viernes, 24 de junio de 2011
CD Review: Magos Herrera - Mexico Azul
Magos Herrera is the Cassandra Wilson of latin america. There are similarities in their warm, sultry tone, their bluesy feeling and strong command of the jazz language. What makes Magos Herrera different and certainly a unique voice in the jazz world today is her latin heritage that she proudly displays in all of her music.
The CD notes describes México Azul as a celebration of México's golden age of cinema and television. That was back in the 30's and 40's. A lot of good music came out of that era, and Magos did good job in the song selection for this album.
México Azul start with Herrera soulful interpretations of Alvaro Carrillo "Luz de Luna" and Agustin Lara "Noche Criolla". Both outstanding arrangements that fuse jazz with south american music.
The slow pace and almost Aria trumpet intro by Tim Hagans on Agustin Lara "Azul" gives a majestic feel to this romantic theme. Hagans also adds a superb trumpet solo to the jazz waltz arrangement and Herrera emotional intense interpretation of "Angelitos Negros".
Herrera profoundly resonant voice can be fully appreciated on Agustin Lara "Lamento Jarocho" an homage to the people of Veracruz, México. Magos Herrera phrases flow effortlessly on "Seguiré mi viaje", "Dos Gardenias" and in the beautiful bolero jazz "Que sea para mi".
The percussive voice intro on "Tres Palabras" is very similar to Gretchen Parlato style. The arrangement for this track is one of the jazzier of the release.
Even though Rafael Hernandez was not from México, he was Puertorrican, his compositions were among the best of that era. "Obsesión" is one of Hernandez classics that has been recorded all troughout latin america. The ballad arrangement on this one allows Magos Herrera to bring out the feeling of every word.
Herrera is without a doubt the best jazz singer out of Mexico, and with México Azul she is establishing herself among the best singers in jazz.
CD Review: Kalani Trinidad - Crossing Bridges
Flutist Kalani Trinidad is one of the brightest young stars in the Puerto Rico jazz scene today and the first Puerto Rican to win a Presidential Scholarship from Berklee School of Music in Boston. In his style Trinidad echoes the best of the great Puerto Rican flutist that came before him. One may hear on his music the finesse and sensitivity of a Nestor Torres and the inventiveness and intensity of a Dave Valentín.
The music on Trinidad debut album Crossing Bridges has elements of smooth jazz on compositions like "Ubiquitous Being", fusion jazz on "Noche en Madrid" and latin jazz on "Puertorro".
Trinidad improvises with spontaneity and ease on the almost lullaby tittle track "Crossing Bridges" and over the samba rhythms of "Momentum and "The Passage".
Kalani Trinidad expresiveness, intensity and limitless stack of phrases may be fully appreciated on "Puertorro", an outstanding composition that constantly changes between afro caribbean and south american rhythms. On this track, Kalani's father, Richard Trinidad plays the piano and Paoli Mejias plays the congas creating a rumba that is one of the highlights of this release.
Besides Richard and Paoli, Kalani recruited a group of extraordinaire musicians for his debut album that includes Alex Acuña on percussions, Alex Brown on piano, who also plays with Kalani in the group La Timbistica, John Benitez on bass and Henry Cole on drums. Marcos Lopez plays drums on "Momentum" and "Russo".
Tracks: Momentum, The Passage, Noche en Madrid, Crossing Bridges, Puertorro, Serenity, Russo, Ubiquitous Being
Musicians: Kalani Trinidad - flute, John Benitez - bass, Alex Brown - piano, Henry Cole - drums, Alex Acuña - percussion, Richard Trinidad - piano (5), Marcos J. Lopez - drums (1,7), timbales (5), Paoli Mejias - congas (1,5,7)
Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival 2011
Wilbert Sostre reports from the 21st edition of the jazz festival in Puerto Rico
By Wilbert Sostre
On its 21th Anniversary, the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival has become an international event. Each year the event features a diversity of local artists as well as the best jazz musicians from around the world.
The first night featured local virtuoso percussionist Richie Flores and Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander. More than 20 years ago, Richie Flores played in the first Puerto Rico Jazz Festival. On the 2011 edition, Richie came back to be the opening act of the festival. This time Richie played with his own group of excellent musicians including Puerto Rican bassist John Benitez, drummer Robby Ameen and pianist Elio Villafranca.
From the first piece, "Amigos" (Friends), Flores captivated the audience with his energy and fast hands playing the congas. Vocalist Marfil Delgado joined the group for good renditions of her own composition "Hot" and Flores original "La Vida te Dá."
After the complex arrangement and fast interpretation by the members of Flores new project Onda Mora of the classic plena "Elena Elena" (plena is a folk music from Puerto Rico), the sextet played Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin High" and Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed."
Monty Alexander Harlem Kingston Express was the second act on Thursday night. Alexander's music can be described as eclectic, combining elements of various jazz styles with Caribbean music, especially from his native Jamaica.
On the third piece the contagious reggae rhythms enter the scene with the integration of the Jamaican part of the group. From that moment on each arrangement was a fusion of jazz and reggae on originals compositions like "Strawberry Hills" and "Love Notes" and in the beautiful version of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry."
