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Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews (1956)

Philippines born, Boston raised, now New York based guitarist, composer, arranger, producer and teacher Ron Jackson has spent time playing with a number of different artists. Among these are James Spaulding, Taj Majal, The Boys Choir of Harlem, Cecil Brooks III, Jimmy McGriff, Cissy Houston, Ralph Peterson, Russell Malone, Larry Coryell, Don Braden, Benny Golson, Randy Weston, Ron Carter, and Oliver Lake, to list just a few.
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…
Music is a funny business. There are so many incredibly talented musicians that never get the respect they are due, and conversely there are a number of musicians of rather average ability who get way more than there 15 minutes of fame. On the front end of that equation is the incredibly talented jazz pianist Sir Roland Hanna.
Piano dominates most piano trios. (Maybe that's why they don't call it a drum or bass trio, eh?) Thing is, this group is just called "a trio." Although the piano does carry most of the melody line, the blend and sound levels make the three instruments as much equals as in any trio I've heard. It's like a single complex instrument that demands, and deserves, attention to all three musical strands. Leader Ethan Winogrand, has covered a lot of territory, both musical and geographic. In his teens he was a rock drummer. He came to jazz via the fusion group…
Radio Silence, the latest CD by the Neil Cowley Trio is an entertaining collection of orginal compositions executed with sensitivity and energy that delivers the listener to another place.The trio of Cowley on piano, Richard Sadler on bass and Evan Jenkins on drums is a is a developed unit with individual and group competence that shines through in all pieces. 

Sweet by Barbara Jean

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Barbara Jean started her professional music career as a country-rock bass player, and she used to kick "butt six nights a week in Phoenix trucker bars." Now in Buffalo, she has morphed into a song writer and singer in a style popular over 50 years ago; she cites "the tradition of Cole Porter and the Gershwins." Jean has a decent voice, a good ear, and an easy style with jazzy phrasing. Unfortunately, not all goes well with her first album. Sweet lives up to its name–too much so for most jazz fans. A few jolts inspired by that butt-kicking past…
Drawing upon influences ranging from traditional bop to classical and even funk, The Curtis Brothers are making a musical name for themselves as one of the up and coming talents of swing in a seemingly swingless era. Artistic integrity along with a vibrant broad based sound catapults The Curtis Brothers to the head of the pack in charting a new course and raising the bar for others to follow with originality, sincerity and a deceidly personal swing all their own.
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.

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.
Indeed, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt is a talented individual. A rising star who boasts a reputable resume as a first-call session artist and leader, he's been in the thick of things since his graduation from the Berklee School of Music and arrival in New York City in the late 90's. Here, Pelt and his ensemble breeze through a potpourri of simmering, crisply executed bop and swing vamps. Perpetual motion and a steady stream of improvisational jaunts by the soloists, prompt remembrances of the classic Blue Note Record era, where hard bop and tuneful storylines assimilate into a consortium of vibrant counter-maneuvers, darting…
Composer and reedman Andrew Sterman devises a cunning intersection between modern mainstream jazz and improvisation. No doubt, he possesses a broad music vernacular, witnessed by his recordings or performances with the likes of contemporary minimalist composer Philip Glass, amid stints with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Sinatra. Sterman is an artist who vividly conveys a sense of authority. With a soulful, yet commanding tone on sax, he shades the outside spectrum with modern day jazz-based notables, bassist Kermit Driscoll, pianist Mick Rossi and drummer Tim Horner.
We all remember how Wynton Marsalis excelled with classical and jazz recordings during his 20s, approximately 30 years ago before finally committing full-life to Duke and them. Well, there is another young phenomenon, 24-year-old, Kyrgyzstan-born pianist Eldar Djangirov, who also has prolific chops in both worlds as displayed on Three Stories (Sony Masterworks Jazz).
Canadian drummer Owen Howard is a veteran session musician, performing with the crème de la crème of modern jazz heroes. He's also an impressive solo artist, witnessed on his fifth release, Drum Lore.
Stevie Wonder brought the sound of the chromatic harmonica into mainstream consciousness with his numerous recorded solos on the instrument, such as the melody on his 1970s hit "Isn't She Lovely". Chromology will of course appeal to jazz harmonica fans who are looking to go beyond the familiarity of the legendary Toots Thielemans, but for those of you who think "jazz harmonica" is an oxymoron, give a listen and let Chet Williamson show you it makes perfect sense.
Dr. Norman David gathers a world-class ensemble, here on this winning studio session. An arranger, composer and educator residing in the Philadelphia area, David also struts his impressive soprano saxophone faculties amid his hearty dialogues with saxophonist George Garzone, trumpeter Tim Hagans and others. Seasoned with memorable hooks and articulate thematic-engineering outbreaks, one of many highpoints is the robust piece, "Tuesday Overture."
The prospects weren't promising—a rare combo mix, mostly original tunes, relatively unknown musicians, and a Scandinavian recording label. Shudder. The last group of young Northern Europeans I'd heard had me torn between boredom and suicide. Surprise! The trio sound works, the originals are strong, the musicians are first class, and the audio quality is just fine.
Zagreb Croatia native, pianist and composer Matija Dedic earned a collegiate degree from the Jazz Academy in Graz, Austria. Dedic comes from a musical family; his father received musical awards and his mom sang with Louis Armstrong and Phil Woods. Some of Dedic's piano teachers have included jazz stalwarts Hal Galper and Barry Harris. Among the musicians Dedic has played with are Benny Golson, Kenny Burrell, Roy Haynes, Alvin Queen, Lenny White and Larry Grenadier. As a composer Dedic has written for television, the theatre and some Croatian pop artists. M.D. in NYC is his second release as a leader.
There have always been bands of superstar jazz musicians. Usually put together by a producer, witness the Stanley Clarke, Larry Carlton, Billy Cobham, Deron Johnson & Najee Live At The Greek tour, or a record company, witness the 1970s CTI label-mate concerts, but a band of superstars who come together on a regular basis is almost unheard of. That has all changed with the SF Jazz Collective.
Alto saxophonist and composer Libby Richman's abilities are easily seen in her winning two Meet The Composer grants and one New England Foundation On The Arts grant. Originally from Indiana, she earned her degree from the University of Massachusetts and now lives and works in the New York area. Among the artists she has worked with include The Duprees, The Earls, Leslie Gore, The Guy Lombardo Orchestra, Martha Reeves and The Shirelles. Open Strings is Richman's third release as a leader.
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…