Monthly Archives: May 2013

jazz/blues adds may 27, 2013


blue cranes.  swim.  cuneiform.  Strings and saxophones sound mighty good in latest from Portland, OR.- based ” post-jazz” quintet.  genuine moments of quiet, drilling out a field of intense saxophone dialogue btw reed wallsmith on alto and joe cunningham on tenor.  recalled for me the tiptons, beirut  (the band not the city);   honestly, i listened to this one over and over, as if it were the only piece of music on the planet.  band fills out with rebecca sanborn on keyboards; keith brush on bass, ji tanzer on drums + string chorus & xtra horns/reeds.  beautiful, strong, ambient: it’s great to be swept away.

davell crawford.  my gift to you.  basin street.  just listen to crawford’s crazy creole man;  there are all the dizzying components of Louisiana gumbo—cowboys & indian chase music, melodramatic movie themes, earnest poetry to bind this piece of whimsy and heart.  can’t hold that man back;  i think he’s a countertenor, too, though his claim to earlier fame is the throne of  new orleans piano wizard james booker.

kermit ruffins.  we partyin’  traditional style.  basin street.  Upbeat, polished playlist from New Orleans trumpeter/bandleader mixing traditional with originals.  ruffins’ style and attitude nod to the great louis who preceded him–armstrong and jordan.   with shannon powell on drums; steve pistorius, piano;  don vappie, banjo; lucien barbarin, trombone; richard moten, bass; tom fischer, clarinet.

ken fowser + behn gillece.  top shelf.  posi-tone.  The virbaphone is back, it seems.  Here, the duets of  behn gillece, composer/vibes and tenor/composer fowser share the spotlight, and add in trombonist michael dease.  solid, all originals, with great supports from dezron douglas, bass;  rodney green, drums, and steve einerson, piano.

marlene ver planck.  ballads…mostly.  audiophile.  Marlene is a triple threat:  experienced vocalist,  elegant covers of  “found” standards,  A-list band–mike renzi on piano (especially valuable), claudio roditi, trumpet; houston person, tenor;  ron vincent, drums; jay leonhart, bass.

jon wirtz.  tourist.  self.  Easeful jazz from Colorado keyboardist wirtz showcases many guests including guitarist dan schwindt on the title track.  for me, underwhelming.

sasha’s bloc.  melancholy.  self.  Mostly Russian-born, LA-based musicians, led by bass guitarist alexander gershman, the bloc focuses on reviving jazz music from the 20-30’s.  all originals, with vocals from guests maxayn lewis, will wheaton, and bloc member  carina cooper;  perhaps inspired by soundtrack to midnight in paris.

beat funktion.  moon town.  do music.  Swedish vintage funk-disco-jazz group, begun in 2007 as a Stockholm-area dance band, the core “beats” are  keyboardist/producer daniel lantz + ollie thunstrom, tenor; karl olandersson, trumpet;  johan oijen, electric guitar;  pal johnson, electric bass, and jon eriksson, drums.  for xtra goodness they add in various strings, vocals, world-inspired percussion to achieve a cross btw the soundtrack to shaft and grooves of fela kuti.  dedicated to the temple of dance.

noah haidu.  momentum.  posi-tone.  Charlottesville born, Brooklyn pianist haidu covers jazz piano luminaries–keith jarrett, thad jones, joe henderson–in his assured recording with ariel de la portilla on bass, and mcclenty hunter on drums.  a student of kenny barron, haidu balances melodic resistance with fluid improvisation.  rising star.

mats/morgan.  radio da da/ the teenage tapes.  cuneiform.  More from Sweden and the cuneiform archives.    Musical duo, mats oberg, keyboards + vocals & morgan agren, drums had a unique influence in 80-90’s transcontinental music.  Frank Zappa loved them and wanted to hire them.  radio da da and the teenage tapes are reissues of these original  works.  Original, quirky,  two CDs, a lot of information.

wheelhouse.  boss of the plains.  aerophonic.  Snazzy new label, aerophonic, regroups wheelhouse trio in Chicago.  originals with a slow-cooking, take my time approach:  alto/baritone player dave rempis comes and goes from the foreground, nate mcbride + his bass keep the beat, and vibraphonist jason adasiewicz colors every moment of this drummer-less trio.  night time patience.

rempis percussion quartet.  phalanx.  aerophonic.  Two Cds–live in milwaukee, live in antwerp, 2012–from the free-wheeling, jazz improvisation group phalanx.  Again, dave rempis on three saxophones;  Norwegian super star ingebrigt haker flaten on double bass; drums x 2 with frank rosaly and tim daisy.


