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Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews (1959)

Neil Tesser, who wrote the notes for this release, calls Kizer's music "chamber jazz." Well, okay, that's one element of what the Kevin Kizer Quintet is doing. They have a violin, and there are some introspective moments that suggest at times a classical approach to jazz. But there's a lot more going on that ranges from bop to fusion to gypsy jazz, and it seems as if Kizer is out to show just how versatile he is. He succeeds admirably.
Tosh Sheridan likes to play nylon-string acoustic guitar, and this album displays that in abundance. Now, before you dismiss this as wine bar or bookstore music, give it a listen. You may be surprised at his versatility, his technique, or his evident charm. He takes a baker's dozen of standards, blues, and even pop tunes, makes them do tricks in a leisurely fashion, and teams with other guitarists on nearly half the pieces to provide fascinating listening for jazz guitar fans.
If I lived in Boston, I would have already heard of Yoko Miwa. She is a mainstay of the jazz scene there, and her teaching at the Berklee College of Music places her in the center of musical activity in Boston. She also plays dynamite piano, with a left hand that could crush a Volkswagen. Perhaps the rest of the country needs to be clued in.
Ron Hart and Gary Fitzgerald are old friends from the 1970s when they worked in a quartet together playing clubs in Cleveland, Ohio. The years of familiarity bring a relaxed and comfortable collaboration on this set of five standards, five originals and one creative jazz makeover of an old Percy Mayfield R&B tune made famous in the 1960s by Ray Charles, "Hit the Road, Jack."  This duo proves that you don't need a guy with sticks to keep time, and the absence of the drums heightens the clarity of the remaining voices.
Versatile alto saxophonist Pete Robbins enjoys recording his ensembles within the live format. His sixth album as a leader also represents his third consecutive live recording, influenced by his residence and subsequent visits to Copenhagen. Moreover, his European band aka the Transatlantic Quartet, imparts the open-air architectures often evidenced by the Scandinavian progressive-jazz contingents amid slight inferences to the breadth and lightness of folk music. However, Robbins' previous outings lean more towards the high-octane strata, including knotty funk grooves and tricky time signatures. And he's a superb technician, possessing a fertile imagination.
One of the premier modern jazz trumpeters, Wallace Roney's Home fuses postmodernism with a classic 60's Blue Note Records stylization and touts the best of many jazz worlds on this superfine 2012 release.  Over the years, Roney has developed a stylistic realm of sound amid inferences to Miles Davis's bluesy intonations.  The band, including Roney's talented brother and saxophonist Antoine, glide through original compositions and works by renowned jazz artists.
Ed Barrett has a presence on YouTube, but there isn't a lot of rousing concert footage or material from his albums. You'll find instead a short interview piece where he talks about why he plays jazz, his background, and some footage of him goofing around on drums and piano. He seems like a quiet, unassuming guy who loves to play jazz guitar; sort of like an accountant who does gigs on the side. But his latest release, Hocus Focus, demonstrates his abilities and passions in a very direct way.
Aspects Of Oscar is one of the finest tributes to the master pianist Oscar Peterson that I have ever heard. The fact that it's under the leadership of my favorite bassist, Dave Young and features a band of talented Canadian musicians makes it all the more enjoyable. Dave Young's professional relationship with jazz giant Oscar Peterson spanned three decades during which he played in the Oscar Peterson Trio in appearances all over the world up until Peterson's death. "To my way of thinking, Dave Young is one of the most talented bassists on the jazz scene. His harmonic sympatico and…
Many Dutch progressive-jazz musicians tend to inject dashes of humor into the grand scheme of things, evidenced by Talking Cows' witty and somewhat bawdy video on its website, also noted on the amusing album cover art.  Yet, the quartet takes a no nonsense musical approach and cuts to the chase with vigorous intent.  Vibrant and often multidirectional, they exude a persuasive small ensemble outlook with contiguous re-engineering processes and a brute force mode of execution.
Contemporary Jazz is good for crossover and for new listeners of the art form, however true  jazz lovers definitely appreciate it when an artist can take it back to straight ahead jazz.Turkish drummer Ferit Odman has done just that; he has taken listeners back to the classic sound with the results being nothing short of entertaining. This is the type of compilation you would love to use as a wind down as you sit at the fireplace with your loved one during the cold months. Don't rule it out to accompany you and your family on a relaxing rides out…
Acclaimed pianist Luis Perdomo benefits from a dream rhythm section that exercises sympathetic support on this rather zealous trio date.   He's a first-rate improviser, and there's no mystery as to why he's an in-demand session artist.   On this album, Perdomo fuses a restless spirit with a highly rhythmic architecture.  His artistry is modeled on power, grace and shifting tides amid a poetry-in-motion gait, encapsulated by sweeping runs and unanticipated time changes.  Here, the band locks in and punches out a series of sizzling movements, contrasting the temperate subtleties.
      Mary Louise Knutson has produced a lovely jazz trio record with the release of In the Bubble, her second record following her debut release in 2001, Call Me When You Get There. Just like that debut, In the Bubble has landed Knutson in the JazzWeek Top 50 chart, where it's been for 12 weeks. Based in Minneapolis, she is another proof point for the fact that there are fantastic jazz musicians tucked away all over the U.S., far from the coasts.
To truly appreciate Peripheral Vision, a quartet based in Toronto, Canada, one may want to be hip to overtime hockey. It's like this: tenor saxophonist Trevor Hogg is the forward standing/playing nearest the goal/melody. Guitarist Don Scott is the other forward who stands near the faceoff circle ready to capture any rebounds and embellish Hogg's shots/ideas that he may not take, or need help to complete. Watching from a distance -- and providing an airtight, rhythmic foundation – are the defensemen on the blue line, bassist Michael Herring and drummer Nick Fraser. While the scoring/soloing almost always goes to the…
Traipsing from somber lulls to jubilant bursts, trumpeter Mike Field is a force of nature flint by a mix of bop and swing with schisms of improvisation. His new CD, Phoenix Rising from the Ashes features Carlie Howell on upright bass, Dave Chan on drums, Paul Metcalfe on tenor saxophone, and Matt Newton on piano. Produced by Field, the recording is a lavish assortment of intertwining swirls and a tussle of flourishes tethered to a sprinting stride.
There was a time when jazz aficionados waited in high anticipation for new recordings from specific musicians, like Miles Davis and Weather Report.  You always knew there would be something new, fresh and exciting in every one of their releases, and countless people would want to be the first to hear what the direction would be.  Sadly, today this is almost no longer true.  Now the world is full of jazz released on CD that is predictable and staid.   There are, however, two ensembles that continue to delight audiences with something new with every single one of their releases, trumpeter…
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.
  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…
Evening In Vermont is the ninth CD by the straight-ahead jazz quartet, TRP (The Reese Project). Featuring three members of the Reese clan, Tom play flutes, Laurie is on cello, and Kirk on piano, rounded out by the percussion set work of Dave Young, the ensemble plays a collection of original, covers by jazz legends like Wayne Shorter and Roland Kirk, and folk songs.
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