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Although still a teenager, A.J. Salas is one of the premiere pianists in the environs of Colorado. This, his first album, features a play list of Salas originals along side stompers by the likes of blues legend Leroy Carr and others. And that's the kind of music Salas specializes in, blues and boogie. The tracks are a mix of him on solo piano, piano duets with Ann Rabson and with his "little big band". His boogie woogie side dominates on "Jumbo Gumbo". The same beat appears on "Frances" as the band joins Salas. Young as he is, A. J. knows the essence of jazz is swing and swing he does throughout. Listen to "Side Walk Sun Day" where he and band romp and let it all hang out. There's some excellent soloing here by Jim Hoppes on guitar and Keith Harms on trumpet. The blues just ooze on Carr's classic "Midnight Hour Blues" with an appropriately soul filled vocal by Mary Flower. The excellence of the band members is further demonstrated with a trombone solo by Jeff Young on Ray Bryant's "Madison Time". "How Long Blues" is one of the more engaging tracks where Salas teams with Rabson and they entice the listener to eavesdrop on their musical conversation. Even though the pianism is soft, its delicacy fits in well with the overall theme of the session.
While young in years, Salas is very mature when it comes to performing his music. Hopefully, this album is a forerunner of many to come in what looks to be the beginning of a long career in jazz. Certainly the talent is there and one hopes that there will be plenty of opportunities for Salas to use it. Recommended.
Track Listing: Intro; Side Walk Sun Day; Jumbo Gumbo; Midnight Hour Blues*; Staggering to New Orleans#; Madison Time; How Long Blues#; Frances; Blue Tango
Personnel: A. J. Salas -Piano; Stu Shiffer - Bass; Jim Hoppes - Guitar; John Reed - Drums; Isaac Swanson, Keith Harms - Trumpet; Jeff Young - Trombone; Harry Harvey - Tenor Sax; Andy Salas - Baritone Sax; Ann Rabson#- Piano; Mary Flower* - Vocals/Guitar/Dobro
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.