Saxophonist/composer Ted Nash opened up the second night of the Puerto Rico Jazz Festival, delivering material mostly from his new album Portrait in Seven Shades. This album contains music inspired by masters of painting like , Monet, Dalí, and Picasso. Nash’s elegant compositions show the different colors, shades and styles of these giants of modern art.
Nash style has elements of the avant garde but at the same time is deeply rooted in the jazz tradition. The rhythm section featuring drummer Ali Jackson, pianist Dan Nimmer and bassist Carlos Henriquez provided excellent support to Nash and trumpeter Marcus Printup during their fine solos. Henriquez pleased the crowd with flawless improvisations in the blues dedicated to Matisse and in the piece dedicated to abstract painter Jackson Pollock.
Ramsey Lewis added the romantic touch to the festival second night. Lewis poetic and delicate style, good melodic sense and ability to convey diverse emotions with just one note, captivated the audience. On his music Lewis explores elements of gospel, blues, funk, classical music and of course jazz. What was supposed to be a trio turned into a quartet with the addition of master guitarist Henry Johnson. One of the highlights of Lewis presentation was the improvisation bassist Joshua Ramos on "The In Crowd," one of Lewis most recognized compositions.
Among jazz/fusion bassists, two names rise above others to the point of reaching the status of legends. One of them is Jaco Pastorius; the other one, Stanley Clarke, closed up the second night of the Puerto Rico Jazz Fest. With the absence of Hiromi Uehara, what could have been a power trio turned into an explosive duo plenty of intense solos between Stanley Clarke and young drummer Ronald Bruner. The energy and flawless technique of these two virtuosos is simply impressive.
After the Saturday cancellation due to the constant rain, the festival started its last night with the presentation of the students of Berklee in Puerto Rico. Each year music students from Puerto Rico receive financial aids and scholarships from Heineken and the Berklee College of Music.
But what everyone was waiting to see on Sunday night was the return to the Puerto Rico Jazz Fest of Puerto Rican master saxophonist David Sanchez. Sanchez brought us a premiere of his new project Ninety Miles, which includes vibraphonist Stefon Harris and trumpeter Christian Scott. Accompanying them on Ssunday night were bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Henry, both excellent instrumentalist and both from Puerto Rico.
The melodic and rhythmic balance in Sanchez improvisations matched perfectly with Scott’s intensity and Harris’ elegance and fluidity on the originals "Brown Bells Blues," "Echa," The Forgotten Ones," "Paradise Found" and "City Sundown."
For the second consecutive year, trumpeter/director Humberto Ramirez and his big band were the closing act of the festival. For this year Ramirez prepared a nice tribute to Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, La Lupe and Frank Sinatra. The festival ended with the audience dancing in the aisles and remembering the music of the Latin big bands of the 40's and 50's.
CD Review: Gonzalo Rubalcaba - Faith (Fé)
Gonzalo Rubalcaba is a well recognized and respected name in the jazz scene. His classically trained background, along with his knowledge of Jazz and the music of his native Cuba, make him an equally impressive musician either playing art or popular music.
Faith is the premiere release on his newly founded 5Passion (cincopasión or sincopation) label. This is a solo piano album, a setting similar to a classical piano recital. Just Rubalcaba and his piano, and of course there is no need for anything else.
Faith starts with "Derivado 1", a short piece with some dissonances that serves as an introduction to "Maferefun Lya Lodde Me", a praise in the lucumi language to the orisha Oshun (Lucumi is a Yoruba dialect spoken by practitioners of the Santería religion in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic).
All throughout, Rubalcaba demonstrates his clean and impeccable technique product of his classical piano studies in Cuba. On "Improvisation 1 and 2", based on the chord changes of John Coltrane's Giant Steps, Rubalcaba displays his virtuosity with fast piano runs and scalar improvisations reminiscent of Coltrane himself. The short phrases and use of dissonances also have some similarities to pianist Cecil Taylor.
"Derivado 2 and 3" are variations based on the second track "Maferefun Lya Lodde Me". The sophisticated dissonant chords and the effectve playing in the high notes of the piano evokes the sounds of another jazz master, pianist Thelonious Monk.
"Con Alma 1 and 3" are delicate and elegant interpretations of Dizzy Gillespie's composition, played with soul as the tittle suggest. Rubalcaba creates a perfect balance of emotion and virtuosity in the classically tinged piece "Preludio Corto # 2 (Tu Amor era Falso" and in the Miles Davis/Bill Evans classic "Blue in Green".
Rubalcaba attack is more aggresive and percussive in "Oro", an original composition that brings together classical and cuban music with touches of free jazz. Faith also includes three poetic and refined originals dedicated to Rubalcaba two daughters and son, "Joan", " Yolanda Anas" and "Joao". These compositions were recorded originally on his album Inner Voyage.
Tracks: Derivado 1, Maferefun Lya Lodde Me, Improvisation 2, Derivado 2, Con Alma 1, Preludio Corto #2, Blue in Green 1, Oro, Joan, Joao, Yolanda Anas, Blue in Green 2, Con Alma 3, Improvisation 1, Derivado 3
Musicians: Gonzalo Rubalcaba - piano
CD Review: Peter Scharli Trio featuring Ithamara Koorax - O Grande Amor
Peter Scharli's O Grande Amor is an unusual album. This is brazilian music played beautifully by a trio of swiss musicians. That fact alone is not so unusual, brazilian music is played by musicians all around the world.