dudley taft.  deep deep blue. self.  Seattle-based blues/rock singer-songwriter taft writes originals and does fine covers of dylan’s meet me in the morning, and lou reed’s sally can’t dance.  john kessler, bass; chris leighton, drums; scott vogel, drums.

popa chubby.  universal breakdown blues.  provogue.  Rough and ready, high-energy blues from force of nature popa chubby ( aka ted horowitz of NY, NY).  now on the re-styled Dutch provogue label.  popa growls and plays guitar + slide;  changing cast of sidemen and women.

terry garland.  r-wr-d.  silvermoon.  American country blues interpreter garland plays electric and National (slide) guitars on his mostly original playlist.   with kevin mckendree on keyboards; kenneth blevins, drums, glenn worf, bass.

maria woodford.  bad dog blues.   self.    Singer/songwriter/guitarist  woodford branches out from her folk format to the blues with originals and covers by tom waits, nina simone, bonnie raitt, and big mama thornton.  phil wiggins on harmonica; ian walters, piano.

jazz/blues adds may 20, 2013


corey christiansen.  lone prairie.  origin.   Cowboy themes from western jazz guitarist christiansen.  playlist divides itself into great cues– morricone theme from the good, the bad & the ugly, and traditionals:  red river valley, bury me not on the lone prairie– and those of medium interest.  supporting cast:  steve allee, keyboards;  zach lapidus, more keyboards;  jeremy allen, basses;  double percussion from matt jorgensen + michael spiro.

eliane elias.  i thought about you: a tribute to chet baker.  concord.  Brazilian-born, NYC-jazz educated, elias inhabits chet baker’s melodies and delivery almost better than he does;  her piano chops are seamless, her soft,  strong voice crisps all nuances.  the band shines:  husband marc johnson, bass;  steve cardenas, guitar;  former husband randy brecker on trumpets;  oscar castro-neves, xtra guitar;  drums x 2–victor lewis, rafael barata + marivaldo dos santos,

sao paulo underground. beija flors vehlo e sujo.  cuneiform.   Chicago cornetist rob mazurek  and his ensemble {guilherme granado- keyboards + mauricio takara- percussion} embrace electronics, Brazil’s tropicalismo, and a friendly jazz avant garde in their beautiful, often dizzy, 4th recording.  vibrant street vibe.

 s.o.s. (john surman, mike osborne, alan skidmore).  looking for the next one. cuneiform.  Two CDs from the short-lived days of s.o.s.–British saxophone trio, circa 1974-75.  osborne on alto, percussion;  skidmore on soprano, tenor, drums;  surman on baritone, soprano, bass clarinet and synthesizers.  newer than now;  mostly long cues, but #1 has a splendid folk-song riff, country dance + news.  praise to cuneiform records

oliver lake + big band.  wheels.  passin thru.  Big band (18 members) with a little gut-bucket sound, a whole lot of elegance– the magic of oliver lake, alto player, composer and co-founder of world saxophone quartet.  horn break-out includes:  1 bari;  3 altos including lake;  2 tenors;  4 trumpets; 4 trombones; 2 pianos; bass and drums.  best cue = the whole world—- it sings and dances like ellington.

j.d. allen.  grace.  savant.  Detroit tenor player jd allen, working with a spectcular quartet— eldar djangirov on piano; dezron douglas on bass, jonathan barber on drums–has composed a melodic and melancholy playlist that salutes great tenor players, coltrane among them.  act two, stronger than act one.

aaron lebos.  reality.  self.  South Florida-based guitar lebos and his local group stretch the boundaries of jazz/ funk/ rock.  with eric england on bass;  jim gasior, keyboards;  rodolfo zuniga on drums.

mark gross.  blackside.  jlp.  Baltimore alto player gross comes up with knockout playlist (minus volare) and band:  cyrus chestnut on piano (do not miss the stevie wonder @ #11);  freddie hendrix on trumpet (also on oliver lake’s new CD);  yotam, on guitar;  dezron douglas, bass;  greg hutchinson, drums;  vanderlei pereira, percussion.

wallace roney.  understanding.  high note.  Ballads are fine in trumpeter wallace roney outing with a new young band:  explosive drumming from kush abadey compliments the horn chorus—arnold lee on alto and ben solomon on tenor + roney’s assured brass “understanding.”  piano duties shared by eden ladin, and group regular victor gould; daryl johns on bass.

