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April 2005


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Jethro Tull

(DVD) Nothing Is Easy: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970

Eagle Rock Entertainment


New limited edition DVD of the famed British rock band performing in front of 600,000 fans, which by all accounts represents the largest audience in the annals of pop. This wonderful footage highlights Tull's early stages, steeped within blues-rock and counterbalanced by an occasional jazz riff. The film is augmented by a recent interview with Tull's ever-articulate leader and flutist/vocalist Ian Anderson, who provides the narrative, amid humorous anecdotes. Simply stated, it's an enchanting trip down memory lane.

Yo Miles! Henry Kaiser & Wadada Leo Smith


Cuneiform Records


Latest two-CD installment of guitarist Henry Kaiser and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith's electric Miles Davis tribute schema, fortified by a contemporary groove. Again, it's a star-studded cast featuring bassist Michael Manring, sax heroes Greg Osby and John Tchicai, and other notables. Featuring lengthy tracks and lots of improvisational episodes, this release in particular is not quite as poignant as the previous outings. But it's an electrifying jamboree consisting of spacey interludes, snaky funk-grooves and top-flight soloing ventures by the respective artists. And whether or not you own a SACD unit to capitalize on the Super Audio sound, a decent CD-based system will yield stunning sonic attributes.

Peter Cusack

Baikal Ice (Spring 2003)

ReR Megacorp


During the spring of 2003, Peter Cusack trekked to Lake Baikal in Siberia to record the sounds of ice breaking up, where he transfers the sounds of mother earth to your listening space. It's nature at work, highlighted by trebly, rumbling sounds and honking gulls and jangling icicles. Cusack provides insight into the project via his liners. Essentially, he correlates the basis for this undertaking along with some of his traveling experiences within this remote and incredibly scenic area. Regardless, Cusack's brainchild looms as a rather unique aural endeavor, as the sounds of nature might not appear to be as obvious as many of us would surmise.

Ron Levy's Wild Kingdom

Voodoo Boogaloo



Hammond B-3 expert Ron Levy's self-identified "jungle grooves speak proverbial volumes throughout this wildly entertaining set. Along with noted saxophonist Karl Denson and various guest artists, Levy melds '70s style soul-funk with melodic hooks atop snappy rhythms. At times, the ensemble pursues some delectable cheesecake fare by way of Levy's clavinet work, hearkening back to earlier musical times. In addition, these pieces strike a significant chord, aided by the artists' strong soloing endeavors, and good-timey vibes. Levy and his bandmates fuse tasteful grooves with a pumped-up attack, firmed up by a raucous, party-like atmosphere. They mix the old with the new, and the overall results are quite impressive.

Machine and the Synergetic Nuts

Leap Second Neutral

Cuneiform Records


This Japanese jazz/progressive-rock quintet's latest outing packs a mighty wallop. It's variable parts: hard-edged, Hammond B-3 licks, with booming bass lines and crunching rhythms. However, saxophonist Mahi-mahi offers a jazzy edge with melodic lines and torrid soloing. The quintet's penchant for churning out harmonious voicings with lyricism that becomes etched in your mind signifies an added bonus. They're quite unlike many jazz-rock units that focus more on technical gymnastics and ungodly time changes, sans quality compositions. No doubt, this affair looms as one of the top picks of its ilk for 2005!

Ithamara Koorax

Love Dance: The Ballad Album

Ithamara Koorax


Rio De Janeiro resident jazz vocalist Ithamara Koorax placed near the top of Downbeat magazine's 2002 readers poll for best female jazz singer. This recording features the vocalist performing with notables such as guitarist John McLaughlin, pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and others. Here, Koorax provides delicate and sensuous treatment to works by Jobim, Claus Ogerman and originals by her band-mates. Nonetheless, Koorax possesses an amazingly beautiful voice, partly enhanced by the producers' apparent decision to add a dash of reverb to her vocals. To that end, her passionate delivery and stamp of authenticity is perhaps akin to someone divulging their innermost secrets. (Zealously recommended...)

Quick Picks

Charlie Byrd

Homage to Jobim: Live at the Fujitsu-Concord 26th Jazz Festival

Concord Records


New release culled from a 1994 concert featuring the late jazz/bossa nova provocateur, guitarist Charlie Byrd and his septet. Byrd's finesse shines resplendently atop fervent soloing by clarinetist Ken Peplowski and pianist Alan Farnham. A must-hear for the legion of Byrd aficionados...

DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid

Drums of Death

Thirsty Ear


DJ Spooky's turntable methodologies coupled with Dave Lombardo's thumping, and hard-hitting drum patterns are among many highlights on this release. Chuck D's in-your-face rap and Vernon Reid's metallic guitar riffs top off a hip and thoroughly entertaining segue into musical cross-currents and genre-stretching scenarios. It's bold, funky, and at times ambient.

Bobby Darin

Live! At The Desert Inn

Concord Records


Previously out of circulation, this CD reissue features vocalist Bobby Darin's February 6, 1971 performance at the famous Las Vegas hotel. Darin covers the Beatles, James Taylor, and other pop icons here. The late vocalist's affable stage persona might reside somewhere between Elvis and Sinatra: an impressive torch singer and pop icon who knew how to play the crowd.

Bill Barrett & Scot Ray


Woetone Records


Trombonist Scot Ray is primarily recognized for his enviable chops. On this endeavor he uses Dobro and slide guitars in a duo setting with chromatic harmonica ace Bill Barrett. They interrogate grass roots American music of various flavors. The artists' project a picturesque framework while engaging their respective improvisational chops and veering off the straight and narrow. Essentially, they regenerate the road frequently traveled into personalized conceptions and sprightly arranged inventions.

Andy Summers

The X Tracks

Fuel 2000


This is a compilation of guitar hero Andy Summers' jazz-rock tracks lifted from solo recordings spanning 1997-2002. Noted for his climactically devised sustain note type soloing maneuvers and chunky chord progressions, Summers expounds upon Mingus, Monk, Shorter, and other jazz luminaries. One of the guitarist's calling cards is his penchant for twisting a melodic hook into a high-pitched roar! Either way, this recently issued product offers a compelling snapshot of Summers' jazzier side.



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