Ronald Jackson - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://jazzreview.com Mon, 22 May 2017 14:14:56 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Painted Diaries by Reza Khan http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/other-cd-reviews/painted-diaries-by-reza-khan.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/other-cd-reviews/painted-diaries-by-reza-khan.html Critics often talk about "interesting" projects, and I certainly have heard my share. The term is sometimes loosely tossed around. However, here with this latest release…

Critics often talk about "interesting" projects, and I certainly have heard my share. The term is sometimes loosely tossed around. However, here with this latest release from one Reza Khan, entitled Painted Diaries, the term could not be more appropriate, as the product involves so much in terms of diversity. The "problem" might be that it could be seen by some as too much. While there are definite smooth jazz pieces and elements here, this project is probably as much (if not more of) a soft rock project, even a hint of a country rock project. There is also some world flavor tossed in for good measure.

For sure, the vast majority of these tunes are well-done and quite melodic; so, you may not care how to categorize the CD. On the other hand, for those who are not necessarily into rock or some unique variation or hybrid of it or any of the other genres touched on here, you might have a dilemma. You just might have a problem blowing off some of the catchier melodies and hooks just because they don’t "fit" in your library.

Admittedly, while the CD has some fine melodies and hooks, I’m not so crazy about some of the instrument choices. There are spots where sax could have reached me far better than a guitar. By the way, Andy Snitzer is one of two saxophonists who sit in on this project.

After you listen to "Dawning," a dreamy type of precursor coming in at track one, and you’re confronted with the lengthy rockin’ "Day Break" and the equally alive soft rocker "Catalina’s Dream," the island-flavored mellow "Bahia Mama," with the tender vocals of one Jennifer Grimm (who also treats us to her charms on "Coast to Coast" and "Tomorrow?"), you’re faced with a simple decision: Let this atypical potpourri of sound come in and find a comfy place in your collection, or pass it by.

Depending upon your level of receptivity, you may or may not be up for the unique but colorful ride it offers, but you’ll find that the tunes are quite worthy of your undivided attention nonetheless.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Ronald Jackson) Other - CD Reviews Fri, 20 Mar 2009 13:00:00 -0500
Thunder by S.M.V. http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/ http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/fusion-cd-reviews/ It just doesn’t get any better than this. It just doesn’t. No meteorologist could have predicted this phenomenon. There has been "rainmaker" folklore, and whether you be…

It just doesn’t get any better than this. It just doesn’t. No meteorologist could have predicted this phenomenon. There has been "rainmaker" folklore, and whether you believe in that sort of thing or not, no amount of exotic fiction can even come close to the reality of serious thunder-makers. Enter the architects of the most robust, earth-shattering man-made thunder, Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten, aka S.M.V., with the release of, what else. Thunder. Hold on to your hats and seats, but let your inhibitions and your sprit just soar wildly with this one. You’ll surely feel it in your toes and up your spine!

The energy and fat, funky bottom here are no strangers to any of these three virtuosos. After all, we all should know that Stanley Clarke is truly nothing less than legendary. His handling of the low frequency has been compared to the mastery of Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong on their respective instruments. Jamming and being a mainstay in such giant collaborations as Return to Forever and the Clarke/Duke Project, among zillions of other ventures while coming up with his own line of basses, are just beyond words. His assertion that the bass is a permanent, internal part of him is spot on and totally undeniable. Watching this master in action is almost a religious experience.

Marcus Miller, a kingpin who, besides being at the top of the Who’s Who list in jazz bassists, has collaborations, compositions and productions that cause all up-and-coming bassists, as well as established bassists, to gape in awe. Once dubbed the "Thumbslinger" by his peers, this giant among giants has produced, played with or laid down monster tracks for such greats as Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, our late and beloved Luther Vandross, Wayne Shorter, Roberta Flack, the late great Grover Washington Jr. and on and on and on.... not to mention his legendary 6-album stint with the great Miles Davis, producing three of them, including the renowned Tutu. The definition of funk and power bass was revamped with the emergence of this master of the bottom.