The odd thing here is the format of this trio. Peter Scharli on trumpet, Thomas Durst on bass and Hans-Peter Pfammatter on piano. Something missing? Right, no drums and no percussions. Everybody knows the importance of the percussion on brazilian music. So it is a challenge for these master musicians, mostly for the pianist and bassist to keep the rhythm. And they did a wonderful job al throughout especially on the sambas "Sandalia dela", Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes' "Deixa" and "Zum Zum".
Peter Scharli gorgeous, rich sound and well constructed solos on trumpet is a perfect match with the trio secret weapon, Ithamara Koorax. Among all the great talented singers out of Brasil Koorax is without a doubt one of the best. Koorax is a singer equally comfortable singing traditional brazilian music or jazz.
Few singers conveys the emotion of Antonio Carlos Jobim lyrics like "Fotografia" and "O Grande Amor" or ballads like Ivan Lins "Setembro" with the tender feel and elegance of Ithamara Koorax. Koorax also brings the most out of each note on the slow arrangement of Ary Barroso "Pra Machucar Meu Coraçao".
One of the highligths of the album is Hans original "Wediletto", a composition that allows Koorax to show her amazing vocal range singing high notes in unison with Peter Scharli on trumpet.
Tracks: Fotografia, Sandalia Dela, Setembro, Wedileto, O Grande Amor, Deixa, Pra Machucar Meu Coraçao, Zum Zum
Musicians: Ithamara Koorax - vocals, Hans Peter Pfammatter - piano, Thomas Durst - bass, Peter Scharli - trumpet
CD Review: Walt Weiskopf Quartet
Jazz is a music form based on improvisation, it is art created in the moment. So logically most of the best performings in jazz comes out in a live setting. When masters improvisers get together the result of that interaction is usually magical. That is the case with Walt Weiskpf Quartet release recorded live at Koger Hall, University of South Carolina in April 8, 2008.
This is a quartet of superb musicians at the top of their form. Walt Weiskopf is a tenor saxophonist with a sound that conveys the sound of all the sax legends. One may hear some Coltrane, Rollins, Adderley and Dexter Gordon all throughout especially in the first track "Man of Many Colors". On the second track, "Little Minor Love Song" his tone and phrasing is reminiscent of Benny Golson and on the ballad "Blame it on my youth" Weiskopf plays with the lyricism of a Lester Young. Weiskopf improvisations always has a perfect balance of surprise and coherence. Weiskopf experience includes playing with the great pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi.
Bassist Paul Gill, who also played with Akiyoshi, and dummer Tony Reedus brings the energy and swing in the rhythm section. The release is dedicated to Tony Reedus who died of a pulmonary embolism upon return from a tour of Italy a few months after this concert.
Completing the quartet is one of the best pianist in jazz today, Renne Rosnes. Impossible to choose among all the impressive improviations by Rosnes on this album, so I won't. I recommend to listen and enjoy them all. Her crisp melodic breaks, intensity, dazzling high speed runs, and limitless stack of phrases are always surprising and exciting. Rosnes improvisations are a marriage of intellect and emotion.
Most of the compositions on this album are Weiskopf originals except, "Blame it on my youth" and Cole Porter "Love for sale"
Tracks: Man of Many Colors, Little Minor Love Song, Dizzy Spells/Jay Walking, Blues in the Day, Scottish Folk Song, Blame it on my youth, Love for Sale, Breakdown
Musicians: Walt Weiskopf - tenor saxophone, Renee Rosnes - piano, Paul Gill - bass, Tony Reedus - drums
CD Review: Heiner Stadler - Tribute to Bird and Monk
Heiner Stadler's Tribute to Bird and Monk was one of the best and most unusual albums back in 1978. And after more than thirty years it still sound as fresh and energetic as the first time it came out. This is free improvisation as it's best, played by some of the jazz heavyweights of that era, including Thad Jones on trumpet, Reggie Workman on bass and Lenny White on drums.
Heiner Stadler conducted the band and did the polytonal arrangements for the six compositions, three by Charlie Parker and three by Thelonious Monk.
Like in any free improvisation album there is a lot of dissonances on this one, but there is also a lot of swing and almost New Orleans sound in Bird's "Air Conditioning". Also in the New Orleans tradition is the funeral march intro on Monk's "Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are". The arrangement changes into a funk groove at the end. There is also some funk in Monk's Straight No Chaser", this was the 70's, the jazz fusion decade, so funk was everywhere.
Everyone had the chance to improvise over the dissonant march sounds of "Misterioso". Reggie Workman inventiveness on his bass improvisations, at one time using the bow for dramatic effects, is on of the highlights of the album.
The more traditional arrangement is Bird's "Perhaps". The walking bass, the cool swing groove and the sax, trumpet and flute melody exchange are closer to the traditional Bebop sound. Free improvisation is not for everyone, even some jazz listeners can't stand the apparent chaos of this jazz form. For those who like free improvisation, this album is a must have in their collection.
Tracks: Air Conditioning, Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are, Au Privave, Straight No Chaser, Misterioso, Perhaps
Musicians: Thad Jones - trumpet, George Adams - Saxophone, George Lewis - trombone, Reggie Workman - bass, Lenny White - drums, Warren Smith - percussions
CD Review: Judy Wexler - Under a Painted Sky
Under a Painted Sky is Judy Wexler third release (2005 Easy on the Heart, 2008 Dreams and Shadows). Wexler is one of those uncommon singers with the sensitive, tender feel to clearly express the emotion of a ballad like "Don't Wait Too Long" and the tight, impecable technique to swing in tunes like "The Great City".
