Posts Tagged ‘ Jazz ’

Beka & Logic Project – Chillin’ in Batumi

Hip-hop meets jazz when pianist Beka Gochiashvili teams up with Jason Kibler, also known as DJ Logic. The Beka & Logic Project presents Chillin’ in Batumi (Exitus Entertainment, 2014).

Gochiashvili plays acoustic and electric pianos and synth. Kibler handles turntables and soundscapes. Also performing are former America’s Got Talent finalist Butterscotch, rap, spoken word, beat-box and sound effects; James Hurt, synthesizer and vocoder; Jaleel Shaw, alto saxophone; Lamont McCain, electric bass; and Justin Tyson, drums.

Beka plays the electric piano coolly underneath the vocal for the title song. The style is reminiscent of late 1970s fusion, the type you might expect from George Duke. Tyson’s drum play and timely crash cymbals help underscore the leads. During the middle break, Beka switches to acoustic piano. Though he has the lead, Tyson goes full throttle on the kit. Butterscotch comes back in with a haunting chant before the song shifts to full, hip-hop mode, with Kibler stepping up.

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Tommy Igoe – The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy

The word “conspiracy” often has a negative connotation, as it usually relates to high crimes plotted or carried out by multiple persons. However, the word simply means a plan developed by two or more. It’s put to positive use by the new ensemble, The Tommy Igoe Groove Conspiracy (Deep Rhythm Music, 2014).

The Groove Conspiracy band consists of Tommy Igoe, drums, programming; Dewayne Pate, bass; Colin Hogan, piano; Drew Zingg, guitar; Louis Fasman, lead trumpet, flugelhorn; Steffen Kuehn, trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Len Scott, trumpet, flugelhorn; Nick Ciardelli, trumpet, flugelhorn; John Gove, lead trombone; Jeanne Geiger, trombone; Mike Renta, bass trombone; Marc Russo, alto and soprano sax; Tom Politzer, tenor sax; Alex Murzyn, tenor and alto sax; and Aaron Lington, baritone sax. A few guest conspirers appear on selected tracks.

Guest conspirator James Genus holds the bass for the opener, “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.” The horns and the wah-wah guitar highlight the main theme, with Igoe getting his licks in during transitions. Russo’s alto sax squeaks, squeals and rolls through a blistering middle. After the band revisits the theme, changing keys several times, Politzer offers a brief tenor solo. The mood and tempo are brighter than the textbook, Cannonball Adderley recording.

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Auction Project – Slink

It’s jazz, but then it’s something else. Slink (David Bixler, 2014) is a collection of nine songs, many with Irish or Celtic roots.

The group is headed by David Bixler, alto saxophone; and Heather Martin Bixler, violin. The rest of the band are Arturo O’Farrill, piano; Carlo De Rosa, acoustic and electric bass; and Vince Cherico, drums and cymbals.

“Bear Island Reel” opens the set. It’s a moderate groove with the sax and violin stating overlapping phrases during the melody. In the notes, the song is described as an early Irish version of the Funky Chicken. Bear Island is a location off the south of Ireland, where composer Finbar Dwyer grew up. A reel, explained in the text, is a folk dance. The Bixlers carry the lead during the main theme, making use of overlapping phrases. The violin is out front for a good bit of the first third of the song, before stepping aside for sax and piano solos. When the song reverts to the main theme, sax has the melody all by itself, with the violin ad-libbing and the piano putting in extra emphasis here and there.

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Mark Elf – Mark Elf Returns 2014

A bit of tradition with fresh energy. That’s what the listener gets with guitarist Mark Elf’s Mark Elf Returns 2014 (Jen Bay Records, 2014).

This is Elf’s first recording in eight years. It was scheduled to be recorded in 2012 but Hurricane Sandy put things on hold, flooding Elf’s home. The set has seven original songs and three standards. Accompanying Elf are pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash. Percussionist Steven Kroon appears on “Michelle’s Mambo.”

Elf’s “A Little Diddy” opens the set. The title is apt as the music represents an artist not deliberately trying to make a statement, but instead just wanting to have fun playing. The quartet is well in sync, each musician complementing the others. Elf leads most of the way, performing in a way not unlike Wes Montgomery, or perhaps Lee Ritenour honoring Wes Montgomery. Then Hazeltine tickles the ivory, accented by Nash’s staccato rolls. What follows is an alternating call and response, Elf-Nash then Hazeltine-Nash, back and forth before the group reverts to the melody. A melody without fills as the foursome stops when Elf completes the main phrase, pauses, then does it again. A very nice diddy indeed.

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Mario Castro Quintet – Estrella De Mar

Take two musical ensembles, a jazz band and an orchestral, give them some original songs and eclectic arrangements, and you might get something like Estrella De Mar (Interrobang Records, 2014) by the Mario Castro Quintet, accompanied by a string ensemble.

The quintet is comprised of Mario Castro, tenor sax; Josh Shpak, trumpet and flugelhorn; Tamir Shmerling, upright bass; Kyumin Shim, piano; and Jonathan Pinson, drums. A few special guests appear here and there, an eight-piece string section accompanies, and two percussionists contribute.

This is nice. That’s the first thought that comes to mind when playing “Pilares.” You’ve got easygoing jazz, augmented by a string section that gives it a chamber ensemble feel. The music can be effective simply for listening pleasure, or it could underscore the opening scene or credits of a feature film. Castro just lays it down and plays to his heart’s content, complemented by the different elements of the band, whether it’s the strings, the horns or the rhythm section. Special guest David Sanchez joins on tenor sax.

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Myriad3 – The Where

It’s a trio, but the music is anything but typical. Myriad3 presents The Where (Alma Records, 2014). Their debut, Tell featured the group performing in studio as if they were live. This time around, Myriad3 did a lot after the sessions, adding other instruments and doing more arranging.

The trio consists of Chris Donnelly, piano and synth; Dan Fortin, upright and electric bass, and synth; and Ernesto Cervini, drums, percussion and winds. Producer Peter Cardinali also provides horn arrangements and synths.

“First Flight” may seem disjointed at times. But it’s disjointed with a purpose. The mood shifts from brooding to playful to a sense of travel. If you’re trying to figure the time signature, good luck. It’s difficult for the average listener to lock down. Just when you think you know, it shifts. Yet it holds together well.

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Eliana Cuevas – Espejo

Latin music from Canada? Sure. Eliana Cuevas delivers some stunning, South American vibes on Espejo (Alma Records, 2014).

Already a winner for Best Latin Album by Independent Music Awards, Espejo is a set of 10 original songs. Her accompanists throughout are Mark Kelso, drums and percussion; and her husband, Jeremy Ledbetter, piano, melodica, keyboards, Fender Rhodes, mandolin, recorder and percussion. Ledbetter composed “El Tucusito.” An assortment of other musicians contribute to selected tracks. Ledbetter and Cuevas wrote the music for “Agua, Cangrejo Y Sal,” with Cuevas also writing the lyrics. Cuevas gets solo writing credits for the remaining eight songs.

“Estrellita” starts things off. This high-energy, danceable tune features Cueva’s charming voice accented by Kelso, percussionist Daniel Stone and an appearance by Alexander Brown on flugelhorn. Bassist George Koller gets a few licks in as well. Cuevas also layers, singing backup as well as lead.

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