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.
Fresh off last year's Grammy nomination for his Jeff Lorber Fusion project 'Now Is The Time', Lorber has wasted no time in taking the concept back to the studio. The follow up, 'Galaxy', was released on January 31st and, with eleven choice cuts, finds this consummate keyboard player, composer and producer exploring new and refreshing grooves while also revisiting four old songs from the JLF back-catalog. The collection also includes outstanding contributions from JFL regulars Eric Marienthal on sax, percussionist Lenny Castro, trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarists Paul Jackson Jr. and Larry Koonse, drummers Vinnie Colaiuta and Dave Weckl plus legendary bass-player Jimmy Haslip who built a sizeable reputation through his time with Yellowjackets.
Kim Waters has always had a way of captivating his fans with his infectious melodies and outstanding showmanship. On his new CD, 'This Heart of Mine', he again harnesses his hallmark vibe by putting out another set of grooves that his fans will absolutely love. Each track is beautifully arranged, and compliments Waters undoubted talent as the 'King of Smooth Urban Jazz'.
Canadian guitarist Ryan Davidson knew what his mission in life was going to be since grade school. What he has been searching for is the means to make it happen. As he recalls, "I believe I started playing when I was six, and began lessons at eight. Truthfully, I don't have any memories of not playing the guitar. All I can remember is that it was all I ever wanted to do."
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Kayla Taylor is a southern gal who, when it comes to torch songs and jazz standards, can sing with the best and surpass them. Her new CD 'You'd Be Surprised' is the follow up to her 2005 release 'A Night at Pacific & Vine' and features a sophisticated array of classic tunes that she delivers with the warmth of a nightingale and the intimacy of a soul singer.
Beppe Di Benedetto is a trombone player, composer and arranger born in Italy. Beppe's passion for music began at the age of 12 when one day his father came home with a strange black suitcase in his hand. Inside was a shiny instrument. His constant curiosity in capturing the secret language of music has accorded Beppe many opportunities in sharing the stage with such famous musicians as Eumir Deotado, Solomon Burke, Bob Mintzer, Paul Anka, Burt Bacharach, Mario Biondi, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hengel Gualdi, Jovanotti, Antonella Ruggero, Fabrizio Bosso, Lorenzo Tucci, Daniele Scannapieco, Giovanni Amato, Claudio Filippini, Andrea Tofanelli, Massimo Manzi, Ellade Bandini, Christian Meyer, Michael Rosen, Ernesstico, Mark Harris, Luca Mannutza, Tullio De Piscopo and many more.
Analyzing the album - the construction of the arranges, the freschness of material, the sounds of the tunes, the power and the intensity of playing the tracks, the rhythmically intense - it has an immensely individual touch.
Like his idol, the late Joe Zawinul, keyboardist Art 'Spike' Schloemer seeks to erase whatever perceived lines lie between jazz, rock, funk and world music. On his new TransFUSION CD, Schloemer arrives well- armed for the task by enlisting some of jazz/fusion's top open-minded artists: guitarist Scott Henderson, saxophonist Bob Franceschini, bassists Bunny Brunel and Hadrien Feraud, and drummers Dennis Chambers and Kirk Covington.
The opening track, "Concussion," shows additional Schloemer influences from the classic fusion era of the '70s. The piece's epic theme, and Feraud's nimble bass line, echo the work of Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke in Return To Forever.
Brunel guests on the subsequent "Space Flight," and his liquid tone and soloing guide Schloemer's synthesizer into the soaring stratosphere of Weather Report, Zawinul's primary vessel during his stellar career. Chambers' contribution is on "Distant Horizon," another far-reaching Weather Report revisit because of his shell-game with the time signature and Schloemer's darting electric piano.
Henderson worked in Zawinul's post-Weather Report group the Zawinul Syndicate, and the guitarist's prodigious firepower burns throughout "Challenge Day." Built on another epic theme by Schloemer, the energetic track is akin to Henderson's '90s work in the band Tribal Tech (which also featured a Zawinul-influenced keyboardist in Scott Kinsey).
Covington, Tribal Tech's drummer, guests on the closing "Keep Relaxed". A high-octane funk number that belies its title, the cut gets extra fuel through the drummer's signature hummingbird-like fills. Franceschini, best-known for his work in guitarist Mike Stern's group, makes a statement through his solo on "Brain Fever," another Schloemer composition that blends jazz technique with rock intensity.
The guest stars may be the drawing card on TransFUSION, but the guest-free tracks are no less alluring. "Sentimental Journey" sounds like a trip through Zawinul's entire career through its acoustic piano, programming, and chanted vocals.
"Good Times" is a Motown-inspired funk vehicle that could've been an alternate theme to the urban '70s sitcom of the same name; "Indie Dance" manages to blend Middle Eastern and be-bop feels, and the entrancing "For Joe" is Schloemer's ode to his late mentor.
Aside from the work of his special guests, Schloemer is responsible for the entirety of TransFUSION, making the disc an otherwise incredible singular achievement. Through his compositions, arrangements, multi-instrumental playing and programming, the keyboardist always manages to sound like he's looking forward -- even as he reaches backward for inspiration.
- Bill Meredith -
"Throughout the entire disc Schloemer proves himself a more than capable composer of electric jazz at the highest level, and as a soloist he establishes himself as a thoughtful and exciting technician. Schloemer's incredibly nimble fingers fly throughout the recording, and he puts them to good use in this collection of high powered, highly percussive fusion. For those who thought great electric jazz, or tightly constructed progressive rock of the 1970s and 80s was gone forever, this disc will restore your soul."
- Thomas R. Erdmann -
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One day dad went back home, a strange black suitcase in his hand; and stood up in front of the 12 years old son. Inside the suit case, there was a shiny instrument, smelling new. Such was the curiosity that the boy decided to snatch the secret language of music: it was so moving, it made me so happy.
"See the sky" is the fruit of a beautiful journey, a veritable résumé of my experiences, meetings and emotions through years and years spent playing music and living my life. It's a generous cd, resultance of both enthusiasm and joy in making music; and it's, from time to time, intense, soft, minimal, furious, romantic. The five musicians of the quintet share respect and friendship, and show along the tracks the beauty of many years playing together.
Beppe Di Benedetto