Under a Painted Sky has a perfect balance between upbeat tunes and slow ballads. On either one Wexler displays her distinctive style compounded of an ellegant, exquisite phrasing and a gorgeous voice. Wexler versatile voice can be sexy and humorous on "An Ocassional Man", romantic on "Café" and then show some vulnerability on the ballad "Sack full of dreams".
If it ain't broke, don't fix it, like in Wexler previous albums pianist Alan Pasqua once again provides the spacious arrangements that allows the listener to fully enjoy the emotional colouring of Wexler vocals. Wexler is in the company of master musicians on Under a Painted Sky, including Bob Mintzer on tenor sax, Walt Fowler on trumpet, Soprano sax player Bob Sheppard, and bassit Darek Oles (both played on Wexler first two releases) and master percussionist Alex Acuña.
Tracks: Wonderful wonderful, And how I hoped for your love, An occasional man, Don't wait too long, The Great City, Avec le Temps, A little tear, Last time for love, Café, Whisper not, Till there was you, Sack full of dreams
Musicians: Judy Wexler - vocals, Alan Pasqua - piano, Darek Oles - drums, Larry Koonse, Bob Mintzer - tenor sax, Bob Sheppard - soprano sax, Walt Fowler - trumpet, flugelhorn, Alex Acuña - percussion
CD Review: Lisa Engelken - Caravan
Lisa Engelken's Caravan is an album full of twists, turns and surprises that demands the complete attention of the listener. The whole album feels like a live performance, and that is how good jazz should sound like.
"We'll be together again" starts as a ballad, burst into nice swing groove with Lisa adding some dazzling scatting and slows down again at the end.
Lisa adds some sense of humour in the creative arrangement of Cole Porter's "Just one of those things", starting with a funeral march a la New Orleans, all of a sudden the band is in full swing again. The trumpet, clarinet,sax and trombone adds to the New Orleans feel of the track. On her vocal improvisations Lisa cleverly insert some lines of the song My heart belongs to daddy.
It must be a real treat to see Lisa Engelken performing live. She has a certain flair for the dramatic that surely comes from her theatre background. That broadway influence may be heard on the ballad "Winter Moon".
On Baden Powell and Vinicius de Moraes "Canto de Ossanha", Engelken takes us in a journey to the brazilian carnaval, singing in portuguese and accompanied with the brilliant harmonies of Jeanette Sarmiento and Chabela Yrigoyen.
Juan Tizol's "Caravan" is completely reharmonized in an unusual slow arrangement with touches of classical music. The alternate time signatures on the classic "Afro Blue", amazingly maintains a beautiful fluidity. Another example of Lisa creativeness as an arranger.
Lisa ventures into the jazz/funk fusion in Joni Mitchell's "Trouble Child" and Freddie Hubbard's "Fromthe earth". The effective slow, bluesy arrangement grows in intensity in Billy Idol's "White Wedding" is a song one does not expect in a jazz album.
The release ends up with a more traditional arrangement, on the ballad "Detour Ahead".
Tracks: We'll be together again, Just one of those things, Canto de Ossanha, Caravan, Afro Blue, Trouble Child, Winter Moon, From the earth, White Wedding, Detour Ahead
Musicians: Lisa Engeken - vocals, Adam Schulman - piano, fender rhodes (2,3,4,6,7,8,9,10) , Sam Bevan - bass (2,3,4,6,7,8,9,10), Matthew Swindells - drums, Mike Olmos - trumpet (2,8), Doug Beavers - trombone (2,8), David Alt - tenor sax, clarinet (2,8), Jon Monahan - guitars (3,4,6,8,9), Jarrett Cherner - piano (1,5), Gabe Davis - bass (1,5), Brian Rice - percussion (3), Joel Behrman - trombone, trumpet, flugelhorn (3,4,6), Jeanette Sarmiento, Chabela Yrigoyen - backing vocals
CD Review: Adam Dunning - Sunset Monkeys
It is amazing that Bossa Nova, a music style that started more than fifty years ago in the streets of Rio de Janeiro, still holds a strong fascination over a lot of musicians around the world. That is the case with australian native Adam Dunning, to the point that in Rio de Janeiro he is considered just another carioca.
Dunning album Sunset Monkeys is a collection of mostly originals songs full of beautiful brasil imagery like in "Leblon", "Sunset Monkeys" and "Mount Eliza" or romantic lyrics like "Summer Things". Sunset Monkeys also includes the cool sambas "Song of the Lagoon", "Green" and "Parabens ao meu amigo". Rodrigo Sha adds tight and impacable flute solos on "Green" and "Parabens".
Dunning recorded Sunset Monkeys in Rio de Janeiro with a little help from some brazilian friends. Roberto Menescal sings and plays guitar in the bossa "We and the Sea" and plays the electric guitar on Jobim's "Fotografia". Joao Donato sings and plays the piano on his own composition "Jungle Flower".
Brazilian singers Cris Delanno, Daniela Procopio and Laura Lagub add the femenine touch with their beautiful voices on "E preciso perdoar", "Fotografia", and "With You".
