Wednesday, September 17, 2014

An Open Letter To Improvisational Musicians / Pulling Reviews

Artists -

Despite the fact I review several other genres, I am directing this to the "jazz" musicians that I have worked with or may be interested in having a review done. Social media is a great marketing tool and a necessary evil. I refer to social media as the cyber island of misfit toys.

If you don't like something I may post on your page then please have enough professionalism to email me or message me so we can work together and solve the issue. Take a cyber drive by or pot shot for all the world to see and your review will be pulled faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

I don't cut and paste reviews (press releases) like so many "critics." I write. Writers are looking for the same respect as musicians and we are under no obligation to leave our review up allowing you free publicity when you attempt to trash us in public. Case in point...I published a review I did of a Russian pianist on Amazon and within five minutes was emailed that my review influenced their buying decision.

It is never smart to disrespect a critic on any level as we talk and we will make you pay. Writers for all the major magazines do a riff on this idea in their own way, I have spoken to over a dozen. It is part of the business. The review is mine, I have the intellectual copyright but most importantly I am a direct source of income for you.

Screw with a critic? Not smart...


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Social Media / Personalities / Rush Limbaugh

Since so many musicians in the jazz field feel compelled to post their personal feelings on the social moray's of the day while languishing in relative obscurity allow me to take a page from their self righteous hymnal.

I am a registered independent, a fiscal conservative and social moderate and while I favor Republicans over Democrats there are a great many that demonize me as a follower of Rush Limbaugh.

A,) Never heard the man or any portion of his show. What I know is what I have read and I don't like it.
B.) I must watch Fox News 24/7 - Again, Don't watch it and haven't watched it in over a decade.

Abuse against not just women but children and yes even men can not be tolerated on any level. This story has just hit cyber space and confirms the ignorance and stupidity that is Rush Limbaugh. In this particular case when a woman says "no" then that is EXACTLY what she means and you do not pass go nor do you collect two hundred dollars. Rush is the poster boy for why dinosaurs became extinct thanks to their tiny pea sized brains.

Read this lunacy for yourself:

Please note while I think the Huffington Post's only useful purpose is at the bottom of a bird cage, even a blind squirrel scores a nut on occasion.

New From Jane Bunnett!

Justin Time

AVAILABLE NOW on Justin Time Records:
Jane Bunnett Forms Exhilarating New All Female Band
Maqueque, Blending Afro-Cuban, 
Soul and Jazz on Self-Titled Release 


"...Bunnett integrates her flute and soprano sax into the Cubans' music,
giving us the best of the past and the contemporary."
 - JazzTimes

"...clave-induced set of Afro-Cuban, booty-shaking 
world jazz that would have made Dizzy smile." - DownBeat

