The Swingin' Bassoon
Bassoonist Daniel Smith switch hits from classical to swing to hard bop on this rewarding studio set. Other than some choice solos by pianist Martin Bejerano, the quartet stays in the background, providing support to Smith's amazingly fluid lines, which shine forth through a set of jazz standards. You can just imagine saxophonist Charlie Parker on bassoon during the band's take on "Scrapple From The Apple. Here and throughout, Smith's spiky phrasings are balanced by brisk runs fortified by lots of pop, zip and seemingly effortless control.
Enhanced by a varied mix of tunes, the album is much more than a novelty excursion. On "Summer Samba, the leader is well paired by Bejerano's upper register choruses, the duo's blithe unison passages running atop a delicate samba pulse. Smith's imaginative and technically impressive performances are complemented by his band-mates' deft touch and judicious use of dynamics.
Bobby Sanabria Big Band
One of the great musical minds in the jazz pantheon, drummer, percussionist, composer and arranger Bobby Sanabria pulls out the proverbial stops on this riveting big band outing. Though steeped in Latin jazz, the music is rooted in a broader swing and post-swing tradition, and Sanabria's crew kicks up a storm as boundaries cohere and coalesce.
The arrangements set Brazilian motifs over pumping Afro-Cuban percussion grooves, and the horns often soar skyward like rockets. At other times Sanabria turns down the heat with space for lyrical melodies and intimate dialogues. Among the highlights is a witty, high-impact reading of Frank Zappa's masterpiece, "The Grand Wazoo. Sanabria is in peak musical form here and the album is a magnificently arranged feast for the ears.
At War With Self
Acts Of God
Sluggo's Goon Music
Directed by guitarist/composer Glenn Snelwar, this follow-up to Acts Of God's Torn Between Dimensions (Free Electric Sound, 2005) is a solid development to the first album, organized as a suite and including layered arrangements with plenty of depth. Snelwar's writing offers stimulating contrasts, employing asymmetrical arrangements, soaring prog-metal guitar lines, and windswept acoustic-electric interludes. Guest artists chip in on various tracks to assist with the electronics. Snelwar's brainchild is far from being prog-rock ear candy. On the contrary, it's complex and coherent.
Raymond MacDonald & Gunter Baby Sommer
Delphinius & Lyra
Swiss drummer Gunter Baby Sommer is no stranger to duo settings, as evidenced by recent work with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. Here, Sommer teams up with Scottish saxophonist Raymond MacDonald on a search and destroy mission. It's free-form style collision at its finest, with the duo toggling between minimalism and groove, energised by MacDonald's roaring frenzies in the upper-register of his alto.
The duo perform on a horizontal plane of sorts, where Sommer sets the pace and occasionally jumps ahead of MacDonald's weaving lines. The drummer uses a Jew's Harp and harmonica on the oddball "I'm OK, a track which introduces wit and whimsy to the overall game plan. There's lots going on here and the music keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
Love Makes The World Deluxe Edition
Legendary pop singer/songwriter Carole King's 2001 studio album is reissued here as a 2-disc set, complete with bonus and video tracks. Highpoints include previously unreleased duets with Graham Nash, and there is sympathetic support throughout from a line-up of session aces including bassist Nathan East. Guest appearances by vocalists K.D. Lang and Celine Dion add spice to the mix, while King's soothing yet spirited vocals sound as warm and communicative as they did first time around.