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Brent L Black

Brent L Black

Musical labels are as much a blessing as they are a curse, their primary function serving as a musical guide to more effectively market and sell a particular artist. Keeping in mind that taste is as subjective as the continued debate as to the accuracy of certain sub-genres, enter Kekko Fornarelli.

Nothing is more fun or exciting for a critic as to be introduced to an artist stone cold, no press release just "good buzz." On occasion good buzz is literally all that can be said on a release but not this time. Combine Brazilian bassist Nilson Matta with Israeli be-bop guitarist Roni Ben-Hur and the end result is one of the most solid and consistent releases of the year. Heed the buzz!

Only someone as artistically gifted as Chris Standring and Kathrin Shorr can take my Christmas music formula (Do you know the tunes?) and proceed to destroy it with ten delightful originals on a wonderful Christmas release. Virtually two years in the making Standring and vocalist Kathrin Shorr deliver the goods with a traditional vibe on some highly entertaining tunes that are sure to please the most discriminating of tastes!

There is something special happening in the highly charged improvised jazz scene in New York City and Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records continues to impress with The Drop And The Ocean, a stellar release from drummer, composer and band leader Rob Garcia.

Drawing upon influences ranging from traditional bop to classical and even funk, The Curtis Brothers are making a musical name for themselves as one of the up and coming talents of swing in a seemingly swingless era. Artistic integrity along with a vibrant broad based sound catapults The Curtis Brothers to the head of the pack in charting a new course and raising the bar for others to follow with originality, sincerity and a deceidly personal swing all their own.

Let's face it, smooth jazz is a radio format as dead as Elvis Presley. For over 25 years, Acoustic Alchemy has not only survived a dramatic change in personnel, but every pretentious label tag thrust upon it, given the group may well be the last commercially viable entity from what was once considered New Age. This is the key to the success of Acoustic Alchemy, pushing musical boundaries by embracing change without self-imposed limitations.

"Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

Sometimes you just need to get away... Oscar Peñas lives the musical irony having left his native Spain and come to what is fast becoming the epicenter of global jazz in order to compose for From Now On. While indeed a musical melting pot of a variety of cultures and influences, it is an introspective reflection on his own cultural heritage that transforms From Now On into such an intoxicating work.