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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sure Fire Soul Ensemble: Out On The Coast

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Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, from jny: San Diego, is one of the most talented new bands on the West Coast. Mixing funk, soul, jazz, and Latin & African influences to create unique, exciting music... their “cinematic soul" is like a cross between the music from Jim Jarmusch movies & Blacksploitation films of the 1970s. And, you can dance to it! If you like Snarky Puppy, The Beastie Boys' instrumentals, Quantic, The New Mastersounds, Karl Denson & ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Snaggle: The Long Slog

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In the art world, labeling oneself as “the next (fill in the blank)" or “(name of country)'s answer to (fill in the blank)" is a risky ploy that may reap short-term benefits in terms of quickly generating a fan base, but may actually be detrimental in terms of creative sustainability. The jny:: Toronto-based jazz-funk- rock sextet Snaggle is a case in point. Their press materials are riddled with phrases such as “Canada's answer to Snarky Puppy" and “the next Snarky ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Lettuce: Mt. Crushmore

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The long-time jazz/funk band Lettuce has been referred to in terms that liken their sound to an evangelizing of funk and that is certainly a fitting descriptions for a good portion of their music. What the funk-laden descriptions obscure is that the blending of a strong jazz element makes this group unique. That aspect is largely driven by an enhanced reed and brass section some of whom perform elsewhere as The Shady Horns. The EP Mt. Crushmore is the sixth ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Haakon Graf/Erik Smith/Per Mathisen: Sunrain

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Digging into the staggered groove of “Santa Monica" during an end-of-2014 performance in jny: Oslo's Olsen Bar, Haakon Graf glides along the keys in an easygoing manner to begin building the show's energy. The electric trappings of '70s Jeff Beck come to mind--albeit without the guitar--alongside the sound of classic outfits like Weather Report and Herbie Hancock's Headhunters. His bandmates keep up at a mid-tempo trot. Erik Smith's drumming coasts steadily with plenty of splashes to avoid going anywhere near ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cameron Mizell: Negative Spaces

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A whole bunch of very accomplished guitarists out there have styles can be described cursorily as lying within a triangle that has John Scofield, Pat Metheny, and Bill Frisell at its vertices. There's nothing wrong with this. Scofield, Metheny, and Frisell are amazing, prolific, and highly influential. And even within these confines, there's a lot of music to explore. On Negative Spaces, guitarist Cameron Mizell (not to be confused with the record producer of the same name) really owns the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stuart McCallum & Mike Walker: The Space Between

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The Space Between is the follow-up album to this intriguing guitar duo's first album from 2014, Beholden. Both of these British guitarists, long-time friends hailing from the North West of England (the Greater Manchester area to be precise) probably need no introduction since they've been making waves on the jazz scene and beyond for years. The opener, paradoxically entitled “And Finally" begins with a melody that teasingly almost perverts that most well-known theme from Beethoven's “Ode To Joy." ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Haakon Graf/Erik Smith/ Per Mathisen: Sunrain

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"Sunrain" is a common Scandinavian weather phenomenon: after weeks of rain, there are often clouds with showers pouring down as the sun peers through the other side. Keyboardist/composer Haakon Graf considers it “a metaphor for the fabric of life, a place between a smile and a tear, like my music..." His trio with drummer Erik Smith and bassist Per Mathisen began performing live in 2011. The liners name them Norway's leading jazz-funk trio, and based on the music here that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Cameron Mizell: Negative Spaces

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Cameron Mizell is not a well-known guitarist but he is a talented one. Working with just keyboards and drums on this CD he goes on an expansive excursion through the realms of jazz, progressive rock, funk and country. Just the first four tracks, which actually run together without a break, he goes through New Age meditation, slow-winding progressive rock, distorted psychedelia and finally twangy roadhouse country with Brad Whiteley switching expertly between electric piano and organ as needed ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Charlie Hunter: Everybody Has A Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth

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Adorned with the kind of facetiously sardonic title he's applied to a few recent records, Charlie Hunter's latest album nevertheless documents further changes in his ever-restless musical persona. Not only is this, his seventeenth-plus album as a leader, on a new label, but he enlists a new accompanist and, perhaps most significant of all, returns to playing the eight-string guitar. Recorded live in a studio in Hudson, New York, on Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched ...


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