For more than thirty years, Canadian flutist and saxophonist Jane Bunnett has been bridging the gulf between Cuba and North America, introducing jazz audiences to some of the finest musicians that the island has to offer. Through her longstanding ensemble Spirits of Havana, Bunnett has provided early opportunities to such future greats as Dafnis Prieto, Yosvany Terry, Pedrito Martínez, and David Virelles, and also becoming a Canadian national treasure as well as an internationally acclaimed jazz artist in the process. Now, with her new sextet Maqueque, she introduces the world to some of Cuba's most promising female musicians, injecting her own music with an invigorating dose of youthful energy in the process.
On their self-titled debut, Maqueque blends scintillating Afro-Cuban rhythms, folkloric influences, exhilarating jazz, and soulful vocals into an utterly intoxicating blend. Vocalist Daymé Arocena, percussionist Magdelys Savigne, drummer Yissy García, bassist and tres guitarist Yusa, pianist Danae Olano, and bassist Celia Jimenez join the four-time JUNO Award winner, two-time Grammy® Award-nominee, and Officer of the Order of Canada to create a dynamic and hard-driving sound that should suffice to silent any doubts from the boys' clubs of jazz or Cuban music.
The all-female line-up provides the band with a unique energy, Bunnett says. "There's a very happy energy about it," she describes. "All of the women are very supportive of each other.  I've seen a couple of all-women groups in Cuba that are geared toward tourists and can border on being pretty cheesy. What we're doing is creative and collaborative and involves a lot of the Afro-Cuban elements that stem out of traditional folkloric music."
The tempestuous "Tormenta" was inspired by an experience that Bunnett had while playing a jazz festival in Kansas, watching a tornado on the flat Midwestern horizon as she played on an aluminum stage. "New Angel" stems from a more joyous place, with a celebratory, joyful chorus of voices. "Song for Haiti," originally written for a benefit album for the country's earthquake victims, closes the album with a host of special guests, including Spirits of Havana alum Hilario Durán (who contributes string arrangements throughout the album) on piano, the New Orleans-style Heavyweights Brass Band, and spoken word artist Telmary Diaz.
Arocena also contributes three pieces: "Guajira," inspired by the self-sufficiency of rural Cuban farmers; "Canto a Babba," an homage to the Yorùbán deity Oba; and "De la Habana de Canada," a cha cha relating her unusual journey. The album also includes a moving, intimately soulful rendition of Bill Withers' classic "Ain't No Sunshine" sung by Arocena and Yusa, and an eccentrically grooving take on 1940s Cuban pianist Pedro Peruchin's "Mamey Colorao."
Bunnett wrote most of the music for the album in the central Ontario cabin built by her grandfather, a refuge surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature. Those elements directly influenced the disc's opening track, "Papineau," named for a nearby waterfall. But the music was work-shopped by the group in Cuba, adding a lively Cuban chant far removed from water crashing on rocks in the Great White North.
That sort of collaboration is what excites Bunnett about the music and has kept her returning to Cuba for so many years. "One of the things that I really love about music is to collaborate with the different personalities who are out there, because everybody can always bring something very different to the table. In Cuba, there's so much music happening and a lot of the time it's of a collaborative nature; I always imagine it's like 52nd Street in its heyday," she explains. "When I go there I feel that I'm surrounded by a lot of creative energy. There's an enthusiasm about embracing the arts, and music is primary to everybody's lives there, even people who aren't musicians.

Jane Bunnett and Maqueque - EPK
Jane Bunnett and Maqueque - EPK

Jane Bunnett · Jane Bunnett and Maqueque
Justin Time Records ·  Release Date: September 9, 2014

For more information on JANE BUNNETT, please visit:
For more information on Justin Time Records, please visit:

Serving the Finest in Jazz Since 1988

Masterchef Winner Courtney Not Being Received With Open Arms

Rarely do I review television...

Last night Masterchef crowned a new winner. A former stripper by the name of Courtney, not her stage name. The entire season and finale seemed a bit contrived to say the least. Courtney appears to be a talented cook yet offered up salty cranberries and an incomplete desert but still managed to pull it out. Reminds me of American Idol.

The best technical singer never wins Idol, the most popular singer takes home the prize. I noticed hundreds of angry comments on the Masterchef facebook page crying "rigged." I can tell you from experience having worked for American Idol, these shows are not rigged. Favoritism does make an appearance from all judges but after the game show scandal of some 45 years ago, these are not rigged shows. Be that as it may, Courtney should not have won based on the technical merit that the Masterchef judges speak of on a continuous basis. Hypocritical.

The husband of the other competitor fainted and something just did not look right about the way in which he went down...Strange.

Shenanigans? I'll leave that up for you to side. A reason to watch again next season, hardly.

A disappointing end to a disappointing season. I'll go out on a limb and state this may be Courtney's fifteen minutes of fame. You will find her cookbook on the discount table soon enough and after she blows through her cash there could be a reasonable chance she climbs the stripper evolutionary ladder and gives porn a shot. This is all conjecture of course. Courtney could surprise some people however factoring in the short skirts, heels, pretentious model poses, and over acting - the smart money says no. Masterchef got it wrong.  

The Liver Chronicles - Getting The Word

Knowing you have a catastrophic illness is never a "fun" thing...Fighting for your life is instinctive and at the same time deeply personal. It seems like for every step forward I made, I was knocked back three but I kept trying...

