Jazz and Bossa Radio

Jazz and Bossa Radio
Jazz and Bossa Radio

martes, 18 de enero de 2011

CD Review: Jane Ira Bloom - Wingwalker

CD Review: Jane Ira Bloom - Wingwalker

There is not a dull or cliché moment on Jane Ira Bloom 14th album, Wingwalker. Her sound has been described as futuristic and certainly there is some of that futuristic sound on tracks like "Frontiers in Space" and " Live Sports." But most of all, Jane Ira Bloom is a master composer and musician with a truly unique sound. All compositions on Wingwalker are by Jane Ira Bloom except "I could have danced all night"

Even though there are brilliant moments of improvisations all over the album; the emphasis on Wingwalker is in the beauty of Jane Ira Bloom compositions. Each composition have plenty of harmonic surprises, syncopations, tempo changes and richly, inventive solos by Dawn Clement on piano and Jane Ira Bloom on soprano saxophone. Mark Helias on bass and Bobby Previte on drums provide an excellent rhythm background to Jane Ira Bloom melodies and both of them swing hard on "Airspace," "Life on Cloud 8" and "Rookie."

Jane Ira Bloom always plays with the conviction and energy of a seasoned musician but her tone can also be warm and welcoming, like in the almost lullaby track "Her Exacting Light," the ballads "Adjusting to Midnight," "Wingwalker" and the sax solo piece "I Could Have Danced All Night." The effective use of dissonance and space, and even Dawn Clement piano improvisations and chords on "Freud's Convertible," "Frontiers in Science" and "Rookie" echo the sound of the great Thelonious Monk.

Wingwalker proves once again why Jane Ira Bloom is one of the most original and creative saxophone players in jazz today.

CD Review: John Beasley - Letter to Herbie

CD Review: John Beasley - Letter to Herbie



Those who don't yet know John Beasley are missing the opportunity to hear one of the best pianists and improvisers on the jazz scene today. Beasley is a master musician, with total command of the jazz language, and his playing is always intense in both emotion and technique.

John Beasley's 2009 album, Positootly (Resonance) was nominated, more than deservedly, for a Grammy Award for best jazz instrumental album. Even though Letter to Herbie, his previous album released in 2008, was not nominated for a Grammy, it might as well have been.


Both albums have striking similarities in the quality of the music and musicians; every one of them is at the top of their game on this album. What comes out of this group of jazz giants is music that keeps the mind engaged and always guessing what's coming up next; with constant tempo changes and creative, virtuosic improvisations.


Contrary to Positootly's collection of mostly Beasley originals, Letter to Herbie is dedicated to the music of Herbie Hancock. The swinging "Three Finger Snap" and the elegant "Here and Now" are the only John Beasley originals on the album, both featuring the rhythmic and harmonic complexity to stand beside Hancock's compositions.


Taking on the music of Herbie Hancock, one of the best pianists in jazz history, is not an easy task, but Beasley and his group do a superb job reinventing some of his masterpieces. Beasley's arrangements of "The Naked Camera" and "Vein Melter" are funkier and livelier than Hancock's versions, while the waltz-like arrangement of "Diana" and fast swinging tempo of "Eye of the Hurricane" are closer to the originals.

Letter to Herbie is an excellent tribute to an excellent musician.

Track Listing: 4 am; Bedtime Voyage; Chan's Song; Three Finger Snap; The Naked Camera; Eye of the Hurricane; Diana; Here and Now; Still Time; Vein Melter.

Personnel: John Beasley: piano, synthesizer; Christian McBride: bass; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums; Roy Hargrove: trumpet; Steve Tavaglione: flute, clarinet, synthesizer; Michael O'Neil: guitar; Louis Conte: percussion.

CD Review: John Beasley - Positootly

CD Review: John Beasley - Positootly


Year: 2009

Record Label: Resonance Records

Style: Straight-Ahead / Classic

Musicians: John Beasley (piano, rhodes, synthesizer), Bennie Maupin (tenor and soprano saxophone), Brian Lynch (trumpet), James Genus (electric and acoustic bass), Jeff Tain Watts (drums), Munyungo Jackson (percussion)

Review:
There are rare instances in any art expression when all the elements gets together to create a piece of art that borders on perfection. When a good painter or sculptor get that moment of inspiration or when a good script, director and actors coincide in the creation of a movie classic.

John Beasley Grammy nominated album Positootly is a good example of what happens when masters instrumentalists, the kind of instrumentalists you rarely find outside of Jazz, gets together. This is what Jazz is all about, quality musicians creating memorable, quality music.

