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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.

Smooth jazz groups are, unfortunately, becoming a dime a dozen. Smooth jazz sounds, to most unsophisticated ears, as being remarkably easy to play. With no need to have to master tricky rhythms or complex harmonies, as in straight-ahead jazz, many musicians have turned to smooth jazz in hopes of cashing in on this lucrative music market. The truth is, however, that to play smooth jazz well, one has to truly feel the music. There have been a ton of musicians, including greats like Kenny Garrett, who tried their hand at smooth jazz, only to fail.  The reason being they do…
Nothing hurt the new age artists and their market more than the advent of smooth jazz. When smooth jazzers took the kind of music new agers had been creating and gave it a backbeat, along with obvious R&B sentimentality, sales of new age music dropped off the radar. A few of the more well-known new age musicians have survived, such as David Lanz, but in order to do so they moved their music more towards the light R&B stylings, smooth jazzers grew and cultivated. Another new ager who has survived this market shift is keyboardist and composer Keiko Matsui.
Smooth jazz guitarist, vocalist and composer Roger Chong, a graduate of York University in Toronto, works leading his own jazz group, playing in bands lead by others and teaching grade school students in Toronto. Love Me One More Time is his second release as a leader.
Saxophonist and composer Ohad Talmor, now a Brooklynite, came to the United States by way of both Israel and Switzerland. He has garnered not only rave reviews but also peer recognition having played in the Steve Swallow Trio, the Mass Transformation nonet, and with artists such as Jason Moran, Josh Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Chris Cheek, Dave Douglas, Carla Bley, Paul Motian, Joe Lovano, Chris Potter and Billy Hart. Most distinctly it is his relationship with his mentor Lee Konitz, with whom he co-leads three bands, that has brought the young Talmor to prominence.
Danish pianist, keyboardist, composer and arranger, Martin Lutz's third release with his own group, It's Swing – Not Rocket Science, is a collection of disparate compositions all connected by Lutz's rather uniquely slanted compositional concepts. Organized into five suites, all featuring a guest artist, the music is passive at some moments and energetically manic at others, sometimes all within the same suite, as occurs most obviously during the "Africa" suite.
There are far too many young musicians who think the way to achieving success is to release a recording as early as possible. This misguided method usually finds the musician displaying a lack of musicianship, technique and musical maturity. The problem is that even if the musician goes on to develop adequately they will always have to stand behind their first release; one done when they weren't musically ready. Thankfully that is not the case with Seth Ford-Young's first release as a leader.
Guitarist, singer, composer, teacher and poet Reynold David Philipsek has released a number recordings as a leader over the years. Among the artists he's worked with include Connie Evingson, Clint Hoover, The Wolverines Big Band, Glen Helgeson, and Patrick Harison. Philipsek also played with French Gypsy Jazz master Dorado Schmitt during his 2005 U.S. tour.
Harmonica master Toots Thielemans deserves all the accolades and honors a giant in the jazz field has earned when they reach the level of old-guard master. His sound is just as distinctive, as pure, as vibrant and as alive as when he was a young firebrand playing an instrument more associated with honky-tonks and low class dives than the sweetness that jazz represents. That Thielemans has single-handedly made the harmonica his own within the world of jazz could only be due to the fact he is, both harmonically and rhythmically, rooted in the tradition of the music. In addition, the…
Guitarist and Berkeley, California native Alex Skolnick was originally inspired to learn the guitar from listening to Kiss. His devotion, and lessons with people like Joe Satriani, to guitar excellence earned Skolnick a spot in the thrash metal band Testament. Interestingly enough, it was while with this band he discovered the music of Miles Davis. Moving to New York to pursue jazz Skolnick earned a degree from the New School, where he studied with Richie Beirach, George Garzone, and Hal Galper. In the process of school and studies Skolnick formed the Alex Skolnick Trio, which is featured on this release.