When you get the news that your treatment is worse than the disease and there are no experimental treatments that can even be considered thanks to the damage already done and nature of the disease is the most surreal moment you can experience. Everything goes in slow motion and little details suddenly become major issues.

The specialist explained my mortality rate is insanely high. The liver disease will probably not kill me. Cardiac arrest from the blood clot seems to be the odds on favorite. There are medicines I can not even take as they would cause me to bleed out. No quick fix. No getting better. Just marking the days off a calendar. I hope to enjoy whatever time I do have left while I can muster some sort of quality of life but it will not be easy but nothing ever has been for me. I came from nowhere to become one of the better known independent writers for good or bad. Life is a 24/7 learning curve and as Coleman Hawkins said, "If you ain't making mistakes then you ain't really trying."

While they have danced around prognosis, they are now saying two years and the last few months will not be pretty if I start going through major organ shut down...Come on stroke! If you have a loved one in this position, never say "Get better" as it sort of devalues the emotional turmoil they are going through. If it is over it is over. Don't talk, listen. Let the person come to grips with their mortality and just let them know you are there. It's tough. You get nervous and you don't know what to say so say nothing, just be there. I thank all of you for being there for me.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Talib Kweli Live At The Blue Note


Thursday & Friday, September 18-19
at Blue Note Jazz Club   
Rare and Intimate Club Appearance 

Blue Note Jazz Club is proud to present world-renowned hip-hop artist and activist Talib Kweli, Thursday and Friday, September 18-19. Kweli appears in support of his most recent album, Prisoner of Conscious (released in mid-2013).

Over the past five years, Blue Note Jazz Club has put a prime focus on showcasing special hip-hop programs. Recent shows have included Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek (2009), Lauryn Hill (2011), Yasiin Bey (with special guests Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West - 2011), Rakim & The Roots (2011), Questlove (2011), and Big Daddy Kane (2013), among others.

Brooklyn-based rapper Talib Kweli earned his stripes as one of the most lyrically-gifted, socially aware and politically insightful rappers to emerge in the last 20 years. He travels around the globe as one of rap's most in-demand performers combined with his conversations with political activists and his genre-straddling work with Idle Warship and others caused Kweli to realize that he was limited in a sense, a prisoner of sorts of his own success as one of the world's best rappers with something significant to say. Whether working with Mos Def as one-half of Black Star, partnering with producer Hi-Tek for Reflection Eternal, releasing landmark solo material or collaborating with Kanye West or Madlib,  Kweli commands attention by delivering top-tier lyricism, crafting captivating stories and showing the ability to rhyme over virtually any type of beat.

"My music has been associated with those types of causes, with positivity, spirituality, intelligence and being thought-provoking and such," he says. "I think sometimes people get caught up in that part of me as an artist and don't necessarily understand the musicality or fully appreciate the music and the entertainment value behind what I do. I tried to stretch my wings a little bit and bring something that was less beholden to the world of hip-hop and more existing in the world in general."

The result of this artistic growth and exploration arrives with Kweli's dynamic 2013 release, Prisoner Of Conscious AKA P.O.C., an artistic tour de force that signals the start of the next chapter of Kweli's remarkable career. The BK MC spent more time working on Prisoner Of Conscious than any of his other albums, a three-year journey that found him exploring new vibes, joining in some unlikely collaborations and taking him to foreign lands.

Produced by Symbolyc One (Kanye West, Ghostface), the title track's alternatively rap and rock-based beat provides a distinctive platform for Kweli to deliver rhymes that detail his artistic awakening, while producers Sean C & LV (Jay-Z, Raekwon) created a Marvin Gaye-esque vibe for "Come," a cut featuring Miguel that showcases Kweli trying to convince a series of women to do things his way.

Thursday & Friday, September 18-19; Two shows nightly at 8:00PM & 10:30PM
Blue Note Jazz Club
131 W. 3rd Street (between 6th Ave and MacDougal St.) 
New York City

$30 - Table, $20 - Bar
Call 212-475-8592 or visit

Talib Kweli - Favela Love Feat. Seu Jorge (Official Music Video)
Talib Kweli - Favela Love Feat. Seu Jorge (Official Music Video