CD Reviews

Smooth jazzy fusion from Ladies’ Heels Over Head

Capetown-Durban play Gugs: ISupportDoYou

Spirit lifting, head turning, chuckles and smiles….. are utterances from the lively audiences exposed to the Durban-ladies-meet-Capetown-ladies, under the band name of “Heels Over Head”, a Durban-based all-female jazz pop band that started in 2008. And uplifting they were as they nestled us inside Gugulethu’s Kwa Sec house with a roaring fire and hard-to-find independent wines on sale. Three Durban gals linked up with Capetownians Nobuhle Ashanti Mazinyane on piano and keys,  Tracey Johannes on bass guitar, and guitarist Arianna Carini who started with the Durban group and is presently studying classical Flamenco at the University of Capetown’s School of Music.

Guitarist Arianna Carini

HOH’s tour through SA Concerts from their Durban base is a collaboration seeking to mentor and develop the talents of other female jazz and blues artists. This echos the band members’ own upbringings in musical families and youth orchestras.

 

Bassist Tracey Yohannes

Theirs is a special sound: funky blues with Carini’s killer guitar which adds the pop/rock feel; vocalist and HOH founder Thulile Zama, throws soulful ballads with a vocal control that speaks to ten years plus experience leading the Durban band.

Drummer Rebecca Doty

Vocalist-Founder Thulile Zama

Drummer Rebekah Doty. offers subtle rhythms that don’t overpower; Doty has also served in a military band before resuming her HOH link. The youngest member of this collaboration, Mazinyane’s keys are gentle and melodic. Her hands have matured; she plays with ease.

HOH Could It Be (2010)

Their albums also feature pianists Taryn Kasaval and Lindi Ngonelo, bassist Tebogo Sedumedi, and a hot guitarist, Chillie, who ensures the flame endures in the band’s sonic fusion.  Their first album in 2010, Could It Be, contains haunting African jazzics, such as ‘Pata Pata, with very danceable rhythms, melting smooth jazz as in ‘Betrayed’, the lively soul pop of the album’s title, ‘Could It Be’, and the upbeat drum ‘n bass funk remix of ‘Girlfriend’. This album exudes emotion, purpose, and message, all which has spiraled these ‘girls’ into a limelight of recognition.

Besides performing in various festivals, like Moshito, and at the 2017 Essence Festival in New
Orleans, USA, the group was nominated in 2011 for MTN SAMA AWARDS in the Contemporary Jazz category.

Sondela (2013)

Their 2013 album, Sondela, presents a slower groove through the seasoned vocals of the musicians entwined in soft ballad harmonies, as in the popular ‘Ntilo Ntilo’ and in ‘Ngiyak’ Phica Phica’. Slow smooth jazz in a blues style around love themes, with the occasional mood setting of a trumpet, characterises this album quite differently to the 2010 album. If I had to choose between the two, Could It Be explains why the group was SAMA nominated in 2011.

Vocalist and founder, Thulile Zama, explains how HOH members managed to stay together for 10 years: “Few bands have survived over the years. We have worked for many years to create opportunities for ourselves. It has been a great experience, both enriching and humbling, and we will continue to offer platforms for female musicians.”

Drummer Rebekah Doty adds: “We want to be an example to other female musicians and show them that everything is possible. We have performed for so many different audiences throughout the years. Still being together after 10 years is a great motivation to keep the band going.”

The style of the Heels Over Head gals, both on and off the stage, reveals how these well-dressed ladies approach their art seriously but with glee and pizzaz, seeking to musically entertain and make us all feel good….and perhaps ready for more wine and chats! See the following links:

Website: www.heelsoverheadband.com
You Tube: www.youtube.com/isupportdoyou
Facebook: www.facebook.com/heelsoverhead
Instagram: www.instagram.com/heelsoverheadband

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CD Review by Eric Alan – Diva Jazz Orchestra 25th Anniversary Project (2018)

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When I sit down to write a review, it is without thought like a blank piece of paper, the words then kinda just flow from my mind to my fingers, so much so that I’m in a sort of focused trance, no don’t be silly I’m not on medical marijuana nor am I smoking my socks as some may assume but I feel so lekker (nice) when I hear a truly great jazz big band/orchestra.

I let the music infuse my being with a solid wave of euphoria along with a really delectable Glass (note the big G) and a half of liquid mellowness, better known as Pinotage, that alluring russet coloured liquid nectar of the gods hastens my collective thoughts to the task at hand, which, is writing or should I rather say typing away on the keyboard.

The Diva Jazz Orchestra


This is the first time I’ve received a Diva Jazz Orchestra album, sent to me by Kari Gaffney of Kari-On Productions with whom I’ve had a long working relationship over many years, in fact over more than 24 years of my radio career, sjoe, now I really feel like a member The August Society of Crusty Old People, neh! Kari has always sent us the most amazing new music by some of the finest innovative young jazz talent her company promotes to jazz radio in the USA and the rest of the global village. Another fact is that some years ago I invited her to do a show for us and I’m very grateful that she agreed, and along with her husband Jeff Williams who produces and also presents together with her. Jeff has been producing the show for some while now, and better yet they also supply the show to a number of stations in the US and Canada. Thanks for all the extra hard work you do Kari and Jeff also thanks for the wonderful music and artists Kari. AJR has become known for playing more new jazz musicians few have ever heard before. Jeez, been prattling on haven’t we?, and now onwards and upwards to infinity and beyond. Damn, why did that pop into my head and where does that line come from?

The Late Stanley Kay

The Diva Jazz Orchestra is led from behind the drum kit by Music Director/Drummer Sherrie Maricle and has been since the orchestra’s inception. The album sees a bunch of fresh new music written for this very special album by members of the orchestra as a tribute to the person who started it all those years ago The Late Stanley Kay, who also happened to manage a fellow drummer’s band and used to sit in for maestro, Buddy Rich from time to time.

Stanley Kay was conducting a band which the now music director and drummer for the D.J.O, was playing, so impressed with her talent, he ruminated that there could be other woman who played to the same standard as Sherrie. His views turned to certitude when auditions were held throughout the USA, then in June of 1992 the orchestra became a reality and, that they say dear jazz lovers is history.

I’ve been listening the album throughout the week prior to my next deadline for the publication, and often  listen three to four times a day soaking in the incredible assemblage of jazz talent in the orchestra on this recording. Then I started thinking, damn (*&%$£ expletive expunged), why had I not heard of, yep, now you know, or gotten any of the Diva Jazz Orchestra’s music before. That’s gonna change soon.

The album offers a plush uninhibited big band sound with the new and a whole bunch of future standards especially for big bands. Each tune is a marvellous treat to the ears and soul. I love every minute I listen to the album and recommend that you go get yourself a copy of it wherever you can.

I think I must whisper a word or two into the ears of the Groot (big) Makulu boss of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Billy Domingo. What do you think?

Track Titles – Composer – Time

  1. East Coast Andy – Leigh Pilzer – 6:04
  2. Middleground – Janelle Reichman – 6:40
  3. See Saw – Noriko Ueda – 6:59
  4. Jami’s Tune – Barbara Laronga – 6:37
  5. Square One – Alexa Tarantino – 6:19
  6. Darkness of the Matter – Sara Jacovino – 7:40
  7. La Americana – Tomoko Ohno – 5:31
  8. A Quarter Past the Last Minute – Jennifer Krupa – 5:47
  9. Forever in My Heart – – 7:12
  10. The Rhythm Changes – Sherrie Maricle – 5:37

The Diva Jazz Orchestra

Sherrie Maricle – Music Director/drummer

Noriko Ueda – bass

Tomoko Ohno – piano

Leslie Havens – bass trombone

Sara Jacovino – trombone

Jennifer Krupa – trombone

Rachel Therrien – trumpet, flugelhorn

Barbara Laronga – trumpet, flugelhorn

Jami Dauber – trumpet, flugelhorn, manager

Liesl Whitaker – trumpet, flugelhorn

Leigh Pilzer – baritone saxophone, bass clarinet

Erica von Kleist – tenor saxophone

Janelle Reichman – tenor saxophone, clarinet

Mercedes Beckman – alto saxophone, flute, clarinet

Alexa Tarantino – alto saxophone, soprano saxophone

Its  great that we in South Africa have our own brand new big band made upon some highly talented woman who are true masters of their own instruments playing incredible music. I was introduced to them at the recent SAJE Conference held in Cape Town at UCT, needless to say was reservedly blown away by their performance as they at the time, were only together for a couple of weeks.

My greatest hope is that when they record their debut album they will only include original music written and arranged by the very talented members of the band, however should they, gods forbid decide to any record of those ubiquitous covers they learned a collage, forget it rather look the great South African composers works to cover instead.

I know I’m going to be in trouble about what I’m going to say because there is a bit of a caveat about the bands moniker which is The Lady Day Big Band, whilst I am an uninhibited fan of Billie Holiday for me personally its not the right brand, I mean after all we are African and Capetonian to boot, nuff said on the subject for now, neh! I will take it up with the leaders of the project when I have them in the studio soon on my show.

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CD Review by Eric Alan – Tutu Puoane – The Joni Mitchell Project Live (2017)

 Soul Factory Records – Distributor Sonic Rendezvous

I’ve been wanting to review this album for a while now but never got around to doing it, so sorry Tutu however it being Friday 13th July nice cuppa at hand so no more excuses as we enter another dark cold wet winters night. I sit in the dark lounge, the only illumination from the computer screen, utterly engrossed as I listen to the album, over and over, ok 3 times back to back, i simply was lost in the sounds i was hearing and blerry well forget to switch on the lights. No worries ’cause the Klutz in the Kitchen made a lekkerlicious (really tasty and nice) Bobotie (Baked Curried Mince with egg custard on top) Sarmi (sandwich) with a great cuppa char to wash it down. Run out of char so it had to darned instant cawfee, gonna have to do a victual run on the morrow, without any further thought I just continue to let my fingers glide across the keyboard and type the words streaming like tickertape from my psyche.

So moved am I as I keenly listen, totally engrossed to the sounds hailing from my speakers. I thought, jinna Eric why have you not listened to this full live recording masterpiece in all of its glory before. How dumb assed have I been? Don’t answer that. Ok then you don’t have to say it out loud, neh!.

Sjoe! I’ve been playing individual tracks from the album when programming my shows for ages now since its release in August of 2017, how much of an ass have I really been? Don’t answer that either, I got a good lawyer.

Tutu and Ewout

I must add this is one hell of an album with an incredible cast of musicians backing the beautiful voice that Tutu has been blessed with; each track is a bona fide paragon. The album offers an enthralling listening experience; seldom do I offer any praise for live recordings, however this is one of those very few that I do. It took me right into the concert hall, I truly felt part of the audience. With superlative vocals and out of this world arrangements as well as some truly impressive playing by each member of the excellent backing band led so ably from behind the piano by Ewout Pierreux Tutu’s hubby. This is an album worthy of pride of place in all serious jazz lovers collection. Better praise I cannot give for a live recording, well done to all concerned. I highly recommend The Joni Mitchell Project Live if you don’t have it as yet go get quickly.

The entire band is;

Tutu Puoane – voice, Tineke Postma – sax, Ewout Pierreux – piano, Clemens van der Feen – bass, Jasper Van Hulten – drums.

Tracklisting:

1 River

2 The Hissing of Summer Lawns

3 Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

4 God Must Be a Boogieman

5 Both Sides Now

6 Black Crow

7 Hejira

8 I Don’t Know Where I Stand

9 My Old Man

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CD Review By Eric Alan – MR Project – Journey (2018)

Mike Rossi’s MRP Album Cover Journey

I’ve known Mike Rossi for quite a number of years now and have played and reviewed his albums over those years. When I received this album and gave a quick run through scan of the all of tracks I knew there was something special about what I was hearing. I decided to can what I had planned and set about without delay, to listen carefully to the entire album with all attention. I listened to the over the next four or so hours and the called Mike to come over for an interview during my show. We arranged a time and the day; I the intervening period I listened to the album back to a number of more times and again was not disappointed. We did the interview and had a great time in the studio chatting.

This is one of the best albums releases this year to my way of thinking, and is intensely personal for Mike, with each track holding a very special place in Mr Rossi’s heart. I believe it reflects a very personal voyage that has brought him this point in his chosen profession. It is like everything has come together, you know, right time and right place with the apposite people to create an enormously beautiful work that will stand the test of time, which is somewhat special and a must have for real jazz lovers.