If one plays the sitar, pygmy sitar, electric sitar, tanpura, as well as the guitar-zither, piano and Fender Rhodes, a career as a jazz musician is usually not the first thing an audience would expect to hear. That is, however, precisely the direction Jonathan Mayer has embarked on. Mayer is the son of the late Indian composer and Indo-jazz fusion founder John Mayer, so the choice of which instrument he wanted to study is logical. That Jonathan would move towards jazz is not.
Saxophonist, flutist, clarinetist and 2011 ASCAP Young Composers Award winner Joshua Kwassman studied at the New School in New York. He has also spent time studying with established jazz artists including keyboardist Rachel Z, saxophonist Mark Turner and bassist Reggie Workman. As a performer he has worked with artists like trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and pianist Geoffrey Keezer. This recording is an EP with three selections, though they are extended in length, totaling 30 minutes.
Bassist, cellist and composer Buell Neidlinger, born in 1936, came up by playing with Herbie Nichols, Oran "Hot Lips" Page, and Vic Dickenson, among others. With his apprenticeships done, Neidlinger started working with artists like Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Rex Stewart and for seven years with pianist Cecil Taylor. After a stint in Sir John Barbirolli's Houston Symphony, Neidlinger returned to New York in 1965 to work with composers like George Crumb and John Cage. Further work included time with the Berkshire Music Center Orchestra, one Igor Stravinsky's chamber ensembles, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. A move to…
Extraordinarily talented bassist and composer Jimmy Haslip is no stranger to jazz aficionados. Longtime bassist with the supergroup Yellowjackets, he has appeared on an almost limitless number of recordings. While Nightfall is only his fourth release as a leader, he has worked with countless other artists including Steely Dan, Tom Scott, Brenda Russell, Lee Ritenour, Eric Marienthal, Marc Antoine, Randy Crawford, Michael Franks and Jeff Lorber.
Nine years ago, I coined him as “The Impeccable Michel Camilo.” Impeccable still holds true today, but with the release of his 2011 Decca/EmArcy (Universal Music Group) CD, Mano a Mano, I hear so much more. There is a maturity of a road well-traveled, an elegance of soul, and majesty of spirit within Camilo’s music and performance. When you listen, you understand this is a man who has reached the pinnacle of musical excellence.
Composer, guitarist, harpsichordist, performer on the chumbuz and langspil, as well as music conceptualist Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson is from Reykjavik, Iceland. His background includes time studying composition at Mills College with forward thinkers Alvin Curran, Fred Frith and John Bischoff, as well as time studying in Iceland with Atli Ingólfsson and numerous other Icelandic composers. He has also participated in masterclasses with Helmut Lachenmann, Tristan Murail, Clarence Barlow and the music conceptualist/philosopher Pauline Oliveros.
Pianist Assaf Gleizner, bass guitarist Koby Hayon and drummer Nadav Snir Zelniker form Trio Shalva. Shalva is a Hebrew word that means serenity. On Riding Alone, the ensemble’s independently-released recording, Trio Shalva explores standards and original music from Israel, their homeland. Trio Shalva’s sound, for the most part, is New Age. Think Scott Cossu or Fred Simon without the saxophonist out front.
Trumpeter and teacher Stanton Davis, Jr., originally from New Orleans, studied at the Berklee Collge of Music, New England Conservatory and Wesleyan University. As a teacher, he has taught at the New England Conservatory, Wellesley College, Bennington College and Jazzmobile. As a performer, he has been a member of Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, Mongo Santamaria's Orchestra and Mario Bauza & His Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra. Davis has also worked with artists like Muhal Richard Abrams, Jaki Byard, Gil Evans, Charlie Haden, George Gruntz, James Moody, Sam Rivers, Max Roach and David Sanborn. A large portion of Davis'…
Euge Groove, known to his friends as Eugene Grove, has worked hard for his vaulted place in smooth jazz. Early classical piano lessons led to studies on the saxophone. Graduating from the University of Miami with a degree in saxophone performance, Groove played in a variety of bands and did studio work before coming to the attention of fellow saxophonist Richard Elliot, who got him a gig with Tower of Power. Later work with artists like Tina Turner, Joe Cocker and Elton John kept Groove constantly on the road before staking out a solo career.