Sunday, February 1, 2015

Katie Thiroux Introducinig Katie Thiroux BKM 2015

 
Katie Thiroux is the real deal, the evolution of swing continues!
 
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
 
Sometimes the pretty girl can sing and in this case play a hell of a bass! This year may be the year of the debut release as Katie Thiroux kills it with her new release, Introducing Katie Thiroux. A well crafted and somewhat eclectic mix of tunes from the Great American Songbook, some forgotten standard and rock solid originals finds Thiroux proving she is a legit jazz triple threat! Thiroux is a top flight instrumentalist, composer and exudes a pristine yet vibrant vocal style that unlike some of her contemporaries is light but with a buttery finish. Natural talent aside, Jeff Hamilton does a masterful job as producer so swing is indeed the king. The band is A list with critically acclaimed guitarist Graham Dechter, and Roger Neumann on tenor sax and drummer Matt Witek. A solid collective that is as good as one can find.
 
So who does Katie Thiroux sound like on bass? Thiroux has her own unique voice but imagine that magical harmonic happy place somewhere between Ray Brown and John Clayton. Highlights are many and include the vibrant groove of the original tune "RoseBird." Standard such as "I'm Old Fashioned" and a somewhat rare performance of the vocal version of "Shiny Stockings" prove this young talent is far from a one trick pony.
 
Debut albums can be a wonderful introduction or a train wreck of epic proportions. You never get  second chance to make a first impression. My first impression?
 
 
Tracks: There's A Small Hotel; Don't Be On The Outside; A Beautiful Friendship; Wives And Lovers; I'm Old Fashioned; Ray's Kicks; The One I Love; RoseBird; Can't We Just Pretend?; Shiny Stockings; Oh What A Beautiful Morning.
 
 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Harvey Mandel Snake Box Cleopatra 2015

 
Legendary blues guitarist strikes hard with a 6 CD box set, Snake Box!
 
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
 
Harvey "The Snake" Mandel came to prominence as the original guitarist for harp giant Charlie Musselwhite. The Mandel reputation and resume quickly grew jamming with such luminaries as Jerry Garcia and Elvin Bishop. In 1969 and 1970, Mandel was with Canned Heat. As a session giant he can be found on the Rolling Stones' Black and Blue. However, his solo efforts quickly had players such as John Mayall and Jeff Beck ringing his phone. A career for the ages.
 
Snake Box is a 6 CD box set including 5 classic solo releases and this is as solid of a blues collection as you will find. Some releases can review themselves and while some younger fans may not be as familiar with Mandel his precise and lyrical intense playing throughout this collection is some of the finest blues you will hear. Mandel has done a power trio with the former Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip and his eclectic side includes support of Roxy Music. One of the most versatile guitarists in history.
 
 
Disc 1: Cristo Redentor; Disc 2: Righteous: Disc 3: Games Guitars Play; Disc 4: Baby Batter; Disc 5: The Snake; Disc 6: Live At The Matrix 1968
 
 

Charles McPherson The Journey Capri 2015

 
The razors edge of jazz, Charles McPherson has raised the bar yet again with The Journey!
 
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
 
This isn't Charles McPherson's first rodeo. Having wowed critics and fans alike when he started with the Mingus band in 1960, The Journey shows there is still plenty of gas left in the tank. Comparisons to Charlie Parker are not out of line but McPherson takes the traditional bebop sound and phrasing to both a cerebral and visceral that allows his own compositions to become cutting edge harmonic explorations of both melody and meter. The Journey documents a musical connection with some Denver musicians and includes reinvented standards as well as some stellar original contributions.
 
Variety is abundant and highlights would include the exquisite duet "I Should Care" with pianist Chip Stephens and the McPherson original "Manhattan Nocturne." A working band, a collective of serious musicians and not an ego with some after thoughts that simply know the changes. Saxophonist Keith Oxman contributes "Tami's Tune" and is allowed more than enough room to show where his artistic voice is heading. The sound is deep, the edge sharp and the lyrical sense of purpose never wavers. The rhythm section swings with bassist Ken Walker and drummer Todd Reid. This is old school...and virtually flawless.
 
 
Tracks: The Decathexis From Youth; Elena; Spring Is Here; Manhattan Nocturne; Au Private; I Should Care; The Journey; Tami's Tune; Bud Like.
 

Camera Soul Dress Code Azzura and Timkat 2015

Dress CodeDress Code

Camera Soul is back with the perfect storm of sound, retro soul with an improvisational base!

Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com

Improvisational music or jazz is a genre that tends to feed on itself at times. Call it contemporary jazz, smooth jazz or neo-soul and you would be correct so place the limitations of genre on the back burner and simply listen. Dress Code is their follow up to the critically acclaimed Not For Ordinary People. Camera Soul is a true collective of sound that floats effortlessly above strict categorization. Camera Soul makes jazz sexy again!

"Bring Me Back" could be best described as improvisational dance music with a contemporary twist. The title tune "Dress Code" smolders with an under current of a samba or cha-cha like beat and is spot on in production! One sign of true artistry would have to be the ability to nuance their sound with textures and "The Colours of the World" hits all the right notes. The vocals Maria Enrica Lotesoriere are pristine while the saxophone of Daniele Scannapieco is as exciting as any of the major players here in the United States. Make no mistake there are no weak links in this group as the sound is a marriage of a hybrid that has been tried and failed more times in the U.S. then I have space to list.

Pippo Lombardo is the project leader, composer and handles all arrangements along with keyboard duties. Brother Piero shares the same roll as project leader with additional work on lyrics and those pesky business issues that are a necessary evil in this most fickle of businesses. Dress Code screams for American play on whatever platform. Check them out for yourself! This is old school made new cool...Italy is a gold mine for great talent and Camera Soul is no exception!

 
 
 
 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Roger Davidson and Pablo Aslan Live At The Cafe Vivaldi Volume 1 Soundbrush 2015

Pablo Aslan/Roger Davidson: Live at Caffe Vivaldi [2/2015] - Soundbrush Records - Pablo Aslan/Roger Davidson: Live at Caffe Vivaldi [2/2015] - Soundbrush Records - Pablo Aslan/Roger Davidson: Live at Caffe Vivaldi [2/2015] - Soundbrush Records -

An intimate and highly emotive release that spreads like butter, top notch!

Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com

Live at The Café Vivaldi Vol. 1 features pianist Roger Davidson and he is joined by the great bassist Pablo Aslan. While Davidson reputation tends to lend itself to more classical oriented recordings, this particular release hovers like an improvisational cloud that simply avoids the limitations that strict genres must enforce. Aslan plays with Davidson and not around him in a magnificent setting that has been an artistic haven for many.

This is not cocktail hour jazz as some might assume. Here we find a global music exploratory with a reach that starts with the Irving Berlin classic "How Deep Is The Ocean" and moves to the fabulous "El Choclo" from the great Angel Villoldo.

An eclectic presentation of carefully nuanced texture and colors, the sign of true artists at work.

4 Stars with a bullet!

Tracks: Adios Dolor; How Deep Is The Ocean; Alma Hermosa; Landini's Waltz; Amantes Para Sempre; Anonimo Veneziano; Triangle Waltz; Thirdland; Two Hearts In One; Adios Isla; El Choclo.

 

Grover Washington Jr." Winelight Remastered!

Grover Washington SlipcaseMockup revised.jpg

For Immediate Release

Audio Fidelity To Release Jazz Legend Grover Washington, Jr.'s Double-Grammy Award Winning Album “Winelight” on 5.1 Hybrid SACD

“Among the most beautiful jazz albums ever made.. from one of the smooth jazz pioneers!”

Camarillo, CA – Jazz aficionados and high end audio enthusiasts alike are excited about the forthcoming release of jazz legend Grover Washington, Jr.'s “Winelight” album on 5.1 Hybrid SACD from Audio Fidelity in association with ETrain Records. With “Winelight”, Grover Washington, Jr. produced a magical collection of jazz and soul with a touch of pop. He set the standard for the smooth jazz genre - the band is tight, the solos terrific and the arrangements understated and tasteful. The 1980 double-Grammy award winning album was Washington's most successful album and remains one of the smooth jazz masterpieces.

Top to bottom “Winelight” is superb, masterfully recorded and perhaps best-known for the hit “Just the Two of Us” sung by Bill Withers, but it is the five instrumental tracks that find Grover Washington, Jr. (on soprano, alto, and tenor) really stretching out. He was joined by percussionist (and producer) Ralph MacDonald and also the incomparable Steve Gadd (drums) and Eric Gale (guitar).

Grover Washington, Jr., had long been one of the leaders in what could be called rhythm & jazz, essentially R&B-influenced jazz. The music world lost a great musician when the late Grover Washington Jr. passed away in 1999. Fortunately, he left so many classic albums to cherish and “Winelight” is one of those time-honored works that must be included in any worthy music collection.

Tracks:
Winelight
Let It Flow (For “Dr. J”)
In the Name of Love
Take Me There
Just the Two of Us
Make Me a Memory (Sad Samba)

Album and Surround Sound Remix Produced by Ralph MacDonald
Surround Sound Remix Engineered & Mixed by Elliot Scheiner
Stereo mix mastered for this release by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio