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Find full CD and individual track reviews of your favorite jazz artists right here, and hopefully you also discover some new artists to add to your collection as well.

Andre Caporaso is an independent and determined musician, having self-produced six records for his own Blue Room label. His press kit quotes him: "The music I compose is more important to me than focusing only on the popular markets and record sales the record labels were looking for." Night in a Strange Land testifies to this guitar player's eclectic musical interests along with the chops to masterfully pursue them.
Highly-regarded saxophonist and composer Jack Wilkins morphs a holistic viewpoint derived from Appalachian Mountains culture and spins a hip, Americana vibe into the modern jazz vernacular.  Where other projects of a similar nature fail due to superfluous content or perhaps lean too heavily on one genre, Wilkins' mood-evoking sentiment and zesty arrangements proclaim a well-rounded scenario.
Andrea Fascetti, the Italian electric bassist has a second album as leader, Cinema. His first CD - dedicated to Steve Swallow, entitled Dedicated To Steve 2008 on the Philology label displayed Fascetti's formidable talents as a seven-string bassist.
  Multi-instrumentalist, engineer and producer Joe Blassett's Chillin' Out In Dark Places is a difficult recording to categorize. While it has nice subtle rhythmic grooves in the background of every track, the material placed on top of the smooth waves is multihued, angled, and at times quite disjunct. The layering effect sometimes works well, but at other times the collages are difficult to discern.
Los Angeles based guitarist, composer and producer Brian Hughes, who is best known for his long standing work with vocalist Loreena McKennitt, grew up in Alberta, Canada and studied at Grant McKewan College, the Banff School of Fine Arts and the Guitar Institute. He comes forward again on Fast Train To A Quiet Place with a recording that is full of his unmistakable and ever lovely musical elements.
It's rather ironic to be asked to give this review a label. Why? Because in the liner notes to the wonderful "In My Room", Larry Goldings makes a staunch defence of the music he's selected to play on this CD, describing labels as being "so 1980s." And he's absolutely right.
A winner in the 2008 Downbeat rising star poll, post-bop tenor man Donny McCaslin probably qualifies now as a fully risen star. He's worked with many jazz luminaries and has been a solid part of Dave Douglas's working quintet since 2005. On Declaration, McCaslin proves his chops as a player, composer and arranger...
John Blum is a New York-born free-jazz pianist. On this record you will hear music that is to mainstream jazz what abstract art is to renaissance painting. The same tools are in play: a musical instrument, notes, rhythm, harmony...and you will hear sound bites from time to time that hint at conventional jazz roots, but what ends up on the musical canvas is of a parallel artistic universe. When you hit “play” you will know immediately that you are not in jazz Kansas anymore.
Joe Blessett makes an interesting case for going into the studio and doing your own thing.  His sixth release as a solo artist has him everywhere, laying down music tracks on several instruments, voicing over for effect, mixing, and even marketing his own product.  The result is a pastiche of music that runs from smooth to funk, and tracks that run in and out like a fever dream. 
With inferences to metal-drenched avant-garde jazz, sounds of doom, and crazed electronica based free-jazz; Combat Astronomy's fourth album extends its bizarre, apocalyptic spin on cross-genre stylizations.  With notable British experimentalists and avant-garde perpetrators shaping the crazed vistas, leader, conceptualizer, and five-string electric bassist James Huggett lays down some of the heaviest bass lines known to mankind with guerrilla tactics and calamitous sound-sculpting maneuvers.  Huggett overdubs bass lines within various parts, and needless to say, envelops an ominous undercurrent throughout the broad plane of lower and upper-register tonal contrasts.
One could alternately describe these five young Canadian musicians as a New-Orleans-style brass band, a funk band, an R&B band, or simply an eclectic group who play what pleases them. They're very good, versatile musicians, with a tight, well-rehearsed sound, clearly very much into the music that they're creating. So why has it taken me so much time to warm up to their debut album?
  This is a crazy time for smooth jazz musicians. After plying their art for public recognition via suit-oriented business models on smooth jazz radio stations, the musicians now find themselves in one of three non-mutually exclusive situations. In the first scenario, (1) they are happy smooth jazz radio is dead and can now play the kind of music they had always wanted to but their record companies wouldn't allow, or (2) they are totally lost fearing their audience will leave them as the radio formats change and with it, perhaps, their fans, or (3) they struggle to find relevance…
In a day and age when most musical artists become prisoners of stilted genre-defining labels, Argentinean Florencia Ruiz eschews categorization. On her first U.S. release Luz de La Noche (Light of the Night), a studio recording from Adventure Music, Ruiz blends rock, jazz, and MPB elements to forge a truly original sound. Be forewarned: If you were expecting tango nouveau, then you're on the wrong train.
Avant-garde or free-form improvisation doesn't always need to be austere or devoid of character. Essentially, these U.K., based improvisers reaffirm those notions in vibrant fashion via these invigorating works recorded at a home studio and live performances in London.
It's a modernist's dream band, featuring venerable solo and session artists who are among the top pace-setters in progressive-rock. Here, touch guitarist, bassist Trey Gunn (King Crimson), guitarist Henry Kaiser and drummer Morgan Agren (Mats/Morgan Band) burn holes through solid steel walls and formulate an avant-garde spin on the roads previously traversed.
Fjordne (given name, Shunichiro Fujimoto) produces music that is adventurous, expansive and a bit other-worldly, yet highly listenable and absorbing. His approach is to feature the piano as the melodic centerpiece and have electronic sounds create various moods around it. The effects change from track to track, but are sometimes wistful, other times nostalgic and occasionally mysterious.
Michael Cuscuna – executive producer from CBS Records - hired Woody Shaw in 1977. Someone thought that Miles Davis in person " sponsored " Shaw to the board of Columbia. Anyway this partnership would have made a larger audience aware of Shaw's huge talent.
It's been two years since vocalist Anders Holst released a recording and his newest one, Soho Suite, may very well be his best. Originally from Sweden, Holst is now based out of New York. In the style of Kenny Rankin, Holst has a rich lower tenor voice that is full of deep romantic leanings that falls into either the smooth jazz or adult contemporary vein. Recorded with a variety of Swedish backing musicians and vocalists, every track is richly produced, but not over produced and is so popular these days in the smooth jazz world.
10.12.2011

Passing Ships

Written by
Over nearly half a century, composer-arranger-pianist-ensemble leader Andrew Hill gained international jazz renown for his uniquely original music, which is by turns dark, fragile, funny, stark, unforgettably tuneful, percussive, insightful, oblique, transparent and mysterious. Giants like Art Tatum, Bud Powell and above all Thelonius Monk influenced Hill's style that was marked by heavy chromatics, complex chords, flowing and legato phrasing as well as by Ravel and Debussy; classic contemporary music recalls on several composition arrangements and improvisations.
This European quartet presents a study in striking contrasts. It's sort of an all-inclusive type foray where psychedelic guitar parts chime with spacey overtones, modern jazz and free-form expansionism. The primary differentiator pertains to the band's stylistic mode of operations via cunning arrangements and energized improvisational segments. However, melody is a prime focus and sprinkled throughout the program amid some tender moments along the way.