All the elements that makes Jazz a form of music like no other are here.

a. Creative, virtuosic musicians with a high level of technique and artistry. This is really a superb trio with John Beasley on piano, James Genus on bass and Jeff Tain Watts on drums. With equally superb special guest, Bennie Maupin on sax, Brian Lynch on trumpet and Munyungo Jackson on percussion.

b. Complex harmonies, like the re-harmonized, exquisite version of Jobim's Dindi.

c. Polyrhythms and rhythm variations, like the tempo changes on Black Thunder and Eight Winds. All of this wrapped up in the wonderful compositions and arrangements of John Beasley.

Positootly means, absolutely positive, and that is precisely what delivers on this album, crisp, highly energized, swinging, positive music.

There is the good energy of the first track Caddo Bayou, with music that keep your feet tapping, and powerful trumpet and sax improvisations. The intense playing and intricate arrangements of Astor Piazzola Tanguedia III. The funky groove of Bobby Timmons So Tired, the echoes of New Orleans music on Shatita Boom Boom and the lyricism of the bluesy piece Elle.

John is truly an amazing pianist, imaginative composer, creative improviser and arranger. And with Positootly he created an album that people will look back as one of the first Jazz classic albums of the 21th century.

Tracks: Caddo Bayou, Positootly, Dindi, Black Thunder, Shatita Boom Boom (Club Desire), Tanguedia III, Elle, So Tired, The Eight Winds, Hope Arkansas

Record Label Website: http://www.resonancerecords.org

Artist's Website: http://www.beasleymusic.com

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

CD Review: Fidel Morales & Proyecto Nega - Salsa Son Timba

CD Review: Fidel Morales & Proyecto Nega - Salsa Son Timba


Year: Reissued in 2010 - Originally Released in 2005

Record Label: Universal Music Latino

Style: Latin Jazz / Latin Funk

Musicians: Fidel Morales (drums, timbal), Tony Rodriguez (piano), Roberto Riveron (bass), Manolito Simonet (tres), Adel Gonzalez (congas), Yaroldi Abreu (percussion), Alexander Abreu (trumpet), German Velasco (sax), Amaury Perez (trombone), Adel Gonzalez (congas), Yusef Diaz (synthesizer), Amadito Valdes (timbal), Angel Bonne, Tirso Duarte, Pedrito Calvo, Jose Luis Borges, Sixto "El Indio" Llorente, Tania Pantoja, Juan Carlos Hechavarrria, Teresa Cturla (lead vocals),Ernesto Bacallao, Lazaro Dagoberto Gonzalez, Alexander Diaz, Barbara Zamora, Enrique Perez Prieto (background vocals),

Review:
Drummer/percussionist/composer/arranger and musical director Fidel Morales re-releasing of his 2005 masterpiece album Salsa Son Timba is a good news for all salsa and cuban music fans. Fidel recorded this album in Cuba with some of the best musicians from this caribbean island, including timbal player legend Amadito Valdes.

Besides being a master drummer and percussionist, Fidel is a creative arranger and composer. Fidel wrote or co-wrote five of the eight songs on this album, each one with inventive arrangements, mixing the old and new school styles of cuban music. The music on songs like "Atrevete", "Remedio" and "Yo sere para ti" falls more into a romantic salsa category. In contrast, songs like "Mamina" and "Salsa Son Timba" have the more classic sound of the Cuban Son.

The album also includes excellent versions of cuban classics like "Pare cochero" and Luis Rios "Que manera de quererte", a song most people recognize in the voice of salsa puertorrican singer Gilberto Santarrosa. El Chan Chan, an homage to Compay Segundo, is another prove of Fidel creative arrangentments, mixing Hip hop, Son and Jazz. Listen how much better Hip hop sounds when it's done with real instruments.

Every song on the album have a different, extremely talented singer, everyone of them providing great "soneos" (improvisations done by the singers between the choruses). But Teresa "Tete" Cartula deserve a special mention with her fabulous voice and style reminiscent of great female voices of Cuba like Omara Portuondo.

This are danceable rhythms, played here with the "afinque" required for this kind of music. Afinque is the cohesiveness of the musicians, especially the rhythm section, necessary for any kind of music, but even more essential when playing afrocuban music.

Good cuban music played the way is supposed to be played; that is what Salsa Son Timba is all about.

Tracks: Intro, Que manera de quererte, Yo sere para ti, El Chan Chan, Pare cochero, Atrevete, Remedio de amor, Mamina, Salsa Son Timba

Record Label Website: http://www.universalmusica.com

Artist's Website: http://www.fidelmorales.com/

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

CD Review: The Rongetz Foundation - Broken Doll Beat

CD Review: The Rongetz Foundation - Broken Doll Beat

Year: 2010

Record Label: Independent

Style: Soul / Funk Jazz

Musicians: Stephane Ronget (trumpet), Saunders Sermons (vocals), David Schnitter (tenor sax), Orlando Vega (percussions), Jerome Jennings (drums), Chris Smith (bass), Jeremy Brun (piano, rhodes), Carlos Jimenez (flute)

Review:
Broken Doll Beat is the second album from The Rongetz Foundation, a music project of composer, arranger and trumpet player Stephane Ronget. Almost all the musicians changed for this album, except Stephane and Jeremy Brun on piano and rhodes. Stephane reunited a group of excellent musicians. David Schnitter on sax, Carlos Jimenez on flute and Jeremy on piano, all of them playing highly energetic improvisations. The solo ideas flow effortless from each of these amazing musicians challenging each other in every improvisation.

