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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.

Planet Z poses an interesting contrast. For one, first-call session violinist and active concert performer Susan Aquila uses a Viper 6-string violin to diametrically oppose her classical roots, and performs material composed by symphonic conductor, guitarist, Dr. Robert Tomaro. Hence, the program is centered within the jazz-fusion realm and framed on attractive material that effectively bridges the high-impact schema with numerous off-kilter metrics.
02.11.2011

Sweet by Barbara Jean

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Barbara Jean started her professional music career as a country-rock bass player, and she used to kick "butt six nights a week in Phoenix trucker bars." Now in Buffalo, she has morphed into a song writer and singer in a style popular over 50 years ago; she cites "the tradition of Cole Porter and the Gershwins." Jean has a decent voice, a good ear, and an easy style with jazzy phrasing. Unfortunately, not all goes well with her first album. Sweet lives up to its name–too much so for most jazz fans. A few jolts inspired by that butt-kicking past…
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.
30.10.2011

Zaz by Zaz

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Zaz is the impressive debut album by the French jazz-pop artist of the same name. Zaz takes a fresh and open-minded approach to her music. Gypsy jazz rhythms, pop hooks and Mills Brothers-esque vocal solos collide in a cohesive and fully realized musical vision. The blend of styles never seems awkward, pretentious or contrived. At its best, this album contains legitimately great pop music. Even at its worst, these songs still tower above their Top 40 pop peers.
This widely acclaimed band's sixth album furthers its plight of providing the listener with a gamut of compelling contrasts amid a unique stylization that offers additional credence to the pioneering efforts instituted by Cryptogramophone Records. Here, violinist Jeff Gauthier leads a prominent cast through jazz-fusion, bop, free improvisation and resonating harmonic output with an in-your-face type composure to offset an array of tender subtleties and classical inferences.
Toronto-based Laura Fernandez writes music from the heart, a natural expression of her highly artistic nature and obvious compassionate feeling for music that emanates through each of her songs. As a singer, songwriter and pianist, Laura paints her emotions with colorful notes, lyrical hues and artful dimensions, a medium that comes naturally to this talented and gifted artist.
23.10.2011

Putamayo Presents Jazz

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Aficionados and neophytes alike should feel equally welcome when listening to Jazz, the accessible history lesson produced by Putamayo. Although this 12-song compilation presents an audio array that reaches as high as Blossom Dearie's top-shelf timbre on "They Say It's Spring," to the joint-jumping horns on Maxine Sullivan's " 'Taint No Use," the consistent core from start to finish remains a simple, steady swing that says plenty in a very limited time. For the aficionado, these classics are reminders about the art form's origins. For the neophyte, they serve as starting points that invite further exploration.
The band's third album offers a persuasive glimpse into how violinist Jason Kao Hwang fuses the East-West musical contingent into a cohesive pedigree of sound designs and cutting-edge applications that circumvent the norm, even by avant-garde paradigms. The album strikes a captivating balance between structure that is often complex but largely fluid, and free expressionism of numerable shapes and hues. Regardless, Hwang aligns himself with a super-tight ensemble. And they exude a synergistic group dynamic throughout the sum of the briskly moving parts.
16.10.2011

Timeless

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Colin Hunter is a Toronto-based vocalist who sings as a passionate hobby. He sings the standards from that period of time when jazz was the popular music of the day. His style of singing is a classic mix of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett and Perry Como.
The album artwork offers insight into the sound and scope of trumpeter extraordinaire Tim Hagans' 2011 jazz-fusion release. The program is brushed with dark hues and spacey architectures, translating into an impressionistic journey towards the nearest galaxy. But there's plenty of oxygen and life here.
Woodwind specialist Ken Vandermark is a prominent voice in modern jazz and improvisation, emanating from the Chicago scene, and currently a major force in the global community. Here, the artist aligns with fellow Chicagoan, drummer Chad Taylor and Scandinavian pianist Havard Wilk for a bass-less trio session, spawning tightly melodic structures within the progressive-jazz schema and the contrasting improvisational domain. Essentially, the trio seeds a distinct sense of well-being into the project to complement a few movements that project angst or turbulence. It's an engagement centered on equality, as Vandermark and Wilk alternate solos and unite for numerous theme-building episodes.
Rick Stone's Fractals is an excellent hard bop recording. For this release, the guitarist is joined by his live band featuring Marco Panascia on bass and Tom Pollard on drums. The warm sensitivity these players show each other, undoubtedly perfected through countless hours of playing together, provides the perfect context for Stone's fluid solos. The guitarist's tone is truly gorgeous. It is rich, full and despite its well-rounded low end, always clear. Stone's tone and articulation are so inviting that even the most complex harmonic ideas never alienate the listener.  The phrasing is sometimes reminiscent of Jim Hall (a compliment…
Nice Talk is the title of the intriguing debut from the jazz trio that goes by the moniker of The Hot @ Nights.  Three piece jazz combos are not highly unusual, but the curious instrumental combination utilized by The Hot @ Nights is an unusual blend.
When you’re a music editor, you sit with a pile of advanced CDs you’ve received from labels or individual artists and play them one by one. Some never make it through the second song, but then there are those you play over and over again,and you place them in the most prominent spot in your CD library. One of these A-1 CDs is Rick Braun’s 2011 “Rick Braun Sings with String,” from Mack Avenue Records.
Indeed, Abstract Logix has developed into a prominent record label, including iconic guitarist John McLaughlin among its roster. The record label has also evolved into prime distributor of jazz-rock, jazz-fusion and progressive-rock audio and visual product. And following up the 2011 2-CD release of these live performances recorded in 2010 at the New Universe Music Festival, Raleigh, North Carolina., this 2-DVD extravaganza backed by the record label tenders a stunning series of performances by many of the more prolific electric jazz artists who have reshaped, and extended this musical genre into the modern age. This DVD also showcases Abstract Logix'…
Often cited as Egypt's Ambassador of Rhythm, all-universe percussionist Hossam Ramzy assembles a true, world-fusion gala, featuring virtuoso percussionists integrating Eastern and Western modalities into an all-inclusive celebration. Framed by alternating personnel on a per-track basis, Ramzy is the central force behind these sessions. Augmented by instrumentalists employing keys, guitars, bass, and electronics amid vocalists and strings performers, venerable drummers Manu Katche (France) and Billy Cobham (USA) lend their wares on select works.