Monthly Archives: September 2015

Andrea Wood – Kaleidoscope

(Andrea Wood)

Andrea Wood is a truly exciting talent. The singer’s delivery and tone is that of an artist in great command of her voice.. Kaleidoscope, Wood’s debut product, features her bright and captivating voice stirring a wonderful brew of original compositions and excellent covers.  The recording is wonderfully imaginative with inventive arrangements and uses of contemporary sound elements. Backing Wood on this effort is a solid group that includes Angelo Loreto on piano and various keys, Olli Hirvonen on electric and acoustic guitars, Ethan O’Reilly on acoustic and electric basss and Philippe Lemm on drums. Joining in for several tracks are Denny McCaslin on tenor saxophone, Andrew Sheron on vocal and bass, with Nick Wood contributing vocals and additional production. This is a outstanding effort from a modern day singer who must be heard.

Click to listen to a clip of “Kaleidoscope”:

Tracks: Intuition, The Arabesque of Love and Loss, Interlude, You and I, Take a Chance, Nature Boy, Interlude II, The Little Things, Kaleidoscope (Fall in Place), Call Me Maybe, Parting Ways, Three Little Birds, Bonus Track: Doowop.


Randy Bernsen – Grace Notes

(Randy Bernsen)

Guitarist Randy Bernsen is electric on his latest release. On Grace Notes, Bernsen joins forces with bassist Jimmy Haslip for a high-energy set of mostly originals by the lead player. The sound is a mix of blues, rock fusion, and funk,  stretched over a contemporary jazz framework. The musicianship of all of the rest of outstanding players contributes greatly to the quality of this production. Joining in our are pianists Russell Ferrante and Colin James, drummers Peter Erskine, Gary Novak and Julius Pastorius, saxophonist Steve Tavaglione and percussionist Luis Conte, among others. Bernsen and company really deliver some outstanding performances that are worth checking out.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Grace”:

Tracks: Black Top, Red Clay, Grace, Indian Rivers, She’s A Woman, Blues Traveler, Freddie’s Conversation, Malibu Man.


Fred Randolph – Song Without Singing

(Creative Spirit Records)

Bassist Fred Randolph has produced a thoroughly enjoyable recording. Song Without Singing is a spirited blend of the various styles of music and cultures, including Africa, Brazil and Venezuela. Most of the selections have a joyful quality about them that make listening a real pleasure. The arrangements of the tunes, mostly original works, are fantastic. Randolph, equally outstanding on acoustic and electric basses, is joined by Matt Clark and Marcos Silva on piano (alternate tracks), Erik Jekabsen on trumpet, Rob Roth on tenor sax, Alex Murzyn on tenor, soprano sax and flute, Greg Wyser-Pratte, Phil Thompson and Alan Hall on drums, Matthew Heulitt on electric guitar, Brian Rice and Christian Pepin on percussion, Rob Reich on the accordion and Sandy Cressman on vocals (one track). This is an excellent production of high musicianship.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Song Without Singing”:

Tracks: Song Without Singing, Bittersweet, W., Hypnology, No Agenda, How We See Caught In The Act, King of Pain, Story, Pelo Mar, La Última Vez,  .


Cécile McLorin Salvant – For One To Love

(Mack Avenue)

If we didn’t know from her previous recordings, For One To Love is an unequivocal declaration that Cécile McLorin Salvant is an artist of exceptional talent. Her approach evokes the spirit of the great jazz vocalists and enfolded within her own bright, bold, playful and free performances. Putting more of her creative imprint on this effort, Salvant wrote five of the excellent tunes on the production. In addition to brilliant vocals and compositions, the arrangements are outstanding. The endeavor is also aided mightily by the presence of phenomenal pianist Aaron Diehl on the project, who is joined by his trio of Paul Sikivie on bass and Lawrence Leathers on drums. Every element of the production is impeccable and Salvant is truly beyond stellar.

Click to listen to a clip of “Stepsister’s Lament”:

Tracks: Fog, Growlin’ Dan, Stepsister’s Lament, Look At Me, Wives and  Lovers, Leftover, The Trolley Song, Monday,  What’s The Matter Now?,  Le Mal de Vivre, Something’s Coming, Underling .


Mason Razavi & Bennett Roth-Newell – After You

(First Orbit Sounds)

Guitarist Mason Razavi and pianist Bennett Roth-Newell have worked together in various musical capacities since meeting during their graduate studies at San Jose State University.  After You marks their collaborative recording debut and it is a delightful one. Each player’s sound compliments the other musician so incredibly. The musical conversation between the two make this production a really enjoyable listen. Additionally, the excellent original compositions and wonderfully sculpted covers by Lennon and McCartney, Clifford Brown and Joe Zawinul contribute to the quality of this collection. This is a fantastic duo project.

Click to listen to a clip of “Escaping The Inevitable”:

Tracks: Joy Spring, Escaping The Inevitable, A Daughter Is A Gift To The World, Mercy Mercy Mercy, Will You?, Mixed Memories, Through The Fog, Yesterday.

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Lizz Wright – Freedom & Surrender

(Concord Records)

Freedom & Surrender is singer Lizz Wright’s return from five years away from the studio. The album is exquisite. The quality of song and presentation is as outstanding as we’ve come to expect from Wright’s projects. Working with producer Larry Klein, the singer crafted a bevy of new material and re-imagined some existing works to weave this incredibly aural tapestry that envelopes with every advance to the following track. Wright also collaborated with song crafters J.D. Souther, Jesse Harris,  Maia Sharp and Toshi Reagon, with whom she’s worked on several of her previous recordings. Gregory Porter guests on a nice vocal duet. The album is rich with first-rate musicianship, spectrum-colored harmonies and a kind of magical spell, in which Wright doesn’t just perform the songs she sings, she possesses them, and the listener. It’s a gift that places Lizz Wright is in a class all her own.

Click to listen to a clip of “River Man”:

Tracks: Freedom, The Game, The New Game, Lean In, Right Where You Are, River Man, Somewhere Down The Mystic, Real Life Painting, To Love Somebody, Here and Now, You, Blessed The Brave, Surrender .


Michael Dease – Decisions


Michael Dease is one of the most inventive and entertaining trombonists on the scene today. Decisions makes that case as strongly as any of his previous works. The range of the material is fantastic. His virtuosity is brilliant and the music is outstanding. Dease wrote bulk of the great tunes on the recording covering a range of moods and modes. Joining him is a top-notch band of players. Tim Green is on saxophone, Glenn Zaleski is on piano, Rodney Whitaker is on bass and Ulysees Owens, Jr. is on drums. The production is excellent and one swinging affair.

Click to listen to a clip of “Jason’s Gonna Get Ya”:

Tracks: Grove’s Groove, Jason’s Gonna Get Ya, Travyon, Gorgeous Gwen, Decisions, Right Place Wrong Time, Everything Must Change, Three and One, You’re My Everything, The Big D.