guitar, accordion, piano, and a variety of percussion instruments. A classical multi-instrumentalist.

His new album is entitled Peligro Andante (2016). The Pan explains: “The meaning behind is more that the danger (‘peligro’) you will encounter is yours, you have nothing to fear, so keep on going along (‘andante’).”

Pan describes his music as an inter-mix of instrumental world, flamenco, light jazz, easy listening and a bit of funk. Pan recorded this album with Miles Jackson as recording engineer, who also contributed keyboards and percussion on selected tracks.

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Jacam Manricks – Chamber Jazz

Classical music composed for a small ensemble, mixed with the improvisation of jazz might sound something like Chamber Jazz (2016) by saxophonist Jacam Manricks.

Manricks plays alto, soprano and tenor saxophones, flute, alto flute and clarinet. His accompanists are Kevin Hays, piano and Fender Rhodes; Gianluca Renzi, acoustic bass; and Ari Hoenig, drums.

Manricks unloads his arsenal on the haunting “Ecmish.” He uses the soprano for the lead, but later adds the tenor in a counter-melody, and layers the alto sax and the flute for harmony. Hays sets the tone with an ascending, four-note piano phrase that’s repeated throughout the main theme. He switches to the Rhodes for a middle solo, which is accented strongly by Renzi and Hoenig. After the trio builds to a stunning crescendo, the song downshifts to tranquility. Manricks then takes the soprano on an easygoing jaunt.

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Threestyle – Smooth Ride

Magdalena Chovancova (sax. flute), Robert Fertl (guitar, bass, drum programming, keyboards), and Gabriela Chovancova (drums and vibraphone) are the Munich based group Threestyle. Their breeding ground for artistic production is the label Welovemusic Records. In the smooth jazz section the group already released Feel The Vibe (2012), Get It (2014) and Road To Montery (2016).

On their newest project Smooth Ride (2017) they are joined by a stellar compilation of top notch musicians. Among them are Lew Laing, Paul Brown, Nils, Jeff Carruthers, Robert Vally and many more.

The album starts with A Little Longer, which the same time also represents their first single. Cuddly and lithe is the sound of Magdalena’s saxophone embedded in Paul Brown’s smooth arrangement of the highest level. Smoothjazz.com broadcasts live from Monterey, California. The broadcasting studio is just a few hundred meters from the beach. Road to Monterey is Threestyle’s tribute to this great institution featuring Nils on guitar.

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