Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Corrado Rustici – Aham

AhamEager to emerge from the “trance” and “lack of imagination” plaguing electric guitarists for the past several decades, Corrado Rustici devoted six years to exploring sounds and expansive musical contexts utilizing only the guitar as his field of experimentation and expression. The imaginative results are the nine songs he composed that together form Aham, an audacious collection of ambient fusion, progressive jazz, ethereal rock, moody pop, and dramatic classical performed and produced by Rustici set for release in the U.S. on July 15.

Rustici’s aural pursuit began in conjunction with a spiritual quest, an existential search into his being, which conjointly led to exploring the essential nature of his perception of music. Everything that you hear on “Aham,” a Sanskrit word meaning “I am,” from what sounds like drums, bass, strings, woodwinds and voice were created exclusively using electric and acoustic guitars through analog pedals and digital plug-ins. The only exceptions are two vocal tracks – one by Rustici on the poetic confessional “The Guilty Thread” and another featuring the soulful tenor voice of Andrew Strong (“The Commitments”) on the fantastical adventure “Alcove Of Stars” – and handclaps on the meandering balladic sojourn “The Last Light Spoken.” The artist did not use synthesizers, samplers or electronic instruments anywhere on the album.

“When I started to write the music for this album, I wanted to find out how far this wonderful instrument and I could go. During six years of work and experimentation, I’ve been incredibly surprised by the guitar’s versatility and sonic capabilities , which have been seldom used or almost totally ignored up to this point. The deeper I went, I became more and more enthused and excited about the little and big secrets that the instrument kept revealing to me. The way in which the music was conceived and produced created some limitations, constrictions and a distinctive sonic palette, all of which contributed to the overall sound and mood of the album. I hope that after six years of R&D, I was able to create a musical space within which one can hear the first baby cry of what I like to call the ‘Transmodern Guitar,’” said Rustici, who as a byproduct of his work on “Aham” is designing and developing a couple of guitar pedals with DV Mark that will be unvieled in January 2017 at the NAMM Show. Continue reading

Avery Sharpe – Sharpe Meets Tharpe: A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Among the superstitious, jazz is considered “the devil’s music.” Avery Sharpe joins the chorus of musicians who defy that line of thinking by showing that jazz, like any other genre of music, can be used for inspiration and to praise God. Sharpe Meets Tharpe: A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe (JKNM Records, 2016) presents the acclaimed bassist with The New England Gospel Choir and special guest Meli’sa Morgan.

Sharpe plays double bass, six-string electric bass and uses his voice. Meli’sa Morgan is lead vocalist on the songs that have lyrics. The other musicians are Charles Neville, tenor sax with solos on “Shout Sister Shout” and “Miss Nubin”; Michael King, piano and Hammond B-3 organ; Cory Cox, drums; Charles Langford, tenor and soprano saxophones; Jeremy Turgeon, trumpet; and James Messbauer, trombone. The New England Gospel Choir consists of Kevin Sharpe, director, tenor and bass; sopranos Heather Lord, Tania Greene and Shaina Paris; altos Wanda Rivera, Sofia Rivera and Linda Turner; tenor Heshima Moja, who leads on “Lonesome Road”; bass Robert Rivera; and rehearsal pianist Michele Feldheim.

“This Train,” a traditional spiritual, opens the set. Sharpe and Cox lay down the groove as the horn section warms up. Morgan sings in a style similar to Mavis Staples, blending gospel spirituality with soulful toning. King takes point during the middle break, with the choir adding a haunting, ethereal element. Sharpe then licks his chops on the electric, striking a series of high notes that make you wonder if it’s a bass or a guitar.

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Leslie Pintchik – True North

A stew whose ingredients include straight jazz, sassy blues and classic soul might be a good way to describe what pianist Leslie Pintchik cooks up with True North (Pintch Hard Records, 2016). With original titles that play on common sayings, like “Just Sayin’” and “Crooked as a Dog’s Leg,” and a small assortment of covers, Pintchik serves up a delicious meal for the ears.

Performing with Pintchik are Scott Hardy, bass; Michael Sarin, drums; Satoshi Takeishi, percussion on all but the closing track; and Steve Wilson, alto and soprano saxophones, and Ron Horton, trumpet and flugelhorn on selected tracks.

