Mark ShermanOne Step CloserRed Toucan
Featuring sax great Joe Lovano lending his wares on selected tracks, this recent outing by vibraphonist Mark Sherman intimates a colorific and largely, upbeat jazz scenario. The quintet navigates through Caribbean shaded themes, jazz waltzes, bop and other stylizations, all culminating in a well-rounded gala. Sherman's nimble mallet work and warmly enacted choruses serve as the focal point for the soloists' emphatic choruses. This set is firmly entrenched within a modern/mainstream permutation, augmented by Sherman's memorable compositions and the unit's rapidly exercised unison runs.
Perennial poll winner, guitarist Steve Morse's solo output for this record label is excerpted here, for this best-of type offering. With longtime band-mates bassist Dave LaRue and drummer Van Romaine among others, Morse's machine-gun type delivery is highlighted within various progressive rock style formats. Overall, this hard-hitting culmination often consists of thorny time signatures and scorching crescendos. Morse's signature mode of execution shines forth as a hybrid rock, jazz and speed-metal tinted concoction.
The Bruford Tapes
Recorded live in New York (1979) and Boston (1980) these tracks are re-workings of material culled from drummer Bill Bruford's solo LPs issued during this timeframe. With his all-star band, these bootleg quality recordings fare relatively well, yet the digital clean up might have been an exercise in futility. Otherwise, you'll hear some remarkable ensemble work, highlighting the talents of bassist Jeff Berlin, for example. The band instills a progressive rock motif, enhanced by the drummer's off-kilter backbeats and Dave Stewart's fluent synth/keys manifestations. They perform spirited renditions of Bruford favorites, "Hells Bells, and "One of a Kind, among others.
Guitarist Adam Rogers could conquer the world. Here, Rogers displays Herculean chops to complement a strong compositional pen. His generally, blistering forays with tenor saxophonist Chris Potter and pianist Edward Simon are framed upon fluctuating movements and swiftly executed unison passages. The guitarist's muse consists of a budding impetus that is pleasantly, in-your-face. Even so, the quintet commingles meticulously crated solos with a thrusting attack, sparked by Potter's rip-roaring and gutsy solos. They tone it down in spots, amid snaky patterns and crisp swing vamps. But it's the sum of the rather dynamic parts that elevates this set onto a higher state of musical consciousness. (A top jazz pick for 2005)
The Living Room Tour
The title parlays the intimacy conveyed by the great pop songstress Carole King during these two discs. Here, Ms. King merges a reflective demeanor with a sense of jubilation. But more importantly, she seemingly pays tribute to her longtime fan base. Hence, it's irrefutably evident that she is performing for the audience, and not simply for her own gratification. King classics such as "its Too Late, "Jazzman, and "So Far Away, are enacted with a touch of warmth and sincerity. In addition, the artist garners sympathetic support from Rudy Guess (guitar/bass/vocals) and Gary Burr (guitar/bass/vocals).
Nicholas D'Amato; Wayne Krantz; John O'Reilly
Nullius In Verba
It's a tight-knit and at times, loose groove jazz-fusion set recorded at a New Jersey studio. Guitarist Wayne Krantz weaves atop Nicholas D'Amato's thumping bass grooves and drummer John O'Reilly's snappy pulses, where the trio pursues an open-ended format. They run with any given motif while morphing various grooves into mini-movements. The band generates an abundance of quirky, funk style escapades and swiftly generated unison runs. On certain tracks, D'Amato employs a fuzz-bass type gizmo while Krantz puts the pedal to the metal in spots. Yet the primary focus of this engagement is rooted within improvisation and the restructuring of previously stated dialogues and rhythms.
Leave it to the Scandinavians to expound upon the roads formerly traveled. In this instance, Finnish artist Aki Peltonen performs lush accordion choruses atop Tower of Power style, punchy horn charts. The other unusual aspect relates to the radio inferences suggested by the album title. Thus, radio transmissions are interspersed throughout this rather highly-attractive jaunt, sparked by Teemu Niemelo's chunky Moog-based detours and treatments. In a nutshell, Peltonen succeeds in exuberant fashion as he interlaces an oddball element into various jazz-derived frameworks.
Mark O' Leary; Tomasz Stanko; Billy Hart