The rhythm section is equally good with Jerome Jennings on drums, Chris Smith on bass and Orlando Vega on percussions, providing the latin flavor, especially on the pieces Congas in Action and Mischievous Samba. And Saunders Sermons sings on four tracks, Broken Doll, Firefly Groove, Zap Carnivorous and Simone. On this last one, a waltz like piece harmonically reminiscent of John Coltrane version of My Favorite Things, Saunders vocals and Carlos Jimenez on flute harmonize and play around each other melodies.

Ronget is responsible for all the compositions and arragements, a collection of mostly funk/jazz music with a latin touch. Some of the tracks like Broken Doll and Bulgarian Basketball follow a similar pattern, with an intro of harmonized melodies played on sax, flute and trumpet followed by improvisations and back to the harmonized melodies.

Tracks: Broken Doll, Bulgarian Basketball, Congas in Action, Doudtful Phoenix, Firefly Groove, Mischievious Samba, Simone, Zap Carnivorous

Artist's Website: http://www.myspace.com/rongetz

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

CD Review: Margie Nelson - Hungry Girl

CD Review: Margie Nelson - Hungry Girl

Year: 2010

Record Label: Independent

Style: Jazz Vocals

Musicians: Margie Nelson (vocals), Quinn Johnson (piano, rhodes), Christian Jacob (piano), Kevin Axt (bass), Matt Catingub (sax), Stephen Geyer (guitar), Kevin Winard (drums, percussion, vocals)

Review:
Even though she is a singer with lot of experience Hungry Girl is Margie Nelson debut album. A singer with a sultry voice, Margie can be funny, classy and romantic. Impossible to listen to the lyrics of the song Hungry Girl witout smiling. One line of the song says "Rachel Ray has nothing on me". In obvious reference to Food Network star Rachel Ray.

Margie sweetness in I love the way you're breaking my heart is an example of her romantic side. And her latin side can be heard in the song An ocassional man, with flavors of the caribbean and the rhodes giving the music a 70's feel.

Always good to hear a Jobim song, this time If you never come to me, the english version of Inutil Paissagem.

Margie is wonderful singing ballads like Where do you start? and Don't go to strangers, on this last one Matt Catingub on sax helps in creating the romantic feeling with a good Lester young like solo.

Margie enjoys singing lyrics with a sense of humor like I need ya (like I need a hole in my head), the tittle says it all. Hungry Girl is a good debut album full of blues, fun, romance and great music.

Tracks: Hungry Girl, I love the way you're breaking my heart, An Occasional Man, Be cool, If you never come to me, Ain't nobody's business but my own, Don't go to strangers, How come?, I need ya (like I need a hole in my head), I can't believe that you're in love with me, Where do you start?, The best is yet to come

Artist's Website: http://www.nelsonjazz.com

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

CD Review: Shawn Bell Quintet - Things yet unknown

CD Review: Shawn Bell Quintet - Things yet unknown

Year: 2010

Record Label: Independent

Style: Straight-Ahead / Classic

Musicians: Shawn Bell (trombone), Quentin Coaxum (trumpet), Jonathan Mcquade (flugelhorn), Ross Margitaz (piano), Nathan Brown (bass), Samuel Jewel (drums)

Review:
Things yet unknown is the debut album from Michigan native trombonist Shawn Bell. Shawn is a young musician who studied at Michigan University and Northern Illinois University. All the music on Things yet unknown are Shawn Bell originals except You stepped out of a dream and In the wee small hours.

The trombone is a difficult instrument to play, and to play trombone in a Jazz band, even harder. The fact that there is not as many famous jazz trombonists, even though the trombone has been part of Jazz since the beginning, proves how hard is to master this instrument. To find a young trombonist like Shawn with this level of command and virtuosity is amazing.

Shawn has a magnificent tone, flawless technique and like any good trombonist, he is a master of glissando, the use of the slide to glide from one note to another. He is also a good improviser and his music has a lot swing. Shawn on trombone and Quentin on trumpet has the responsabilities of most of the improvisations with a fabulous rhythm section of Ross Margitaz on piano, Nathan Brown on bass and Samuel Jewel on drums.