joe krown.  soul understanding.  self.  Straight from the maple leaf bar in New Orleans is joe krown, hammond B-3 wizard with trio-mates walter wolfman washington, guitar + vocals and russell batiste jr on drums.

gene ess.  fractal attraction.  simp.   Japanese-american guitarist gene ess has worked with archie shepp, reggie workman, dave liebman.  not your ordinary guitar-based quartet, ess adds a voice–but as an instrument with equal musical value.  Cue #5, tanabata is brilliant, but others seem more conventional vocalising.  with david berkman, piano;  thana alexa, voice;  thomson kneeland, bass;  gene jackson, drums

diego barber + hugo cipres.  411.  origin.   Many masters this one.  group leader classical guitarist barber collaborates with Canary Islands dj/ desktop player hugo cipres on grooves that extend, contract but never neutralize jazz, funk, & ambient.  exceptional work from double bassist johannes weidenmueller, seamus blake on sax; ari hoenig, drums.  never feels forced.


various.  true blues.  telarc.  Winners all:  lots of local hero corey harris,  brutally honest elder bluesmen–taj mahal, guy davis, alvin youngblood hart, phil wiggins, & a fierce shemekia copeland.  jazz at lincoln center, nyc provides the venue for many performances.

cassie taylor.  out of my mind.  yellow dog.  Blues singer daughter of  otis (my world’s gone) taylor, cassie composes & produces her second CD.  she plays bass. hammond S6, and theremin (think: the third man theme);  band mates include steve mignano on  various guitars; larry thompson, drums;  steve vidaic, organ.

duke robillard band.  independently blue.  stony plain.  Blues guitar/vocal legend gathers good songs and even better players:  bruce bears on piano, B-3;  brad hallen, bass; mark teixiera, drums; + cameos from monster mike welch –being compared to wes montgomery.  new label, stony plain out of alberta, canada;  moongate is the best of many originals.

ronnie earl + the broadcasters.  just for today.  stony plain.  The great man delivers another offering.  Boston-based guitarist  ronnie earl has survived his life and habits;   his harvest continues–pastorale, miracle, heart of glass, all original compositions– join the pantheon of ronnie earl’s songbook.

jazz/blues adds may 13, 2013


cecile mclorin salvant.  woman child.  mack avenue.  New star vocalist for your shows, cecile won the 2010 thelonious monk competition–had studied classical in Miami, then jazz with clarinetist jean-francois bonnel in Paris.  her voice is velvet, her delivery impeccable, and musical aesthetic errorless.  & then there’s the a-list band, prime among them  aaron diehl @ the piano; with herlin riley on drums, rodney whitaker, double bass, james chirillo, guitar.

hamilton de holanda + andre mehmari. gismonti pascoal. adventure.  Many good ideas converge:  de holanda playing  10-string mandolin duets with pianist andre mehmari,  the playlist tributes compositions and style of two Brazilian legends– hermeto pascoal (percussion, fender) and egberto gismonti (guitar, piano).  another generous, intelligent and thoughtfully-crafted production from Brazilian focused record label, adventure.  piano and mandolin together has the splendor of –almost two pianos, but in the background sounds the surprise of the string.  loved it!

benjamim taubkin + adriano adewale.  the vortex sessions.  adventure.  Piano and percussion duets with two Brazilian musician/composers could not be more different from gismonti/pascoal.  Setting is north London’s Vortex jazz club,  where –in 2008– Brazilian producer luiza morandini brought together pianist taubkin and percussionist adewale for an evening of improvisation.  is there any place on earth that casts a bigger shadow than Brazil?
angela davis.  the art of the melody.  nicholas.  Australian alto player-now Philadelphia educator/musician- davis demonstrates  affection for melodic line in her eclectic playlist:  martha by tom waits, we’re all alone by boz scaggs, and several originals.  once again, the group is as good as the leader:  linda oh, on bass; chris ziemba, amazing piano; and rajiv jayaweera, drums.

food:  thomas stronen + iain ballamy.  mercurial balm.  ecm.   Second ECM recording for established  European electronic/ambient music ensemble  food— led by percussionist thomas stronen, and British sax player iain ballamy.  other members are christian fennesz, guitar; eivind aarset, guitar; prakash sontakke, guitar, vocals; nils petter molvaer, trumpet.
late night thinking music.