The third sensation of this trio is Flecktones master bassist, Victor Wooten. Though skilled in a variety of instruments, Wooten has managed to remain a formidable force to be reckoned with in the land of low frequencies. Another one to have an extensive list of greats with whom he’s jammed and recorded, his 6-album success has clearly demonstrated that this "low-end" genius is quite capable of reaching your "center." In addition to superb playing, Wooten also extends his expertise to giving music and life lessons through his popular Bass Nature Camps in his native Tennessee. Being one of his students has to be a true honor.

Now, about Thunder. Well, suffice it to say, be prepared to sit and just groove and marvel for a bit, as this set, which includes such biting funk as the title cut (naturally), "Hillbillies On a Quiet Afternoon," "Lopsy-Lu Silly Putty," Marcus’s immortal "Tutu" and the riveting finale "Grits" is simply more than an a set of compositions. It’s a testimony, an unabashed shout, to greatness. It’s material that obviously bore bold witness to itself from concept to its very birth.... via Thunder.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Ronald Jackson) Fusion - CD Reviews Tue, 15 Apr 2008 19:00:00 -0500
Self-titled by Jeff Foxx http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/self-titled-by-jeff-foxx.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/self-titled-by-jeff-foxx.html A radio DJ for 18 years who finally succumbed to the beckoning of his own heart and soul to jump into the "mix" with the other smooth jazz artists who are prospering (es…

A radio DJ for 18 years who finally succumbed to the beckoning of his own heart and soul to jump into the "mix" with the other smooth jazz artists who are prospering (especially emotionally) from making sweet sounds, bassist Jeff Foxx of 98.7 KISS (WRKS-FM) in New York, launches his self-titled debut album. This album brings with it fiery funk, smooth soul caresses and the general sense that this artist/radio personality thoroughly enjoys what he's doing. Just listen to the hoots and laughter on track 1, and you’ll quickly get my point.

This is one album that will obviously see more airplay than that which may be given him by his own station. In fact, it is of such fine quality, I fully expect to hear this one on all of the major stations in no time. From the funky "let’s boogie" opener, "Sunset Drive" through the silky and inspirational "If You Look Into Your Heart," a tune led by the superb vocals of Tiffany Riddick and Cory Filmore, through the very mellow "Sunday Morning" (you can actually see and feel the sunshine and morning dew if you close your eyes) through my favorite, the bluesy "Starlight Blue" and beyond, this album is full of evidence that this was not simply thrown together, but thoroughly and meticulously conceptualized, realized and felt in the depths of Foxx’s being. That he can share what had to be a spiritual experience with us is both remarkable and gracious. That he should be so motivated by the drive prodding him into creating his own music speaks volumes about the bassist’s determination and vision. One great effort and production. You can proudly add this to your collection.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Ronald Jackson) Smooth Jazz - CD Reviews Tue, 15 Apr 2008 13:00:00 -0500
Leucocyte by E.S.T. http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/various-jazz-styles-cd-reviews/leucocyte-by-e.s.t.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/various-jazz-styles-cd-reviews/leucocyte-by-e.s.t.html While e.s.t. has been on the music scene for about 10 years, this was my first exposure to the trio, which recently lost a key third of its essence when Swedish pianist/…

While e.s.t. has been on the music scene for about 10 years, this was my first exposure to the trio, which recently lost a key third of its essence when Swedish pianist/composer Esbjorn Svensson died as the result of a scuba diving accident near Stockholm. This album, Leucocyte, represents their last effort with Svensson and was released in tribute to the gifted musician.