The album has a great balance between swingin tunes, like Things yet unknown and others more in the tradition of cool jazz like You stepped out of a dream and When I cry. At times similar to Miles Davis music on the album The Birth of Cool.

Tracks: Things yet unknown, You stepped out of a dream, When I cry, In the wee small hours, Requiem for lovers, Lost Pursuit, Flow

Artist's Website: http://www.shawnbellmusic.com

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

CD Review: Jacqui Sutton - Billie and Dolly

CD Review: Jacqui Sutton - Billie and Dolly

Year: 2010

Record Label: Blue Typewriter Productions

Style: Other

Musicians: Jacqui Sutton (vocals), Henry Darragh (piano, trombone), Paul Chester (banjo, guitar), Max Dyer (cello), Anthony Sapp (bass), Ilya Janos (percussion), Dennis Dotson (trumpet, flugelhorn), Aralee Dorough (flute)

Review:
Jazz and Country? Billie Holiday and Dolly Parton music in the same CD? Seems like an odd combination. Billie and Dolly is the tittle of Jacqui Sutton new album, but in reality just two songs are from Lady Day and the Queen of Country, God Bless the Child and Endless stream of tears. The rest of the album is a unique fusion of Jazz and Bluegrass.

I know that musicians like Bela Fleck has been doing something similar, but it is the first time I hear a singer trying this fusion in a whole album. And the results are pretty good, Jacqui is a singer with good vocal range and a distinctive style. Jacqui cites both Dolly Parton and Billie Holiday as two major influences on her, and you can hear both on Jacqui voice, mixing the blues and swing of jazz and the yodeling of bluegrass in songs like God bless the child and The moon is made of gold.

The use of the banjo and cello accentuate that bluegrass, country feeling in songs like Memories of you, Keeper of your love and Mississipi Song. Pianist/trombonist/composer/singer Henry Darragh did the arrangements for all the songs on this album and also played piano and trombone.

Tracks: God bless the child, Black Hole, Lazy Afternoon, Keeper of your Love, Those memories of you, My man's gone now, Risk, The moon is made of gold, Mississipi Song, A sleepin' Bee, Endless stream of tears

Artist's Website: http://www.jacquisutton.com

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

CD Review: Francis Demange Quartet - Living Standards

CD Review: Francis Demange Quartet - Living Standards


Europeans always liked and supported jazz since the beginning. When they first heard James Reese Europe HellFigthers. At the beginning of the 20th century when jazz was regarded as inferior black music, some european classical composers were among the first to recognize the richness and the quality of this new music. And when jazz legends like Miles, Duke and Dizzy went to Europe, especially France, they were treated as royalty in a time when back in the US they were not allowed to stay in the same hotels with jazz white musicians.

So it is no wonder a lot of great jazz music and musicians comes from Europe, like these amazing musicians from France the Francis Demange Quartet. Their CD Living Standards is precisely that, a collection of unique arrangements of Jazz standards. Living Standards starts with the melodies of On green dolphin street played over a repetitive piano motif changing into chords harmonization for the piano improvisations.

The tempo speed up on a piece not recorded often, Con Conrad The Continental, with another great piano solo by Francis Demange. Bertrand warm tone and fabulous sense of time can be fully appreciated on the jazzy version of Tom Jobim The Girl from Ipanema and All the things you are, a piece that starts with a syncopated intro and then changes back and forth between a faster and slower tempo.

A slower arrangement of Giant Steps shows this Coltrane composition is not just a pyrotechnics exercise but a quality melodic and harmonic piece. On Paul Desmond Take Five the melodies are played as a duo of sax and trumpet with special guest Sylvain Gontard. In the improvisations, bass and piano quotes another classic, Miles davis So What. The quartet does a different but equally interesting arrangement on Toots Thielemans Bluesette, starting fast and gradually slowin the tempo.

CD Review: Jenny Davis - Inside You

CD Review: Jenny Davis - Inside You


Record Label: Independent

Style: Jazz Vocals

Musicians: Jenny Davis (vocals), Chuck Easton (guitar, flute), Ted Enderle (bass), Louis Aissen (trumpet)

Review:
Jazz standards in an intimate format of just guitar, bass and clear, rich vocals, that is the new album of Jenny Davis, Inside you. Jenny Davis vocals are equally soulful and honest in ballads like My romance or swingin pieces like On green dolphin strett. Like any good jazz musician Jenny use her voice as an instrument, improvising and playing with the melodies. She is the kind of singer that gets deep into the songs and makes you feel the lyrics.

Jenny has a unique style yet deeply rooted in the jazz and vocalese tradition, evident in her phrasing and improvisations on Charlie Parker Confirmation, Kaper On green dolphin street and the slow swingin of Softly as in the morning sunrise.

