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Articles by Nicholas F. Mondello

CATCHING UP WITH

Gordon Au: Untraditionally Mad About Trad

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Gordon Au draws upon a palette ranging from the traditional jazz of Louis Armstrong to the modern jazz of today. In New York, Gordon leads the Grand St. Stompers, a traditional jazz band called “a pillar of New York's hot jazz scene" by The New York Times, and appears with the Grammy-winning Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, the Louis Armstrong Eternity Band at Birdland, Dandy Wellington, and others. He is in demand around the country as a soloist (International Trumpet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Barbara Reed: On Stage

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Musicians who are also authors tend to be relatively common -it's those Muse juices, you know. Mary Higgins Clark would title her books with the names of well-known popular songs. Popster parrotter Jimmy Buffett and even Madonna have penned. Barbara Reed, however, does it all: she's an outstanding vocalist/pianist/composer/lyricist--and a celebrated author whose work on all embraces song. The LA-based Reed has been a fixture on the So Cal music scene for years. She's a solid, musically-grounded ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The New England Jazz Ensemble: Peter and the Wolf

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Sergei Prokofiev's classic work, Peter and the Wolf, has been recorded by just about every ensemble on the planet, save Johnny Puleo and the Harmonicats. Furthermore, it has been guest narrated by some of the greatest (Richard Attenborough, Ben Kingsley, Sir John Gielgud) and also oddest voices (Bill Clinton with Sophia Loren and Mikhail Gorbachov, Antonio Banderas also with Loren, and Sharon Stone). However, there's never been as hip, pulled-together version than that recently recorded by the New England Jazz ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Kase: Let Go

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Chris Kase is one of those artists that those in the know, know. The trumpeter, who currently resides, teaches and performs primarily in Spain, is a superb player and composer. All those qualities can be seen in Let Go. It is an intelligent, thought-provoking display of his fine musicianship. “Teaser" opens the session with a catchy, “lick-like" up-tempo theme on which Kase displays his playful, yet focused approached to the melody and his improv. “The Wishing Song" ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Arturo Sandoval: Ultimate Duets

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Anyone who has seen a no-hit game in baseball will tell you that it's a rare and highly exciting occurrence. With Ultimate Duets, Arturo Sandoval and his team of music stars deliver even better--a perfect game of a recording. Maestro Sandoval joins with some of the greatest vocal names in music, most recognizable by surname--Wonder, Domingo, Sanz, Jarreau, Groban, Grande, et al. And, as one expects by way of his 10 Grammy®-winning track record, everything about this ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Proulx: Say It

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The first thing one might ask encountering this album is “OK, how do you say Proulx?" It's pronounced “Proo," with a silent l and x. However, there's nothing silent or uncertain about this fine offering from Grammy®-winning pianist/vocalist/composer, John Proulx. Say It is an elegant, first class endeavor. The ten-selection date opens with Proulx leading a catch-your-breath and scatted version of Luis Bonfa's “The Gentle Rain," spiced with a “Hot House" quote in there and a fine ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Li Xiaochuan: Initial

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In China, one of the world's most ancient--and at times sheltered--civilizations, jazz music, which was once called “pornographic," has experienced a very robust re-emergence. For example, a recent multi-city tour in 5-digit capacity venues by Maestro Arturo Sandoval played to overflow SROs each night. And, there's even now a Blue Note in Beijing, a jazz club near the Great Wall, and many other jazz venues. Trumpeter Li Xiaochuan, a leading Chinese jazz/classical trumpeter and educator (he teaches ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Alessandro Carabelli Music ensemble: Indaco

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In Italian, a language of such beautiful color, “Indaco" translates as “Indigo." And, if there is anything that this recording is, it is indeed colorful, full of beauty, rhythmic variety and mood. Pianist and composer Alessandro Carabelli and his Ensemble offer 14 selections where texture and color predominate. This is highly intelligent and inviting music--without any appearance of pretentiousness. Each selection draws one's ear in, and, in the best Italian tradition, one's heart. Surprisingly, a cacophonic 30-plus ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Dave Tull: texting and driving

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Wallflower. The word has zero application to describe jazz drummer, vocalist and composer/arranger/producer, Dave Tull. He's more like a Venus Fly-Trap of talent, devouring all those activities and offering a keen eye for life's surrealities. He demos all on his second CD, texting and driving. It might just be what's needed for a long, endless drive from, say, St. Louis to Gallup, New Mexico. Tull's drum credits are formidable--with Barbra Streisand (whose legendary pickiness imprimaturs Tull's chops), ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Accent: In This Together

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The a capella and instrument-accompanied jazz vocal ensemble format has a robust presence in the genre's history. Vocal groups such as The Four Freshmen, The Hi-Los, The Swingle Singers, Manhattan Transfer, Take 6, and the L.A. and New York Voices and others all added wonderful material to the canon (and also significantly influenced Pop genre groups such as The Beach Boys and many others). Accent is a six-member, all-male a capella vocal group. It is comprised of ...