Track and player listing;

  1. Got a Match?(For Chick Corea) with Marco Maritz, William Haubrich, Andrew Ford, Wesley Rustin and Kevin Gibson. Mike Rossi, tenor sax.
  2. Big Sax(for Rampone & Cazzani) w/ Marco Maritz, William Haubrich, Andrew Ford, Wesley Rustin and Kevin Gibson. M. Rossi, altello sax.
  3. Ciao Roma, Don’t say Lazio!(For Susanna Stivali) w/ Andrew Ford, Wesley Rustin and Kevin Gibson. M. Rossi alto flute & tenor sax.
  4. Star Dust(For Mom; Janet Christina Sansonetti Rossi); with Andrew Ford. M. Rossi, alto sax.
  5. KwaZulu Zam Sam(For Kwazulu-Natal) w/ Marco Maritz, William Haubrich, Andrew Ford, Wesley Rustin and Kevin Gibson. M. Rossi alto sax.
  6. Alpe Camasca, Italy(For Maria Rita Zolla) w/ Marco Maritz, William Haubrich, Andrew Ford, Wesley Rustin and Kevin Gibson. M. Rossi, clarinet, tenor & soprano sax.
  7. Greasy Pan Blues(For those unexpected “food” moments) w/ Marco Maritz, William Haubrich, Andrew Ford, Wesley Rustin and Kevin Gibson. M. Rossi sax.
  8. Land of Make Believe(For Chuck Mangione) w/ Andrew Ford, Wesley Rustin and Kevin Gibson. M. Rossi, flute, alto flute, piccolo.
  9. Shiny Stockings(For Count Basie) w/ Andrew Ford, Wesley Rustin and Kevin Gibson. M. Rossi clarinet.
  • Cucciulitti-Snails of Fermo(fFor Umberto & Maria Bufalini) w/ William Haubrich, Andrew Ford, Wesley Rustin and Kevin Gibson. M. Rossi baritone sax.
  • Hilda(For friends in Norway & “Hildas” everywhere); w/ Andrew Ford. M. Rossi soprano sax.
  • Mra (For South Africa & Diane Rossi) w/ Marco Maritz, William Haubrich, Andrew Ford, Wesley Rustin and Kevin Gibson. M. Rossi tenor sax.

    Mike Rossi

Each track is a bona fide gem and tells the story in a way which even I can understand. As can be seen the musicians featured through this journey have worked with Mike for years and they show the respect they have for him through their playing. Thank you for sharing those personal moments from your life and passion with me as a listener and jazz lover it is truly appreciated. This album is going to take a lot to beat, and BTW I love the album cover, but Mike I don’t envy you the next time you head into the studio.

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CD Review – Brian Charette Groovin’ With Big G – by Dan Bilawsky of All About Jazz Website

Groovin’ With Big G was destined to come about. When a young Brian Charette was cutting his teeth on jazz piano gigs in his home state of Connecticut in the early ’90s, he wound up working dates with drummer George Coleman Jr. The two struck up a friendship, and Coleman’s encouragement helped Charette make the leap to New York a few years later. Coleman even let the budding pianist crash in his rehearsal studio for a spell.

https://www.allaboutjazz.com/groovin-with-big-g-brian-charette-steeplechase-records-review-by-dan-bilawsky.php?width=1280

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CD Review – By Eric Alan – The D.A.J.O (Darryl Andrews Jazz Orchestra) album Cape Town (2017)

D.A.J.O (Darryl Andrews Jazz Orchestra) Cape Town (2017) Album Cover

CD Review – By Eric Alan – The D.A.J.O (Darryl Andrews Jazz Orchestra) album Cape Town (2017)

I’ve really been fortunate throughout my broadcast career to meet and interact with so many great musicians from the entire global village, especially those from my own hometown and one such is Guitarist, Teacher, Conductor, Bandleader, Composer and Arranger Darryl Andrews. He is

closing in on retirement from the renowned South African College of Music, UCT’s Jazz Studies Program.

It is very pleasing to be able to write this review of his album, Cape Town by the D.A. Jazz Orchestra, whichhas finally been released. The most exciting aspect of this album is apart from a few of his own compositions it features the music of other equally well known Cape Town composers which include The Late Winston Mankunku Ngozi, The Late Errol Dyers, Professor Mike Campbell, Alvin Dyers and naturally Darryl Andrews too.

Bandleader Guitarist, Composer, Conductor, Producer and Teacher Darryl Andrews

The band includes some of his students and friends and in the woodwind section are alto-saxophone and clarinet players Justin Bellairs and Evan Froud, the tenor saxes are played by Zeke Le Grange and Sisonke Xonti, with baritone saxophonist Georgia Jones, The horn section comprises of: on trumpet and flugelhorn Lorenzo Blignaut and Marcelle Adams with Robin Fassie-Kok, and the trombonists includes Justin Sasman, Ryan van der Rheede, Kelly Bell and Ryan Kierman. The rhythm section includes pianist Andrew Ford with acoustic and electric bassist Stephen De Souza and drummer Lumanyno Unity Mzi.

The really heavy-duty work of conducting, composing, transcribing and arranging falling Darryl’s broad shoulders, whilst guest players include Prof Mike Campbell, and both of the Dyers brothers, as do vibraphonist Bronwen Clacherty and flautist Bridget Rene. Darryl is quoted as saying, “Jazz is always changing, and it evolves as we speak. We identified with it, being from oppressed people. Look what jazz was born out of, one of the greatest human atrocities – slavery.” This can be heard in countless composers works since the birth of jazz.

The album as a whole offers a new perspective to what an African Big Band when arranging and transcribing of the original works by Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Errol Dyers, Mike Campbell and Alvin Dyers. Giving a fresh new look at the iconic pieces chosen for the album. Darryl’s own compositions can certainly take pride of place alongside these classics many of which I’ve not heard before and again gives great pleasure to hear and know that his work will finally be heard by jazz lovers, specifically big band aficionados. More power to composing and recording more original material Mr Andrews don’t let us wait for your next offering too long, no matter the bands configuration.

I must add that I rate this album very highly. 4.8 Stars  out of 5 – This is an album that must be part of any self-respecting jazz lovers collection.

Track Listing

1 Khanya 6:20

2 Blue Natural 8:17

3 A Song For Bra Des Tutu 7:39

4 Hanepoot 4:21

5 Utopian Sunset 7:47

6 Sugar Shake 6:29

7 Imbodlomane 3:16

8 Wesley Street 4:06

9 Sermon 7:15

Please feel free to contact Darryl at either of the following; darryl.andrews@uct.ac.za or darryl.andrews@gmail.com  to get your own copy of this exciting album and when you email in your order be sure to ask him to autograph it for you.

The album is also available from iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/za/album/cape-town/1322945019 and a site I’m not too familiar and is a European based web site named Gobuz check it out at https://www.qobuz.com/ie-en/album/cape-town-darryl-andrews-jazz-orchestra/mjulev7phzkob

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CD REVIEW – Philipp Gropper’s Philm Live At Bimhuis by Eric Alan – 12 April 2018

Live At Bimhuis by Philipp Gropper’s Philm

Is jazz dead, I say emphatically no, but the late Frank Zappa said “Jazz isn’t dead. It just smells funny.” To go further “Life is a lot like jazz… it’s best when you improvise.” once said by George Gershwin. Also “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” as said by Louis Armstrong.
The world of jazz is really not as marginal as so many think and believe, yes jazz is also not as irrelevant in the world music as so many major record labels like to say, jazz does not sell. No, jazz is not a trivial voice in the wilderness of today’s music industry; it is a force to be reckoned with. Now here is a question, why are so many jazz musician first call session musicians around the world? Here’s something else to ponder, why are there so many independent jazz record labels releasing so many new jazz albums world wide? I mean so far this year we’ve been sent 484 new and re-issue Jazz, Blues, Latin and World jazz albums of all genres from all quarters of the world. Sjoe can you believe it so may released this year already. Any volunteers want to write some CD reviews? Since I’ve been in the broadcast business I’ve always said jazz sells. More than those “clever” executive flunkies at record labels think.

Wait a mo, you ask yourself where is the review, read on dear friends, it’s coming I promise. J

Jennifer Back contacted me from a German label I’d never heard of and she told me of the recording I’m now listening to titled Live At Bimhuis by Philipp Gropper’s Philm (WPJ041).

The German record label is WhyPlayJazz, naturally my inquisitive nature got the best of me so I had a quick look at their website and boy was I glad I did, suffice to say we will be featuring more from this very interesting lable in our program and on our playlists going forward.

Here is a bit about them I’ve taken from their website; WhyPlayJazz – the independent record label for contemporary jazz with a special focus on the Berlin scene. The record label from Greifswald with a passion for fine sound was called into existence in 2005. Roland Schulz founded his own record label out of fascination for this idiosyncratic music. There was so much to discover! WhyPlayJazz is looking at years of cooperation with musicians like Philipp Gropper, Uli Kempendorff, Benjamin Weidekamp and Wanja Slavin and is enriching the European jazz scene with its 40th release in 2018.

Philipp Gropper’s Philm Philipp Gropper – Robert Landfermann – Oliver Steidle – Elias Stemeseder photo by Frank Schemmann

Now the reason for all the above, though the album has been added to our playlist and I’ve feature tracks in the programming, it’s the first time I’m listening to the album in it’s entirety since receiving the album three weeks ago.

On first impression there is a lot of freedom and huge responsibility given by bandleader Philipp Gropper to his band mates. It has been a very pleasant surprise to listen to as each track takes one into a world of exciting improvisational mastery. It challenges, enthrals and showcases far wider musical influences offering a worldly perspective giving one pause for thought and reflection. It is an album that must be added to ones collection. I can recommend this album highly and look forward to hearing more and sharing music by Philipp Gropper’s Philm and the many other artists on the WhyPlayJazz record label.

The line-up is made up of Philipp Gropper (tenor sax, composition), Elias Stemeseder (piano, synthesizer), Robert Landfermann (bass), Oliver Steidle (drums)

It was recorded July 30th, 2017 by Marc Schots at the famous BIMHUIS, in Amsterdam (Netherlands and was mixed and mastered by Martin Ruch at Control Room Berlin (Germany). Design and artwork by Travassos.

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Jazz trumpeter, Feya Faku, knights drummer Jeff Siegel’s Quartet in kingly fashion in “King of Xhosa” CD.

Feya Faku, trumpet; Jeff 'Siege' Siegel, drums

Feya Faku, trumpet; Jeff ‘Siege’ Siegel, drums

American drummer, Jeff Siegel, has discovered and gleefully responded to the beckoning African sounds from a musical ‘king’ of the Xhosa people in South Africa, trumpet and fugelhorn wizard, Feya Faku. For those who know him, Faku is known to carry himself certainly in a kingly, but humble, way with the various peers he has played with around the world. As special artist on Siegel’s latest album, “King of Xhosa”, he has indeed knighted Siegel’s Quartet with stunning applause and African sound dimensions that are very special. Both musicians have benefited as teachers of jazz in their respective countries which might explain how the multi-faceted songs landed in this album, with lots of sharing of compositions amongst band members: Erica Lindsay presents her sonorous tenor saxophone on most tracks; pianist Francesca Tanksley keeps the pace, sometimes with a heavy bottom clef or whimsical treble runs, as in her ‘Prayer’; and bassist Rich Syracuse, also a professor, holds the backline tightly, with percussionist Fred Berryhill filling in with samba and other African rhythms.

Xhosa-cover-web

This eclectic album, released this January 2017 by Artists Recording Collective label, starts and ends with Africanness, thanks to Faku’s praise vocals in the beginning ‘Totem’ and Berryhill’s percussion at the end song ‘Umngqungqo (Rhythm)’. In between, the album boasts a mosaic of impressions: open sonic spaces of the South African countryside with Faku’s fugelhorn brilliantly invoking spiritual calling and elephant roars, as in ‘Call to Spirits’; post-bebop tributes to struggling musicians, as in Tanksley’s ‘Life on the Rock’; unattended heros, like Faku’s teachers who gave so much towards cultural growth in others, as in the duo, ‘Courage’ and ‘Unsung’. The latter soulfully presents that familiar Faku touch strengthened by an eloquent Siegel drum solo.

But it’s the prayerful, spiritual nature of mood and message that grabs as Faku weaves his horn’s melodies through solemn chats with Lindsay’s saxophone, as in the thought-provoking ‘Prayer’, which is Siegel’s favourite song on the album.

Erica Lindsay. Courtesy: Francesca-11

Erica Lindsay. Courtesy: Francesca-11

Faku continues to develop his spiritual soundscape by wandering mournfully through “Ballad of the Innocent”, a beautifully crafted piece by Siegel written after the Brussels bombing. It speaks to a need for reflective quietude so that humanity can realize peace and hope for a better world. One hears the pain and struggle for this through Faku’s sensitive manoeuvres as he reverently enhances the mood through conversations with the tenor saxophone. His familiar signature tone is heard also in a ballad-soothing, ‘Inner Passion’, which both Faku and Siegel agree all musicians must have to drive their musicality.

Siegel’s drums set the pace in ‘Gotta Get To It’, an upbeat message after a lilting slow ballad. One hears Coltrane influences from saxophonist and educator Lindsay who penned this piece, which explains her love for bop. The sax and trumpet make carefree play, frolicking very nicely over the keys and rhythms. Once appropriately woken up from a musical slumber, the album intersects with fast beats dominated by Siegel’s skilled percussive direction, like in the salsa inspired “Erica’s Bag”.

