Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

Jim Yanda Trio – Regional Cookin’ and Home Road

Is he working overtime? Double time? Triple time? Or is he simply hoarding his collection until such time that he’s ready for a big splash? Either way, guitarist Jim Yanda offers the simultaneous release of two albums, one of them a two-disc set, adding up to nearly two and a half hours of ear candy. The releases are Regional Cookin’ and Home Road (Corner Store Jazz, 2017).

The Jim Yanda Trio consists of Yanda, Phil Haynes on drums and Drew Gress on bass.

The answer to the above questions is Yanda has been holding onto this material. The trio has been together for 30 years, but somehow has remained relatively unknown. The first album was recorded in 1987, but had not been released. The second album covers newly recorded material.

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Burt Brion – The Secret’s Out

One can certainly describe Burt Brion as veteran in music business. When I reviewed his debut album Say The Word in 2005, he was already since 15 years a professional musician.

Last year he released his second album The Secret’s Out with the support of some musicians mostly from the San Diego area. Guitarist Mark Shapiro and keyboardist Allan Phillips from Fattburger, guitarist Patrick Yandall and bassist Nathan Brown are mentioned in Burt’s comment at CDBaby.

The Secret’s Out is served fresh like a Pinnacle from Sumatra’s fruit fields. Richard Seller’s dry drum beats, Brant Leeper’s vintage organ strokes and Burt on piano introduce into the piece soon joined by Mark Shapiro on guitar and Jason Weber on sax. This is a striking full house on your hand.

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Fabrizio Cassol – Strange Fruit

Strange fruit (n): an expression of dismay upon seeing human bodies hanging from trees, the victims of murder, lynchings perpetrated by those who considered those they killed less than human. Fabrizio Cassol adopts the jazz-blues standard as the title of his project, Strange Fruit (Instinct Collection, 2017).

Cassol plays alto saxophone. The musicians who appear in mix-and-match combinations are Baba Sissoko, vocals, ngoni, tama and tamani; Diely Moussa Kouyate, guitar; Zoumana Tereta, so kou; Magic Malik, flute; Laurent Blondiau, trumpet; Bo Van der Wert, baritone saxophone; Michel Massot, trombone; Stephane Galland, drums; Michel Hatzigeorgiou, electric bass; Oumou Sangare, vocals; La Choraline, choir; Eric Legnini, keyboards, Hammond organ; Manu Codjia, guitar; Claron McFadden, vocals; Makhan Cissoko, vocals and tama; Djimbe Sissoko, vocals and tama; Bazoumana Sissoko, vocals and tama; Djatourou Sissoko, vocals and tama; Yacouba Sissoko, vocals and tama; Fabian Fiorini, piano; Kris Dane, vocals and guitar; Melissa Givens, vocals; Marie Daulne, vocals; Hamane Toure, guitar; Sekouh Bah, electric bass; Dejeneba Dansoko, backing vocals; Pamela Badiogo Mahapa, backing vocals; Renauld Crols, violin; Kezia Daulne, vocals; David Linx, vocals; Sarah Klenes, backing vocals; Anu Junnonnen, backing vocals; Aka Moon jazz trio.

The set opens with “Didadi Horns,” which blends an African cultural motif with a touch of funk. Baba Sissoko has the lead vocal. The horns are reminiscent of some late 1960s or early ‘70s songs or film scores composed by a combination of Lalo Schifrin, Isaac Hayes or Quincy Jones. It’s a call to gather and freedom.

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Julian and Roman Wasserfuhr – Landed in Brooklyn

In a way, it’s like a present-day reinvention of mild jazz fusion. But then it’s many other things. Landed in Brooklyn (ACT Music, 2017) by brothers Julian and Roman Wasserfuhr touch several bases, with regard to types of jazz.

The players are Julian Wasserfuhr, trumpet and flugelhorn; Roman Wasserfuhr, piano, marimba and seaboard; Donny McCaslin, tenor saxophone; Tim Lefebvre, electric and double bass; and Nate Wood, drums.

“Bernie’s Tune” is a bright, upbeat selection. Though it is its own song, it revisits the type of music that made Chuck Mangione a breakthrough crossover success in 1977. McCaslin duets with Julian, providing a counter melody to the lead. After their dynamic opening sequence, the horns step back, and the piano emerges. The mood for the entire piece, but especially the solos, is ideal for an afternoon, sightseeing drive.

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Pieces Of A Dream – Just Funkin’ Around

More than twenty albums, over forty years creative work. Pieces Of A Dream are an institution in the smooth jazz genre beyond their early expectations. With Just Funkin’ Around they build the next pave stone to international stardom.

This project was recorded by Curtis Harmon (keyboards, drums and percussion), James Lloyd, George Granville lll (keyboards), David Dyson (bass and keyboards), Randy Bowland (guitar), and Tony Watson Jr. (saxophones and keyboards). Remarkably, the band waives the use of drum computer and programming.

The album kicks of with the funk infused Right Back Atcha inspired by Steve Wonder’s music. A performance with lots of pep. Just Funkin’ Around goes the extra mile, when it comes to funk. Wah-wah guitar, a ducky sax, Hammond B3, organic in sound with the awareness of rooting the execution moves to the next level.

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Jason Anick and Jason Yeager – United

Jason squared? Possibly even Jason tripled, or whatever the mathematical equivalent of a tripling of something may be. Jason Anick and Jason Yeager team up for pleasing mix of old and new with United (Inner Circle Music, 2017).

The musicians are Jason Anick, violin and mandolin; Jason Yeager, piano; Greg Loughman, bass; Mike Connors, drums; John Lockwood, bass; Jerry Leake, percussion; Jason Palmer, trumpet; Clay Lyons, alto saxophone; and George Garzone, tenor saxophone.

Often, people who aren’t used to jazz will describe the sound as “so relaxing.” To many, that is taken as a bit of an insult – as if the speaker is saying jazz is boring, sleep-inducing. United is one example of how that description, relaxing, can be both accurate and positive.

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Skinny Hightower – Emotions

Although a practicing smooth jazz piano player Skinny Hightower prefers to listen to other styles of music like jazz and funk. That has yielded its first positive results. His debut album Cloud Nine (2016) received high acclaims. His second strike Emotions will be released on Trippin ‘N’ Rhythm Records May 26, 2017.

On his large foray into the smooth jazz genre he is accompanied by an armada of well known musicians such as Charlie Duran, Kool&Klean, Rock Hendricks (saxophone), Andrew Hawkley, Nick Colionne, David Stevens (guitars), Antonio Rivera (acoustic guitar), Julian Vaughn (bass), and Lin Rountree (trumpet, flugelhorn). Skinny Hightower performs on his sophomore project piano, drums, percussion, keyboards, bass and also serves the programming.

The album takes with Tender a fulminate start. The hypnotic rhythm creeps into your soul until it is a part of you. The melody is under constant energy between the magnetic poles Skinny on the keys and Charlie Duran on sax. The funky rhythm is also compelling pacemaker for the vigorous Emotions featuring Skinny, saxophonist Konstantin Klashtorni aka Kool&Klean and guitarist Andrew Hawkley in competitive overdrive.

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