Brasil music, especially the music from composer Tom Jobim has become standards fixed in the repertoire of most jazz singers. Jenny is not the exception with her wonderful interpretation of Jobim No more blues. The album also includes an original by Jenny, Inside you, with a modern jazz feel and a lovely version of one of my favorites McCartney an Lennon songs, Blackbird.

When your lover has gone, On Green Dolphin Street, Inside You, My romance, Into each life some rain must fall, Morning Glory, No more blues, Confirmation, Blackbird, Softly as in the morning sunrise

Tracks: When your lover has gone, On Green Dolphin Street, Inside You, My romance, Into each life some rain must fall, Morning Glory, No more blues, Confirmation, Blackbird, Softly as in the morning sunrise

Artist's Website: http://www.jennydavisjazz.com/

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

CD Review: Pedro Bermudez - No Limits

CD Review: Pedro Bermudez - No Limits

Year: 2010

Record Label: Luizama Music

Style: Latin Jazz / Latin Funk

Musicians: Pedro Bermudez (piano, fender rhodes), Eddie Gomez (bass), Ruben Rodriguez (bass), Duduka Da Fonseca (drums, percussion), Ivan Renta (sax), Nelson Jaime (trumpet), Richie Flores (congas), Vince Cherico (drums), Diego Lopez (drums), Cristian Rivera (congas), Carli Maldonado (timbal, congas), Efrain Martinez (drums), Gabriel Rodriguez (bass), Felipe Salles (sax), Mike Arroyo (guitar), David Rodriguez (trumpet), Ana Baiana (vocals), Oscar Stagnaro (bass)

Review:
Born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Pedro Bermudez is a pianist with lot of experience playing with salsa legends like Willie Rosario, Roberto Roena and the Puerto Rican Latin Jazz group Batacumbele.

The opening track Yuba a Santurce is precisely an homage to Pedro's town, Santurce. This is a piece with Bomba and Jazz fusion, reminiscent of the music of another great Jazz musician from Puerto Rico, trombonist William Cepeda. Good improvisations by Ivan Renta on sax and Oscar Stagnaro on bass.

Pedro plays the fender rhodes en La numero site, and Mike Arroyo also from Puerto Rico plays the guitar. The track breaks into kind of a montuno in the end. El Jarriero feels like a slow mambo, this time with another good bassist, Ruben Rodriguez, excellent trumpet by Nelson Jaime, who is also the recording engineer, and Richie Flores spectacular as always on congas.

Pedro great technique and experience can be fully appreciated on latin tracks like ALC. It is amazing the quality and quantity of musicians playing on this CD. On the more traditional Jazz track, The Dreamer, the bassist is Eddie Gomez. Some might remember Eddie as the bass player with Bill Evans. And in this format of just piano, bass and drums the music here reminds me at times of the legendary Jazz pianist.

Pedro goes back to the Fender Rhodes in the Samba influenced Bombaiao with Felipe Salles on sax, Oscar Stagnaro back on bass and master brazilian percussionist/drummer Duduka Da Fonseca.

Redentor includes another virtuosic bassist from Puerto Rico, Gabriel Rodriguez. A young but experienced musician currently playing with Charlie Sepulveda and Jazz trio San Juan Collective.

Duduka also plays on Chorinho para Maria, a piece with traditional brazilian rhythms where Pedro shows his versitality as a composer and improviser, even quoting in his improvisation recognized brazilian songs like Samba da minha terra.

All compositions are originals by Pedro Bermudez except Jobim Caminhos Cruzados. The wonderful interpretation and voice on this one is Ana Baiana. No limits and Long Walk have two of the more interesting arrangements with nice tempo changes.

Tracks: Yuba a Santurce, La numero siete, El jarriero, ALC, The dreamer, Bombaiao, Redentor, Chorinho para Maria, Ivan's Cha, Caminhos cruzados, Offbeat, Ni limits, Long walk

Artist's Website: http://www.pedrobermudezpiano.com

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

CD Review: Mark Costa - Textures

CD Review: Mark Costa - Textures


Musicians: Mark Costa (bass), James Muller (guitar), Bill Risby (piano, synths),Gordon Rytmeister (drums), Tony Azzopardi (percussion)

Review:
Australia is a land of beautiful sights, kangaroos, and even some great rock bands like AC/DC, Inxs and Men at Work. But Jazz is not the first word that comes to mind when talking about Australia. Sydney native bassist Mark Costa might change that perception with his album Textures.

Textures is a collection of interesting compositions in a Jazz Fusion tradition. All compositions are originals by Mark Costa and like all good jazz music, Mark leave a lot of space to improvisations. Dedication, the first track with good electric guitar solos by James Muller feels like 70's progressive rock.