Francesca Tanksley

Francesca Tanksley

Feya Faku not only boasts a distinctly clear and relatively uncomplicated sound with clean runs and tonation on his instruments, but also continually activates his intuitive ears which enable him to collaborate with so many other greats. He cannot be ‘compared’ with others; his uniqueness, both in musical mechanics, spirit, and technique can best be measured by the honesty of delivery he gives to so many of his albums. This album shines with Faku’s integrity. And it’s Afro-fusion has rubbed off on the Jeff Siegel Quartet in very special ways.

"King of Xhosa" Jeff Siegel Quartet with Feya Faku

“King of Xhosa” Jeff Siegel Quartet with Feya Faku

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“Take Another Five”(2016): The Mike Rossi Project takes Odd Rhythmic Improv Journeys

The great jazz legend, Dave Brubeck, and reconciliation leader, Nelson Mandela, both men passing on 5 December one year apart (2012 and 2013 respectively), are memorialized in this latest album orchestrated by Professor Mike Rossi of Jazz Studies in the South African College of Music, University of Capetown. For students and professionals alike, or even for the timid uninitiated, it is a study in ‘odd’ rhythms* built upon Rossi’s publications which feature works in 5/4, 7/4, and 9/4 ‘time’. Pleasing sonic innovations abound.

Album cover by Capetown artist, Beezy Bailey

Album cover by Capetown artist, Beezy Bailey

Melodies ooze as one journeys through samba-scapes to infectious New Orleans dixie to memories of youth in the family barbershop, continuing on to an Italian village that hand makes the Rampone & Cazzani saxophones which Rossi so diligently markets, then to everyday life in South Africa since Rossi’s arrival in 1989. Resting in South Africa, Rossi gives tribute to South African-born wife, Diane, in a song which references ‘uncommon’ bebop performed in his doctoral recitals after they married. A quirky trip with a Czech orchestra performing a Peter Farmer concertino rounds out this multi-rhythmic compilation of Rossi compositions plus others’. Excitement abounds in every piece.

With a stellar band lineup of four horn players, plus baseline, the album threads through impressive and mostly clean solo scale runs, some challenging part harmonies and chats between the horns, and the skilful piano backup of Andrew Ford whose Nut House Studios recorded the live segments of the album in April 2016.

Mike Rossi at The Crypt

Mike Rossi at The Crypt

Besides Rossi’s various Rampone saxophones, plus clarinet and flute, Willy Haubrich’s trombone excelled in both range and technique. Likewise, guest artist Darren English, a young Capetonian trumpet wizard, fresh from United States gig runs, leaves one spellbound with his endless confidence. National Youth Jazz Band trumpeter/flugelhornist, Marco Maritz, shows great promise as well. The solid drums of seasoned Kevin Gibson predictably complement well. The double bass of Charles Lazar remained quieter and more layback in what essentially is a horn-dominated album.

The first track, “Take Another Five”, elegantly follows on the Dave Brubeck ‘Take Five’ tradition of 5/4 time, and was motivated by a tour with son Darius Brubeck’s band after the deaths of both legends. Rossi’s world tours with the likes of Darius inspired other Rossi tunes, like “To and Fro” with some fast and fearless runs by all three horns in sometimes erratic unison. The 9/4 samba rhythm supported by Gibson’s faithful drumming is dizzying, and further executed by English’s unrelenting scale runs. The rare flute adds rhythmic harmonies, but not enough.

A Rossi favourite Billy Strayhorn piece, ”Lush Life”, features his tenor sax in a careful, slow sonic duo with Ford’s relatively steady piano. Then ‘Nicholas’, a tribute to Rossi’s godson and written in Rossi’s family barbershop offers lots of clean solos with Ford’s tinkling piano, a conversational trombone, and lovely horn arrangements, all remarkably orderly. Rossi solos on the altello saxophone which gives out pleasantly rich and full-bodied tones.

Enter a New Orleans flavour in “Seven from Heaven”, Rossi starts out on clarinet that teases and moves to tenor sax, followed by a funky bop that connotes a New Orleans funereal romp that morfs into a joyful Dixie swing commemorating the deceased. The party has begun! Another tribute to the hand made saxophone craftsmanship takes us to Quarna Sotto, Italy, in “Quarna On My Mind”.

Darren English

Darren English

It’s like listening to villagers chatting: English’s breathless trumpet solo is followed by Rossi’s tenor sax which is followed by Haubrich’s chatty trombone which is followed by….. The horns then regroup in this challenging piece, and produce a fluid and pleasing resolve. Having said that, all three horns must run together again in “Beauty and the Blues”, through tidy harmonies, distinct trumpet statements, and phrases spewing boppish appeal. One of the few double bass solos by Lazar, hardly audible, breaks up the excited horn wah wahs which still remain subtlety enticing in their three part harmonies. What sounds like a difficult piece turns into a sensitively crafted and well-rehearsed soundscape engaging to the ear.

Haubrick, Maritz, and Rossi at Native Yards, Gugulethu;  Dec 2016

Haubrick, Maritz, and Rossi at Native Yards, Gugulethu; Dec 2016

The saxophone remains supreme. “Lament for N.S.M.” presents Rossi’s (New Saxophone Music) tribute to the peace and harmony (of the sax) that can refine our madly rushed lives. Likewise, “Saxophone (s) Plus One” breaks with tradition again: Rossi plays his four saxes creatively dubbed to the often percussive electronic backing of Ulrich Suesse with whom Rossi collaborated in their 2008 album. Here, sax versatility hums with verve and pizazz – if one likes the atonality of electronic wisps.

“Lady Di”, dedicated to wife of 26 years, is a study in chromatic language set into various recitals, publications, and teachings on meter shifts over time, starting with Rossi’s doctoral incarceration from the mid-1990s at Boston’s Conservatory of Music. Trade offs are bartered individually as each instrument spars for recognition, particularly Rossi’s tenor. Then the song becomes melodic as horns frolic amongst themselves. A delightful tempered piece.

The album ends on a different note: a previous recording of Rossi performing, with the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, a piece by Peter Farmer entitled, “Concertino for Tenor Saxophone and Orchestra”. As a symphonic guide to the sax, this piece which comes from a hymn expresses what Rossi might applaud as transformative and introspective ‘’odd time” with a bluesy feel, or some such thing. Whatever the analysis, this album features innovation, exceptionalism, and what this writer simplistically would call, “just good ole unconventional jazz”!

The Mike Rossi Project: Take Another Five is dedicated to Dave Brubeck and Nelson Mandela and
features Andrew Ford (piano), Kevin Gibson (drums), Charles Lazar (double bass), William Haubrich (trombone) and Marco Maritz (trumpet & fugelhorn) with special guest Darren English (trumpet). Mike Rossi plays baritone, tenor, alto, altello, and soprano saxophone, clarinet and flute.

Publication 'Odd Times"

Publication ‘Odd Times”

 

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Pan-African Live Jazz sizzles at Grahamstown: A CD Review

This is mixed African music at its best. ‘Live at Grahamstown’ features a world-renowned South African duo of multi-instrumental specialist Pops Mohamed, and his faithful side-kick, Dave Reynolds on steel pan and acoustic guitar.

A Traveling Pair - Dave Reynolds & Pops Mohamed

A Traveling Pair – Dave Reynolds & Pops Mohamed

In this live performance at the 2015 Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown, they are backed by another impressive array of world-class musicians: Capetown-born Tony Cedras adds rhythm and texture with his accordion, guitar, and trumpet; Mozambique-born Frank Paco is no stranger on the percussion and drum scene; and Congolese singer/songwriter Sylvain Baloubeta punctuates all songs with his electric bass and falsetto vocals. In fact, all musicians sing and harmonize on this exciting album which melds African indigenous sounds and rhythms with contemporary expressions and improvisation.

Dave Reynolds & Pops Mohamed

Dave Reynolds & Pops Mohamed

All musicians carry not only highly experienced musical weight but a faithfulness to fundamental African beats and bites that they have grown up with. The album moves from earthy messages to past and present blessings to the inevitable spiritual conclusions of life. How better to do this than with blended accordion-steelpan-kora sounds of the soul. Cudos go to Pops Mohamed who wrote the musical score for the South African-made film, The Whale Caller, which recently won an award for Best African Film at this month’s Johannesburg Film Festival.

‘Hands in the Sand’ starts the journey with lovely mellow harmonies from all musicians, almost like settling into their early mission to create harmony. To realize mission, one needs to dream so here enters a brief introduction of the kora, which swings handsomely into a South African swing in ‘Ons Gaan Huis Toe’. Cedras’s accordion presents that familiar morabi sound, steadied by Baloubeta’s electric bass. One feels the home-grown texture of this danceable song.

Dave Reynolds with Tony Cedras, accordion

Dave Reynolds with Tony Cedras, accordion

Throughout the album, Mohamed speaks poetry, both literally and musically. ‘Welcome to the Future’ starts with the soothing relief of the rain stick and his vocals, with earthy undertones held nicely by Reynolds’ equally calming steelpan. This is truly a peace song for the future, for unborn babies, referencing a list of sterling world leaders who have delivered. It’s a refreshing memorial to what can be, as it welcomes the next song on the album, ‘Spirit’. The band manages to engage the audience as they clap into the future, accompanied by a profoundly spiritual buzz from Cedras’s accordion which brings on more applause. More Khoisan vocals and poetry from Mohamed at the end adds further release of the spirit.

Now, we are only half way into the album, and already sniffing a touch of nirvana.

A ghoema swing takes off by Reynolds in ‘Malay Jam’ and awakens that dancing spirit. This moving piece reeks of Cape rhythms, as does ‘Breakfast Ghoema’ as the Reynolds and Cedras swing their way joyfully and energetically to start a new day.  Have we entered nirvana yet?

The album ends with two songs, ‘‘Never Again’, with Mohamed’s African mbira with the Cedras accordion and vocal harmonies which spin the listener softly and delightfully onto another sonic plane. A soft duo of Kora and steelpan in ‘Song for Jos’ brings closure to this eclectic and ambitious album, transporting the listener to another part of Africa, with fond memories about what talents abound among touring South Africans and their pan-African bands.

Reynolds with bassist Sylvain Baloubeta

Reynolds with bassist Sylvain Baloubeta

This album is a winner! Don’t miss its launches this weekend:

Friday, 11 November – KMA Soiree, Hout Bay (021 790 4457 bookings)
Saturday, 12 November – Blue Bird Garage, Muizenberg (evening)
Sunday, 13 November – Guga S’thebe, Langa (afternoon)

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Jazz trumpeter Darren English imagines hope in debut album “Imagine Nation”, with tributes to Nelson Mandela

Capetownian trumpeter, Darren English, kicks off his debut album by Hot Shoe Records (2016) with an original, “Imagine Nation”, a call to youth to make a better day! The first of a three part suite, it’s a melodic song mostly in the minor keys, and shows Darren’s wide range of tones on his trumpet.

imagine-nation-by-darren-english

Nostalgically, I still  ‘imagine’ those Monday night jazz jam sessions at Cape Town’s Swingers when 15 year old Darren, wearing his Beatles hairdo, and always accompanied by his indefatigably supportive father, Trevor,  would silence the packed crowd by his trumpet wizardry. We knew we had another South African catch of a musician who would go places. Indeed he has, 11 years later, cutting this debut album, after having finished his Master’s degree at Georgia State University in Atlanta where he continues to teach jazz studies and perform with various groups in USA. Hence, my affectionate ‘Darren’ reference.

“Body and Soul” presents a rather interesting start with a duo between a bowed double bass and Darren’s muted trumpet. It seems he has deliberately made his trumpet sound flat, confident, no frills technique, no vibratos. A simple rendition of an ole classic.

Smooth runs characterize Darren’s offerings as he faultlessly scales his instrument’s prowess with dignity and pureness. You’d think he’s been playing for decades!

The faster paced “Bebop”, a Dizzy Gillespie classic, displays a fluid trumpet with clean runs and boppish attitude. Drums and bass click away, heralding Darren’s pace, with a lovely solo by bassist Billy Thorton. The even faster paced “What a Little Moonlight Can Do’ introduces Grammy song lark, Atlanta-based Carmen Bradford, who shows off her impressive credentials behind her bebop vocals. I hesitate to compare such uniqueness with other greats, but I must say, her scat, tonation, and jazzy pitch brings about memories of Carmen McRae and Nancy Wilson for me. Her mood control in “Skylark” excelled.

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The album mellows its pace with a moving and emotional presentation of Nelson Mandela’s wise words from radio interviews, as he brought South Africa’s democracy forward, with advice. ‘Pledge for Peace’, a second Darren original as part of the ‘Imagine Nation’ theme, supports imagining a nation leading a peaceful parade towards responsible freedoms. This song carefully mixes interviews with interplays between trumpet and tenor sax, all which fill the sound space with sunshine and hope, but with caution.