Another highlight of the album is Dunning wonderful version of Carlos Lyra an Vinicius de Moraes classic "Voce e eu" (You and me)
Listening to Sunset Monkeys, there is no doubt Bossa Nova music is in Dunning's blood.
Tracks: Leblon, We and the Sea, Sunset Monkeys, Jungle Flower, Mount Eliza, Green, E Preciso Perdoar, Song of the Lagoon, You and Me, Summer Things, Photograph, Parabens ao meu amigo, S Wonderful, With You Nunca Fui
Musicians: Adam Dunning - vocals, guitar, Ronaldo Cotrim - guitar, flute, piano, bass, vocals, Carol Futuro - backup vocals, Eduardo Santana - flugelhorn, trumpet, Naife Simoes - percssion, drums
CD Review: Mari Tochi - Aligato
On her debut release Aligato, singer Mari Tochi brings an eclectic fusion of sounds and influences that includes of course the music from her native Japan. With her distinctive style and a sweet yet powerful voice, Tochi explores aspects of of her japanese heritage on "Opelo Kai", a song with japanese lyrics and delicate a orchestration.
"Kotodama" mix japanese and english lyrics over a funk groove. Tochi even rap a little bit on this track. "Awayuki" has a more traditional japanese sound before it changes into a slow funk. On "Long way to go" Tochi goes to Brasil with samba rhythms and the danceable sounds of carnaval. An ellegant piano intro gives way to another brazilian influenced track, the bossa "Requiem/Azul no azul do azul". On this one Tochi sings in portuguese and english.
The jazzier tracks on the release are "So long, bye, bye, baby" and "Soran Bushi/My Favourite Things". The harmonies and arrangements on "My Favourite Things" are very similar to Coltrane's version.
The album ends up with mystic sounds of the title track "Aligato".
Tracks: Opelo kai, Kotodama, Long long way to go, Soap of memory, Brooklyn Cloud, Awayuki, Soran Bushi/My Favourite Things, I wanna see you, Requiem/Azul no azul do azul, So long bye bye baby, Aligato
Musicians: Mari Tochi - vocals, percussion, Mamiko Watanabe - piano, Megumi Yonezawa - piano, Hiroya Tsukamato - guitar, Jostein Gulbrandsen - guitar, Tim Collins - vibraphone, Ben Williams - bass, Moto Fukushima - bass, Francisco Mela - drums, Fernc Nemeti - drums, Keita Ogawa - percussion
CD Review: Cinzia Spata - Into the Moment
Cinzia Spata third release Into the Moment should establish her as one of the best singers in the jazz scene. Spata is an italian singer with superb command of her voice and a master of scatting, a singing technique used by jazz legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
On the first track, "Questar", Spata do some suberb harmonized scatting with trumpet player Ken Celvenka. Her scats are fabulous also on "Soul Eyes". But is in cool swing arrangement of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "My Favourite Things" that Cinzia Spata shows her mastery of scatting. Spata improvises melodies with spontaneity and ease.
Spata and trumpeter Ken Cervenka complement each other perfectly on Ralph Towner's "The Glide", and on the funk Spata original "Carlos". This piece has avant-garde influences, especially at he end where Spata exchanges some dazzling improvisations with the trumpet.
But Cinzia is not all about scatting, she also has the sensibility to sing jazz ballads as shown on her heartfelt renditions of "Falling Grace", and "The Widow in the Window"
Musicians: Cinzia Spata - vocal, Bruce Barth - piano, Dave Clark -bass, Yoron Israel - drums, Ken Cervenka - trumpet, flugelhorn. George Garzone - tenor sax
Tracks: Questar, My Favourite Things, Falling Grace, The Glide, The Widow in the Window, Soul Eyes, Carlos, Duke Ellington's Sound of Love, Tea for Two, Very Early, East of the Sun (West of the sun)
CD Review: Manisha Shahane - When Parallel Lines Meet
On her third album When Parallel Lines Meet Manisha Shahane brings a diversity of sounds that includes rock, folk, jazz, and the music from her native India. The whole album has a world music feel.
The album starts with the arabian percussive sounds of "Girls gone world". Shahane vocals on this song about bringing unity through music, are reminiscent of Sade. There are some similarities to Sade also on "Into the Valley", the jazzier piece on the album.
The sound of the cello on "Mother don't cry" gives this piece a classical music feel that increase in intensity at the end to an almost rock sound.
Shahane shows her hindu heritage and vocal range in the songs "Remember this Day", Stil" and "See Light". On "See Light" Shahane aslo adds some hindu vocal percussion to the mix.
On "Mrs. Underwood" Shahane ventures into american folk music. The style and vocal phrasing on this one are reminiscent of groups like Cowboy Junkies. The album ends with "In search of Yaman", a piece perfect for relaxation, inner search and meditation.
Tracks: Girls gone world, Mother don't cry, Remeber this day, Mrs. Underwood, How things change, Still, Into the Valley, First Dance, See light, In search of Yaman
Musicians: Manisha Shahane - vocals, piano, keyboards. Brahim Fribgane - oud. Jerry Leake - percussion. Daniel Cantor - vocals, keyboards. Micropixie, Sumitra, Iyeoka Ivie Okoawa, Jennifer Gates - background vocals. Blake Newman - bass. Mark Simcox - cello. Dominique Gagne - flute. Geoff Rakness - bass. Kevin Barry - guitar. Mark San Filippo - drums. Chris Brenne, Matthew DiPierro - guitar. Akili Jamal Haynes - trumpet, trombone.
