The Realm of the Guitar Gods continues to be inhabited long after its time had supposedly ended. However, a new wing has to be added to accommodate the electric violin of Susan Aquila. As virtuosos go, she’s right at the top, but sounding sometimes like Jean Luc Ponty but just as often like Alvin Lee or Joe Satriani. With feet in both the rock and classical worlds, she seems at first an unlikely candidate to end up on a fusion album, but here she is, and the results are quite spectacular.
Eugene Marlow is a remarkably busy fellow. A pianist, composer, educator, and author, among his many activities is leading the Heritage Ensemble, which performs jazz arrangements of Hebraic melodies. Most of the tracks here are new arrangements of tunes previously released on an earlier album, "Making the Music Our Own" (2006). New musicians and new ideas have led Marlow to undertake a fascinating project.
The leader of the Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars and radio personality Jose Rizo pays tribute here to one of his heroes, conguero Mongo Santamaria. Combining Santamaria classics with some newer compositions, Rizo has assembled a ten-piece group to produced a fine album of Afro-Cuban jazz with a retro sound that still feels fresh and fun.
From the cartoonish cover of the CD and the name of the band, one might expect some sort of rock/jazz imitation of the Bad Plus, but that would be an error. There are elements of rock, but also of classical and folk music. This quartet's debut album consists of lush, cinematic, contemporary jazz that is difficult to categorize, but easy enough to swallow. No horns, no saxes, no burners, and no rough edges, but definitely not smooth, some might consider this chamber jazz except for the synthesizer, movie music except there's no film, or even New Age music except for the jazz sensibilities.
Duke Pearson was a major figure in the 1960s jazz scene as a composer, arranger, pianist, bandleader and A & R man for Blue Note Records. He wrote tunes that have become standards ("Jeannine," "Cristo Redentor") and he helped to create the Blue Note signature sound of the period, the mix of hard bop and soul jazz remembered so fondly by fans of the time. It should be no surprise to see a tribute album, and Swingadelic has stepped up to do just that.