I must admit to ambivalent feelings with respect to this project. Parts of it (e.g., both "Premonition" pieces and "Still") are puzzling and hard to interpret (a testament to the freedom of free jazz, I suppose), while other parts are crisp, defined, and polished ("Jazz" and the melodically lovely and impressive "Ajar" come to mind, even though the latter is one of the shortest on the album). Then, there is an uneven explosion of diversity, leading off with the heavy-fisted rock-influenced intro to the title tune that would make Black Sabbath blush. By the way, the title tune is actually divided over four tracks (7-10). Track 8 has such a collage of sounds and non-sounds, beginning in total silence, then embarking on an unintelligible and somewhat disturbing journey. Track 9, begins in an uncoordinated dance of noise, as well, but then evolves into a masterful display of Svensson’s skills on piano. Track 10 starts off continuing this display, then also eventually erodes in a sea of unnecessary sound effects that only distracted me from the trio’s point and quality.

I wish there were more here about which to be excited. Svensson was obviously a most talented, prolific, and creative mind who will surely be missed. The material presented here, however, may not have been the best representation of those skills. I certainly would love to hear his pure jazz offerings and even more of the illustrious beauty displayed in the aforementioned "Ajar." That is the impression with which this key figure in e.s.t. has left me, and I somehow feel that I’ve missed out on his best. I remain interested enough in this group to want to discover its earlier material in an effort to discover that side of it that I know must exist.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Ronald Jackson) Various Jazz Styles - CD Reviews Tue, 15 Apr 2008 07:00:00 -0500
2 Grover With Love by Jason Miles http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/2-grover-with-love-by-jason-miles.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/2-grover-with-love-by-jason-miles.html Jason Miles is the perfect example of consistency in quality. His latest tribute to the late great Grover Washington, Jr., 2 Grover With Love, is delivered with…

Jason Miles is the perfect example of consistency in quality. His latest tribute to the late great Grover Washington, Jr., 2 Grover With Love, is delivered with all the bite and bounce you’d expect from one so dedicated to the magic and mystique of Grover’s music. There is as much love and dedication as ingredients in this project as there is solid engineering and production. Next year marks the 10th anniversary of Grover’s death, and Miles set out to pay tribute to him here with the Grover compositions of the 70s and 80s, with the title track finale being written by Miles himself.

There’s so much to like about this production, the deliberate drive and intensity where drive and intensity should be, the delicate touch in phrasings where such touch should be and the overall wise selection of tunes to feature. Miles has crafted music for so many heavyweights, even appearing on an original Grover piece "Summer Nights," written by bassist Marcus Miller, and is so very highly regarded in jazz circles that one has to feel it an honor to witness his expertise and depth via such a release as this.

Innovation is quite abundant here as well, as you listen to the fantastic vocalist Maysa and her rendering of the classic "Mr. Magic." Of special note is the fact that Miles assembled a group of who’s who in contemporary jazz (e.g., Najee, Kim Waters, the aforementioned Maysa, Andy Snitzer, Chuck Loeb, Jay Beckenstein and Gerald Veasley) to pull this off after only one rehearsal! Can you say experience, style, depth, and spontaneity all in one breath? All in all, another major success for Jason Miles, the consummate musician/arranger with serious focus and vision.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Ronald Jackson) Contemporary Jazz - CD Reviews Tue, 15 Apr 2008 01:00:00 -0500
Symbiosis by Joost Swart Saxion V Gustav Klimt String Quar http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/various-jazz-styles-cd-reviews/symbiosis-by-joost-swart-saxion-v-gustav-klimt-string-quar.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/various-jazz-styles-cd-reviews/symbiosis-by-joost-swart-saxion-v-gustav-klimt-string-quar.html Symbiosis. Now, here’s some jazz and classical fusion with flair that’s sure to appeal to jazz experimentalists everywhere. Expressive, harmonious horns, lively…

Symbiosis. Now, here’s some jazz and classical fusion with flair that’s sure to appeal to jazz experimentalists everywhere. Expressive, harmonious horns, lively jazz piano, and an obvious sense of ownership all serve to label this album a winner.

Dutch pianist Joost Swart, the Gustaav Klimt String Quartet, and sax quintet Saxion V, on behalf of the Morfo Music Foundation, resurrect Symbiosis, a highly regarded milestone in jazz/classical fusion and first penned for piano trio and orchestra by Claus Ogerman in 1973. The work was first recorded by pianist Bill Evans in 1974 and became a true hard-to-find collector’s item.

The album, consisting of two movements is a real exercise in clear, pure energy in a laid-back jazz setting. Interestingly enough, Symbiosis was never recorded in full after Bill Evans’s recording of it until here. The original recording included a symphony orchestra (the New York Philharmonic, to be specific), four alto saxes led by Phil Woods, The Bill Evans Trio, and additional percussion and woodwinds. The newer version is a much smaller ensemble, consisting of five strings, five saxes, percussion, and piano trio. The resulting sound is quite refreshing on a more intimate level. There are satisfying runs and a very large presence.

If and only if you’re serious about intense, somewhat complicated runs and harmonies, Joost Swart and Co. get to what moves you, and they do so quickly and throughout.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Ronald Jackson) Various Jazz Styles - CD Reviews Mon, 14 Apr 2008 19:00:00 -0500
Promises Made by Millenium Promise Jazz Project feat. Kirk Whalum http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/promises-made-by-millenium-promise-jazz-project-feat.-kirk-whalum.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/smooth-jazz-cd-reviews/promises-made-by-millenium-promise-jazz-project-feat.-kirk-whalum.html As can always be expected from the illustrious saxman from Memphis, Kirk Whalum, along with other artists performing under the pseudonym, The Millennium Promise Jazz Pro…

As can always be expected from the illustrious saxman from Memphis, Kirk Whalum, along with other artists performing under the pseudonym, The Millennium Promise Jazz Project, delivers another very creative blockbuster here with the release of Promises Made. This effort is part of a most promising fundraiser to combat extreme poverty, hunger and disease. Specifically, the proceeds from this album heavy with nostalgia are being channeled to Africans in need of essential survival tools. Now, how many of you did not expect such a humanitarian gesture from one whose spirituality and generous soul would allow him to do no less? Also, for those who didn’t know, Whalum is spelled C-L-A-S-S.

On May 15th, 2008, the Lincoln Center event came off proudly and without a hitch, and the evidence of Whalum’s unwillingness to ever fade into obscurity in any way is presented here on this marvelous, Whalum-style smooth undertaking. The album features classics like "Stand By Me," "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," "People Get Ready," "I’ll Take You There" and "War," among some other delectable hits. As The Millennium Promise Jazz Project, Whalum is joined here by guitarist Earl Klugh, pianist Takana Miyamoto, Take 6 and keyboardist/producer extraordinaire George Duke. Lineups like this simply command attention.

The attraction here is not just Kirk’s ever-effervescent and oft bluesy playing, but the sheer innovativeness with which he approached this recording. It’s as if you are hearing many of these for the very first time. Only one as talented as Whalum can pull this off time and time again with his tell-tale soulful sax and the bevy of formidable gospel-style vocalists. To say that this recording should be a huge success, which probably has already happened, would be one of the biggest understatements of modern time. So it is that the prolific and always uplifting Kirk Whalum presents yet again another to be placed in his "masterpiece" column.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Ronald Jackson) Smooth Jazz - CD Reviews Mon, 14 Apr 2008 13:00:00 -0500
The Othello Syndrome by Uri Caine Ensemble http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/various-jazz-styles-cd-reviews/the-othello-syndrome-by-uri-caine-ensemble.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/various-jazz-styles-cd-reviews/the-othello-syndrome-by-uri-caine-ensemble.html Uri Caine’s The Othello Syndrome. What an interesting and definitely unique potpourri of music focused on Shakespeare’s Othello. Certainly being no Shake…

Uri Caine’s The Othello Syndrome. What an interesting and definitely unique potpourri of music focused on Shakespeare’s Othello. Certainly being no Shakespearean follower, I can honestly say reviewing this one was quite the fun challenge. The intermixing of sound effects and elements of R&B, rock, and jazz certainly required a significant degree of courage and vision.

After a frenzied opening track, "Othello’s Victory," featuring a very active violin and operatic vocals (with a rock-like guitar riff and some jazz piano thrown in for good measure), track 2, "Fire Song," follows with an opening experiment with sounds, as if in a sound check mode, then hops into some up-tempo straight-ahead jazz bass runs and trumpet contributions. Did I say this was interesting and unique? It certainly bears repeating. Like nothing I’ve personally experienced.

The entire album is one happy presentation of any number of musical styles. It’s certainly an earful. If you can handle being in several places at the same time and working to make sense of it all, you should have fun here. As far as musicianship goes, Uri Caine gets an A+. After all, one must have an iron grip on the direction of such a cornucopia of musical happenings to make it even remotely entertaining. I’d say Caine makes a gallant effort to do so.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Ronald Jackson) Various Jazz Styles - CD Reviews Mon, 14 Apr 2008 07:00:00 -0500
Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. II by Paul Motian Trio 2000 Plus Two http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/live-at-the-village-vanguard-vol.-ii-by-paul-motian-trio-2000-plus-two.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/live-at-the-village-vanguard-vol.-ii-by-paul-motian-trio-2000-plus-two.html Paul Motian has enjoyed one of the most fulfilling careers in jazz today. Having rich experiences ranging from performing with Thelonius Monk to appearing with Arlo Guth…

Paul Motian has enjoyed one of the most fulfilling careers in jazz today. Having rich experiences ranging from performing with Thelonius Monk to appearing with Arlo Guthrie at the legendary Woodstock Festival (what a treat that must have been!) to being a member of the Bill Evans Trio, Motian must feel truly blessed. His powerful gift of vision and style has provided excitement in the form of many of his own groups, including one featuring guitarist Bill Frisell. This live offering, Live at the Village Vanguard, is proof positive of the good time Motian is still having with all of this.

The press piece states: "This album is a wonderful oeuvre of Motian’s music, a great example of one of today’s most original jazz groups playing with sound, space and silence." What’s this about silence, you ask? Well, it turns out that the pauses in Motian’s music be it in between two piano chords or before the sound of his drums--are deliberate and intended for full effect, which it obviously has in the world of free jazz expression.

There is a truly unique quality about Motian’s music that cannot be denied. The fusion between free jazz and classic arrangements is riveting, if for no more reason than curiosity. This is pretty heavy, totally expressive, cerebral jazz. This live performance is full of creativity and nuance. The crowd seemed to have loved it, and one can clearly understand why.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Ronald Jackson) Free Jazz / Avante Garde - CD Reviews Mon, 14 Apr 2008 01:00:00 -0500
Bucks Vibe by Peter Buck http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/bucks-vibe-by-peter-buck.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/bucks-vibe-by-peter-buck.html Drummer Peter Buck presents his debut straight-ahead album, Buck’s Vibe, with a quiet confidence. There is nothing ostentatious or too heady here, just g…

Drummer Peter Buck presents his debut straight-ahead album, Buck’s Vibe, with a quiet confidence. There is nothing ostentatious or too heady here, just good basic grooves and a nice authoritative touch, not just by him, but by each member of his band.

Buck’s extensive career in the music business has included performances with the likes of Keb’ Mo’, Bonnie Raitt, Ice-T, Stevie Wonder, and Joe Sample, to name a few. As you can see from this partial list, his career spans a few genres.

The tunes here are light, airy, and possess solid quality and self-assurance that are quite obvious. The horn and piano components provide rich and pure scale work while Buck and bassist Edwin Livingston lay down the necessary solid and supportive base.

For the most part a sort of sleepy production, the album does have its lively spots as well as "lively" can be defined here, anyway with cuts like "One in the Crowd" and "Going Through." Sleepy though it may be for this reviewer, the album is still comprised of a telling earthiness that makes it quite inviting, particularly to jazz purists. It bears witness to unassuming professionalism, proficiency, and stylistic insight. Obviously the genre of his choice, straight-ahead jazz fits him well. Quite likely, it will fit the classic jazz aficionado as well.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Ronald Jackson) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Sun, 13 Apr 2008 19:00:00 -0500