Midway in the album is the third song of the ‘Imagine Nation’ theme, “The Birth” which appropriately describes Darren’s longing for a new nation free of the apartheid past. A long piece, almost 12 minutes, it contains impressive trumpet runs, syncopation with rhythmic gaps of sound, off beats, behind beats, etc. Greg Tardy’s tenor sax is electric. This piece is full of conversation, dipping a lot into fast bebop, then softer slower ballad moods punctuated with horn dialogues….signifying no births are ‘easy’ or smooth. A very ambitious original.

Kenny Banks, Jr’s piano in the Frank Loesser song, “I’ve Never Been in Love Before”, provides classic bebop thrills along side Darren’s muted and even accompaniment . This duo piece is a real hit in the album!

“Bullet in the Gunn”, another original and a tribute to another trumpet mentor, Russsell Gunn, features blistering trade-offs between Darren’s trumpet and the wailing sax of Greg Tardy in occasionally frantic conversations.

The last track, “Cherokee”, presents fast runs by each musician, feasting on and sparring with each other’s energies, but they tended to blend into one men-otanous sound piece for me. I’m not one for blaring horns, but I felt these frantic snorts turned a reputable classic into a blah blah race run. On the other hand, having heard Joe Gransden’s trumpet at jazz jams in Atlanta several years ago, which the younger Darren also attended, it is obvious that Gransden’s style and wit has firmly rubbed off onto Darren’s technique. The two men simply gel and Darren knows it, and is proud to have such a mentor.

Darren-English-Harley-sepia

Darren English remains a formidable ‘young gun’ far beyond just South Africa’s jazz scene, and has been blessed with craft and skills to carry him holistically into a successful future. I am also very proud to say that Darren’s success carries with it a notable humility, yet adventure, in learning to be better. Just better! Watch his space!

See my December 2014 blurb: http://www.alljazzradio.co.za/2014/12/04/carol-martin-chat-with-cape-jazz-trumpeter-darren-english/
The album features: Darren English (tpt); Kenny Banks Jr. (pno); Billy Thornton (bs); Chris Burroughs (dms) + Carmen Bradford (vcl); Greg Tardy (tenor sax); Russell Gunn (tpt); Joe Gransden (tpt).

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Acoustically tripping with Deep South’s Skillan and Ledbetter in Heartland

Skillan and Ledbetter’s Deep South brings “acoustic ‘trip folk’ with a hint of jazz, African groove and Nordic precision” to their latest Heartland album. And what a treat, just released on 1 October 2015 !! Multi-instrumentalist Dave Ledbetter and the percussive talents of Ronan Skillan (table, udu, percussion, didgeridoo, and hybrid kit) are adequately supported by several Swedish artists, with whom the two South Africans have worked over the years. Heartland offers hauntingly melodic compositions by guitarist Dave Ledbetter, all with a nordic acoustic twist of musical imagination.

Skillan, Ledbetter with Björn Meyer in Bern

Skillan, Ledbetter with Björn Meyer in Bern

Recorded and co-produced in Bern, Switzerland, thanks to Swiss Arts Council (Pro Helvetia) supports, the artists include: Fredrik Gille on riq, frame drum, and percussion. He specialises in flamenco and Arabic percussion. Watch a wonderful display of his frame drum solo at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wREUu1U_hs.   Jan Galega Brönnimann on bass clarinet and Samuel Würgler on trumpet and flugelhorn and co-producer bassist Björn Meyer make up this stellar artist line-up.

This album starts off with an engaging one-note strum in ‘Little Dan’ and moves with different rhythms from Ledbetter’s piano which becomes copied by his guitar. Ripples and waves of sounds ooze from flamenco castanets, Ronen’s percussions, back to that one note addiction, muted strings…. And that’s just the beginning!

Those of us who have listened to Ledbetter over the ages will hear his familiar tunes, always performed differently depending on the ‘Spaces Between Places’, as this tune suggests.

Deep South Heartland CD cover

Deep South Heartland CD cover

 

In ‘Harbour Intro’, I hear echoes of several depths of Ledbetter’s guitar which, for me, symbolizes looking at the calm ripples of sea waters at the shore, looking southwards. Sounds reverberate as they swing into ‘Harbour’ with Ledbetter’s joyful guitar. Percussions add that folksy element and move into poppish 4/4 beats. Ledbetter’s harmonic chords are rarely jarring.

‘Forest Road’ is named after a major road leading into central Nairobi. This sleepy ballad brings out the breathy bass clarinet of Jan Gelega Brönnimann which harmonizes with Ledbetter’s soft rhythmic scenes. How often do you hear a bass clarinet in folk/jazz? This is a favourite piece!

Now that the listener has settled back and become very relaxed, the ear starts its journey towards realizing nirvana. The next tracks on this eclectic, soothing album, present soundscapes reminiscent of ‘nordic’ meditation, like in ‘Moonchild’, with a clear and crisp trumpet of Samuel Würgler. We move on to an Indian groove, ‘Awagawan’, which has a most unusual collaboration between Skillan’s didgeridoo with tabla overtones and Brönnimann’s whispering bass clarinet. This is just a whopping super treat on the album, plain and simple ! This Indian spiritual belief of Awagawan says that only good Karma can liberate us from The Wheel of Eighty-Four, or the cycle of ‘Awagawan’. The song is a tribute to the late, greatly missed Gito Baloyi who was murdered on the streets on Johannesburg, and was a stunning guitarist team member of Tenanas. It connotes the karmic birth and rebirth of style, form and sound, as well as deed, in our lives. Beware: don’t repeat actions which produce recurring sufferings in your lives!

‘Gone but Not Forgotten’ follows as the karmic journey continues. This is the longest song on the album, has lots to say, so one can easily meditate on the soft, slow nuances. Sometimes funereal, the wistful conversations between all four instruments hold attention and purpose. Listen carefully because towards the end, there’s a wonderful trumpet surprise. All is not forgotten!

‘Clovelly’ offers a bluesy jazz twist to this delightful song led by Ledbetter’s piano. Just when I thought my mind and spirit would have been cleansed of all evil karmic intentions, after the previous meditative offerings, along comes ‘Time Out’. Yes, I need that! This one’s for the body, I guess. Another slow, stereophonic tone poem which tunes the ear, certainly relaxes muscles, and celebrates with a higher registered bass clarinet, unique in all ways.

This is acoustic at its best, a blend of jazz, folk, funk and blues across global spectrums!

ALBUM LAUNCH!!
Don’t miss the South African launch of Heartland on 14 November 2015 at 7.30pm
Where: The Reeler Theatre at Rondebosch Boys’ High School
– Canigou Avenue, Rondebosch, Cape Town
How much: R100 on Quicket or R120 at the door

Highly reputable South African musicians join, like regular Deep South bassist, Shaun Yohannes, and JHB-based trumpeter Marcus Wyatt of ‘Language 12’.    What could be better?

Heartland CD Launch

Heartland CD Launch

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Robert Glasper visits his favourites while Nduduzo Makhathini sings his own songs – but both pianists have the music covered AUGUST 23, 2015

sisgwenjazz Blog

Sis Gwen Ansell

Sis Gwen Ansell

A long time ago – well, around the early 1990s – jazz performances in Joburg often featured more than their fair share of covers. They were usually covers of South African originals: Laukutshon’Ilanga, Nytilo Ntyilo and the like. Nevertheless, it is easy to forget now how dramatic has been the explosion in the past quarter-century of new, original, local repertoire. These days, a stage version of Laukutshon’Ilanga at somewhere like The Orbit is a rarity; to succeed, artists don’t just need their own sound and skill, they need their own music too.

Listening to the Ground

Listening to the Ground

Pianist Nduduzo Makathini is in no danger of failing that test. To his two 2014 albums Mother Tongue and Sketches of Tomorrow, he has now added a 16-track double album, Listening to the Ground (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/nduduzomakhathini3 ). It is a big collection not only in scope and imagination, but also in sound. Makhathini’s core trio – on this outing comprising Magne Thormodsæter on bass and longtime companion Ayanda Sikade on drums – is augmented by other impressive voices, including reedman Karl-Martin Almqvist, trumpeter Robin Fassie Kock, percussionist el Hadj Ngari Ndong and the voice of Omagugu Makhathini.

Nduduzo Makhathini. Credit: Standard Bank

Nduduzo Makhathini. Credit: Standard Bank

The material ranges widely, from the richly patterned pan-African groove of Lagos Blues and King Fela to the disassembled and reconstructed mbaqanga of From an Old Bag of Mkhumbane, with stops at church, traditional community, avant-garde jazz club and family along the way.

Makhathini is a highly individual composer. While the rolling, sombre introduction to Supreme Light reminds us that the inspirational shadow of Abdullah Ibrahim is never too far from any South African pianist, the rest of the tune goes in a very different, edgier direction. For You is a classic mid-paced ballad that might have been written to get dancers out on the floor. It also shows off nicely the pianist’s virtuosity. As for the Mkhumbane tune, when I heard it live it did get the dancers out for some far more old-school South African revels, and looks set fair to become an audience-request favourite.

Listening to the Ground feels more polished than the 2014 releases – one of the advantages that the resources of the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz award brings is time to concentrate on the music. To underline that point, the album revisits an earlier track, Imvunge for two minutes of intense, helter-skelter exploration that distills the essence of that quirky theme. As both player and composer, Makhathini is now a formidable force in new South African music, and this album should be travelling far and wide to announce that fact.

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Robert Glasper's new album Covered (Blue Note)

Robert Glasper’s new album Covered (Blue Note)

While South African players are reveling in the freedom to compose for their own recordings, American pianist Robert Glasper has made his latest release, Covered (Blue Note) the occasion – as its title implies – to visit music from some other people as well as himself. In a straight-up jazz trio format, he works with bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Damion Reid: the players with whom he launched his Blue Note jazz career a decade ago, before he gathered a hip-hop following too.

The dozen-song selection is eclectic (“A mix of new and old songs that I love,” Glasper calls them), from old chestnut Stella by Starlight to I Don’t Even Care from Black Radio 2, from Joni Mitchell to Radiohead, and more. Most beautiful for me was Glasper’s version of Jhene Aiko Chilombo’s The Worst, which you can sample on Glasper’s website at http://www.robertglasper.com More bits of cover material pop up in his own In Case You Forgot, peppered with quotes including Time After Time.

It doesn’t really matter what genre label you hang around Glasper’s neck, he is a sensitive and imaginative player who always follows the most intriguing paths a tune presents. I Don’t Even Care is here a fragile packet of musical surprises; In Case You Forgot, almost a fugue. By contrast Stella has been, in his own words “flipped and re-harmonised to make it more digestible.” It sounds like one of the old masters – maybe Bill Evans? – except…not. It’s definitely Glasper, creating from a 1944 tune something that 2015 audiences can feel.

There are voices on the album too. Glasper treats the gig as if he were in an intimate club, conversing with the audience, taking on board a self-aware rap about survival from elder statesman Harry Belafonte, and orchestrating the conscious, poignant, children’s voices that interlock on I’m Dying of Thirst, the final track: a protest against the racist waste of African-American lives.

Glasper has spoken (http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/06/robert-glasper-covered-interview ) of the beauty he finds in repetition and simplicity. This album has both: the repetition of groove and intricate patterning, and the simplicity of a gorgeous, un-ornamented piano line that can break your heart.

Robert Glasper

Robert Glasper

“I missed the piano,” Glasper has said. “I feel like people forget I’m a piano player.” They never could, but in some of those more texturally crowded (and essentially collective) hip-hop contexts, our ears had to search for his sound. For those of us who missed those beautiful lines, Covered inspires a heartfelt ‘Welcome back’.

Composing, and interpreting music composed by another, are two different musical skills. Not every player has both in equal measure. Coltrane or Miles Davis could make you hear a simple, silly pop tune in a startlingly fresh way, with a wholly different emotional impact, through interpretation alone (watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bga8gFkDLIg ). So while we revel in the compositional riches that a player such as Makathini can bring us, Glasper’s album is a welcome reminder that we need to cherish our great interpreters too.

 

For more go to www.sisgwenjazz.wordpress.com

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Mike del Ferro’s “The Johannesburg Sessions”, a CD Review by C. Martin

Here comes another improvisational jewel of an album from Dutchman Mike del Ferro, whose piano keys, heart, and well-versed skills combine traditional South African sounds with electronic wizardry of fellow band members, all South African. Challenge Records is offering this third album, “The Johannesburg Sessions”, as part of a 10-album series that present del Ferro’s “songs inspired by wandering the globe”. His South African experience of absorbing local jazz sounds, rural and urban rhythms, and musings with traditional healers has produced another magically enlightening study in sound. Like his recent workshop “Working in Sound” at the March 2015 SAJE conference (South African Association for Jazz Education), del Ferro explores how electronic effects open up avenues for compositions which wed the traditional human and animal sounds with contemporary improvisation. More about that later.