Textures has a more jazzy feeling with Bill Risby on piano playing most of the melodies. Muller goes for a cleaner tone on the electric guitar on the Jazz Fusion track End Games, this one reminds me of the music of pianist Hiromi Uehara. On Hidden Game, after a nice piano intro Mark lays down the groove for a cool exchange of melodies improvisations between piano and guitar.

Stand and Deliver has some interesting tempo changes from funk to jazz rhythms. Mark does a superb bass solo and Bill on synths acentuate that 70's Jazz Fusion feel. The music on White Sands is reminiscent of Pat Metheny, another great Jazz Fusion musician. Pendulum has a more traditional Jazz, kind of a Bebop feel to it. Showing that good musicians like Mark and friends can play any Jazz style. The CD ends up with the beautiful ballad A Father's Love.

Tracks: Dedication, Textures, End Game, Hidden Gem, Stand and Deliver, White Sands, Pendulum, A Father's Love

Artist's Website: http://www.markcosta.com.au

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

CD Review: Ayako Shirasaki - Falling Leaves: Live in Hamburg

CD Review: Ayako Shirasaki - Falling Leaves: Live in Hamburg


Review:
Just a few notes out of Ayako Shirasaki’s piano are enough to realize you are listening to a very special musician. With her amazing combination of feeling, inventiveness and impressive virtuosity, Ayako is one of those musicians that make an unforgettable impression.

Ayako grew up listening to all the Bebop greats, and by age 10 she was transcribing Bud Powell and Charlie Parker solos. She also began studying classical piano at age 5 and both, Jazz and Classical shows off in her style and technique. Even though she is still young, Ayako is already a veteran in the jazz world with four previous solo albums, Existence (2003), Loved Ones (2004), Musically Yours (2005), Home Alone (2006), one live album, Live in New York (2001), two duo albums with vibraphonist Tim Collins in 2002 and Live in concert (2002).

This is a live solo piano recital CD, (ala Keith Jarrett) recorded in Hamburg, and showcase Ayako at his best. An intro similar in style to Bud Powell starts the album with Charlie Parker Confirmation, a masterful homage to Ayako Bebop heroes, followed by a sublime interpretation of Ellington In a sentimental mood.

Ayako have no problem playing Sonny Rollins difficult composition Airegin (Nigeria backwards). Her playing is flawless and with lots of energy on this one, with a nice stride piano in the middle. Jazz and Classical music are mix beautifully in Ayako version of Chick Corea waltz Mirror Mirror.

The next section of the recital is dedicated to the four seasons starting with the beautiful Japanese song Sakura Sakura (Cherry blossom, cherry blossom) representing the spring season. Back to the Jazz feel in the classic Summertime before getting into the fall and winter seasons with Ayako original, Falling Leaves and the Christmas classic Sleigh Ride.

The interesting harmonies and delightful melodies of the two Ayako originals, the Monk like Monkey Punch and the ballad Far Away proves she is also a master of composition. Ayako shows her versatility with the Barry Harris Samba, Nascimento.

The last four pieces are songs requested by the audience, Moonglow, My Romance, Brubeck Take Five and Rollins St. Thomas.

Tracks: Confirmation, In a sentimental mood, Airegin, Mirror Mirror, Sakura Sakura, Summertime, Falling Leaves, Sleigh Ride, Monkey Punch, Far Away, Nascimento, Moonglow, My Romance, Take Five, St. Thomas

Record Label Website: http://www.janmatthiesrecords.com/

Artist's Website: http://www.ayakoshirasaki.com/

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

CD Review: Laura Harrison - Now HereYear: 2010

CD Review: Laura Harrison - Now Here

Year: 2010

Record Label: Steps Records

Style: Jazz Vocals

Musicians: Laura Harrison (vocals), Peter Smith, John Proulx (piano), Chris Colangelo, Kevin Axt (bass), Jimmy Branly, Steve Barnes (drums)

Review:
What a better way to start Canadian singer/composer Laura Harrison debut album Now Here than with the extraordinaire interpretation and fabulous scats in the Sarah Vaughan song Shulie a Bop. The hard swing, superb scats and amazing phrasing on this first track should tell you what's this lady is all about. Laura is a singer with complete command over her voice, a master of scats and improvisations. This is how a Jazz singer should sound like.

Laura sings in perfect portuguese in Vinicius de Moraes Berimbau. Two other great choices are the Ellington swingin compositions, Cottontail and Love you madly with some more great scats by Laura, this time reminiscent of another legend of Jazz, Ms. Ella Fitzgerald.

Laura technique and mezzo soprano voice allows her to sound just as good singing classical pieces like Bizet Habanera. Her compositions, Now Here with lyrics that reflect the struggle to finally record her first album, Reflection, and the two jazzy tunes Mi alma and Teesa's Blues are interesting both melodically and harmonically with a touch of poetry and personal lyrics, but always leaving space for vocal improvisations.

