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New & Noteworthy

February 2004

By Published: February 3, 2004
KOCH Records

Since the '70s pianist Bob James has authored much of what eventually became smooth jazz. But he's also performed and recorded with the late trumpeter Chet Baker amid numerous projects of various colors. With this outing, James opts for the piano trio format, as his selection of material consists of works by piano greats such Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, and others. James' decision to use bassist James Genus and drummer Billy Kilson elevates this production to lofty heights. Simply stated, this terrific modern jazz rhythm section adds snap, crackle, and bop, to the pianist's eloquently crafted chord voicings.



Three Romances

University of Miami Concert Jazz Band

Summit Records - Education

The University of Miami is well known for its jazz curriculum. With this outing, the Concert Jazz Band performs Horace Silver's "Gregory Is Here," but the important aspect resides within the band's premier performance of Maria Schneider's "Three Romances" composition." No doubt, these college students sound like venerable pros as they interleave sublime tenderness with garrulous soloing to complement the nicely layered arrangements.



The People's Music

Jon Rose

ReR Megacorp

Jon Rose invents electronics, produces interactive concert performances, and possesses more violins (and violin-based contraptions) than Heinz has sauces. For the most part, he's an incredibly inventive improviser. On this project, he directs a string orchestra and percussionists with nods to indigenous Chinese music amid contemporary classical overtures. Oh, and there are moments of wit and vigor during a few of these intertwining movements. As noted in the liners, the music was recorded in a somewhat inaccessible area of his native Australia. Welcome to the slightly anarchic world of Jon Rose!



American Song

Andy Bey

Savoy Jazz

He's a great jazz vocalist who gained some notoriety with Horace Silver back in the '70s and onward. Andy Bey's richly reverberant baritone vocal chops and distinctive mode of delivery, often elevates his presence to an infinitely higher plane. The artist's lush balladry and energized swing sensibilities are set upon American standards such as Ellington's "Satin Doll" and Kurt Weill's "Speak Low," among others. Ultimately, Bey's latest venture is quite addicting.


QUICK PICKS

Flute Bass-ics

Chip Shelton featuring Ron Carter

Summit Records

Flutist Chip Shelton garners steady support from bass great Ron Carter, pianist Stephen Scott, drummer Lewis Nash and percussionist Steven Kroon, on this genial endeavor. The leader of this session clearly reaps the dividends of name recognition here. On this mainstream effort, Shelton shines as a fluent soloist. He lucidly overlays flute parts on the somewhat mystical finale, titled "Valse for Mom."

Drive By

The Necks

ReR USA

This Australian bass-drums-keys trio proves that less is more. They're sort of a jazz-fusion/progressive rock band via a minimalist approach. The group always centers their cyclical grooves atop sustainable melodies that gradually alter over the course of several minutes.

Still Lovin' You

Robert Bradley and Blackwater Surprise

Vanguard Records

With his latest, singer Robert Bradley stirs up a soul-rock brew, topped off by heartfelt lyricism and his ensemble's rock-based interplay. His excellent 2002 date New Ground found the band exuding a huge wall of sound in concert with catchy hooks and climactic opuses. Now, Bradley digs a bit deeper where his somewhat chalky vocal attributes, come across nicely, though a portion of these selections tend to sound a bit humdrum and relatively uneventful.

Super Star Triok

Moroni Moriconi Bagnoli

ABEAT Records

No, it's not an Italian law firm, but a powerful jazz-based, keys, bass, and drums trio. Italy's Abeat Records is a relatively new modern jazz label that boasts an impressive catalogue. Dado Moroni shrewdly alternates between Fender Rhodes piano, B-3 organ, and VOX keyboard to ride atop his peppery rhythm section. Overall, the musicians enliven most semblances of a mainstream jazz trio, thanks to rapidly executed motifs, high-spirited soloing escapades, and other niceties. It's red hot!

Mechatronycon

Sonic Mechatronik Arkestra

Moserobie Music

This Scandinavian septet owns a '70s jazz-fusion style packed with a conspicuous groove slant amid some freeform tendencies. Mathias Landæus uses a Fender Rhodes, sampler and Korg keyboard to great effect. The horn section operates via a loose demeanor along with a few studio based electronic treatments. For example, the band incorporates catchy melodies into its repertoire on the sinewy and slow-drag funk piece titled "Third Eye."

Play Free or Die

Charlie Kohlhase Quintet



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