Archive for the ‘ Jazz Fusion ’ Category

Kirk Whalum – Humanité

Sax legend Kirk Whalum is as I already stated in another review a wanderer between the two worlds of smooth jazz and Gospel music. With his new album Humanité he breaks through this scheme.

Humanité is an album, whose music is formed in mosaic shape by the musicians and their involved personalities they have brought in to the recording process. Among many others the following musicians are participating: Japanese jazz pianist Keiko Matsui, the young bass phenomenon Barry Likumahuwa, gifted singer/songwriter Grace Sahertian and global pop star Indonesian singer/actor Afgansyah Reza, known to many as Afgan, vocalist/guitarist Zahara, one of South Africa’s biggest stars, Kasiva Mutwa of Nairobi, and the veteran UK jazz vocalist Liane Carroll.

Curtis Mayfield’s song Move On Up has lost none of its radiance since its inception in the ’70s. Especially in the last months you can meet his song in ever new variations. Kirk Whalum goes his own way with his interpretation which is settled near a jazzy attitude in a Weather Report way. Singer Brendan Reilly is sensationally excellent.

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Mike Stern & Jeff Lorber Fusion – Eleven

GRAMMY Award-winning keyboardist/composer/producer Jeff Lorber recalls seeing guitarist Mike Stern during his much-ballyhooed tenure with Miles Davis in the early ‘80s. “I’ve been a fan of his for a long time,” said the keyboardist, who was touring hard in support of his hit records Wizard Island and It’s a Fact in those analog days. “Jeff Lorber Fusion and Miles Davis were playing some of the same festivals back then, so I got to hear him play.” For his part, Stern offered, “To be honest, I was aware of him, and had heard a bunch of good things, but I had never really checked him out. We were just in different orbits, me and Jeff.”

In subsequent years, each staked out his respective musical territory — Lorber, the electric maestro from Los Angeles, pioneering the post-fusion sound of contemporary jazz with his radio-friendly, groove-oriented instrumental music; Stern, the esteemed six-stringer from New York, lending his considerable chops to bands led by Jaco Pastorius, Michael Brecker and Joe Henderson as well as groups like Steps Ahead, Vital Information and the Brecker Brothers while also leading his own band and cutting 18 recordings under his own name.

Credit bassist-producer Jimmy Haslip, a charter member of Yellowjackets, with bringing these two seemingly disparate musical forces from opposite sides of the country together. And rather than being a musical Odd Couple, it turns out that Lorber and Stern fit hand-in-glove on the ten scintillating tracks that comprise Eleven, set for release on September 27, 2019 via Concord Jazz. (The title is a joking reference toThis Is Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel, who proudly demonstrates in the 1984 movie how his amplifier has a volume knob that goes to eleven… “for when you need that extra push over the cliff.”) Continue reading

fo/mo/deep – Syzygy

Already the spelling of the formation reveals the elitist claim. fo/mo/deep is a band of the extraordinary. The core of the group consists of Ron “FatKat” Holmes, basses (fretted/fretless), André Scott, drums, percussion and Robert Mason, grand & electric piano, organ.

The discography includes the albums Eclecticism (2010), A Beautiful Bang (2012) and The Groovy Goodness (2014). This year Syzygy is joining them. In astronomy, a syzygy is a straight-line configuration of three or more celestial bodies in a gravitational system. Probably the title refers to the three members of the band who are in constant musical interaction.

Since the elitist is always in danger of self-isolation, the group has decided to open their album with a popular song. Curtis Mayfield was not only a highly talented songwriter but also the musical flagship of the African-American movement for equal rights in society and a precise observer of everyday problems. With Move On Up (1970) he spoke from the soul to the underprivileged and encouraged them not to give up. The group takes up this call because these problems still exist. If anyone is able to translate the dynamics of the piece into a piano run, it is Robert Mason.

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Monkey House – Friday

Monkey House is a band consisting of the core members singer, songwriter, keyboardist Don Breithaupt, drummer Mark Kelso, bassist Pat Kilbride, and guitarist Justin Abedin.

On their new album Friday (2019) the band is supported by the elite Toronto horn section of William Sperandei, Vern Dorge, John Johnson, William Carn and Tony Carlucci, as well as percussionist Art Avalos.

The new album is written by Breithaupt with the exception of one cover. Those who are not familiar with the music of this formation, will quickly remark by listening to 10,000 Hours that this music is neither jazz nor smooth jazz. According to my own musical experience the group is comparable to 10CC, Godley & Creme or Steely Dan.

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Eugen Botos Finally – Final Definition

Slovakia based jazz funk trio Finally was founded by Eugen Botos (piano) – leader and composer of the band, Robert Vizvari (bass guitar), Martin Koleda (guitar). In 2008 the trio became the touring band of Eric Marienthal in Europe which gave them some contact with the American contemporary jazz scene. In 2010 they released their debut album My Space.

Final Definition is their sophomore album, which was released in Japan in 2016 and this year in the rest of the world. The album features an incredible variety of top musicians. Among them are famous singers like Brian McKnight, Maysa Leak, Dionne Warwick, Angela Johnson, Sheldon Reynolds, sax player Eric Marienthal, drummers Dave Weckl, Eric Valentine, Oscar Seaton and Ronald Brunner Jr., bass players Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten, keyboardist Jeff Lorber and many more.

Marcus Miller introduces into the theme of Love For Real with his sonorous sounding bass. Featured singer is Sheldon Reynolds, the former singer and guitarist of the groups Sun, The Commodores and Earth, Wind and Fire. The song also offers prominent solos by Marcus Miller and Jeff Lorber on Rhodes.

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Eugen Botos Finally – Final Definition

Eugen Botos Finally are a trio of outstanding Slovak musicians, comprising of keyboardist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Eugen Botos, bass guitarist Robert Vizvari and guitarist Martin Koleda playing under the name Finally.

Their album Final Definition, however crosses miles away from their homeland and features a host of well known artists such as Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, Dave Weckl, Eric Marienthal, Jeff Lorber and Maysa Leak amongst others. Final Definition is a recording full of original compositions delivering an excellent blend of fusion, jazz and soul to the listener. Eugen Botos Finally will be a name that will stay in your memory banks and Final Definition will most definitely be an album that you will play on repeat.

Get the album on CDBaby.

Eric Essix – Moments (Anthology)

Recently I reviewed Eric Essix’s album More with a survey of his already released works. A  short time after this review he released his album Moments, an anthology of his previous albums spanning a period of three decades.

With Street Scene Eric shows his best side right away. A high infectious melody taken from the album Small Talk (2012). Greg Manning on piano adds a joyful groove and Melvin Butler on sax a mellow note. Steel is from Eric’s album Birmingham (2009), the ode to his hometown. Birmingham was a great iron and steel producer in the decades after the civil war.

On Drive Time from Somewhere In Alabama (2004) Eric shines with a sing along guitar playing in the style of George Benson. The Distance is from Eric’s self titled album (2012), which presents a special blues-rock attitude. Southbound is the title song of the album, which was released in 2000. Kelvin Wooten delivers a phenomenal accompaniment on piano and Hammond B3.

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