“Tumbleweed” is a moderately paced, ambient piece. One can visualize the Nevada desert, where the piano represents traveling the countryside, with the soft play of the horns being the wind that causes the tumbleweed to roll across the landscape. Bass and drum rhythms add just a touch of samba, and the percussion suggests an animal or two that come across the tumbleweed’s path. Horton and Wilson contribute solos.

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Rata-tet – Arctic

When one thinks of woodwind, or reed, instruments in jazz, the thoughts usually are centered around saxophone, flute or clarinet. Ratatet believes otherwise. The bassoon can be as effective. The group proves this with its debut, Arctic (Ridgeway Records, 2016).

Drummer Alan Hall is the leader, who also is arranger and composer. The other members are Paul Hanson, bassoon and tenor sax; John Gove, trombone; Dillon Vado, vibraphone; Greg Sankovich, organ, acoustic and electric piano; and Jeff Denson, acoustic bass, fretless and fretted electric bass, and vocals. Additional musicians who join for “Returning” are Paul McCandless, English horn, oboe and soloist; Joseph Hebert, cello; and Jonathan Alford, keyboard.

Vado carries the melody for the moderate, easygoing “Father’s and Sons.” The horns play overlapping phrases during the introduction and chorus. Denson lets his fingers do the walking on the acoustic bass, stretching out a bit during the middle break. Sankovich follows on piano, in turn followed by Gove. Throughout, Hall keeps it together, complementing each soloist while allowing himself a few moments to shine.

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J Mancera – Mancera #5

There are hints of Latin in the songs of J Mancera’s Mancera #5 (2016). But they are only hints, as not one song can convincingly be called Latin jazz – or any other specific genre.

Saxophonist Mancera puts a little of multiple genres in each song, covering a wide range of musical tastes. He plays soprano exclusively in this set. His accompanists are Jeff Berlin, bass guitar; Sean Wayland, keyboards; Nick Moroch, guitars; Nate Wood, drums; and Memo Acevedo, percussion.

The title song opens the set. It’s a delightful, sunny piece. Berlin’s bass line gives it a hint of funk, but it’s mostly pop with a jazz lean. Mancera doesn’t take a break as he glides from melody to interlude. Even so, the accompanists make this package what it is, with each player contributing subtly yet effectively.

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Kenny Wright Experience – Jazz Expressions

Bass player Kenny Wright is one of the underestimated icons of the contemporary jazz genre. Performing with legends such as Stevie Wonder, The Whispers, Michael White, The Temptation’s Review, The Supremes, Bobbi Humphrey and others should be award enough.

He also excelled with his solo albums Fresh Focus (1993), Comin’ at Ya (1995), Bottle of Wine (1998), Herbie, Miles and Me (2006) and My Roots (2010).

After a long hiatus he returns with his new album Jazz Expressions (2016). He performs on this album with proven players like Charles Etzel, Camarra Kambron (piano), Wendall Shepherd (trumpet), Eric Kennedy, Bobby Ward, Larry Bright, Steve Onheiser (drums), Jacob Yoffee, David Smith, Kelly Shepherd, Steve Carrington (sax), Seitu (piano and keyboards), Kevin Porter, Carl Filipiak, David Cosby (guitar) and George Spika (celeste). Kenny plays on this album six string bass, guitar, and drum programming.

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Henry Robinett – I Have Known Mountains

For his fifth outing as a leader, guitarist Henry Robinett composed a diverse array of music. The result, I Have Known Mountains (Nefertiti Records, 2016), is an eclectic mix of sounds.

Performing with Robinett are Joe Gilman, piano; Tom Brechtlein, drums; Joshua Thurston-Milgrom, acoustic bass; Rob Lemas, electric bass; and Dominic Edward Garcia, congas and timbales.

“Crush” is an easygoing, moderately paced selection. After two passes of the melody, Robinett stretches out. The accompaniment is subtle, yet firmly engaged. After lulling the listener in with notes on the beat, Robinett shift gears to a high-speed series of picks before smoothly working back to the main theme. Timely cymbal splashes enhance this tune.

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