Joshua Kline - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://jazzreview.com Mon, 22 May 2017 22:03:06 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Were Stuck by Stuck http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/were-stuck-by-stuck.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/were-stuck-by-stuck.html Knowing how difficult it is to write, arrange, produce, and perform even ONE style of music to make a great album release, I have the utmost respect for a band that can suc…
Knowing how difficult it is to write, arrange, produce, and perform even ONE style of music to make a great album release, I have the utmost respect for a band that can successfully combine elements of Rock, Pop, Free-Jazz, Bebop, Rap, Disco, Funk, Reggae, Hip-hop, and Country into 12 focused, integrated, and downright groovy tracks. Chisa and her band, Stuck, are here to bring you Fusion in the purist sense of the word (if that’s not too much of a contradiction in terms).

Stuck winds around the twists and turns of a carefully constructed obstacle course, effortlessly shifting (say, on track 2) from odd meters such as 13/8 to a more familiar 6/8, then to 4/4 reggae (!), and then back to 6/8, never once letting up on the intensity and always pushing the groove. Like a tea party in a souped-up, well-oiled convertible weaving through traffic at high speed, they proceed with grace and ease, never spilling a drop. Imbued with a delicious sense of humor, an inspired gaiety, and a smoldering sexuality, Stuck’s music is just the challenge that Fusion players aspire to take on. But it is Chisa’s personality, charm, and strong vocal intuitions that keep the music from being just an exercise in What Hasn’t Been Done Yet. That’s right, it’s good listening too!

Cahill’s Chapman stick lends a particular zing to the band’s sound, providing a trippy and spacial background that’s altogether refreshing. Pavolka switches from bass figures to a walking Bebop-style swing and on to Funk without a hiccup, carrying the band harmonically to their next task with a steady yet gentle force. Fortuit gets down and dirty on the Rock and Funk sections, but is sensitive enough to let space work its intimate magic between the players. On this release, Stuck’s talent and ingenuity bring disparate styles and sounds together to give the listener a pure, whole Fusion voice that’s remarkably rich in color and texture.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Joshua Kline) Fusion - CD Reviews Thu, 26 Sep 2002 13:00:00 -0500
Outer Sunset by Sascha Jacobsen Quintet http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/latin-jazz-/-latin-funk-cd-reviews/outer-sunset-by-sascha-jacobsen-quintet.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/latin-jazz-/-latin-funk-cd-reviews/outer-sunset-by-sascha-jacobsen-quintet.html Any contemporary Jazz listener will tell you that very few new releases really nail it these days. You might get great technical chops on one album, some nice composition o…
Any contemporary Jazz listener will tell you that very few new releases really nail it these days. You might get great technical chops on one album, some nice composition on another, and maybe, every now and then, someone will actually say something. So it’s with extraordinary glee that I direct your weary and disappointed ears to Sascha Jacobsen’s Outer Sunset, which shines a (well, dying) light on Jazz that it hasn’t basked in for years.

Latin Jazz? Straight Ahead? It’s all the same to Jacobsen’s Quintet, who speak both languages fluently, and effortlessly flip from one to another as the compositions demand. And with influences ranging from Wayne Shorter to Paquito D’Rivera, these original compositions demand a lot. Full of syncopated figures, melodic lines doubled by the whole band, and abrupt switches from mid-tempo swing time to a scorching Latin rhythm, this album is destined for heavy rotation in the living rooms of Jazz purists as well as Fusion buffs everywhere.

You won’t just be impressed; you’ll be melted by pieces such as "Curls" (track 4), which is a soulful bossa, evoking everything from Jobim to Pat Metheny’s "Bright Size Life" (with a fantastic clean guitar solo by Vanderveer to rival Pat’s, also). Jacobsen’s bass is steady and solid; the rich tone, coupled with his talent for melodic development, makes for lyrical solos that go for feeling in place of flash. Laval’s soloing is delicious on swing pieces such as "A Puro Sol" (track 6), where he serves up a few spicy and inspired choruses, but his expertise in Latin accompaniment is also apparent in his full command of the traditional offbeat rhythm piano figures. Stop your squinting. Despite its name, Outer Sunset brightly illuminates the Jazz Idiom to reveal the true level of storytelling that’s still present in this music and in these times.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Joshua Kline) Latin Jazz / Latin Funk - CD Reviews Wed, 25 Sep 2002 19:00:00 -0500
Passaggio by Silvie Courvoisier Joëlle Léandre and Susie Ibarra http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/passaggio-by-silvie-courvoisier-joelle-leandre-and-susie-ibarra.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/passaggio-by-silvie-courvoisier-joelle-leandre-and-susie-ibarra.html Traditional Jazz listeners have always thought of Jazz as a conversation between the players; no matter what your instrument in an ensemble situation, you are provided oppo…
Traditional Jazz listeners have always thought of Jazz as a conversation between the players; no matter what your instrument in an ensemble situation, you are provided opportunities to encourage, goad, push, lead, pull back, agree, or directly contradict your fellow bandmates, but always within the form of the song. And though you may diverge briefly from the key range or even the time signature, harmony always has the last say.

