Archive for the ‘ CD Reviews ’ Category

David Berkman – Old Friends and New Friends

It’s a combination of members of a recently formed quartet and companions from years past. Pianist David Berkman brings them together for Old Friends and New Friends (Palmetto Records, 2015).

With Berkman are Dayna Stephens, soprano and tenor saxophones; Billy Drewes, alto and soprano saxophones; Adam Kolker, soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet and bass clarinet; Linda Oh, bass; and Brian Blade, drums. Stephens and Oh are the relative newcomers, while the others have performed or recorded with Berkman in the past.

With Kolker on soprano sax and Stephens on tenor, “Tribute” is a tranquil, ocean breeze. The horns harmonize during the melody, accented by Berkman’s piano and Blade’s cymbal splashes. Tom and snare rolls, mixed with cymbal splashes accompany the soprano solo. The accompaniment softens for Berkman’s elegant passage.

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Antonio Gómez – Alcala Street

In the last weeks I had the focus on Spanish music with reviews about the albums of saxophonist Inaki Arakistain and guitarist Juan Carlos Mendoza. I finish this cycle with the album of Spanish guitarist Antonio Gómez Alcalá Street, Jazz from Spain (2015).

Haling from Almeria he studied his instrument in America and Spain. He started his musical career with Guitarra de Navidad, an album of Christmas songs in 1997. His second album Aires de Mar followed in 2007. Alcalá Street, Jazz from Spain is his third album.

These Spanish folk music arrangements are released on the label Youkali Music. Antonio comments꞉ “The title Alcalá Street refers to a musical walk through an imaginary Alcalá Street where Spanish folk melodies combine with rhythms and harmonies of other latitudes, as well as different styles, sounds and rhythms of jazz, funk, Latin and flamenco″.

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Kevin Stout and Brian Booth – Color Country

Love for a thing can make a tremendous difference in a musician’s approach to how music is played. When the scenic beauty of one’s home land is the inspiration, the passion that follows likely will be of the highest order. So it is with Kevin Stout and Brian Booth’s Color Country (Jazzed5 Records, 2015).

The two hail from Utah. One section in the southern part of the state has five national parks. Each of the 13 tracks represents part of that landscape.

Booth plays saxophones and flutes. Stout plays trombone, guitar and percussion. Accompanying them are Joey Singer, piano; Tom Warrington, bass; John Abraham, drums; and JoBelle Yonely, vocals.

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Freeze Frame – The Works

Since several decades the musician Ray Bach is associated with the project Freeze Frame, music timeless and in the border area of smooth jazz and new age. His new release The Works (2015) is greeted with a laughing and a crying eye. Sadness creeps in with the thought that it might be his last album.

Ray calls it his final album and a worthy ending. With as many as 16 songs he sweetens this termination. He is accompanied on individual pieces by Thomas Barquee, Liza, Konstanze Arens (vocals), Stephan Gade, Ricky Garcia, Jörn Becker (guitars), Georg Hahn (vocals, violin), Lars Slowak (vocals, bass), Nils Karstens (brass), Petra Rathmann (saxophon), and Benn Timms (trumpet).

The album starts with familiar sounds. A Perfect Day reminds of many of his earlier works from a creative period of 25 years. Carefree are swinging sounds by synthesizers and keyboard across the room. Ray is also ready to receive new impulses. The Skerries of Stockholm featuring singer Konstanze Arens is treading trendy ways.

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Harry Allen – For George, Cole and Duke

There is the tried and trite practice of dipping into the “American Songbook,” remaking jazz standards that have been remade and remade. On the other hand, there is the more focused effort to recapture the magic, while at the same time making it fresh and personal. That’s the approach saxophonist Harry Allen takes with For George, Cole and Duke (Blue Heron Records, 2015), his tribute to the songs of George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington.

Allen plays tenor sax. With him are Ehud Asherie, piano; Nicki Parrott, upright bass and vocals; Chuck Redd, drums and vibraphone; and special guest, “Little Johnny” Rivero, shakers, conga and bongo on three tracks.

Parrott sings lead on the Ellington/Gabler collaboration, “In a Mellow Tone.” Asherie lays the foundation, with Allen coming in with fills after vocal lines. It’s a bright, delightful adaptation of the classic. The piano break adds to that mood. Allen does likewise when it’s his turn out front. As if singing weren’t enough, Parrott also contributes a bass solo, in call and response with Redd.

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Christian Artmann – Fields of Pannonia

Hailed by JazzTimes and All About Jazz, flutist Christian Artmann’s Fields of Pannonia (2015) is part easy listening, part jazz.

Performing with Artmann are pianist Greg Kallor, bassist Johannes Weidenmeuller and drummer Jeff Hirshfield.

The title song opens the set. It’s a tranquil, at times haunting piece. It inspires images of a group of travelers on a long journey. Part of that trip covers a vast, grassy plain. Occasionally, they stop for rest or a meal, or interact with animals who call the plain home. The title is possibly inspired by Pannonia, a territory of the ancient Roman Empire. The region is now part of Hungary, Austria, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia.

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Maysa – Back 2 Love

One of the leading soul singers of her time Maysa has grown to the queen of hearts. Known as top vocalist of the British Jazz-Funk band Incognito she regularly release her own solo projects. Maysa (1995), All My Life (2000), Out Of The Blue (2002), Smooth Sailing (2004), Sweet Classic Soul (2006), Feel The Fire (2007), Metamorphosis (2008), A Woman in Love (2010), Motions Of Love (2011), Blue Velvet Soul (2013) and A Very Maysa Christmas (2014) are her previous albums. Back 2 Love is her newest project.

Maysa comments꞉ “The music represents who I am as a woman and a human being who lives to love people. As a professional singer I should be able to sing anything and my records are just me trying to love everyone. And that’s why I am proud to be able to go from Jazz to R&B to Pop, etc.”

The album already reveals with the first track the new direction. Back 2 Love is wrapped as a dance tune to appeal younger audience. Fortunately Maysa still presents her unaltered natural voice as we love it. Keep It Movin’ grooves in R&B style featuring Stokley, lead singer of the group Mint Condition. In the smooth jazz genre, we meet him on recordings by Brian Culbertson, U-Nam or Boney James.

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