Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Liver Chronicles - I Said What????

There are not many writers that will use their own experience for a story where they actually end up looking bad...I am not an ordinary writer.

First...I am dying of liver cancer, not an excuse but hopefully an understanding base from which you can work. I am friends with Ted Allen of Chopped. An openly gay male. I have recently been handed my medical death sentence. I am angry...I referred to the new Apple CEO as a "fag." I have never been more ashamed in my life or what is left of it...I live with an angry homophobic father and things do rub off. I knew better and feel like shit for saying it. Most of you will not even see it so why am I doing this? A soul shower. I have precious little time, I won't leave dirty. I will own my mistakes and make amends and to all LGBT people - I am deeply sorry.

Ted Allen seemed to enjoy pushing the envelope of my mistake...Fine. I deserve it. I resent his pious self righteous stance but since I am sure he doesn't see many victories that jumping on this was like gold. I'm no longer friends with Ted, Chopped or anyone connected with the operation by my own choice. Good show but there are others....

I simply wanted to be honest and wanted you to know what happened. We all make mistakes, normally I just date them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jaclyn Guillou Winter For Beginners Cellar Live 2014

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Canadian vocalist Jaclyn Guillou is back with an ambitious new release to showcase her depth and range as an emerging vocal star.

Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com

Winter for Beginners is an intimate release of warmth and melodic bliss, problem is it may be a step down from the last release. Granted any release is merely a snapshot in time, sometimes you gotta get away. The band is incredibly gifted. Guillou's voice only gets better over time and the ambient infusion of a winters touch only makes the release that much more special. Problem? Guillou primarily does her own material and the lyrical content is at times, flat. There is an ebb and flow here and while my first and only real criticism of any artist similar to Guillou would be to add the occasional well placed cover, "Poetry Man" doesn't work for me. Didn't dig the original and the cover is like chewing gum, five minutes later the flavor is gone. Harsh? No, Guillou is simply that talented and she will now be held under closer scrutiny as music is no longer an art - it's a business.

Another tune that should have been left off would be the Guillou original "Castle Garden." The tune comes off strained and at times forced. Two questionable tracks out of nine isn't a bad way to go and remember a review is merely an objective perspective. "When The Leaves Fall" along with "Clouds" are two tunes that more than make up for any potential disappointment.

So here is the deal, a step down from Jaclyn Guillou is still light years better than some artists best work. This is a winter chill release. Grab your favorite sweater, blanket and kick back as you discover a premier vocal talent deserving of far wider recognition. I'm rating this on past releases, creativity of this release and untapped potential. An independent artist I believe in, Jaclyn Guillou.

 
Tracks: Land of the Silver Birch; In A Wooden House; When The Leaves Fall; Winter For Beginners; Spring; Summer Where?; Clouds; Castle Garden; Poetry Man.
 
Personnel: Jaclyn Guillou: Vocals; Bruno Hubert: Piano; David Blake: Guitar; James Meger: Bass; Andrew millar: Drums; Brad Turner: Flugelhorn (5) Trumpet & Triangle (6); Peggy Lee: Cello (1,3,8); Neelamjit Dhillon: Table (6).
 

Steve Hunter Tone Poems Live Singular 2014



Steve Hunter's Tone Poems Live is an intimate look inside one of the most unique guitarists of our time!

Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com

Six string aficionados listen up, Tone Poems Live is an instrumental blues / rock set with a funky back beat that will instantly have you on the edge of your seat. Steve Hunter is best known for his pioneering work with Lou Reed and Alice Cooper but his resume also includes more contemporary artists such as Peter Gabriel. Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson) sits in on bass along with keyboardist Phil Aaberg (Elvin Bishop, Peter Gabriel) and drummer Alvino Bennett (Dave Mason, Robin Trower).

With similar releases you find what some refer to as "session players" jumping out front with an everything but the kitchen sink mentality to take pretentious over kill to a new level. Hunter takes a far more cerebral approach as he never gets in his own way but instead works this ensemble setting to that zen like state of less is more. Checking the ego at the door may well be responsible for two mind blowing covers of Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" and Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Rivera Paradise."

To classify Hunter as a blues / rock guitarist is an injustice, Steve Hunter is a musician that pulls from the heart and his harmonics and lyrical flow transcend any and all self imposed limitations of genre. This is Hunter at his best doing both originals and some well known covers. Steve Hunter is now legally blind but Tone Poems Live is a soulful and soul filled celebration of his musical life and times and one of the best instrumental releases in this area of music to hit the streets in a long time.

Don't believe me?
Check it out!
http://www.stevehunter.com/

 
Tracks: The Idler; 222 W. 23rd; Deep Blue; Flying Hippo; Glidepath; Rubberman; Riveria Paradise; Solsbury Hill; Swept Away; Freeway Rider; Of All Times To Leave.
 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Jeff Coffin & The Mu'tet Side Up Ear Up 2014

 
Stupid good!
 
