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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dave Kain: Raising Kain

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Raising Kain is a first for guitarist Dave Kain in two ways: it's the first trio record in his discography and it marks the first time he's worked with a producer instead of going it alone. After releasing a few albums with different incarnations of the Dave Kain Group, he decided to trim things down. Kain started writing specifically for trio, focusing in on this format as the gigging commenced. Once he felt like all the pieces fell into place, Kain took to the studio and, with some help from long time bandstand pal-cum-producer Matt Garrison and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mindi Abair: Wild Heart

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Courtney Love courted controversy in a Rolling Stone interview when she shrugged off Clarence Clemons, the late and great “Big Man" saxophonist of Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band, “My Springsteen problem is just that saxophones don't belong in rock & roll," she said. “They just don't belong." Mindi Abair would like a word with you Miss Love. The fusion of jazz and rock was not the most beloved of hybrids. As practiced by bands like Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears the emphasis was on standard rock n' roll with the occasional horn arrangement. Fusion as practiced ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Christopher Parker: Full Circle

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Pianist Chris Parker is a musical explorer. He has travelled around the world musically and as his latest album Full Circle indicates, he has reached his destination and found an aesthetic where all the different aspects of his musical curiosity come together. While Parker travels a lot musically, he doesn't visit the melancholy North on this album, even though he is definitely capable of writing reflective ballad-like compositions like “Free" and “First Light." Instead, the focus on the album is the vibrant rhythms of Latin America, with a strong touch of swing, blues and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Fo/Mo/Deep: The Groovy Goodness

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Bassist Ron “FatKat" Holmes and the members of fo/mo/deep are back in a big way with the highly anticipated release of The Groovy Goodness. The The Groovy Goodness contains nine pleasantly delightful, cool funk jazz tracks that take you on a winding journey reminiscent of the 70's, and 80's smooth jazz that moved, grooved, and soothed the soul. The jam session opens with “1974" (T. MӓKynen) which is loaded with catchy in-and-out piano and saxophone melodies that stimulate your mind body and soul. Known for holding nothing back, the group glides into the funky and upbeat ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cindy Bradley: Bliss

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Everything you need to know about Cindy Bradley's new album Bliss is right there on the CD jacket photo. Her blonde hair is coiffed, she strikes a stern, yet accommodating stance with no smile, but a hint of cleavage, her right thumb hooked around a belt loop and her left grasping her trumpet. Looks matter in music and Bradley's good looks are part of the packaging of her for smooth jazz stardom, but what about the music? What makes jazz interesting is its creativity, the willingness to explore the improvisational skills of the players, the giddy ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Christopher Parker: Full Circle

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Pianist Chris Parker's second CD release on OA2 Records, Full Circle, sounds like an exciting live set full of vigorous life, something that engages the crowd and gets them up out of their seat, dancing. It's a quintet--common enough in jazz--with the uncommon use of violin in the front line beside the saxophone, reeling out unison lines with the horn, or stepping out in sinuous solo slots. John Nastos is the alto sax guy who breaks out the soprano horn here and there. Violinist Rob Thomas is his front line cohort. Their unison work makes for sonorities not ...

CATCHING UP WITH

Jimmy Haslip: Former Yellowjacket Generating a New Buzz

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Well, the Joint Base San Antonio Fort Sam Houston News Leader is probably not the best place to look for local jazz updates, even if the venue is on the base. “Tickets for the next Friday Night Jazz concert at the Fort Sam Houston Theater are on sale. Featured artists include the Jeff Lorber Fusion with special guest saxophonist [sic] Jimmy Haslip of The Yellowjackets." Not a promising start, unless Jimmy has taken up a new axe and rejoined his old band. It takes about four tries and 30 minutes just to get on the base because I am not ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Chris Standring: Don't Talk, Dance!