The Johannesburg Sessions

Cover: “The Johannesburg Sessions”

The album is filled with Zulu and Xhosa vocal chants (from Zulu singer Mbuso Khoza) mixed with electronica of bassist/composer Carlo Mombelli, and punctuated with African rhythmic sounds of drummer Kesivan Naidoo and percussionist Thebe Lipere. It opens with a lilting Zulu song, “Smomondiya”, about a beautiful Zulu woman. One hears Khoza’s falsetto voice enamoured with her image. “Ntylo Ntylo” followed by “Goema on Saturday” ring familiar to the local popular song and Cape rhythms. Naidoo kicks off in characteristic goema style with del Ferro’s piano chords and phrases and Khoza’s vocal chants announcing the joyful street dances and parades reminiscent of the January Cape Carnival.
“Umlolozelo” is an absolutely beautiful traditional Zulu ballad, presented skilfully by Khoza’s gentle and wide soprano voice range as is his other slow ballad, “Imbusise” meaning ‘Lord bless the work of my hands’. An interesting 12/8 improvisation is “Twelfish” with familiar worldly percussive effects but fundamentally African. The final songs feature Khoza’s tributes to his cultural kingdoms of old, of the late 1870s Zulu King Cetshwayo’s reign with original scores by del Ferro in “Leyla” and “Mpushini”, which is a melodic del Ferro song with Khoza spoken lyrics about the river that runs next to his native village in KZN. It ends the album on a meditative note.

My favourite on the album comes in the middle: “The Mosquito Loop” is fun. The mozzie buzz is always there, glittering with the electronic effects of bassist Mombelli playing with his pedals as he enjoys doing. There is something ‘traditional’ (in keeping with the album’s otherwise African sounds) about the ever-present and monotonous mosquito buzz as the piano echoes in short phrases as the percussion taps out energy and the drum rolls crescendo (Naidoo’s signature method) just as the mozzie lands. The psychedelic electronica merges as mozzie flies away happy! This is a fascinating study in pedal loop improvisation – just make sure your stereophonic range is well tuned.

I can’t wait to hear the subsequent 7 albums yet to come in this 10-part masterful series of global sounds.

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Del Ferro is also a master of improvisation workshops as exhibited in several ‘shops’ I attended in March.  Nobuhle Mazinyane, a 16 year old Grade 11 student at Groote Schuur High School, played her own composition at Mike’s workshop “Working in Sound” on 30 March 2015.

Mike del Ferro coaching Nobuhle Mazinyane

Mike del Ferro coaching Nobuhle Mazinyane

“Try to give each note more or less the same value. The stretch of your hand – one note in the chord can make a big difference.” He explained how the electronic keyboard can guide one’s composition with the different harmonies and sounds (like scat). “With the Roland (keyboard), I play different harmonies because the overtones change. I never use the ‘piano’ sound on the electric piano. Trick is to send a note behind the bar, a syncopation….”

In his other workshop, “Self management and networking for musicians”, he advises: “It is essential for starting (and non starting) musicians to have the right organizational and networking skills in order to create a successful career in music”.” Don’t wait too late to learn these skills. Network your sounds: “….12/8 and 6/8 time – you hear this in Senegal and South Africa. There are lots of inspirations from African rhythms and traditions.”

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Mike del Ferro’s dizzying schedule of ‘wandering the globe’ can be seen on his website, www.mikedelferro.com, along with a multitude of video clips that offer armchair travelers an array of those globalized sounds ala Mike.

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Contemplating with Lara Solnicki: a CD Review of her “Whose Shadows?” by C Martin

While listening to “Whose Shadow?”, I marvel at the wealth of lyrics, messages, and the clear vibrato pitch which singer and composer, Lara Solnicki, gives to her chosen songs. No wonder! She has married her love of poetry with music. Her classical operatic training as a Verdian soprano melds nicely with her verbal creative side which authors and re-produces an exciting array of lyrics definitely worthy of the listener’s ear. Toronto-born daughter of filmmaker/author parents, Solnicki released this self-produced second album in March 2014; it became #1 on Radio Canada’s jazz charts following its Montreal launch in December 2014.

LaraSolnicki_WhoseShadow_500px

Her book of poems and experimental prose, “Disassembled Stars” (Lyrical Myrical Press) was published in 2006, and her poems continue to be read in Canadian and international magazines. Perhaps it was her poetic improvisational tendency that led her down the contemporary jazz lane. Besides her private voice teaching Solnicki continues to play in jazz circuits within Canada and beyond, when time allows.

“Whose Shadow?” presents a splash of lyrics with a Jodi Mitchell feel. But it’s Solnicki’s wide vocal range and crisp diction that delivers a highly melodic and soothing musical experience. One warning: like the title suggests, the songs move through misty, sombre, and at times, gloomy soundscapes, but carried by her respectable timbre. It’s about shadows….

‘Sunset’ is a Kate Bush song of iridescence, remembering the day’s activities and praising its crimson-turned-rust end, as the sax seems to hail in this display of colour which frizzles as dusk prepares us to bed down.

Several octaves are reached on ‘Freedom Dance’ and ‘Jim the Dancer’. In the latter, John Johnson’s bass clarinet, in a thoughtful melancholy, steers this sultry melody as the Dancer follows suit, hitting some high notes and displaying the instrument’s equally wide range as does Solnicki’s voice. A jewel of a song. ‘La Flute Enchantee’, sung in French, swings into a fast bebop featuring a masterful piano and double bass duet, then a flute punctuation with bird-like replies. Solnicki’s vocals takes us mystically into nature’s nuances in this wonderful song, my favourite on the album.

‘Music for a While’ has a classical direction with an operatic pull, influenced by Ravel and Purcell, perhaps. In ‘A Timeless Place (The Peacocks)’, a Jimmy Rowles song, this is not an easy climb through intricately weaving tonal scales and pithy lyrics. At best, Solnicki shows she can dare!

And it’s with lyrics that Solnicki also excels, picking uneasy, scaly messages which can at best be humbly chewed. For instance, in ‘Shades of Scarlett Conquering’, a Joni Mitchell song, we hear the ‘deep complaint’ in her . ‘Mercy Street’, a Peter Gabriel song, offers another melancholy, considering the collaboration on lyrics by Norma Winstone , messages which I personally have difficulty understanding. (I guess I’m a Joni Mitchell fan.} For me, it is a sad song, with added mourning by flautist Johnson; yet sung by Solnicki with perfect emotion and restraint. Of all Gabriel’s other stellar songs, I wonder why Solnicki picked this one…..It is only for us to wonder……

The album concludes with ‘I’ll Remember April’ as we feel Solnicki’s breathy voice with soft vibrato and pleasantly gentle pitch of voice at high ranges. This is what makes this album very listenable, coupled with a playfulness of poetry improvising on sound. She story-tells through whispers. But it’s bassist George Koller, himself an award winner and producer of this album, who choreographs the songs so eloquently along with the singer. Together, with a stellar cast of Canadian musicians all known for their quality, they all made me smile, swoon, gloom a bit, and search for my own shadow……

The Band is composed of: Lara Solnicki – vocals; John Johnson- saxophones, bass clarinet, flute; Mark Kieswetter – piano, rhodes; George Koller – acoustic and electric bass; Ted Quinlan – guitar; Nick Frasier – drums; Lena Allemano – trumpet; Ernie Tollar – bansuri flute; Davide DiRenzo – percussion

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Hiromi Uehara “The Trio Project”: CD REVIEW by Carol Martin

Hiromi Uehara “The Trio Project” - Hiromi Alive

Hiromi Uehara “The Trio Project” – Hiromi Alive

Hiromi Uehara “The Trio Project” – Hiromi Alive

One of the most emotion-evoking pianist magnets I know in our jazz era, 35 year old Japanese impresario Hiromi gives us another ranting, rhythmic, and even romantic album on her “Hiromi Live”. If you listen on [good quality] headphones, you will quickly develop a dizzy adrenaline rush, just on her first song, “Alive”. Her left bass hand is heavy, but lilts into softer, kinder melodic ballads. Even the song titles of this album explain Hiromi’s progression on life. “Dreamer” is the most beautiful on the album, spinning the listener into a trance-like meditation. “Seeker” has an easy bluesy swing with a tinge of funk and humour.

But it’s her drummer, Simon Phillips, who fills all the stereophonic spaces with various drum rolls, taps, rumbles, and pulses. Your head reels now. In fact, he makes this album. Drums tend to dominate amongst Hiromi’s piano runs, but stay true to the focus of the album, to be alive!
Hiromi’s right hand runs, although some of the fastest I’ve ever heard, manage to lessen the stress. In “Wanderer” she moves from a walk to a bebop swing. In “Player”, double bassist, Anthony Jackson, comes alive with another bebop saunter, walking along with improvising keys. Likewise, “warrior” hits a nerve of competition and struggle as part of life’s expectation. It’s an energetic piece, again thanks to the drums’ variety of rhythms. We finally start to mellow as life matures in the melodic and soft “Firefly”, and resolves into a beautiful gospel spell in “Spirit”. Its tune lingers with the electric bass soloing, almost mournfully.

After bouncy and lilting refrains, moving towards a spiritual resolution, “Life Goes On” jolts one into an upbeat, funky swing, reminding us that nothing really comes to an end. Life IS a dizzying journey – Hiromi has a style all her own. This is a must-listen-to album if you can hold on long enough. See her video of the “Alive” song on http://www.hiromimusic.com/ taken during the studio recording. Awesome stuff!

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Thandi Ntuli’s “The Offering”: CD REVIEW by Carol Martin

Thandi Ntuli The Offering

Thandi Ntuli's The Offering

Thandi Ntuli’s The Offering

Another South African songbird, crisp voice along with her articulate piano improvs, Thandi Ntuli passes with high marks on her debut album, The Offering. It’s been nominated for this year’s Metro FM award for Urban Jazz. For being a debut artist, she has made the daring move to produce and release her album independently of promoters, thanks to careful savings from concerts and launches in 2014. As she told one reviewer: “Releasing independently has meant I don’t have the same structures that an established record label offers its artists.” Artists in the album are talented award-winners: Sisonke Xonti (tenor saxophone), Mthunzi Mvubu (alto saxophone), Keenen Ahrends (guitar), Sphelelo Mazibuko (drums), Benjamin Jephta (double dass) and Spha Mdlalose (lead vocals). It also features a veteran of the music industry, trumpeter Marcus Wyatt.

The Offering is dedicated to a late sister who died before one of Ntuli’s grand concerts, and to her grandmother, both whom were great influences in her life. At age 27 years, and a graduate of UCT’s Jazz Studies, Ntuli is not only a technical clinician at the piano (since age 4), but a soulful improviser with the aural likes of a Bheki Mseleku, using chord structures, melodies, and rhythms characteristic of spirituals, South African gospel, Afro-jazz, and American bebop. Quite an exciting melt for lovers of different jazz genres. Tinkling gospel-ish piano refrains in ‘Contemplation’, with riveting double bass solos by Jephta, and creative interpretations of rhythms all make for a gem of a song. “Um(thanda)zo’ shows off Ntuli’s lilting scatting voice accompanied by Keenan’s guitar runs. A stunning song. Wyatt’s well-known muted trumpet shines in ‘H.T.’ and ‘201 AA’. In ‘Sangare’, one hears lead vocals of another songbird, Spha, her voice following the harmonies of her team. ‘Love Remembers’ contains a lyrical sadness, thoughtfully embraced by Wyatt’s horn.

Thandi Ntuli has, indeed, offered herself to our world, and we are more blessed for that!

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Carol Martin reviews Estelle Kokot’s album, “Information”, released in 2006

CD Review by Carol Martin

Carol Martin

Carol Martin

This album by this South African singer, songwriter, arranger and pianist, gives highs and lows, ups and downs of life, with bumpy beats, ballads, and that hard to get ‘balance’. Her repertoire contains songs which, at times, are joyful; others mournful, “I Don’t Know You Anymore”. Released in 2006, “Information” appears to do just that: inform us about who she is. Tracks were co-written by UK-based producer/songwriter Craigie Dodds and recorded in London at Sphere Studios and Eastcote Studios.

Estelle Kokot's Information.jpeg

Estelle Kokot’s Information.jpeg

“Where is the Rainbow” sets the stage of this moody album, querying reality. This is followed by an Arab-influenced beat and whispers of “I Scare Myself” which can leave your already haunted. The album lightens up with a swinging “Sling Me a Shot”. “Russ” is sassy about ‘putting the lion down’. Her twisty improv on “Round Minute” displays her seriously tempered voice, backed by an equally balanced trio. “Paradise”, perhaps meant to be cynical, doesn’t seem to come across like that. Her tempo varies nicely between songs, and her ending “Titanium” with solo piano backed by an eerie synthesizer reminds one of how to take our heavy life slowly, and methodically.

Estelle KokotIn her other UK-based life, Estelle works with young artists, facilitating their connections in the music industry amongst promoters and event organisers. She’s also one of the first women to have performed at Kippies Jazz Club at the Market Theatre Newtown, in the mid-1980’s.