Laura shows her versitality as a singer in Ralph Towner Icarus, Sting Seven Days. and in the funky groove arrangement of Wouldn't it be loverly.

Tracks: Shulie a bop, Now Here, Berimbau, Reflections I concentrate on you, Mi alma, Love you madly, Wouldn't it be loverly, Teesa's blues, Habanera, Icarus, Seven days, Cottontail

Artist's Website: http://www.lauraharrisonmusic.com/

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

CD Review: Nicole Lvoff - Here's that rainy day

CD Review: Nicole Lvoff - Here's that rainy day


Here's that rainy day is the debut album from California native singer, Nicole Lvoff. An album with delicate arrangements plus the crystal clear tone and sweet voice of Nicole Lvoff on songs like Darn that dream, Here's that rainy day, the slow and sexy Angel eyes and Billie Holiday Don't Explain. This is music for romance, to listen with that special someone.

But Nicole and her band can swing too. Listen to the slow swinging version Sometimes I'm Happy, the upbeat swing arrangement of Too marvelous for words and Softly as in the morning sunrise. Nicole puts the sexy back on the song Fever and the whole band show their latin side in the classic Caravan, with some mambo touches in the improvisations.

The album also includes a couple of songs I haven't heard in a while, like Richard Adler Whatever Lola wants and the beautiful english version of Luis Bonfa Manha de Carnaval from the movie Black Orpheus. It was through this movie most people heard the music of Bonfa and Jobim for the first time.

Musicians: Nicole Lvoff (vocals), Woody DeMarco (piano), Hank Allen (bass), Jon Crosse (sax, flute, clarinet, trumpet), Tom Lackner (drums), Lorenzo Martinez (bongos, shakers)

Tracks: Too marvelous for words, Black Orpheus, Darn that dream, Here's that rainy day, Whatever Lola wants, Fever, Softly as in the morning sunrise, Sometimes I'm happy, Angel Eyes, Caravan, Don't explain

Record Label : Marmalade Records

Artist's Website: http://nicolelvoff.com/

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre

CD Review: Francesco Marziani Trio - In my own sweet way

CD Review: Francesco Marziani Trio - In my own sweet way


After winning the 2008 International Massimo Urbani Award, Philology Records offered italian pianist Francesco Marziani the opportunity of recording his debut CD. So here it is, the first album from one of the new italian jazz talents Francesco Marziani. In my own sweet way was recorded with bassist Massimo Moriconi and drummer Massimo Manzi.

Besides being an excellent pianist with great knowlege of the jazz language and flawless technique, Francesco is an accomplished composer. His compositions are mature with elegant melodies and rich harmonically.

There are some similarities in his composition style to pianist Vince Guaraldi on tracks like If I were a blackbird and Light night. Sounds like Francesco is even quoting Vince in the improvisation on If I were a blackbird.

But there is also some Thelonious Monk on the track Myself in blue both in the music and Francesco phrasing. The trio is in full swing in Parker & Gillespie Shaw Nuff and in the fast tempo arrangement of The Chase.

Also included on the album, the beautiful interpretations of the classic You've changed and Barry Harry ballad Eleanor.

If I were a blackbird, You've changed, The chase, Eleanor, Light night, Walzer per il sonno di Andrea, In my own sweet way, Shaw nuff, Myself in blue

Francesco Marziani (piano), Massimo Moriconi (bass), Massimo Manzi (drums)

CD Review: Claudio Scolari - Colors of red island

CD Review: Claudio Scolari - Colors of red island


Italian musician Claudio Scolari new project, Colors of Red Island is a fascinating mix of acoustic and electronic sounds creating an almost cinematic atmosphere. For this album Claudio has the collaboration of Daniele Cavalca on drums, bass and vibraphone and Simone Scolari on trumpet.

Scolari music, like the tracks Electric light over water and Emotion appearance can be described as avant-garde jazz but it is so much more. It has elements of classical music, and other jazz styles. For example Variations of movement has some latin influences and the title track, Colors of red island with Simone Scolari majestic sound on trumpet reminds me at times of Miles music from the album Birth of Cool.

Daniele Cavalca plays the vibraphone in the funky Improvised sentimental song, Cold landscape and in Movement inspiration, a track with a blend of acoustic and futuristic sounds creating kind of a mysterious mood. This mysterious mood continues in Dialogues night with an interesting almost hypnotic percussion.

Earth dances explosions is even more futuristic, with a sound effect loop that provides the background to Simone trumpet improvisations.