So what happens when there’s no written page, no chord charts, and no composed form? What’s the effect when there’s no melody to neatly bookend your solo choruses, your interludes, your "fours" or "eights"? Where can music that’s got no time signature, no key range, and is more or less invented on the spot take the human mind? These are questions John Cage left us with his concepts of "non-intentional" music, and Courvoisier, Léandre, and Ibarra are still searching for the answers.

Their playing is superior technically, but it’s difficult to gauge them since they rarely play the normal registers of their instruments. In fact, they seem to be doing everything they can to make the ordinary quite unrecognizable sometimes. In "Mini Two", Léandre is scraping away at uncharted regions of her bass, bowing it beyond the bridge to get a high-pitched nasal squeal the everyday Jazz bassist might cringe at. Courvoisier loves the very highest and/or lowest notes on the piano, tinkling playfully with the right hand before carpet bombing us with the left. Ibarra exhibits a brooding tendency to be tense, brief, and fairly unobtrusive, even dropping out entirely for long periods, but when the players gain momentum she is an explosion of speed and volume.

For all its achievements as a truly forward-looking work of great bravery, Passaggio's problems stem from its inability to be much more than an art piece. That’s my problem with Cage’s work, too; free and random music might be a new and original idea, but that doesn’t make it sound good. The instruments on the album rumble, fumble, mumble and clash, set on a tack for disaster like a listing galleon, and they do it on every track! This is a tense, confusing, and disturbing work that will certainly stimulate your mind, but probably not your ears.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Joshua Kline) Free Jazz / Avante Garde - CD Reviews Wed, 06 Mar 2002 12:00:00 -0600
Phrygianics by Spiros Exaras http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/world-music-cd-reviews/phrygianics-by-spiros-exaras.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/world-music-cd-reviews/phrygianics-by-spiros-exaras.html Like Jason and the Argonauts, Spiros Exaras is leading his World-Jazz Ensemble across the Aegean for an adventure in sound. As the title Phrygianics portends, you will be w…
Like Jason and the Argonauts, Spiros Exaras is leading his World-Jazz Ensemble across the Aegean for an adventure in sound. As the title Phrygianics portends, you will be whisked away to a world full of sweetness and fantasy within the backdrop of the exotic Mediterranean night. This album succeeds in achieving that special blend of modern to traditional, playful to somber, and Eastern to Western that so many Jazz musicians in the past have failed at. By combining his Classical guitar mastery, his thorough knowledge of Jazz harmonies, and his instinctual flair for the exotic rhythms and sounds of his native Greece, Exaras makes World Jazz into something more than just the usual hokey attempt at throwing different sounds and styles together; yes, the album actually sounds good!

For instance, on the eighth track, Thrace Bop, the fast and vibrant opening melody is played in 7/8 with Bournias doubling on the Greek clarinet, but then it switches seamlessly to 4/4 swing time for the guitar and piano solos, where both Exaras and Hey show formidable skill at laid back Jazz phrasing and articulation. The surprises don’t end there though, as the next song, Three Years Ago, is a sweet and convincing bossa played fingerstyle by Exaras on a nylon-string Classical guitar.

The blending of Western and Eastern flavors, whether it is an electric Jazz guitar interrupted by a Zurna (on Virtue Is Gone, the sixth track), or Tuncboyaciyan’s ominous, trill-filled chant preceding the main theme of the title track, never sounds contrived or out of place. With Phrygianics, Exaras and his Ensemble accomplish the Olympian task of forging a Jazz/World Music combination worthy of the Gods themselves.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Joshua Kline) World Music - CD Reviews Sat, 02 Mar 2002 12:00:00 -0600
Where Youll Find Me by Kristin Korb http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/where-youll-find-me-by-kristin-korb.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/where-youll-find-me-by-kristin-korb.html As elusive as Kristin Korb claims to be in the title of her 2001 release, her grace, charm, and musical virtuosity make her instantly recognizable amongst the throngs of up…
As elusive as Kristin Korb claims to be in the title of her 2001 release, her grace, charm, and musical virtuosity make her instantly recognizable amongst the throngs of up and coming Jazz artists. Technically, she’s a gifted vocalist, bass player, arranger, and composer, but there’s an invigorating sparkle and crispness to her trio’s sound that puts her in the coveted membership of The Great.

