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CD Reviews (11563)

Find full CD and individual track reviews of your favorite jazz artists right here, and hopefully you also discover some new artists to add to your collection as well.

23.10.2011

Putamayo Presents Jazz

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Aficionados and neophytes alike should feel equally welcome when listening to Jazz, the accessible history lesson produced by Putamayo. Although this 12-song compilation presents an audio array that reaches as high as Blossom Dearie's top-shelf timbre on "They Say It's Spring," to the joint-jumping horns on Maxine Sullivan's " 'Taint No Use," the consistent core from start to finish remains a simple, steady swing that says plenty in a very limited time. For the aficionado, these classics are reminders about the art form's origins. For the neophyte, they serve as starting points that invite further exploration.
The band's third album offers a persuasive glimpse into how violinist Jason Kao Hwang fuses the East-West musical contingent into a cohesive pedigree of sound designs and cutting-edge applications that circumvent the norm, even by avant-garde paradigms. The album strikes a captivating balance between structure that is often complex but largely fluid, and free expressionism of numerable shapes and hues. Regardless, Hwang aligns himself with a super-tight ensemble. And they exude a synergistic group dynamic throughout the sum of the briskly moving parts.
16.10.2011

Timeless

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Colin Hunter is a Toronto-based vocalist who sings as a passionate hobby. He sings the standards from that period of time when jazz was the popular music of the day. His style of singing is a classic mix of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett and Perry Como.
The album artwork offers insight into the sound and scope of trumpeter extraordinaire Tim Hagans' 2011 jazz-fusion release. The program is brushed with dark hues and spacey architectures, translating into an impressionistic journey towards the nearest galaxy. But there's plenty of oxygen and life here.
Woodwind specialist Ken Vandermark is a prominent voice in modern jazz and improvisation, emanating from the Chicago scene, and currently a major force in the global community. Here, the artist aligns with fellow Chicagoan, drummer Chad Taylor and Scandinavian pianist Havard Wilk for a bass-less trio session, spawning tightly melodic structures within the progressive-jazz schema and the contrasting improvisational domain. Essentially, the trio seeds a distinct sense of well-being into the project to complement a few movements that project angst or turbulence. It's an engagement centered on equality, as Vandermark and Wilk alternate solos and unite for numerous theme-building episodes.
Rick Stone's Fractals is an excellent hard bop recording. For this release, the guitarist is joined by his live band featuring Marco Panascia on bass and Tom Pollard on drums. The warm sensitivity these players show each other, undoubtedly perfected through countless hours of playing together, provides the perfect context for Stone's fluid solos. The guitarist's tone is truly gorgeous. It is rich, full and despite its well-rounded low end, always clear. Stone's tone and articulation are so inviting that even the most complex harmonic ideas never alienate the listener.  The phrasing is sometimes reminiscent of Jim Hall (a compliment…
Nice Talk is the title of the intriguing debut from the jazz trio that goes by the moniker of The Hot @ Nights.  Three piece jazz combos are not highly unusual, but the curious instrumental combination utilized by The Hot @ Nights is an unusual blend.
When you’re a music editor, you sit with a pile of advanced CDs you’ve received from labels or individual artists and play them one by one. Some never make it through the second song, but then there are those you play over and over again,and you place them in the most prominent spot in your CD library. One of these A-1 CDs is Rick Braun’s 2011 “Rick Braun Sings with String,” from Mack Avenue Records.
Indeed, Abstract Logix has developed into a prominent record label, including iconic guitarist John McLaughlin among its roster. The record label has also evolved into prime distributor of jazz-rock, jazz-fusion and progressive-rock audio and visual product. And following up the 2011 2-CD release of these live performances recorded in 2010 at the New Universe Music Festival, Raleigh, North Carolina., this 2-DVD extravaganza backed by the record label tenders a stunning series of performances by many of the more prolific electric jazz artists who have reshaped, and extended this musical genre into the modern age. This DVD also showcases Abstract Logix'…
Often cited as Egypt's Ambassador of Rhythm, all-universe percussionist Hossam Ramzy assembles a true, world-fusion gala, featuring virtuoso percussionists integrating Eastern and Western modalities into an all-inclusive celebration. Framed by alternating personnel on a per-track basis, Ramzy is the central force behind these sessions. Augmented by instrumentalists employing keys, guitars, bass, and electronics amid vocalists and strings performers, venerable drummers Manu Katche (France) and Billy Cobham (USA) lend their wares on select works.
John Daversa's arrangements and compositions incorporate a high degree of hip-ness. A superb trumpeter who maximizes his use of the Electric Valve Instrument (EVI) via rippling notes and compelling solo spots within the grand schema, he fuses hip-hop, funk, rock, and the jazz element into an uncannily coherent form-factor. Audacious, brassy, and energized are simply a few appropriate descriptors.
10.10.2011

This Heart of Mine

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Pamela Hines is a New England Conservatory of Music graduate who is making her mark in jazz with an eclectic series of releases. This Heart of Mine is her solo piano album from 2009. This followed her 2008 New Christmas, an adventurous record consisting entirely of holiday originals. You don’t see many artists try that any more—and Hines gets credit just for the effort, let alone the music.
John Colianni is a gifted pianist with a strong interest in swing and early bebop. Jazz is a very historically conscious genre, even as it is always moving forward. Still, even among the most historically minded contingent of modern jazz, Colianni sounds positively old-fashioned. The pianist keeps one foot squarely in a 1940s swing aesthetic, and, by the sheer joy of his playing, he obviously deeply loves the music he is drawing from. That said, one is not likely to confuse this recording with a swing recording from the 1940s. Colianni has a modern flair that is apparent both in…
  Rick Braun, in October 2011 issue of JazzTimes magazine, admitted what those who are in the smooth jazz business end have known for a while, notably the demise of commercial radio and its commercial music business.  He admits the good side of this is that, “there’s no pressure on the artists to come up with radio-play hits anymore.”  With both of the above facts now in play, there has been a mad scramble going on among record companies and artists.
Besides his stature within New York City's enigmatic downtown scene, trumpeter Steven Bernstein's varied resume includes writing and performances with rock and pop legends. Therefore, he possesses an insider and outsider type view, also evidenced by his leadership with the band Sex Mob, known for nicely twisted, reconstructed, and off-kilter covers of famous rock and pop tunes. Here, Bernstein and a large ensemble, including re-mix master Bill Laswell, keyboardist Bernie Worrell and guitarist Vernon Reid loom as vital cogs in the wheel of success, extended across the music of pop-funk icon Sly Stone.
04.10.2011

Tony MacAlpine

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Consummate West Coast guitarist Tony MacAlpine embarks upon a harmonious and at times ferocious search and destroy mission on his 13th solo album. Assisted by bassist Philip Bynoe on one piece, and all-universe drummers Marco Minnemann and Virgil Donati sharing duties, the program offers a hearty track mix. Here, MacAlpine pays close attention to compositional structure unlike many other prog-metal guitar albums, leaning heavily on the technical gymnastics side amid mediocre song-forms. He also multitasks by overlaying keys, bass and handling the programming spectrum. MacAlpine shreds into the netherworld with a spirited modus operandi framed on scorching crunch chords, cleanly…
Vocalist Tony Adamo’s new CD, What Is Hip?, is a funkified and deeply rhythmic locked affair with some of the best musicians of the day.  Put together by master guitarist and producer Jerry Stucker, this horn-laden album reminds one of the early days of Tower Of Power (TOP) brought up to date by modern sensibilities.  Some of the big names assisting Adamo include master drummer Steve Gadd, percussionist and Headhunter Bill Summers, trumpeters Mic Gillette, Henry Hung, and Eddie Henderson, as well as TOP bari saxophone soul man Stephen “Doc” Kupka and keyboardist Rodney Franklin.
Firmly rooted in the sort of challenging post-bop, pre-free modern jazz epitomized by the pre-electric Miles Davis Quintet of the mid-1960s, and – perhaps – the early 70s ECM sound, the music of Nordic Connect is nonetheless quite un-stodgy and rich in interesting 21st Century influences and flavors. The compositions largely, written by pianist Maggi Olin (though Ingrid Jensen, Christine Jensen and Jon Wikan each chip in some), at times, recall some of the mid-to-late 60s and early 70s Blue Note recordings by Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, as they branched out from Miles' musical orbit. As in Miles' and…
Though the late 90s Exotica / Space Age Bachelor Pad Music mini-trend of the late 90s and early 2000s is long over, vibraphonist Brian O'Neill continues to make original music in this vein under the Mr. Ho's Orchestrotica moniker. Listening to the band's sophomore effort, “Third River Rangoon,” I couldn't help but wonder if he wasn't selling himself short. Many correctly associate exotica with mood music, a hip sort of sound to have on in the background while the primary order of business is sipping a Mai-Tai and eating sushi. From the first track on “Third River Rangoon,” it's clear…