stefano battaglia triosongways. ecm.  Elegant, drapey music from Milanese pianist battaglia, and his Italian trio–salvatore maiore on double bass, and roberto  dani, drums.  battaglia’s early classical training and specialty in j.s.bach shines out from the core of his original setlist.  diaphanous interplay btw musicians.

emily bear.  diversity.  qwest.  Twelve year old composer emily bear began playing piano @ 4, won the morton gould young composer award @ 6, and this cd–produced by quincy jones–is her sixth release.  very polished playlist–with classical musician zuill bailey on cello, francisco mela on drums, carlitos del puerto, bass.  jazz with a new-age/wyndham hill vibe– the kid is a prodigious  talent.

denise king + olivier hutman.  give me the high sign.  cristal.  Philadelphia singer denine king teams up with French pianist/composer olivier hutman in this luscious production: vibrant voice floats btw gospel, r&b through the decades, soul.  supports from darryl hall, double bass; steve williams, drums;  olivier temme, tenor sax;  stephane belmondo, trumpets.  mostly originals written by king/ hutman–though  arrangements (by hutman) are strong for both singer and band members.  he’s been around- used to play with charles aznevour, yves montand.

alex acuna + jan gunnar hoff + per mathisen. barxeta. losen.   High voltage trio led by Peruvian-born drummer acuna with Norwegian keyboardist hoff, and bassist, mathisen continues their nod to weather report  influences–acuna was an early drummer, but this time out they circle the globe for musical inspiration.  muscular, all originals written by the band–title pronounced with the x=sh.

jeffrey gimble.  beyond up high.  cafe pacific.  Though raised in Texas blues country, vocalist gimble was drawn to jazz and vocalising;  debut recording is all covers but he switches from  ac jobim, to  michel legrand to bill withers with ease.  breezy arrangements and band.

john jensen + robert redd.  conversations.  patuxent music.  Standards playlist from pianist robert redd, and trombonist/vocalist john jensen.  old school, sweet, and polished.

roby glod + roberta piket + mark tokar + klaus kugel.  op der schmelz live.  nemu.  Free form  jazz recorded @Luxembourg jazz venue, op der schmelz ( the Foundry) :  international jazz collective includes French roby glod on alto/soprano;  New Yorker roberta piket, piano; Ukraine-born mark tokar, double bass; &  German klaus kugel on drums.  long cues looking for depth through improvisation without sacrificing beauty.


james cotton.  cotton mouth man.  alligator.  Chicago blues harp master james cotton ( age 77) can still play harmonica— mostly original playlist with vocal cameos by  gregg allman, keb mo, ruthie foster (my fav) , wayne haynes , delbert mcclinton.  title track with joe bonamass on lead guitar fires the playlist.  cotton’s still passionately there.

jaye hammer.  i can lay the hammer down.  ecko.  New release from soul singer, jaye hammer.

jimmy vivino + the black italians.  13 live. blind pig.   The bio is good, and the music too–homeland is  Jersey to upstate NY, Woodstock in particular.  jimmy & and black eye-talians include catherine russell, vocals; felix cabrera, harmonica;  danny louis, keyboards;  mike merritt, guitar  + more.  jimmy plays guitar, sings, occasionally writes a song.  best songs are when russell sings too.  energy!

various artists.  classic harmonica blues.  smithsonian folkways.  Fabulous archive blues harp recordings with elaborate notes to match.  all worth a listen, too numerous to list,  find your path.

jazz/blues adds may 6, 2013

joe locke.  lay down my heart.  motema.  One could just play this recording and that would be enough.  mostly covers, 2 originals, from vibist joe locke–who has been on the jazz scene for 30 years & played with everyone from cecil taylor to dizzy gillespie; he is our great contemporary vibraphone artist.  supports are jaimeo brown on drums; ryan cohan @ the piano; dave finck, bass.jussi reijonen.  un.  self.  Finnish childhood/Jordanian young adulthood gave reijonen expertise in both fretless guitar and the oud which he applies to jazz and the world music genre.  as you know, i am a sucker for all this Middle Eastern instrumentation:  multiple percussion from tareq rantisi, sergio martinez;  ululating vocals with eva louhivuori, plus lyric piano with utar artun, and bruno raberg on bass.

joshua redman.  walking shadows.  nonesuch. The quartet–redman, tenor; brad mehldau, piano & producer; larry grenadier, bass;  brian blade, drums–meet a string orchestra conducted by dan coleman.  not the first time in jazz history–think miles davis and gil evans.  though redman’s project does not shake the earth, it claims beauty and a pristine sensibility.  almost all covers, but fresh.