CD Review: Eliane Amherd - Now and from now on
Now and from now on is the debut release from the multi talented swiss artist Eliane Amherd. Amherd is not only a exceptionally good singer but she is also an accomplished songwriter and guitarrist. All songs on Now and from now on are Amherd originals compositions, except for Tom Waits "Temptation".
The songs on this release reflects the diversity of influences on Amherd music. The album starts with the danceable funk "Now and from now on", a song about being optimistic and achieving your dreams.
"As if" is a song with witty, and humorous lyrics (english and portuguese) and with a touch of Bossa Nova. The sensual delivery on vocals, plus the superb licks on the electric guitar played by Amherd make this song one of the hightlights on the album.
"Me fe tan pliji" is another danceable track with the polyrhythms and clave often found in caribbean music. That caribbean sound can also be heard on the song "Feel a little sorry for yourself".
There is plenty of blues on the tracks "Don't give up on me", the blues/rock "Where is home", the jazz/blues "Trust you" and the Billie Holiday-like "Steady and Slow".
Amherd goes back to Brasil in the bossa "Let me Explain" and the batucada version of "Now and from now on".
Tracks: Now and from now on, As if, Me fe tan pliji, Don't give up on me, Feel a little sorry for yourself, Wher is home, Let me explain, Temptation, Trust You, Steady and Slow, Batucada
Musicians: Eliane Amherd - vocals, guitar. Bill Ware - vibes. Gustavo Amarante - bass. Willard Dyson - drums. Zé Mauricio - percussion
CD Review: Ligia França - Meu Mundo é Hoje
Ligia França is one of many talented brazilian female singers living out of Brasil. Ligia lives currently in Italy, but listening to her wonderful rendition of Ary Barroso "Isto é meu Brasil" it is easy to see where her heart is.
Almost all the album is an homage to Brasil and the limitless talented songwriters coming out from the land of samba. Including two exquiste versions of songs by Dorival Caymmi, "Nem Eu" and the samba "Vatapá" and a heartfelt interpretation of the Ivan Lins ballad "Lembra de Mim".
Ligia sounds very similar to another great brazilian singer, Gal Costa in the slow samba cancao "Mora na Filosofia" and in the classic by Barroso, "Camisa Amarela'. The first time I heard "Meu Mundo é Hoje" was in the voice of brazilian singer Teresa Cristina. Ligia does a slower, jazzier version of this song with lyrics about being yourself.
Since Ligia is living in Italy the album should include an italian song, and it does, Gualtiero Malgoni's "Guarda che Luna". However the surprise of the album is the classic Julio Gutierrez bolero "Inolvidable. Ligia sings in perfect spanish on this song, most people in Latin America remember in the voice of Puerto Rican singer and bandleader Tito Rodriguez.
Tracks: O Samba e meu dom, Nem eu, Isto é meu Brasi, Saudosa Maloca, Meu Mundo é Hoje, Inolvidable, Vatapa, Lembra de mim, Guarda che luna, Mora na Filosofia, Camisa Amarela, Nego Maluca, Cao sem dono
Musicians: Ligia França - vocal, Roberto Taufic - guitar, Aruan Ortiz - piano, Edu Heblin - bass, Roberto Rossi - drums, Armando Marcal - percussion
CD Review: Bianca Rossini
Instead of choosing the safe path of recording brazilian classic songs, all compositions on Bianca Rossini debut album, Kiss of Brasil are originals, a bold move for this brazilian native living in California. But as it turns out, Rossini is not just a good singer, she is a talented songwriter, so the result is an album with a delicate sound and romantic, sometimes sexy lyrics. Most of the music were composed by the guitarrist Patrck Lockwood and by the various pianists on the abum, Peter Roberts, Marilyn Berglas, Steve Rawlins and Ken Hirsch,
The songs range in style from the MPB sounds (Musica Popular Brasileira) of "Circular" to the elegant Bossa Nova "Ipanema Paraiso", an homage to Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro. On Ipanema Paraiso, Rossini sensual vocals interlace beautifully with Jimmy Roberts saxophone.
Rossini playful phrasing captivates and seduces the listener in the bossas "Perfume de Verao", "Coracao de Oro" and "Tarde em Copacabana", another place in Rio that has inspired lots of songs.
