Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Bruce Forman Trio – The Book of Forman

A little bit of standards and a lot of fresh material. That’s the composition of the Bruce Forman Trio’s The Book of Forman (Formanism Volume II) (B4Man Music, 2015).

The musicians are guitarist Forman, bassist Alan Frank and drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith.

The set begins with “Hate Mail (Letters of Love),” a delightful piece. Forman effortlessly moves from single string to chords and back as he guides us through this journey that’s part romance, part bitterness. Frank and Smith are locked in a groove throughout. The finale is setup by a guitar-bass duet, while Smith softens his strokes, working in some cymbal rolls for a change of pace. Smith’s rim shots and deft work on the high-hat are highlights.

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MSM Schmidt – Utopia

Composer and producer Michael Schmidt (aka MSM Schmidt), based in Bremen, Germany works in his day job at a large insurance firm, in his leisure time he fulfills his musical dreams in the jazz fusion and contemporary jazz genre. A long time he played in bands as drummer before he decided to concentrate on composing.

Through the German drummer Wolfgang Haffner he came in contact to many supreme artists of contemporary jazz. So he finally started to record the music he loves with the who-is-who of the scene. After his debut album Arrival (2003), he released Transit (2007), Destination (2009), Evolution (2012) and this year Utopia. Mitchel Forman performs on all albums, has moreover elaborated the arrangements and polished the pieces to perfection.

On the new album perform Charlie Bisharat (violin), Rick Braun (trumpet, valve trombone),Till Brönner and Barry Danielian (trumpet), Vinnie Colaiuta, Virgil Donati and Wolfgang Haffner(drums), Luis Conte (percussion), Brandon Fields (soprano, alto, tenor saxophone), Nicolas Fiszman and Jimmy Haslip (electric bass), Mitchel Forman (piano, synthesizers), Bruce Fowler and Clark Gayton (trombone), Walt Fowler (trumpet, flugel horn), Bob Franceschini (tenor saxophone, trombone), Randy Hoexter (synthesizer), Scott Kinsey (Fender Rhodes, synthesizer), Chuck Loeb, Oz Noy, Jeff Richman and Mike Miller (guitar), Jeff Lorber (Fender Rhodes), Eric Marienthal (alto saxophone), Bob Mintzer (tenor saxophone), Alan Pasqua (piano), and Steve Weingart (synthesizer). Jimmy Haslip and Mitchel Forman produced the new album.

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John Fedchock New York Big Band – Like It Is

The Big Apple, as it’s called, New York City is ripe for post-swing, large jazz ensembles. The John Fedchock New York Big Band captures that element with Like It Is (MAMA Records, 2015).

Composer, arranger and trombonist Fedchock leads the ensemble. The other musicians are Mark Vinci, alto saxophone and flute; Charles Pillow, alto and soprano saxophones; Rich Perry and Walt Weiskopf, tenor saxophones; Gary Smulyan and Scott Robinson, baritone sax; Tony Kadleck, Craig Johnson, Scott Wendholt, John Bailey and Barry Ries, trumpets and flugelhorns; Keith O’Quinn and Clark Gayton, trombones; George Flynn, bass trombone; Allen Farnham, piano; Dick Sarpola, bass; Dave Ratajczak, drums; and Bobby Sanabria, percussion on selected tracks. The baritone sax duties are split with Smulyan on six tracks, and Robinson the other four. Ries is the only trumpet/flugelhorn player to appear on all tracks. The others mix and match, ensuring there are three on each song.

A drum ad-lib opens the bright, bouncy “You and the Night and the Music.” The horns are like a miniature orchestra, with the different groups joining for melody of overlapping phrases. After the main theme, Fedchock stretches out, followed by Vinci and Perry. Beneath it all, the rhythm section remains firmly engaged, with Ratajczak standing out a bit.

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Mariea Antoinette – Straight From The Harp Special Edition

The harp has a unique position in the smooth jazz. Beside Lori Andrews, Deborah Henson-Conant or Mariea Antoinette are only a few artists playing this instrument.

Hailing from San Diego Mariea started her career with the album Sexy Paradise (2003) produced by Carl Evans Jr., musical director of the group Fattburger. She returned with the album Straight From The Harp in 2014.