craig taborn.  chants.  ECM.    Eagerly anticipated recording from pianist/composer taborn–here with double bassist thomas morgan and drummer gerald cleaver– explores jazz minimalism and delicate interplay within their trio of instruments.  part of a new generation of jazz artists looking for spaces within the music, and an alternative to the old-school solo format.  hurrah for them!

nik bartsch.  ronin live.  ECM.  Masterless samurai –ronin– taking their show on the road;  pianist/composer bartsch leads the 5 member group  through nine improvised  moods.  from the ronin tours 2009-2011, the selections flesh out impressions, energy of  place.  pretty compelling stuff:  loved” tokyo, mannheim x 2, lorrach, amsterdam”.   cast includes: sha on alto/clarinet;  bjorn meyer, bass; kaspar tast, drums; andi pupato, percusssion; thomy jordi, bass– and pianist bartsch is really exceptional.

jacqui naylor.  dead divas society.  ruby star.  Vocalist naylor revisits signature music from past divas.  best ones are the more modern, less iconic—amy winehouse, shirley horn, freddie mercury, dusty springfield, luther vandross.  her voice is great, but it’s too deep to “be” blossom dearie, or peggy lee.  and not deep enough to be nina simone.  cd made me want to find the originals.

chris clark quintet.  cedar wisely songlines.  Moody duets between composer/ tenor player clark and alto/soprano peter epstein anchor this project from U of Nevada educator & alum. with david ake @ the piano; zack teran, bass; jesus vega, drums.  quiet mostly.

alex snydman.  fortunate action.  self.  Debut release from CA-based drummer snydman working with a rotating trio of players—chris pattishall, doug abrams, miro sprague @ the piano;  alex derian, tyler heydolph on bass.  mostly originals written by band members.

black host.  life in sugar candle mines. northern spy.  Improv to free and back again, this CD– fronted by drummer gerald cleaver needs a long show to bloom.  Cues meander mostly in a good way;  the quintet is young and mischievous–brandon seabrook , guitar;  pianist cooper-moore;  pascal niggenkemper on bass; darius jones on alto.  where are these mines?

david arnay.  8.  studio N.   8 means we go from solo to octet in that many cues.  pianist arnay plays” caravan” alone, then  a bass duet with edwin livington; add on peter erskine, drums, for the trio.  mostly originals, accessible idea shows how quickly music arrangements become quirky, complex with more.

chad carter.  let me love you. JKBJ.  Swoony arrangements for vocalist carter feature a baby big band with strings & guitar.  standards, special guest jimmy heath on tenor, and  frank owens on keyboards.

will calhoun.  life in this world.  motema.  The roster is larger than the music format–trio or quartet, but drummer/leader calhoun blends his affinities for north African (Mali, Morocco) musical logic with coming up in the worldly  Bronx.  All good;  charnett moffett shares the bass spotlight with john benitez and ron carter;  marc cary @ the piano;  wallace roney, trumpet;  donald harrison, alto  + cheick, tidane seck, alione wade.  the tent is big, as we say.


the fabulous thunderbirds.  on the verge.  severn.  Around since 1974, Austin, Texas bluesmen are still fabulous.  lead singer/vocalist kim wilson makes his harmonica growl nicely, and band members continue to write good tunes.  with  mike keller, johnny moeller, guitars;  kevin anker, keyboards, composition;  randy bermudes, bass; jason moeller, drums.

al “carnival time” johnson.  beyond carnival.  rabadash.  Very jumpy and carnival-esque music from New Orleans based vocalist/pianist al johnson;  almost all originals.

scott ramminger.  advice from a father to a son.  arbor lane.  New Orleans project that really rocks…fronted by vocalist/tenor/bari scott ramminger — but I keep listening for pianist david torkanowsky.  plenty of horn color and guests: +  johnny vidacovich on drums;  the mccrary sisters on vocals; dave chappell on guitar, george porter jr, bass.  all originals.

alan wilson.  the blind owl.  severn.   Magnificent labor of love from producers @ severn records focuses on the short, brilliant career of alan wilson ( 1957-1970), vocalist/composer/guitarist and stunning harmonica {he makes it sound like the reed that it is}  player for the legendary  band canned heat.  of course, i knew none of this except that “going up the country” was the Woodstock song.  two CDs.

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