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
 
Jeff Coffin & The Mu'tet are back with Side Up, an everything but the kitchen sink presentation with a bare bones approach. Coffin believes in allowing all his musical co-conspirators should let their voice be heard and the result is an amazing synergy. In short, their stuff is tight! The roots on display are as varied and diverse as the origins of the improvisational music they play. This mighty jazz gumbo includes New Orleans Second Line, the groove of African rhythms and plenty of straight ahead jazz to keep the purist happy. The mission is to hit you right between the eyes with a harmonic firestorm of sonic fury and rhythms you simply can't get out of your head. Mission accomplished! Guitar effects are occasionally used on horns which pushes the real contemporary envelope to the next level!
 
"Scratch That Itch" is a funk laden jazz nasty that showcases the horn effects and may well be the signature tune for the release. The groove you can use might well be the Coffin tune "Steppin' Up" which takes the changes from Coltrane's "Giant Steps" and sets them to a new melody while dropping in a NOLA nasty second line back beat just to keep it interesting. Done everyday right? The deceptively subtle odd metered Low Hanging Groove has a smoldering blues like underbelly while the Caribbean type swing has a percussive pop and a true collective sound not JC and four after thoughts. Another true gem would be the closer "Albert's Blue Sky" an exquisite open ended gospel influenced tune that touches the heart.
 
A virtually flawless release from one of the most in demand saxophonists and educators in the country. While the jazz genre may be in trouble, Jeff Coffin and artists like him will never let jazz die. You take what you know and what you like and you move past that, my theory as a writer and I think Jeff might agree not bad advice for a musician.
 
Tracks: And So It Begins; Peace Now; Low Hanging Fruit; Steppin' Up; As You Were; Scratch That Itch; Mogador; Yukemi; The Scrambler; Albert's Blue Sky.
 
Personnel: Jeff Coffin: Solo Piano, Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Handclaps, Baritone Sax, Tenor Sax, Q-Tron Envelope Filter, Bells; Bill Fanning: Trumpet, Space Trumpet; Felix Pastorius: 6 String Electric Bass, Fender Jazz Bass, Ring Thing Electro Harmonix; MXR Compression Pedal; Chris Walters: Piano, Hammond B-3, Melodica; Roy "Futureman" Wooten: Drums, Percussion; Radha Botofasina: Harp; Roy Agee: Trumpet; Rod McGaha: Trumpet; Denis Solee: Tenor Sax; Herlin Riley: Tambourine; James DaSilva: Guitar; R. Scott Bryan: Congas; Pat Bergeson: Harmonica; Ryoko Suzuki: Harmonium; Zakir Hussain: Tabla; Mike Haynes: Trumpet, Barry Green: Trombone, Evan Cobb: Tenor Sax.
 
 

Jeff Coffin & The Mu'tet Upcoming Shows

With the new release Side Up set for release this is the current tour list:

November 1 / Vermont Center / Brattleboro, VT
November 2 / Bridge Street Live / Collinsville, CT
November 4 / River Street Jazz Café / Plains, PA
November 5 / Blues Alley / Washington, DC
November 6 / DROM / New York, NY
November 7 / Clementine Café / Harrisonburg, VA
November 8 / Isis Music Hall / Ashville, NC
November 9 / 3rd & Lindsay / Nashville, TN
November 19-22 / Jazz at the Bistro / St. Louis, Mo
January 16 2015 / Jazz Arts Group - Lincoln Theatre / Columbus, Ohio

If you are in the vicinity then these are gigs you don't want to miss!

Houston Person The Melody Lingers On HighNote 2014

 
Houston Person is a melodic assassin with arguably his finest release The Melody Lingers On!
 
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
 
Simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication. Houston Person may be the most versatile saxophonist working today as he draws from traditional blues, Broadway love songs and of course straight ahead swing. The Melody Lingers on is a celebration of not only Person's roots but his artistic if not zen like ability to take a simple unadorned melody and make it shine!
 
As usual the musical cast of co-conspirators are an A list collective of players that have an innate lyrical synergy of swing. Houston Person and his band just don't play the notes they make the music. Steve Nelson on vibes, Lafayette Harris on piano, Ray Drummond on bass and Lewis Nash on bass are an all star collective by definition alone. These are meticulously nuanced tunes with "My Funny Valentine" a smoke filled room ballad banged out with a lyrical sense of purpose few can match. The blues infused ballad "Try A Little Tenderness" comes from that sweet spot well past the heart with a soulful and soul filled spirit that is the Person calling card. Going to church has Person testifying with "You Can't Lose With The Blues."
 
You certainly can not lose with The Melody Lingers On, an impressive collection including some Bossa and cha-cha rhythms thrown in for some bold flavor. Virtually flawless.
 
 
Tracks: My Funny Valentine; Gone Again; You're Nearer; Minton's; Bewitched; Only Trust Your Heart; They All Laughed; Try A Little Tenderness; The Song Is Ended; You Can't Lose With The Blues.
 
Personnel: Houston Person: Tenor Saxophone; Steve Nelson: Vibraphone; Lafayette Harris: Piano; Ray Drummond: Bass; Lewish Nash: Drums.