Brazilian jazz-fusion guitarist Kiko Loureiro's scorching, plugged-in guitar licks create a compelling contrast here with Yaniel Matos' acoustic piano work. Loureiro is a precocious young chops-meister who favors climax-driven solos colored by sustain and distortion effectsplus an occasional nod towards Allan Holdsworth during some of the more legato-based passages. Less frenetic than some of his American peers, Loureiro's clean licks and advanced grasp of dynamics offer a knockout blow.
Drummer/bandleader Jerry Granelli has enjoyed a richly varied career. He's performed with legendary keyboardist/vocalist Mose Allison, funk god Sly Stone and many others of note. These two live sets, recorded at the Halifax, Nova Scotia venue the Sonic Temple, feature E-slide guitarist Dave Tronzo sharing the frontline with guitarist Christian Kogel. Tronzo's weepy, gliding slide guitar licks are set against gently surging band motifs. In automobile lingo, this V16 performs more like a 4-cyclinder machine. The band rev up the momentum in spots, although they rarely break into high torque free-for-alls. Think improvised, progressive jazz with ethereal characteristics.
With his fourth solo effort, Russian keyboardist Eldar enlists turntablist DJ Logic. Eldar doesn't sacrifice strong tunes and hook lines on the altar of dazzling technique and uses synth effects sparingly. On piano, Oscar Peterson influences shine through: he covers Peterson's "Place St. Henri, among a host of solid originals. In addition to cascading chord progressions and flailing right-hand single note runs, he's adept at breaking into honky-tonk and blues-based passages. Eldar's varied musical language is unusual in an artist so young, and is notable for avoiding rambling electronic over-indulgence.
Filipina diva Charlene Clamor grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Mario Lanza and moved to southern California at the age of sixteen. Against spare and tasteful arrangements led by pianist Christian Jacob, Clamor ventures into jazz, world and blues territories while occasionally toggling between American and her native tongue, and she effectively integrates Filipino folk melodies into the jazz vernacular. She conveys a pleasing intimacy on the lullaby-like "Sa Ugoy Ng Duyan, spiced-up by Richard Ickard's gentle acoustic guitar, then shows a bit of spunk during the up-tempo Latin groove of "I Need A Lot Of Love.
Swiss saxophonist Co Streiff and her sextet offer a virtual sightseeing tour of progressive jazz dipped in a variety of world-music including Middle Eastern modal structures. Barriers don't exist here as the band take in avant-blues riffs, torrid improvisational maneuvers and much more. It's an entertaining ride. On "Chtau, Ben Jeger's revved-up Farfisa keyboard sounds like a mini-Moog. Or is it an analogue synth? Whatever it is, on this track Jeger multitasks with his accordion, creating a North African/progressive jazz groove accentuated by Streiff's rippling soprano saxophone solo. Overall, Streiff's classy stylizations and fertile imagination yield bountiful dividends.
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