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Ezra Weiss Sextet “Before You Know It” Reviewed by Carol Martin

Ezra Weiss Sextet “Before You Know It”This is the first of young Weiss’s 7 albums that he chose to record live at a Portland, Oregon, club in order to offer the listener” live energy”. Hailed by Downbeat and others as being a unique composer/arranger, along with his renowned musicians, and influenced by Shirley Horn and Maria Schneider in his arrangements, pianist Weiss excels in swing, improve, and ballads. One hears influences from Horace Silver and Art Blakey, also.

“The Five A.M. Strut” exemplifies his funky attitude as saxophonist John Nastos stretches the song over 15 minutes. It’s a strut, indeed! “Don’t Need No Ticket” slows to a ballad reminiscent of John Coltrane whose other tune, “Alabama”, a tribute to the 1963 bombings in Birmingham, is rearranged to mark a need for healing after the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. “Before You Know It” with its gospel feel, was written for his not-yet-born son. Its lilting ballade turns funky, and again, fun.

Weiss’s musical choices and presentations are powerfully moving, as is this live album, released last September on Roark Records label.

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Beat Funktion “Mandy’s Secret” Reviewed by Carol Martin 

Beat Funktion Mandy’s Secret

Beat Funktion Mandy’s Secret

This is an jazz-funk all-Swedish group giving tribute to the 1970s funk, groove, soul, disco, and afro-beat. Jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and producer Daniel Lantz leads the way, and keeps the dancing shoes clicking. The band merges commercial genres into a type of improvisation that appeals to a wide and diverse section of listeners – from the older to the younger. Although ensconced in more improvisational jazz, Lantz wanted to break away a bit, and move his original ten compositions on this album towards more pop and rock, using synthesizers and psychedelic sounds, along with Lantz’s funky fender Rhodes. Mandy’s Secret is the band’s third album, released this past September 2014. It has already hit high on USA charts!

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Eliana Cuevas  “Espejo” (which means ‘mirror’) Reviewed by Carol Martin

Eliana Cuevas Espejo

Eliana Cuevas Espejo

This is the fourth recording from Venezuelan-born and Toronto-based vocalist, Eliana Cuevas, which is both seductive and tender. Her interviews suggest that she likes to push limits of Latin music; she changes moods from the bouncy first track, “Estrellita” to the sultry, slow ‘Lamento’, to the sensual “En Un Pedacito De Tu Corazon”, to the jazzy swing of “Agua Cangrejo Y Sal”.  The album features an array of 20 musicians from Latin/South America and Canada, and mixtures of instruments, such as the mandolin and the melodic. Voice-overs add melodic seduction.  This is a fun album with all sorts of rhythms and textures. It does mirror the range of possibilities for creative talk, which she offers quite skilfully. The album was released last August by Alma Records, and in June, won the U.S. Best Latin Album at the Independent Music Awards.

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CD REVIEW– Tumi Mogorosi’s Project ELO by Mamsie Ntshangase, chairperson of EJazz Appreciation Society

Tumi Mogorosi’s Project ELO 

Tumi Mogorosi’s Project ELO

I have this habit of dozing off after a hard day’s work while the music is playing from one of the playlists I prepare. It happened that the other day I woke up to this most exquisite sound of voices that made me think I was dreaming of heaven or being in some cathedral. From the first note, you are struck by the voices that accompany the booming bass and the drum, elegantly keeping time. By the time the saxophone and guitar entered the “fray”, I knew then that I was on some “celestial journey” through sound…mentally in orbit to somewhere in outer space. This is how I got introduced to Tumi Mogorosi’s “Project ELO”. I took deep breaths, allowed the music in, and boy, did it get under my skin. The tune was “In The Beginning”. How apt. This is Tumi, creating a world through music that his chosen will inhabit.

The musicians are the main man himself on drums, Thembinkosi Mavimbela on double bass, Sibusile Xaba (guitar), Nhlanhla Mahlangu (tenor sax), Mthunzi Mvubu (alto sax) and Malcolm Jiyane (trombone). The inclusion of the “celestial voices” of Themba Maseko, Ntombi Sibeko, Mary Moyo and Gabisile Motuba is a masterstroke. The album itself is produced by Tumi himself and the soon-to-be-legend, pianist Nduduzo Makhathini whose body of work already has tongues wagging from here to all corners of the earth. This is no exaggeration.

Tumi Mogorosi with sticksOn to “Inner Emergence”, and what I now call the “celestial voices” carry on opening “clouds” and “bringing in the light”. The guitar solo by Sibusile Xaba, plus trombone play by Malcolm Jiyane are especially haunting. Tumi on drums the ever present director of proceedings. Make no mistake, this is very much this amazing drummer’s album. The percussive sounds are very much the core, as it soars to the heavens, there’s the gravity of the earthly drum that centres it. The young maestro delivers something masterful.

“Princess Gabi” starts with Thembinkosi Mavimbela’s bass slowing my breathing down even further, with Malcolm Jiyane’s trombone has me hypnotized. The voices and the wailing saxophone wake me up from the delicious stupor I’ve been slipping into, such a glorious mesh of voices, Tumi’s drumming, Mthunzi Mvubu’s and Nhlanhla Mahlangu’s horns and young Jiyane’s trombone. It’s almost as if that chorus is paying homage to the Princess – the effect is too exquisite.
“Slaves Emancipation” brings me “down to earth”. Images of years of struggle and hardship play in my head as I listen and feel like I’m one with the oppressed ones experiencing the freedom they’ve been craving probably for hundreds of years. Thembinkosi Mavimbela’s booming contrabass (which he plays with amazing dexterity, you could swear he’s holding it as one would an electric bass guitar) shines through beautifully.

Tumi Mogorosi ponderingOn “Thokozile Queen Mother”, Mavimbela’s bass kicks off slowly, Tumi keeping steady time and Mthunzi’s alto sax and then that angelic voice singing the praises of the Queen Mother. It is clear that Tumi is concerned with the universe, and how everything connects. I get the sense that these are the things that influenced the creation of these beautiful compositions.

“Metatron Angel of Presence” is where Mogorosi stretches out and showcases his prowess on the instrument of his choice, the drums. I couldn’t help but think that the legend Louis Moholo would listen to this, nod his head and smile.
The set ends with a triumphant “Gift of Three”, where my now favourite celestial voices, bass and horns combine with Tumi to present something that makes this heart of mine soar.

The musicians assembled here complement and play off each other so beautifully, making it one of those albums that will endure for all time.

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CD Review by Carol Martin of the Kyle Shepherd Trio’s album “Dream State”, featuring guest artist Buddy Wells.

Carol Martin

Reviewed by Carol Martin

This CD from Sheer Sound has again brought its main artist, pianist Kyle Shepherd, closer to the edge of innovative, spiritually-influenced compositions that are ever evolving during his still young musical journey. ‘Dream State’ boasts two discs of 21 songs, all composed by this 2014 Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year for Jazz. Kyle loves to quote from the late saxophonist and mentor, Zim Ngqawana, “The music must lead us towards ourselves.

Kyle Shepherd's Dream State

Kyle Shepherd’s Dream State

” This trio featuring drummer Jonno Sweetman, and double bassist Shane Cooper (with awards-most recently from SAMRO who bestowed his debut “Oscillations” album as best Jazz album of 2014), celebrate their remarkable five years together. Another CapeTownian, the popular tenor saxman Buddy Wells, features handsomely where the ghoema sounds swing their magic.

There is nothing staid in these albums; just when you identify with the familiar, the trio takes our mind on another journey of sometimes discordant, sometimes healing sounds, changing chord structures, and erratic rhythms. The songs evoke, jostle, steer, and placate. Out of discomfort comes a peace. Just listen meditatively, feel the flow, be patient, and then arrive at a state of oneness, of balance, having been tunefully connected – as the band is connected with each other in superb synchronicity. This is what ‘Dream State’ portrays. Kyle refers to advice from Abdullah Ibrahim, another mentor: “Abdullah said create music significant to YOU. Then if people are moved by the music, that’s all I ask for. It just takes hard work and introspection. “ How so!

Kyle Shepherd

Kyle Shepherd

For those who want to cut straight to the Cape ghoema rhythms and familiar melodies, several tracks will welcome you: In Disc 1: “Xamissa”, “Our House, Our Rules”, and “Siqhagamshelane Sonke” with its 1-3-4 chords and Buddy’s sax. In Disc 2: “Xahuri”.

For the meditative and more ethereal ballads, try in Disc 1: “Transcendence” with Buddy’s prayerful sax solo, and “The Seeker” which speaks for itself. In Disc 2: “The Painter”, “Fatherless”, and “Rock Art”.

Jonno’s drums always complement without dominating. Kyle’s one note drill in several tracks sets what might appear as a monotonous pace until he matches this foundation with chords which swing into his usual Cape jive, while the drums and bass get equally excited with this conversation. Listen carefully to ‘Re-invention’. It’s faultless.

DISC 1
This disc starts out with a very uncharacteristic Shepherd melody in “Zikr City – Desert Monk” in a minor key; yet it moves whimsically through what sounds like cityscapes and bustle; then into a quiet peace of a void – a soundless desert. ‘Family Love’ holds a special liking to my ears – Buddy’s tenor sax melodically takes one on a saunter on a cloudy day through the park, and breaks into a Cape jive of celebration. “Flying without Leaving the Ground” offers a chatty bass solo with an uncertain piano. The bass keeps you grounded and keeps you there during the subsequent crescendos of the piano and drums as you gradually experience a spiritual liftoff. This is appropriately followed by “Transcendence”. Nirvana is somehow near….but not quite…..

Jonno Sweetman

Jonno Sweetman

DISC 2
If you haven’t left the ground yet, the second disc starts out with an ominous directive, almost funereal, about what appears to me to be stray bullets flying about the Cape Flats. Appropriately titled, “Cape Flats”, the underlying rumblings from Shane’s double bass and Jonno’s larger drums, and slowly paced piano chords suggest discomfort about hidden realities faced by dwellers. This shifts from [maybe] an out-of-harms’-way feeling into the next piece, “Black Star, Unsung Hero”, almost as though a young lad or lass managed to escape those bullets and rise above the violence to effect peaceful surprises on all. This is one of the more hauntingly beautiful songs of the album.

The placement of songs on the disc cleverly conveys the merging of themes. After a serious and unnerving dialogue about “Rituals”, where Shane’s bass cleverly mimics Kyle’s left hand walk-abouts, the listener finds relief with “The Painter” with Buddy’s melodic sax and an almost rock-ish roll from the drums. I see color and texture evolve, resting the eyes, yet tickling with aural fantasies. It’s for Melissa.

South African Bass player, composer, band leader, recording artist

Shane Cooper

But just after settling back into a meditative pose, “Doekom” startles with a frantic, atonal whine of confusion. I found this the least pleasant song on the track, probably because of its heavy left hand, again warning of the ominous. Indeed, was it a “Muslim witch doctor’s” prescription for protection from gangsterous earthlings? One wonders whether the doekom was protective or murderous, a karmic magic potion or….just some profound spiritual realism? An impressive bass keeps up a scary pace.

The way Kyle breaks up chords harmonically allows one to anticipate and sing along, while not knowing the song! And even if the song seems uncomfortable, it ends up on a cheerful resolution. I smile. A characteristic Kyle ‘selfie’ seems to be heard in “Fatherless”, perhaps a bit autobiographical, with clear chordal statements.

“Senegal” has a jumpy, Arab flavour of minor chords. I picture impressive derbies of horses in colourful regalia kicking up dust. This is followed by “Rock Art”, another mercurial but melodic piece, in memory of the indigenous peoples of South Africa. It suggests we meditate on the land’s ancestral wisdom.

The final track,”Ahimsa”, if you managed to get through the previous 20 without exhaustion, is a beautifully crafted tribute to two gurus for peace – Gandhi and Mandela. It is a befitting closure to the ‘Dream State’ as well.

Kyle, Jonno and Shane

Kyle, Jonno and Shane

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Kyle Shepherd Trio Dream State CD Cape Town Launch

Kyle Shepherd Header The Cape Town launch concert of the Kyle Shepherd Trio’s Double Album ‘Dream State’ will happen on Friday 29 August 2014 at UCT’s SA College of Music. The launch of ‘Dream State’ marks the 5-year Anniversary of Shepherd’s much-lauded Trio. The concert, presented by fineART Music and generously sponsored by Ultra Event Technical Solutions and Dunstone Wines features Shepherd, the 2014 Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Award (SBYA) winner for Jazz and African News Network, ANN7’s 2014 Young South African of the Year Award Nominee, on piano, together with two of South Africa’s most celebrated musicians, namely, Shane Cooper – the 2013 SBYA recipient – on double bass and Jonno Sweetman on drums.