Kiss of Brasil also includes the contagious rhythms of the samba "Verdadeiro Amor" and three beautiful ballads, "Nos Dois", "NoSilencio da Noite" and "Primeiro de Dezembro"
Tracks: Ipanema Paraiso, O Tempo Vai Contar, Nos Dois, Tarde em Copacabana, Verdadeiro Amor, No Silencio da Noite, Circular, Primeiro de Dezembro, Perfume de Verao, Corazon de Oro
Musicians: Bianca Rossini - vocals, Peter Roberts, Marilyn Berglas, Mark Nilan Jr., Steve Rawlins, Ken Hirsch - piano, Peter Roberts, Roberto Montero, Patrick Lockwood, Grecco Buratto, Grant Geissman, Marco Tulio, Paul Montesano - guitar, Gecco Buratto - cavaquinho, Peter Roberts, Steve Rawlins, Mark Nilan Jr., Ken Hirsch - keyboards, Marilyn Berglas - strings, Sandro Feliciano - percussion, Jimmy Roberts - saxophone
CD Review: Burgstaller Martignon 4
Burgstaller Martignon project Bach's Secret Files is based on the premise that jazz was the classical music of the twentieth century. Both music forms are based on theme and variation. Early in the history of jazz, classical composers (Ravel, Debussy, Rachmaninoff) showed interest in jazz music. And more recently jazz musicians like Wynton Marsalis recorded classical music. Contrary to classical music, jazz evolved into a freer, improvise music. But the concept of improvisation is not a jazz invention, classical composers like Bach, Bramhs, Mozart and Chopin were also accomplished improvisers.
"River of the Night" is a Burgstaller original melody played over Bach's Praeludium in C minor. The piece start with a classical feel reminiscent of Miles Davis interpretation of Concierto de Aranjuez that slowly changes into a latin groove. "A Start to Something" is an interpretation of Praeludium XI in F major. The feel here is that of jazz waltz similar to Brubeck's Time Out.
"Ebarme Dich Have Mercy) from Bach's St. Matthew's Passion includes the sublime voice of soprano Brenda Feliciano. The piece ends with a montuno-like piano.
The latin influence on these musicians as shown in "Variation No. 1", a short classical piece played over cuban son rhythms, and Debussy "Reverie", starting closer to the classical tradition before erupting into a piano montuno, is not really a surprise if one knows their history. Grammy nominee pianist Hector Martignon worked with latin legends Ray Barretto, Tito Puente and Paquito D'Rivera. Bassist Hans Glawischnig played with Chick Corea and Ray Barretto.
Burgstaller tone on trumpet is gorgeous and expressive especially on the almost lullaby "Gymnopedie No.1" and "Piece en Forme de Habanera". The virtuosity of these group of musicians allows them to played with comfort either jazz, latin jazz or classical.
Mendelssohn's "Lieder Ohne Worte Opus 19, No.1" and "Lieder Ohne Worte Opus 38 No. 2" and Puccini's "E Lucevan Le Stelle" from the Opera Tosca, demonstrates Burgstaller Martignon group mastery of the classical language. Bach's Secret Files is a superb marriage of jazz and classical music.
Tracks: The River of Night, Praeludium XI in F major, Ebarme Dich, Aria, Variation No. 1, Gymnopedie No.1, Piece en Forme de Habanera, Lieder Ohne Worte Opus 19 No.1, Lieder Ohne Worte Opus 38 No.2, E Lucevan Le Stelle, Reverie
Musicians: Joe Burgstaller - trumpet, flugelhorn, Hector Martignon - piano, Hans Glawischnig - bass, John Ferrari - drums, vibraphone, percussion, Brenda Feliciano - soprano voice, Samuel Torres - latin percussion, Micheal Kannen - cello
CD Review: Daniel Smith - Bassoon Goes Latin Jazz
Even though it has been played occasionally by musicians like Illinois Jacquet and Yusef Lateef, the bassoon is an uncommon instrument in jazz, even more in a latin jazz band. The basoon is an instrument with a gentle sound mostly used in a classical orchestra setting. So the strong percussion in a latin jazz band has to be careful not to overwhelm the sound of the bassoon.
Neil Clarke is successful in playing a lighter percussion yet strong enough to keep the required feel and flavor of a latin jazz band.
The album starts strong with Lee Morgan's "Mr. Kenyatta" and nice basson and trombone improvisations on the classic by Herbie Hancock, "Watermelon Man". The pace slow down a little on "Black Orpheus" and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "So Danço Samba". The lighter sound of the Bossa Nova allows the beautiful sound of the bassoon to be fully appreciated.
Bassist Michael O'Brien adds some powerful yet melodic solos on the boogaloo like, Listen Here. On the CD notes, Smith says, Charlie Parker "Yardbird Suite" was played over a samba beat, but it sounds very similar to the rhythms of Bomba music from Puerto Rico. Maybe this just goes to show the striking similarities of african influenced rhythms all over latin-america.
The brazilian rhythms on "Korg In" and the bossa arrangements of Horace Silver "Peace, demonstrates the huge influence of Brasil music on jazz musicians.Everyone contributes outstanding solos on the energetic rendition of Gillespie's Manteca. The album close with the danceable "Come Candela" a Mongo Santamaria composition and the strong clave of the "Mambo from the Dance at the Gym"
Tracks: Mr. Kenyatta, Watermelon Man, So Danco Samba, Listen Here, Black Orpheus, Yardbird Suite, Manteca, Korg In, Peace, The Chicken, Come Candela, Mambo from the Dance at the Gym
Musicians: Daniel Smith - Basoon, Daniel Kelly - piano, Michael O'Brien - bass, Vincent Ector - drums, Neil Clarke - percussion
CD Review: Claire Ritter - The Stream of Pearls Project
An alumni of th New England Conservatory and Queens University, pianist/composer Claire Ritter 10th CD, The Stream of Pearls Project was inspired by water. The idea originated from a painting of a piano oasis a student gave to Ritter in 2003. Ritter traveled to lakes, creeks and rivers to get inspiration, but the source of inspiration for the music also came from poetry, photography and painting.
