Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Ricky Rodriguez Group – Looking Beyond

Some artists write music based on their inspirations, and typically feature their own instrument, be it piano, guitar, trumpet or saxophone. However, bassist Ricky Rodriguez composes with the other musicians in mind. In this case, Looking Beyond (Destiny Records, 2016) is a collection of songs that feature the sidemen chosen for the project.

Musicians performing with Rodriguez are Adam Rogers, guitar; Luis Perdomo, piano and Fender Rhodes; Obed Calvaire, drums; Myron Walden, alto saxophone and bass clarinet; with special guests, David Sanchez, tenor saxophone; Pete Rodriguez, trumpet and Obanilu Allende, barril de bomba, a hand drum similar to the conga.

“Living” is an easygoing, walk in the park. With the piano and bass setting the pace, the horns blend for the all’s well-inspired melody. After the opening sequence, Sanchez goes on a leisurely stroll with sidekicks Rodriguez and Calvaire in tow. As the determination of his strides become more pronounced, Perdomo joins in. With the tenor emoting, the others stretch out a bit underneath. The full ensemble is engaged for a brief transition, leading to Walden’s turn out front. A highlight is when the alto builds to climax while repeating the same, two-note wail – like something out of Kenny Garrett’s trick bag. The song reverts to the melody and closes with the two saxophones ad libbing until a full stop.

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Chuck Loeb – Unspoken

Guitarist Chuck Loeb earned merits as jazz guitarist in groups such as Metro, Steps Ahead or Stan Getz’s band. Really popular however became Chuck by his solo albums as prolific smooth jazz guitarist and as member of the supergroups Fourplay and Jazz Funk Soul.

His new album Unspoken (2016) is the reflection about his recent illness and the intensified and renewed enthusiasm for his first love, music. This passion is shared by bassists Ron Jenkins, Will Lee, Nathan East and Thomas Kennedy, drummers Gary Novak, Brian Dunne, and Joel Rosenblatt, keyboardists Jeff Lorber, Brian Culbertson, Pat Bianchi, and Mitchel Forman, guitarist Michael Thompson, saxophonists Eric Marienthal, Everette Harp, Andy Snitzer, David Mann who also did most of the horn arrangements, trumpet players Till Brönner and Tony Kadleck and Mike Davis on trombone. Carmen Cuesta sings a song written by Lizzy Loeb (Lizzy Cuesta) and Christina Loeb and Chuck co-wrote a song that she plays ukulele on.

The starting tune is dedicated to Chuck’s favorite jazz place to play, the Cotton Club in Tokyo. He composed the tune together with Jeff Lorber keeping it in the spirit of Weather Report’s Birdland. Don’t stay looking for something new, when the old is tried and tested offering a timeless radiant artistry.

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Gordon Goodwin’s Little Phat Band – An Elusive Man

Winning 4 Grammys and 20 Grammy nominations is a reliable indicator for constant and high-level professionalism. Gordon Goodwin built his fame with the Big Phat Band, a large 18-piece ensemble. Little Phat Band is his 8-member alternative.

Their debut album An Elusive Man is available since September 9, 2016. Beside Gordon (piano and tenor sax) are performing Wayne Bergeron (trumpet), Eric Marienthal (alto and tenor sax), Andy Martin (trombone), Andrew Synowiec (electric and acoustic guitar), Rick Shaw (electric and acoustic bass), Bernie Dresel (drums) and Joey De Leon (percussion).

The LP Shuffle is a striking example for a Big Band formation with natural energy and a blistering chemistry. The emphasis is on pure brass in straight swinging. Cot In The Act is full of fun and flavor with guitar and sax in expanding solos. But when the brass team gets underway, the music is reaching full steam.

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Fabrizio Sotti – Forty

Fabrizio Sotti is onto something new and fresh. With Forty (Sotti Entertainment, 2016), the guitarist marks not only a milestone as in how many years he’s been alive, but also a quest for new musical discovery.

Sotti plays an EX-SS Fabrizio Sotti Signature Model guitar. With him are Peter Slavov, bass; and Francisco Mela, drums.

“Dangerous Walk” is brief but engaging. Sotti’s play is clean as a he parades through one series of single-note phrases after another, some of them in rapid succession. At times, an effect is used to suggest a keyboard is performing a duet with the guitar.

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Leon Foster Thomas – Metamorphosis

Perhaps there’s a subconscious connection between Leon Foster Thomas and the late Muhammad Ali. They hit hard, hit fast and keep moving. Thomas’ new recording, Metamorphosis (Ropeadope Records, 2016) is loaded with punches, counterpunches and poetry in motion.

Thomas plays steel pan and percussion. Accompanying him are Martin Bejerano, piano; Kurt Hengstebeck, upright and electric bass; Michael “Mike” Piolet, drums; Jean Caze, trumpet; Daivd Palma, tenor sax and flute; Fernando Ulibarri, guitar; John Daversa, trumpet and electronic valve instrument; and Sammy Figueroa, percussion.

Thomas lights you up from the first note. “Kai – Fusion” has a dynamic opening, blending the pan and horns before they give way to a bass-led groove, complemented by the drums. The melody, if any identifiable phrase can be called this, is a series of overlapping riffs with some combination of guitar, pan and horns out front while the others counteract. Many of these are high-speed passes. Things settle down some, and Palma takes over. Piano, bass and drums mix it up in the background, while the tenor goes on an adventurous jaunt. Upon a mood change, the guitar joins in to set up the solo’s climax. Things mellow a bit when it’s Thomas’ turn. But he, too, cranks up the heat as he gets deeper into the groove. As a listener, you might be blown away by the leader’s skill, but don’t get too entranced. You might miss something. Caze and Ulibarri get their moments to shine as well.

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Organic News – Game On

GameOnOrganic News is a formation founded by Klaus Graf (alto sax and rap), Martin Meixner (Hammond organ) and Michael Kersting (drums). Their first project is entitled Game On (2016).

Klaus Graf is influenced by jazz saxophonists Michael Brecker and Bob Mintzer. Berlin based Michael Kersting had the idea to this new band. Longtime friends Klaus and Michael invited Martin to join. They knew him by several band projects.

The album was recorded in a night-time session at the end of a concert tour. The band name is self explaining. Unlike many other contemporary overproduced recordings the band is going a rustic way.

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Sivan Arbel – Broken Lines

International flavor is what Sivan Arbel brings to listeners with Broken Lines (2016). The Israeli born songwriter and vocalist says the music is inspired by people and experiences she has encountered.

Performing with Arbel are Shai Portugaly, piano; Nadav Shapira, bass; Yogev Gabay, drums; Ron Warburg, trumpet; Jack Sheehan, alto saxophone; and Ori Jacobson, tenor saxophone. The vocal trio of Caleb Mason, Seth Weaver and Ben Tiberio join on the title song.

Arbel seamlessly weaves lyrics, chants, scats and instrumental breaks into a colorful tapestry of sound. Highlights are the opening track, “Over Sensitivity,” the improv special “Analysis” and the cover of Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green.” Her scatting ability could easily have been borrowed from the textbook of Ella Fitzgerald.

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