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January 2006

Glenn Astarita By

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Steuart Liebig/Stigtette



West Coast electric bassist Steuart Liebig could be counted among the area's most enterprising, jazz-based musicians. On this outing, he aligns with a flute-clarinet-bassoon based ensemble for chamber formatted infusions of jazz/classical structures and improvisation. One of the more interesting aspects here is how Liebig brandishes a limber attack while serving as the foundation and propulsive element to these varied works. He also implements prepared bass techniques as a means of diversity. With ostinato motifs, and nimble maneuvers, the bassist lithely steers the current of the ensemble's multidirectional passages.

Mats/Morgan Band
Thanks for Flying with Us



Swedish wunderkinds, Mats Oberg (keys) and Morgan Agren (drums) have been performing together since their teen years. Thus, all that shedding and commitment reaps fruitful dividends here, on this polished prog-rock foray. Along with a cute vocoder like vocal tune and a narration/parody of armed airline pilots, their knotty time signatures and flair for the dynamic generates gobs of excitement. This engagement is not quite as frenetic as previous recordings might discern. The duo is augmented by a band makeup featuring guitarist Jimmy Agren, bassist Tommy Thordsson and others. Nonetheless, there's an abundance of peppery soloing maneuvers to whet the ardent prog-rock fan's appetite. Also included are live bonus tracks where Mat and Morgan perform as a duo. Regardless, these Swedes are terrific musicians who combine insurmountable energy with a poised sense of determination!

Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord
All The Pretty Ponies (a live recording)



Chicago-reared and now an active participant in New York City's improvising scene, guitarist Jon Lundbom fuses avant-garde, jazz-rock scenarios with odd-metered rhythms and more. The quintet is augmented by the twin sax attack of Bryan Murray and Jon Irabagon, whereas Lundbom occasionally puts the pedal to the metal. But there's quite a bit of improvisational forays based upon the soloists' interweaving lines and soaring momentum along with a cavalcade of variables. At times, the band tosses in notions of angst and shock-therapy to coincide with its semi-loud modus operandi. Fans of New York City's wily downtown scene should welcome this outing with open arms!

David Borgo



Director of Jazz at the University of California in San Diego, saxophonist David Borgo steers a group of modern jazz all-stars through this homage to South African jazz. Trombonist George Lewis and pianist Anthony Davis provide plenty of punch during these alternating, quartet-quintet-sextet performances. Borgo is a consummate multi-reedman who triumphantly merges traditional African jazz elements with a state-of-the-art outlook. These pieces move forward with a noticeable degrees of impudence and ballsy characteristics often tempered by the musicians' jubilant choruses and stinging solos. Add to that, the radiantly processed sonic characteristics of a session that surfaces as a top-10 pick for 2005.

TriO & Sainkho
Forgotten Streets of St. Petersburg



The Russian sax-basson-trumpet trio aligns with Russian throat-vocalist Sainkho Namchylak for an avant-garde foray that often yields to the dreary environs of the Soviet era. The stark grayish blue and sepia toned photo of alley ways between decaying buildings intimates a hint of what the music is about. However, Ms Namchylak's near-Herculean vocalese adds eerie warmth to her counterparts, odd phrasings and multihued pastels. This is music that rejects strict classification, but offers yet another perspective of Russian musicians who base their premises upon pushing the envelope. Haunting, suggestive, bleak and partially optimistic, the artists render a gamut of emotive panoramas here.

Steve Kimock Band



Drummer Rodney Holmes and bassist Alphonso Johnson deliver the driving force behind multifaceted guitarist Steve Kimock's slick picking drills. He possesses a clean, medium-toned sound and turns up the heat when dynamics rule the roost. Kimock performs on electric guitar, mandolin, ukulele and lap steel. His palate includes expressive country-rock stylizations, bone-crunching e-guitar riffs, funk and bluesy dreamscapes. He's a very articulate technician, abetted by his penchant for exercising restraint via contrasting tonalities. Kimock and his band also execute climactically oriented opuses, bustling rockers and other nicely orchestrated, genre-splitting movements.

Harry Kapeliaris
Journey to Light

CD Baby (distribution)


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