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Contemporary Jazz - CD Reviews (1790)

The opening for "Distance" by Norma Winstone, a laid back groove by bassist Koller and the song falls into place as imagination is set free to roam through miles of melodic space. Lindzon sings beautifully, blending registers from mid range to high end and phrasing that perfectly flows as she incorporates sustain and vibrato in flawless grace.
Silent Photographer is an excellent trio recording. The tone is generally hushed and introspective, and the improvisations are searching and cerebral. Though the group does utilize dissonance, space and tense harmony, the music never feels alienating. The musicianship here is first rate, and the group's interplay is equally impressive. Further credit also goes John Stowell (long an underrated and original guitarist) and Jeff Johnson for contributing well crafted and fitting originals to this album. This album is worth seeking out. Highly recommended.
The trumpet is the most difficult instrument to play (physically) requiring top notch chops and Dan Jacobs has been blessed in this regard many times over. This quartet has it all together in this fine album. The arrangements are fabulous and the solos are not only inventive but performed soulfully and pleasing to the ear.
Remember the 1970s – of course you don't, you weren't born yet.  Trust me, it was a great time for jazz.  Big record labels, like Columbia and Warner Brothers, gave their stable of jazz artists good funding to produce personal statements not bounded by end of quarter financial statements.  Even small labels, like CTI and Arista, gave their artists the room to find their own way.  The result was the best, most diverse, decade of jazz ever created.  Cinque harkens back to those great days.
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.
Lucky's Boy is a 2011 release by veteran New England pianist Pamela Hines. Hines is joined by the stellar rhythm section of John Lockwood on bass and Les Harris, Jr. on drums. Also present is April Hall on vocals, whose bluesy style fits well with the proceedings. The entire set is devoted to Hines' originals.
Donovan Mixon has seen some of the world in the last two decades, and the influences show in Culmination. After teaching at the Berklee College of Music, the guitarist spent seven years in Italy, then ten in Turkey, bouncing between freelance work and teaching. Now he's back, with a group of mostly Turkish musicians, and the result is a mix of chamber jazz, world music, and bop that is intense, yet quiet and film-like in atmosphere.
It's not often that one begins an album with a drum solo, but that's the sort of thing that makes one take notice. Guitarist Mike Baggetta is full of surprises on his second release with this quartet, with unusual moods and textures the order of the day. A hot young gun on the New York scene and winner of an ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, comparisons will be made to Bill Frisell and Ralph Towner, but that's certainly not all there is to Baggetta. While he shares some stylistic elements and sense of space with both, he goes his own…
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.
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.
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.
  Rick Braun, in October 2011 issue of JazzTimes magazine, admitted what those who are in the smooth jazz business end have known for a while, notably the demise of commercial radio and its commercial music business.  He admits the good side of this is that, “there’s no pressure on the artists to come up with radio-play hits anymore.”  With both of the above facts now in play, there has been a mad scramble going on among record companies and artists.
Eugene Marlow is a remarkably busy fellow. A pianist, composer, educator, and author, among his many activities is leading the Heritage Ensemble, which performs jazz arrangements of Hebraic melodies. Most of the tracks here are new arrangements of tunes previously released on an earlier album, "Making the Music Our Own" (2006). New musicians and new ideas have led Marlow to undertake a fascinating project.  
From the cartoonish cover of the CD and the name of the band, one might expect some sort of rock/jazz imitation of the Bad Plus, but that would be an error. There are elements of rock, but also of classical and folk music. This quartet's debut album consists of lush, cinematic, contemporary jazz that is difficult to categorize, but easy enough to swallow. No horns, no saxes, no burners, and no rough edges, but definitely not smooth, some might consider this chamber jazz except for the synthesizer, movie music except there's no film, or even New Age music except for…
If you want to enjoy some good jazz stained with a little hint of Italian touch, and played by young musicians who are about to walk a long way, then this CD is just for you. Even 3 are jazz musicians from Sicily, playing together for five years and now awarded in the final of the renowned "Chicco Bettinardi" Competition in 2010: pianist Aki Spadaro, double-bassist Gabrio Bevilacqua and drummer Emanuele Primavera all provide an accomplished and thoughtful sound, a triangular space that takes its form from the dynamic communion of intentions.
17.08.2011

Three Equals One

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At fgitst, this sounds like John Moulder's session. He carries the melody and rides the slalom-like harmonic changes with unusual sureness and grace. But no, Larry Gray's the leader, wrote the tunes, skis the drifts with equal assurance, and has his fair shar of solo time. Charles Heath completes the trio with the assertive, yet supportive style of many of today's best drummers.
After a number of recent recordings that were average at best, George Benson has released his best recording in well over a decade. Guitar Man reminds everyone that George Benson used to be considered the finest guitarist of his generation. An exceptional melodic improviser of the highest level and refinement, Benson plays his heart out, and the result will most certainly be one of the top 10 discs of not just this year, but probably this coming decade.
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