 

Kyle Shepherd's Dream State

Kyle Shepherd’s Dream State

‘Dream State’, a 21-track double disc album of Shepherd’s original compositions, features Shepherd on piano, Shane Cooper on double bass and Jonno Sweetman on drums. The pre-eminent SA saxophonist, Buddy Wells, features on five of the tracks. In this studio recording, the Trio, rather magnificently captures the fluidity, intensity and inventiveness of its live performances that has entranced audiences across South Africa and abroad. View the Official ‘Dream State’ EPK Video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtOj4D_ZUaw

In her review of the official launch concert held at the Wits Great Hall in Johannesburg on 26 July 2014, revered Jazz music journalist, author and historian, Gwen Ansell, wrote in Business Day that “Repeat listening to the same material on record underlines what a distinctive voice Shepherd now has. Those fragments of musical home that have always characterised his compositions and playing are still there; the reworkings, though, are often unexpected and subtle, emerging from a modern and personal pianism that isn’t in anybody’s shadow. Dream State joins an impressive 2014 list of albums of the year.” In the album’s liner notes, renowned arts journalist, Percy Mabandu succinctly described the ethos of the trio in this way: “There’s a palpable connectedness they share as players, a connection that also touches attuned audiences at their live performances too. This band is on a search for more than beautiful notes. They are asking more of the music. Its corporeal and ethereal aspects are invoked into the simultaneous sound ritual. Each performance takes on the nature of a meditation and as Zim Ngqawana said, ‘the music must lead us towards ourselves’. ”

Kyle-Shepherd-1-320x200‘Dream State’ which was recorded by Peter Auret at the Sumo Sound Recording Studio, mixed by Pål Svenre (Sweden) and mastered by Tim Lengfeld at TL Mastering, is the 27-year old pianist’s 4th Album. His previous critically acclaimed releases, ‘fineART’, ‘A Portrait of Home’ and South African History !X, have all garnered South African Music Award nominations. Since the release of his debut album in 2009, Shepherd’s international career has advanced remarkably with performances, either as a solo pianist or trio, quartet and other formats in France, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Denmark, South Africa at The Cape Town International Jazz Festival and The Joy of Jazz Festival, Zimbabwe at The Harare International Festival – HIFA, China and India. The twenty-seven year old virtuoso pianist will embark on a Solo Piano Tour of Japan in September 2014 which will include a performance at the prestigious Tokyo International Jazz Festival, Japan on Sunday, 07 September 2014; after which he heads for the USA with Kesivan & The Lights for a show at Carnegie Hall, New York on the 30th of October 2014. The Kyle Shepherd Trio is billed to play at The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival, Sandton, on 27 September 2014.

Copies of the new CD will be on sale at the launch concert and will be also be available at most major retail stores in South Africa and downloadable via all major digital platforms worldwide, during August 2014. Poster & CD Artwork & Design by Brandan Reynolds. Attached photograph by Ference Isaacs.

CONCERT INFO: – Date: Friday, 29 August 2014 – Time: 20:30 – Duration: 80 min (one set only) – Venue: UCT, SA College of Music (behind the Baxter Theatre), Lower Campus, off Woolsack Drive, Rondebosch, Cape Town.

RESERVATIONS: Pre-Book & Pay Online at QUICKET http://www.quicket.co.za/events/6102-kyle-shepherd-trio-39dream-state39-cd-launch-in-cape-town

and only pay R90.00*! * Quicket adds a service fee of R3.90 to each ticket (capped at R10 per transaction) OR To Book and Pay R100.00 entry fee in CASH at Door please visit the Booking Form at www.kyleshepherd.co.za/?page_id=614

OR Call 072 351 5204! [Seating Unreserved]

ENQUIRIES: All enquiries including biography, interview requests, high resolution images: Theo. Lawrence (fineART Music): Mobile 072 351 5204, E-mail: fineartmusic@gmail.com

or via www.kyleshepherd.co.za

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CD REVIEW

Dan Shout In With a ShoutDan Shout In With a Shout

It has become something of an event when Dan Shout releases a new album, he has proven to be a consummate professional and leave little to chance, with that said I missed the launch due to illness at the time, very sadly. With a quick glance at the track listing I thought, hello, hello what’s up here three tracks from his debut solo album Greetings & Salutations and thought should I feel a we bit cheated, but guess what I reserved judgment till I’d listened to the entire album. No there was no cheating by just adding the three tracks to fill space on the new album. The three tracks, Etosha, Big B, Tea With Alvin were each spruced up and given a totally new treatment, beautifully re-arranged and executed. Really nice one Dan. I guess I’m not used to Safro Jazz musicians redoing their own compositions so soon after their initial album releases, mind you those tunes were from back around 2010. The new tracks on the album are a joy to listen to and the young Mr Shout is proving to be a really outstanding composer of excellent music. He has certainly raised his own bar with In with A Shout and though very early days as yet, I am already looking forward to the next album from his talented mind and nimble fingers. The band he has put together is outstanding and they each executed their tasks perfectly throughout this outstanding album. It is a must have for any good music lover to have in their album collection.

Musicians:

Dan Shout, Marc de Kock, Sisonke Xonti (saxes), Gorm Helfjord (guitar), Andrew Ford (piano), Benjamin Jeptha (bass), Marlon Witbooi (drums) Daniel Bloem (perc)

Tracklisting:

Escape from Freedom, Hanepoot, Etosha from Greetings and Salutations,         For Big B from Greetings and Salutations, Justa Bitta Banter, Heavy Days, Tea With Alvin from Greetings and Salutations, Elephant Encounters

Label: Own Release

Dan Shout blowing up a storm

Dan Shout blowing up a storm

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CD REVIEW

Christine Kamau – This Is For You – 2012

Miles?

Miles?

Although we’ve been playing this album for quite a while I feel we do need to relook at it, as it’s not yet been reviewed.

Christine Kamau is a songwriter, bandleader and jazz musician from Kenya. Her music style can best be described as easy listening Afro-jazz. One will hear a strong influence from South Africa in her music as she sites Bra Hugh Masekela as one of her major musical influences.

Christine Kamau

Christine Kamau

She talented and dedicated, this album showcases that in the best way. Good music it is. I don’t have any favourites, as all tracks are a pleasure to listen to. Her band also contributes to the success of the album, showing more great jazz talent fro Kenya. I hope she has a new album coming soon as I would like more from her. This Is For You is a worthy addition to the CD collection.

Musicians:

Christine Kamau (Trumpet & Sax), Isaac Khakula (bass guitar), Ken Simiyu (keyboard), Daniel Macharia (drums), Emmanuel Kute (flute, alto saxophone), Matthew Makumi (guitar)

Tracklisting:

African People, This Is for You, Nakuru Sunshine, Conversations, Ulisema, Do What You Want, It’s a Wrap!, Baba Afrika!

Label: Own ReleaseChristine Kamau straight ahead

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CD Review – Al Jarreau – My Old Friend Celebrating George Duke – 2014

Al Jarreau - My Old Friend Celebrating George Duke -

Al Jarreau – My Old Friend Celebrating George Duke –

In 2013 we lost legendary keyboardist, composer and producer George Duke and this is a worthy tribute by an old friend namely Al Jarreau. The friendship started way back in 1965 when Al moved to San Francisco and was working as a social worker and a rehabilitation counselor. At a jam session at the Half Note, Jarreau impressed the owner and was asked if he would join the young George Dukes Trio and naturally he jumped at the chance, and the rest is history cementing a life long friendship.

Jarreau said “We played together three years at that club; it closed in 1968 and George and I moved on. But that was a very important period for me”.

al jarreau george dukeAl went on to say, “There are great moments all over this project, I couldn’t possibly cover George’s full range. But I wanted to give people a fun listen with his music for Duke’s diehard fans to once again, enjoy themselves through his music.”

As a life long Jarreau fan I love the album, I mean who wouldn’t just look at the line up featured on the album. My mind goes back to that day at the old Green Point stadium when he visited South Africa a real rainy night in Cape Town which did not dampen Jarreau’s spirit as he lifted the audience into a frenzy of joyful happiness. What a night it was.

The album released on August 5, 2014 has received wide acclaim world wide and will also extend George Dukes legacy and is a must have for Al Jarreau and George Duke fans, with that said it will also bring new fans to these two artists.

Musicians: Al Jarreau, bassist Stanley Clarke, keyboardists John Beasley, Patrice Rushen, guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr., drummer John “J.R.” Robinson-Gerald Albright, Lalah Hathaway, Jeffrey Osborne, Dianne Reeves

Photo by Tanja Deuss

Photo by Tanja Deuss

Tracklisting:

My Old Friend See All 3 with Gerald Albright, Someday with Dianne Reeves, Churchyheart (Backyard Ritual) with Marcus Miller, Somebossa (Summer Breezin’) with Gerald Albright, Sweet Baby with Lalah Hathaway, Every Reason to Smile/Wings of Love with Jeffrey Osborne, No Rhyme, No Reason with Kelly Price, Bring Me Joy with Boney James, George Duke, Brazilian Love Affair/Up from the Sea/It Arose and Ate Rio in One Swift Bite with Dianne Reeves, You Touch My Brain with Dr. John

Label: Concord Records

For more info go to http://www.aljarreau.com

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CD REVIEW

Claude Cozens Drums

The Claude Cozens Trio – Jubilee Jam – 2014

 I was blown away at the launch of Claude Cozens debut album and those memories linger in the minds eye as I listen to the full album, months after that delightful night at Straight No Chaser in Cape Town. The trio made up of Kyle Shepherd aCozens leading from behind the drum kit controls the Benjamin Jephtatightknit trio with the exceptional Kyle Shepherd playing keyboards and piano and remarkable Benjamin Jephta playing bass.

I met Claude who had just finished his schooling and was starting his jazz degree at UCT. I was truly impressed with his solid determination of forging a career in the difficult world of jazz in Africa. Following his pursuit over the years, as I am want to do whenever I bumped into him, enquired how his CD was coming along, his stock answer was, it’s coming. The years rolled on by and then one day I received the phone call from Claude asking if he could come by the All Jazz Radio Studio. Duly he arrived and proudly presented me with a copy of Jubilee Jam with a beaming smile he said, “See, I told you all the time it was coming, now here it is, enjoy” As I was on air at the time I slapped it into the CD player and launched into a wonderful interview with the talented young drummer/bandleader. The rest is history, Claude Cozens; bandleader, composer and jazz musician is on his way to a bright future in the fickle world of jazz. Now the global village’s stages await his assent on the ladder of success.

Not being a musician I cannot launch into the technicalities of the music, all I can say is what a joy the album is I can find little fault with the music contained given the highly talented musicians featured on the album who jelled together so well. This is Claude’s story with each track taking one on his life’s journey through each of the 14 tracks, a story very well told and a worthy addition to ones jazz collection. The Cape Jazz heritage continues to forge ahead, the way is clear for the world to see that South African jazz has a rightful place in the lexicon of great music. I can’t wait for the next chapter of this remarkably humble and respectful young South African jazz musician’s life. Get a copy, this is history in the making. I love it.

Musicians: Claude Cozens, drums with Kyle Shepherd, keyboards and Benjamin Jephta IV, electric bass

Tracklisting:

Fynbos Spirits, 13 Corfu Avenue, Jubilee jam, Electric Street, Platkop, Song For Peninah, Baden Powell, Love Stain, Hangberg Mountain Jazz, Brother Boesack, Mr English, Overflow, Cape Lion, Landing Place

 Label: Own Release

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Cape Town International Jazz Festival Day 1 | Ottawa Citizen

It’s just after 6 p.m. on the Friday night that tens of thousands of music fans from across South Africa and beyond have long been looking forward to.

In the Cape Town International Convention Centre’s largest and most cavernous meeting room, several thousand people, all primed to party, are on their feet, waiting to hear the tremendously popular Afro-pop group Mafikizolo open the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

Fan fever is growing by increments. The group has been announced, the backing musicians have begun playing, but the group’s stars — singers Theo Kgosinkwe and Nhlanhla Nciza — haven’t yet emerged from back stage. They milk the moment for all it’s worth, appearing at last and one by one to raucous cheers, only after three backup singers and a foursome of dancers, all sharply dressed with glamourous, retro appeal, have preceded them.

Read more at Cape Town International Jazz Festival Day 1 | Ottawa Citizen.

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Jazz Reviews: The Laura Nyro Project Mark Winkler – By Christopher Loudon — Jazz Articles

Mark Winkler - The Laura Nyro Project

Mark Winkler – The Laura Nyro Project

When Mark Winkler, a quintessentially West Coast swinger, filled an album with Bobby Troup tunes a decade ago, it was a blissful marriage of hipster sensibilities. Winkler and Laura Nyro seem stranger bedfellows—California cool meets East Coast boho—yet Winkler, a gifted writer himself, makes the union work equally well. Nor was Nyro all dark-basement angst. Less hard-edged than such contemporaries as Dylan and Paul Simon, she, like Joni Mitchell, tended to float beyond category, blending a heady potpourri of folk, pop, jazz and show tunes. When that crazy mélange is filtered through Winkler’s laidback aesthetic, the results are quite magical.