The Stream of Pearls Project merge classical, jazz and ethnic music styles, so the unusual ensemble, which includes cello, banjo and accordion, reflects these diverse styles.
Ritter lyrical beauty and classical feel on the peaceful and relaxing solo piano "The Beauty of its Stillness overflow me like a tide" starts the project. Ritter phrasing is poetic and refined on "Bolero on th Charles". Ritter plays the exquisite melodies of this bolero with superb sensitivity over the precise percussion of Takaaki Masuko.
Ritter classically tinged approach continues on "Swiftly Winding", a duo with cellist Ashima Sripp played over a light percussion, on "Sailing Pamlico" and on the waltz "Valse of the Ponds". "Blue Ridge in Watercolors" is an appropiate tittle for this piano piece, as Ritter has the amazing abbility to paint pictures with her melodies.
The melodies flows like a stream on the piece that gives tittle to the album, "Stream of Pearls". The percussion and piano chords gives a majestic feel to "Across the Gorge" and the melodies played on the high notes of the piano on "The Brook the bird and I" are reminiscent of japanese music.
Ritter change gears playing some nice montunos on piano on the latin influeced pieces "Catfish Shuffle", "Skydune Mambo" and "Wild Ponies Run Free".
Tracks: The Beauty of its Stillness overflow me like a tide, Bolero on the Charles, Swiftly Winding, Blue Ridge in Watercolor, Stream of Pearls, Across the Gorge, The Brook the bird and I, Catfish Shuffle, Valse of the Ponds, Fortuity, Under the moonrise, Skydune Mambo, Ballade of the Flight, Wild Ponies run free, Sailing Pamlico, Mustang Calypso, Along the Banks, Island Jingle
Musicians: Claire Ritter - piano, Ashima Scripp - cello, Toni Naples, Rick Hansen - accordion, Richie Stearns - banjo, Jon Mtezger - vibes, Takaaki Masuko - drums, percussion
CD Review: Libby Richman - Open Strings
Libby Richman describe her album Open Strings, as an homageto the guitar. Surely, the sound of the guitar is highlighted al throghout the album, but there is no doubt Richman alto sax is the star in Open Strings.
The funk/smooth jazz "The Day After" is one of four Richman originals on the album. Sax, guitar and bass had a chance to add good improvisations on this one.
"Bop Number 4", another Richman original composition, is based on a theme by Brahms. The Classical music influence is obvious in the intro melodies before it changes into a swing groove.
Richman gorgeous sound on the alto sax can be fully appreciated on Antonio Carlos Jobim "O Grande Amor". Bruce Edwards blend of melodic and harmonic lines on guitar is the perfect complement to Richman well constructed improvisations on sax.
"Lullaby of the Leaves" is a typical Bebop piece, starting with the harmonized melodies on alto and tenor saxophone. The ideas seems to flow effortless in elongated phrases coherently played by Richman, especially on "Checking out at th Inn". The Bossa-like "Open Strings" and the cool jazz feel of Step Lightly shows Richman gentle, delicate side. The album also includes a nice versions of the rock group Coldplay's "Viva la Vida" and the jazz standard "Cherokee".
Tracks: The Day After, Bop Number 4, O Grande Amor, Lullaby of the Leaves, Checking ot at the Inn, Open Strings, Step Lightly, Viva La Vida, Cherokee
Musicians: Libby Richman- alto sax, John Philpott - tenor sax, Bruce Edwards - guitar, Fred Weidenhammer - bass, Stephen Little - drums, Mark Katsounis - percussion
CD Review: Brulee - New Beginnings
The changes from pop to swing on the first track "The Miracle of Love" should give you a hint about the odd but effective fusion of jazz and 70's rock in Brulee's music. The phrasing and harmonies of Julie Wiener and Doug Onstad duo on "Perfectly Flawed" brings memories of groups like The Carpenters and The Mamas and the Papas.
Most of the songs are originals, but the release also includes some classics like "Skylark", and "Summertime". The arrangement and nice scats by Wiener on "Summertime", along with the original "Dance with me" is the closest this duo gets to a traditional jazz sound. "Dance with me" also has all the elements of an American Songbook standard.
The accordion adds to the french feel on "Si C'est Un Oui" a song that echoes the great french singers like Edith Piaf. Bob Dylan's "Love Minus Zero No Limit" and the Rolling Stones "Dead Flowers" are unusual selections for a jazz album, and demontrates the divesity of influences on Brulee's music.
The effective medleys and smooth transition from Cole Porter "I've got you under my skin" with the Rolling Stones "Under my Thumb" and the original "Come on a my house" with "I ain't got nobody" shows the creativity of this duo.
Tracks: The Miracle of Love, Perfectly Flawed, Skylark, Summertime, Dance with me, Come on a my house/I ain't got nobody, Love minus Zero No Limit, Si C'est Un Oui, I've got you under my skin/Under my thumb, Dead Flowers, New Beginnings
Musicians: Julie Wiener - vocals, Doug Onstad - keyboards, vocals, Tom Shader - bass, Chip Trombley - drums, percussion, Gus Garelick - violin, Dennis Hadley - accordion, Ian Scherer - guitar, David Scott - sax, Dave Zirbel - pedal steel, Jess Petty - flugelhorn, Alec Axt - percussion