On September 26, 2015 she will receive a Phenomenal Women in Entrepreneurship Award from the National Council of Negro Women, the 49th annual community event in San Diego, California at which she will perform. An enhanced version of her sophomore album, Straight from the Harp: Special Edition, will be released September 25 by MAH Productions featuring two bonus tracks.

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Lorraine Feather – Flirting With Disaster

Singer/songwriter Lorraine Feather explores romance with the aptly titled, Flirting With Disaster (Jazzed Media, 2015).

Musicians performing on selected tracks are Russell Ferrante, piano and arranger; Shelly Berg, piano and arranger; Dave Grusin, piano and arranger; Michael Valerio, bass; Grant Geissman, guitar; Eddie Arkin, guitar and arranger; Michael Shapiro, drums; Gregg Field, drums; Carlos Del Rosario, percussion on “Wait for It”; Charles Bisharat, violin; and Yutaka Yokokura, additional vocals on “Feels Like Snow.”

The title song, with music by Arkin and lyrics by Feather, is a surprisingly upbeat tune. Ferrante’s piano and Geissman’s guitar effects give the song a haunting, ethereal element. Bisharat’s solo is brief but fiery. Feather sings of an attraction, giving in to one’s passion, knowing that the individual probably will be swept away, and possibly lose a bit of self, but in the moment, not caring. Voice and instruments complement one another well, making this something of a symphony.

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Dave Koz – Collaborations

Dave Koz is one of the most popular smooth jazz artists worldwide. His cruises Dave Koz and Friends at Sea 2016 are already sold out. On September 22, 2009, Koz received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In December 2014, he opened Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge.

His solo projects can be divided into four areas. His original composed albums, his Christmas albums, his cover albums and his collaborations. His new album Collaborations (2015) is a hybrid from the latter two. At the same time it’s a thanks to a large number of partners who have made Dave to what he is today.

The 25th Anniversary Collection starts with Good Foot featuring Jeff Lorber. Jeff took Dave in his band, when he had just left college and encouraged him to his solo career. Dave and Jeff wrote the song some years ago and polished it up for the new album.

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Terri Lyne Carrington – The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul

Then comes the romantic side of jazz. Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington dives deep into the realm of charm, affection and personal relationships with The Mosaic Project: Love and Soul (Concord Records, 2015).

Each of the 12 songs is fronted by a different vocalist. Carrington and the singers are accompanied by a variable lineup of all-female musicians. They are: Amy Bellamy, piano, keyboards, organ, Rhodes, Elin Sandberg, bass on “Come Sunday”; Angie Swan, guitar and acoustic guitar; Tia Fuller, alto saxophone and flute; Negah Santos and Zayra Pola, percussion; TLC, drums, programming, “additional” guitar and backing vocals; Rhonda Smith, Linda Oh and Meshell Ndegeocello, bass; Linda Taylor and Felicia Collins, guitar; Tineke Postma, soprano sax; Paulette McWilliams, background vocals on “For You to Love”; Valerie Simpson, piano on “For You to Love”; Rachel Z, Rhodes, keyboards and piano; Melissa Aldana, tenor sax on “For You to Love”; Elena Pinderhughes, flute; Tanya Darby, Arnetta Johnson and Ingrid Jensen, trumpet; Netta Ranaan, tenor sax; Geri Allen, piano on “Somebody Told a Lie”; Lalah Hathaway, background vocals on “Imagine This”; Lauren Fuller, keyboards, piano, Rhodes; Merissa Magdael-Lauron, trombone; Alyson Williams, background vocals; Patrice Rushen, piano and Rhodes; Helen Sung, Rhodes on “Can’t Resist”; Regina Carter, violin on “You Just Can’t Smile It Away”; Grace Kelly, soprano sax solo on “When I Found You”; DJ Val Jeanty, turntable on “When I Found You.”

The singers, in order of appearance, are Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan, Oleta Adams, Jaguar Wright, Valerie Simpson, Nancy Wilson, Chante Moore, Lalah Hathaway, Carrington, Paula Cole, Ledisi and Lizz Wright.

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