The skill and intensity of her bass playing come through without needing any acrobatics or flashy tricks, and with modest amplification and soloing time. You’ll notice her hip, in-the-pocket walking lines supporting the trio with laid back ease from the very first track. Her bass sound is mellow and earthy, while her soloing is sweet, lyrical, and makes great use of simple, singable melodic themes. Though there are no fast "burning" numbers, what the album lacks in speed it makes up for in style and intimacy. Just listen to her version of "East of the Sun", and you’ll hear a strong but sensitive conversation between piano and vocals reminiscent of The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album.

Korb’s subtle yet ingenious arrangements hip up a few standards that I’d thought were beaten to death. In fact, her interpretation of Gershwin’s "The Man I Love", with bass and piano in unison on the melody, is a stunner that cannot be missed. Not to be overlooked either are her three original compositions on the album, including the title track, which is solid, swinging, hearty Jazz fare. Hear a tight trio with flair and sophistication that’s long on talent? That’s where you’ll find Kristin Korb.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Joshua Kline) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Tue, 07 Aug 2001 01:00:00 -0500
Bridge by Akiko Pavolka http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/bridge-by-akiko-pavolka.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/bridge-by-akiko-pavolka.html Any Jazz musician will tell you that playing Fusion is risky business, as blending styles and sounds together can create just as much cacophony as harmony. The trick is to …
Any Jazz musician will tell you that playing Fusion is risky business, as blending styles and sounds together can create just as much cacophony as harmony. The trick is to bend the rules enough to sound new and interesting, but not so much as to estrange the listener and leave the audience wondering if your last note was a mistake or not. It’s obvious that vocalist Akiko Pavolka and her band have learned this lesson well. From this CD’s first note to its last, the players’ artistic intent is whole, uncompromised, and lovingly communicated.

Composed entirely by Akiko and Matt Pavolka, and combining elements of Funk, Rock, Latin Jazz, Free Jazz, New Age, as well as Japanese Enka Music, House of Illusion creates a world of haunting beauty that also allows you to get down. Fat basslines push the groove, Fender Rhodes piano lines are sprinkled in just the right places, and Pavolka’s vocals are clean and strong without being overbearing or overdone (however cheesy you might find the lyrics). The instrumentalists’ technical gifts are a perfect match for Pavolka’s compositional ones, and it’s clear that all members are steeped in the "go-nuts-groovily" traditions of Freddie Hubbard’s Red Clay, Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, and just about anything by Mahavishnu Orchestra.

They can blow like pros too! On Mel’s Island, the sixth track, Hess and Rende take gorgeous, vibrant solos that grow with intensity and show their champion Jazz chops. Matt Pavolka’s bass is chunky, deep, and filled with emotion, and it’s never too busy or too sparse. Finally, Lindberg lends a special texture and depth, filling in the spaces while effortlessly setting the pace. Bridge is aptly named for its ability to link musical elements from disparate styles and cultures without clashing, which makes this release a notable achievement.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Joshua Kline) Fusion - CD Reviews Mon, 25 Jun 2001 01:00:00 -0500
Merry Melodies by Nadelöhr http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/merry-melodies-by-nadelohr.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/merry-melodies-by-nadelohr.html Picture a world of rampant hysteria, unbridled joy, explosive anger, gorgeous beauty, and unbelievable violence, and you take a frantic turn into the magical realm of the a…
Picture a world of rampant hysteria, unbridled joy, explosive anger, gorgeous beauty, and unbelievable violence, and you take a frantic turn into the magical realm of the animated cartoon. It is in this world that Nadelöhr lives, where they are waiting to slice, dice, pulverize, dissolve, and noisily devour you after a frenzied musical chase that leaves you finally and fatally trapped. Rich with colors and contours, drama and suspense, Nadelöhr creates huge spaces next to claustrophobia, turbulent outbursts before soothing whispers, and effervescent humor in the face of terrific horror.

As the title would indicate, the songs are mostly soundtracks to American and European cartoon episodes, where the characters effortlessly break physical, biological, and societal rules in the most fantastic and impossible ways. But without the benefit of the pictures, the effectiveness of the album lies in the psychological, where Nadelöhr toy with your emotions by stopping a sweet and lilting theme on a dime and pitching you forward into a frenetic run from a salivating predator set on tearing you apart. There are solo piano clusters, long, sweet notes on the viola, sudden sax bursts, and even recorded voices chopping up one idea and beginning another, only to be overrun by a vibraphone or a drumbeat soon after.

However, amidst the trickling, shooting, screeching, moping, and general mania of the album, is there any music to actually listen to? Although the album is brimming with expression and ingenuity, there are no themes to follow for more than a few seconds, which can truly annoy the listener. There are few steady beats, all the tracks are atonal, and there’s almost no time scheme at all. For all the accuracies of Merry Melodies in its coloring of the cartoon landscape, it can be an alienating listening experience for the Jazz fan.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Joshua Kline) Free Jazz / Avante Garde - CD Reviews Mon, 16 Oct 2000 07:00:00 -0500