Colors of red island, Movement inspiration, Variation of movement, Dialogues night, Earth dances explosions, Improvised sentimental song, Electric light over water, Emotion appearance, Winds of metamorphosis, Infinite silence, Cold landscape

CD Review: Lisa Maxwell & George Newall - Return to Jazz Standards

CD Review: Lisa Maxwell - Return to Jazz Standards


Like the tittle suggests this album is full of Jazz standards wonderfully interpreted by singer Lisa Maxell. Standards like the swinging versions of Cole Porter You'd be so nice to come home to, Rodgers and Hart My Romance and Ray Noble I hedn't anyone till you with extraordinaire piano solos by Lisa husband George Newall, who also did all the arrangements and produced the album.

This is an album full of romance also and like the lyrics of Love Dance, when you listen to Lisa lovely voice singing Jobim Meditation and LaTouche Lazy Afternoon, you gotta turn up the quiet cause love wants to dance. Return to Jazz Standards also includes an ellegant version of Mandel The Shadow of your Smile. And because the holidays are close, Lisa ask you What are you doing New Years Eve? This is a perfect album for a romantic evening.

You'd be so nice to come home to, Meditation, Lazy afternoon, I hadn't anyone till you, Love dance, Call me, The shadow of your smile, Isn't it a pity, What are you doing new years eve?, My romance, Moonlight savings time

Lisa Maxwell (vocals), George Newall (piano), John Alfred (trombone)

CD Rreview: Pamela Hines Trio - Moon Germs

CD Rreview: Pamela Hines Trio - Moon Germs



Pamela Hines great technique and intuitive playing shows from the first track, Arlen classic Let's fall in love. Hines plays nicely with the melodies and rhythms in a kind of bebop version.

Pamela Hines is also a great composer and most of the compositions on this albums are Hines originals. Itchy is a good example of Hines compositional talent, with interesting, constant tempo changes between Bebop and a more funky groove.

Variations on invitation is another interesting Hines original with piano playing reminiscent harmonically and in the use of spaceto the master Thelonious Monk.

Hines is just as good playing ballads like Mercer Fool rush in and Pamela own Lavender and Complications. Her piano style in these slow pieces is more minimalist, making every note count.

In moon germs the CD tittle track Hines shows her versitality in a almost avantgarde arrangement.

In Christopher Street there is a touch of Bossa and the whole band swing hard on Bill Evans Show Type Tune and in Hines Zonegar.

Pamela Hines (piano), John Lockwood (bass), Bob Gulloti (drums), Greg Dudzienski (tenor sax), Darren Barrett (trumpet)

Let's fall inlove, Itchy, Fools rush in, Moon germs, Lavender, Complications, Variations on invitation, Show type tune, Zonegar, Christopher Street

CD Review: Ceumar - Live in Amsterdam

CD Review: Ceumar - Live in Amsterdam

Year: 2010

Record Label: Independent

Style: Brazilian Jazz / Brazilian Pop Jazz

Musicians:
Ceumar (vocals), Mike del Ferro (piano), Frans van der Hoeven (bass), Olaf Keus (drums)

Review:
Ceumar is one of the best singer out of Brasil in the last ten years. After four great albums, Dindinha (2000), Sempreviva! (2003), Achou! (2006), and Meu Nome (2009), Ceumar comes back with a live CD recorded in Amsterdam.

If you are not familiar with Ceumar music, you are up for a treat. Ceumar beautiful voice and poetic singing style will surely captures you. If you are already a fan, like me, you will love the jazzy arrangements of some of your favorites Ceumar songs.

As a composer her lyrics has a poetic quality also. A good example is the first song on this album, Oracao do Anjo. A prayer asking God not to let her die before seeing the world.

The jazz arrangements works perfectly with Ceumar music. The second song, Banzo, is one of the jazzier ones on this CD, with syncopated rhythms and a nice swinging groove.

Dindinha is one of three Zeca Baleiro compositions on this album and the title of the debut Ceumar CD. One of the most beautiful songs recorded by Ceumar and in my opinion already a classic of brazilian music. Ia Ia is another composition by Zeca Baleiro, recorded for the first time on this live album.

Jabuticaba Madura is another wonderful Ceumar original song. Jabuticaba is a small black fruit from Brasil that Ceumar compares to the eyes of a man. Frans plays a melodic solo on bass and does a masterful voice solo simulating a trumpet.

Zeca Baleiro Pecadinhos (little sins), also with prayer like lyrics, this time asking for forgiveness for little sins that do not hurt anybody. Danca is a Ceumar song, almost like a waltz, inspired in the music of cuban piano player Yaniel Matos.

Girias do Norte with rhythms from the north of Brasil, and obvious african influences, is a fun and danceable piece. The album close with the almost lullaby song Gira de meninos.

Tracks: Oracao do anjo, Banzo, Dindinha, Ia Ia, Jabuticaba madura, Pecadinhos, Danca, Girias do norte, Gira de meninos

Artist's Website: http://www.ceumar.net

Reviewed by: Wilbert Sostre