Winkler draws exclusively from Nyro’s first four albums, spanning the years 1967 through 1970, when many of the songs became best known via Top 40 cover versions from the likes of Blood, Sweat and Tears and the Fifth Dimension. Ably supported by a shifting cast that includes pianists Eli Brueggemann and Eric Reed and guitarist Larry Koonse, all of whom also contribute arrangements, he follows the lead of those long-ago pop groups by making each of these 11 tunes distinctly his own. So, “Time and Love” is reinterpreted as a dreamy ballad; “He’s a Runner” emerges as an intensely personal tale of betrayal; the wine-steeped “Sweet Blindness” erupts as a riotous party worthy of Louis Prima; and the jaunty post-Kennedy politics of “Save the Country” become a salve for various postmillennial malaises.

via Jazz Reviews: The Laura Nyro Project Mark Winkler – By Christopher Loudon — Jazz Articles.

 

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Jazz Articles: Dave Douglas to Release New Album, ‘Time Travel,’ on April 9 – By Jeff Tamarkin — Jazz Articles

Trumpeter/composer Dave Douglas will follow last year’s Be Still with an all-instrumental collection, Time Travel, due April 9 from Douglas’ Greenleaf Music. The recording features saxophonist Jon Irabagon, pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Rudy Royston. The album was engineered by Joe Ferla.

Dave Douglas & Keystone at Undead Jazzfest 2010 Greg Aiello

Dave Douglas & Keystone at Undead Jazzfest 2010
Greg Aiello

Douglas will also launch a tour with the intention of performing in all 50 states, to coincide with his 50th birthday. Initital dates are below

Tour Dates

February 15: Austin, TX – University of Texas Austin – Bass Concert Hall *

February 22: Elmhurst, IL – Elmhurst College – Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel

March 3: Manzoni, Italy – Teatro Manzoni

March 6: Rome, Italy – Auditorium Parco della Musica ^

March 28 – 31: New York, NY – Jazz Standard (50th Birthday Week)

April 4: Laramie, WY – University of Wyoming

April 5: Boulder, CO – University of Colorado at Boulder

April 11 – 12: Denver, CO – Dazzle Jazz Club

April 25: Reno, NV – Reno Jazz Festival

May 4: Cheltenham, UK – Cheltenham Jazz Festival

May 17: Chicago, IL – Jazz Showcase †

May 30: Brooklyn, NY – Shapeshifter Lab

May 31: New Haven, CT – Firehouse 12

June 3: Burlington, VT – Flynn Center

All dates are with Dave Douglas Quintet unless otherwise noted.

* = Dave Douglas/Joe Lovano & Sound Prints Band feat. Lawrence Fields, Linda Oh & Joey Baron

^ = with Rome Auditorium Jazz Orchestra

† = with Columbia College Jazz Ensemble

via Jazz Articles: Dave Douglas to Release New Album, ‘Time Travel,’ on April 9 – By Jeff Tamarkin — Jazz Articles.

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Jazz Reviews: The Wayne Shorter Quartet and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, 2/1/13 – By Jeff Tamarkin — Jazz Articles

Jazz and classical music would seem in theory to be oil and water—one is at its core an improvisatory art form that encourages individual expression; the other characteristically asks its participants to follow cues and reproduce written notation precisely. Nonetheless, jazz musicians have sought, for decades—to varying degrees of success—to find commonalities with their classical peers (and vice versa), and the pairing of the Wayne Shorter Quartet with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra promised at the very least to be intriguing for all the right reasons.

The Wayne Shorter Quartet

The Wayne Shorter Quartet

Orpheus, currently celebrating its 40 anniversary, is an unusually democratic classical ensemble, eschewing the use of a conductor and instead selecting a revolving core of musicians from within its ranks to lead each particular piece. During the first half of the program, the orchestra, on its own, demonstrated via performances of Beethoven’s “Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus” and Charles Ives’ “Symphony No. 3: The Camp Meeting” both the singularity one expects of symphonic music and a free-spiritedness that was exciting to watch.

via Jazz Reviews: The Wayne Shorter Quartet and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, 2/1/13 – By Jeff Tamarkin — Jazz Articles.

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Top 10 Jazz albums of 2012 – latimes.com

Vijay Iyer, "Accelerando" (ACT) ( Getty Images / December 14, 2012 )

Vijay Iyer, “Accelerando” (ACT) ( Getty Images / December 14, 2012 )

A selection of notable releases in another year that found jazz evolving as boundaries and definitions shifted and fell, leaving only the music behind.

via Top 10 Jazz albums of 2012 – latimes.com.

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The best jazz albums of 2012, as selected by Fred Kaplan. – Slate Magazine

Ravi Coltrane.  Photo by Deborah Feingold/Courtesy Ravi Coltrane.

Ravi Coltrane. Photo by Deborah Feingold/Courtesy Ravi Coltrane.

It’s been a solid year for jazz recordings: no truly great new albums (I doubt that any of them will make the decade’s top 10 list at the end of 2019), but all of the ones below are very good.

Read more at The best jazz albums of 2012, as selected by Fred Kaplan. – Slate Magazine.

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Distant Borders Revisited by Glen Helgeson & Axis Mundi

Distant Borders Revisited by Glen Helgeson & Axis Mundi

Distant Borders Revisited by Glen Helgeson & Axis Mundi

Reviewed by Eric Alan on 2009-03-03
Year Released: 2006
Recording Company: World View Music
Website: http://www.glenhelgeson.com/

Review

A superb worldly mix of music that allows ones imagination fly to exotic places one has never been to before. Glen Helgerson is a new guitarist, composer and bandleader and to me and a truly pleasant surprise its been discovering his music, somewhat akin to our very own Tananas Orchestra Mundo.

Right for the opening tack African Song, one becomes captivated by this alluring musical tour, one truly see’s it with ones own ears. It is a sophisticated set of tunes that seizes the soul of the listener and transposes time to the back of one mind offering an escape from the humdrum of daily life. We travel to exotic Africa, the Middle East, Cuba, Haiti and various Latin destinations. We enjoy the rich rhythms of those far-flung places that seep into one’s psyche. The smooth fusion of the sounds makes this a very desirable album in one’s CD Shuttle.

The astute mix of variety of drums and other instruments assists with the journey into the music of Glen Helgeson, using various finger picked instruments, including the sitar and harp guitars he enhances the heady atmosphere of the well-rounded sound that makes up the album Distant Borders Revisited.

Record Company Website: http://www.worldviewmusic.com
World Wide Distribution: http://www.worldviewmusic.com
Purchase on the Web: http://cdbaby.com/cd/glenhelgeson2

Track Listings

African Song: Smooth Wes; The Mambo Told Me; Red Moon; A Wedding On Venus: Latin a la Linda; Room 231; River East; …If This; Sweet Ears; The Whirl; Southern Exposure.

Musicians

Glen Helgeson: acoustic, electric, harp and sitar guitars; Peter Oshoushko: mandolin (5, 6, 8); Dean Magraw: guitar (2, 4, 10); Gary Schultz: violin (1, 3, 4, 11); Dave Stanoch: drums (1, 2, 3, 4, 11); Charles Fletcher: bass (1, 2, 3, 4, 11); Michael Bissonette: udu drums, congas, timbales, djembe (1, 3, 4, 11); Marc Anderson: berimbau, congas, doumbek, tabla, frame drum; Enrique Toussaint: bass (7, 8, 10, 12); Tim O’Keefe: riq, doumbek; Gordy Johnson: bass (6); Keni Holman: clarinet (5); Lee Blaske: keyboards (12); Tony Axtel: keyboards (2); Debbie Duncan vocals (7, 12)

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The Search Within by Sean Jones

The Search Within by Sean Jones

The Search Within by Sean Jones

Reviewed by Eric Alan on 2009-03-03
Year Released: 2009
Recording Company: Mack Avenue
Website: http://www.seanjonesmusic.com/

Review

Since Sean Jones’ debut on the Mack Avenue label, he has gone from strength to strength and has grown to be one of the genre’s top trumpet players and bandleaders. When I popped the advance copy of the album into CD player, I could not stop listening and played it repeatedly, it is due for worldwide release towards the end of March 2009.

The album is a journey of introspection for Jones who looks back on his career, to quote, “This is a journey inside my soul that’s taken place over the past 10 years.” He say’s. “It’s an assessment of where I am in the present as well as how I’ve learned from my mistakes and triumphs as a way of looking into the future.” Jones continues. “This album goes very deep for me. It’s a spiritual and sonic journey for me.”

It is a pleasing and easy album to listen to and enjoy, the backing band is outstanding and his guest performers deliver the goods. A couple of tracks that caught my attention is The Ambitious Violet and The Storm are two tunes Jones wrote, inspired by poet/philosopher Khalil Gibran. The Ambitious Violet he say’s, “It’s about how you’d rather spend one day as a towering rose than all your days as a violet,” Jones goes on to explain. “It’s about wanting more. That’s part of my story—coming from a small town but wanting more, whatever it takes.”

I enjoyed Gregoire Maret’s harmonica solo on Life Cycles is fantastic, Jones’s mellifluous flugel horn highlights the compositional beauty of this Latin tinged ballad. Having met Maret and seen him perform with both Herbie Hancock and Marcus Miller a few years ago. The man has taken the mantel of Toots Thielemans and is going on to great things in the future.

The young star takes his career to new heights with The Search Within and shows he is a composer of compassion and strength, something many older contemporaries have taken years to accomplish. The Search Within is an album that has found pride of place in my collection.

Track Listings

The Search Within (Interlude); Transitions; The Ambitious Violet; Life Cycles; The Storm; Letter of Resignation; The Search Within (For Less); Summer’s Spring; Sunday Reflections; Sean’s Jones Comes Down; Love’s Lullaby; The Search Within (Postlude); The Search Within (Bonus Track)

Musicians

Sean Jones, Trumpet; Orrin Evans, piano and Fender Rhodes; Brian Hogans, alto saxophone; Walter Smith tenor saxophone; Luques Curtis, bass; Obed Calvaire, drums
Special guests: Gregoire Maret, harmonica; Erika Von Kleist, flute; Kahlil Bell, percussion; Carolyn Perteete, vocals

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Citizen of the World – Vol 2 The Moreira Project – Moreira Chonguica

Citizen of the World - Vol 2 The Moreira Project - Moreira Chonguica

Citizen of the World – Vol 2 The Moreira Project – Moreira Chonguica

Reviewed by Eric Alan on 2009-03-02
Year Released: 2008
Recording Company: MoreStar Entertainment
Website: http://www.moreiramusic.com/

Review

The sophomore album by Moreira Chonguica continues where he left off on his self-imposed journey of learning about his African jazz and music roots. He certainly has paid his dues because the journey has thus far proved successful since the release of The Moreira Project Vol 1 – The Journey in 2005.

This is an outstanding and adroitly balanced jazz album from Africa. It is most defiantly not a world music album, as most American reviewers would classify it, yes they seem to guard the word/genre very jealously. Just because it’s from Africa does not automatically mean that it is a world music album, as so many reviews have won’t to do. The roots of Africa are deeply embedded which is to be expected. The collaborations on the album highlight this with Moreira’s continuing journey into musical expression, exploration and discovery.

Moreira has matured into one of the top African exponents of jazz from Africa, African jazz or do we create a new genre style and classify it Afro World Jazz! Yeah! Lets do it, if other reviewers in the America’s and Europe can invent new genres at will here’s the new one Afro World Jazz. Jazz comes from Africa originally via the USA and Europe it is time for Africa to claim it back its musical heritage. Citizen of the World – Vol 2 goes a long way to substantiate that claim. Moreira does not disappoint, he has taken his journey along with his collaborators to the world and proves that he is a leader and an innovator in the ever expanding and growing world of jazz music.

MySpace Website: http://www.myspace.com/themoreiraproject
Record Company Website: http://www.moreiramusic.com/
South African Distribution Website: http://www.moreiramusic.com/contact.html
World Wide Distribution: http://www.moreiramusic.com/contact.html
Wikipedia Entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moreira_Chonguica

Track Listings

Boarding Time; Umjita; West South Side; Beautiful Minds; The Art Of Love; Synergy; Eyes Don’t Lie; The Praise Poem; Blue Puzzle; Otupam; Relaxante; Now; The Geisha; Sambabenta; Retrospect; Utopia; Ashanti; A Ultima Vez

Musicians

Moreira Chonguica, Alto, Soprano and Tenor Saxophones, Penny Whistle, Flutes; Mano Dibango, Tenor sax and Vocals; Najee, Flute; Ross McDonald, Trombone; Lenrick Boesack, Alto Sax; Simba, Martins Bernardo, Jaco Maria, Vocals; Mandla Mlangeni, Trumpet; Tony Paco, Frank Paco, Drums; John Hassan, Percussion; Ronan Skillian, Tabla; Angelo Syster, Guitar; Mark Fransman, Camillo Lombard, Piano, Keyboards; Conroy Scott, Shaun Johannes, Double Bass; Lucas Khumalo, Helder Gonzaga, Electric Bass; Dane Coetzer, Cello; Lee-Anne April, Violin

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