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If jazz is to avoid being relegated to the pit of obsolescence where VCR's, pet rocks and NBC's fall lineup for the last five years has been consigned to it won't be enough to simply continue catering to the true believers and faithful die-hards that currently maintains the genre. Jazz will have to go places it hasn't been before and go after potential listeners who think of it as the music their grandparents listened to. One of those places are clubs where people gather not to be hipsters draining their glasses of wine and proclaiming how the masses ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Les Sabler: Jobim Tribute

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Canadian guitarist and vocalist Les Sabler is accustomed to playing the lighter side of jazz as an established and prominent Smooth jazz artist with a particular fancy for the bossa nova. On a very special homage album, Jobim Tribute, the guitarist provides a delicious taste of Brazil by exploring select music from Antonio Carlos Jobim, arguably, one of the greatest composers and innovators of the Brazilian genre. It is also important to note that 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Jobim's signature tune “The Girl From Ipanema" included in the March, 1964 release of Getz/Gilberto (Verve, 1963) featuring Stan Getz, ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Herb Alpert-Lani Hall Quintet at Musical Instrument Museum

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Herb Alpert-Lani Hall Quintet Musical Instrument Museum Phoenix, Arizona March 17, 2014 Trumpeter-vocalist Herb Alpert and vocalist Lani Hall performed a lively and captivating concert that linked their past triumphs to their newest collaborations. The uber-professionalism of this concert conveyed the ambience of a New York City cabaret show, an informal and relaxing mode that brimmed with rich talent. The California couple wove their vast catalog of standards, pop hits and Brazilian songs from six decades of success into a new musical context. In a quintet setting with their longtime trio, their solo ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Paul Taylor: Tenacity

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Paul Taylor is an innovative, inquisitive saxophonist who is constantly pushing the creative envelope of both his instrument and the audience's expectations...no, wait...that's somebody else. Paul Taylor is a cutting edge player who is always surprising in his restless and innovative musical explorations...nope, that's not right. Paul Taylor is a musical chameleon constantly changing his style and approach over the years...nah, that's not it either... Paul Taylor is a solid performer whom while not a particularly distinctive artist, is reliable, pleasant and listenable. Tenacity, his tenth album (get it?)in 19 years will do nothing to diminish his standing ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Ikarus: Through birds, through fire, but not through glass

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Film music without a film is the theme for the Swiss quintet calling themselves Ikarus. Their debut EP is entitled Through birds, through fire, but not through glass, named after Yves Tanguy's painting. In Tanguy's surreal otherworldly landscape, with an ultra- realistic depiction of the unreal by employing a deliberate, precise method of painting, the painter evokes a scene from a dream state to compel the viewer to search for a deeper meaning or truth in the artwork and furthermore, life. IKARUS music is composed and performed in a manner that is to evokes a dream-like or other reality sensation ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Birchall & Woolhouse: The Scenery of Life Unfolding

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Piano trio albums--piano, bass and drums--may be the more common means of artistic expression in jazz, but piano/bass duet sets come long fairly often, too. Bassist Charlie Haden is a master of the approach, proof of which can be found on his teamings with pianists Keith Jarrett and Hank Jones on, respectively, Jasmine (ECM Records, 2011) and Come Sunday (EmArcy, 2012); and add to the list of superb pairing 2011's Insight (Pirouet Records, 2009), with pianist Marc Copland and bassist Gary Peacock, a subtle, spacious, understated gem of the genre. Now bassist Shannon Birchall and pianist Jeremy Woolhouse, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Arshak Sirunyan: Hoodman's Blind

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Pianist/composer Arshak Sirunyan's Hoodman's Blind is likely to be one of the most unique and compelling releases of the year. The Armenian born musician was a finalist in that country's prestigious National J. S. Bach Concerto Competition in 1994. Now a Washington DC resident, he has assembled a top-tier ensemble of award-winning artists from around the globe in creating this collection of genre-defying compositions. Inspired by the medieval predecessor of the game “Blindman's Bluff," Sirunyan has woven a tale that innovatively captures the strategy and visceral emotions of the earlier-- and far more raucous-- version of the game. Sirunyan efficiently ...



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