Saxophonist Branford Marsalis and his quartet have been playing rebellious and unapologetic Jazz for the past three decades. Anyone familiar with this group is definitely aware of their high-flying improvisations that can launch at any given moment. “The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul” is a perfect example of freeform at it’s best with each instrumental voice being defined with purpose.
For 20 of those years, piano player Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis have been a staple in the group. Drummer Justin Faulkner has been with the band for about 10 years respectively. I have to say that the band has reached another pinnacle tending to a collection of moods with motivating commitment. Faulkner’s chops are crisp and smooth. Calderazzo goes ahead and smokes the ivories and Revis’s bass line is fluent and on point. Marsalis outdoes himself on this album, his phrasing is sharp and endless. Each member of the quartet compliments each other the way an improv band should.
“Life Filtering from the Water Flowers” is Marsalis’ one and only composition on this album and it is of true Marsalis form. This arrangement displays a cleverly organized instrumentation with very moving and contained sax riffs only Marsalis can phrase. Calderazzo’s piano playing and Faulkner’s drumming help convey the message Marsalis is bringing across. “Life Filtering from the Water Flowers”, compliments the album as a reflective tribute to his late mother Delores Marsalis.
“The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul” is a definite must-have for all Jazz fans. The creativity of the improvisation tangents in each song is truly an original compilation that cannot be duplicated. This album is an enjoyable and innovative listen that features some engaging moments of Jazz Improvisation. This album serves as a perfect example as to why the Brandfors Marsalis Quartet is held in such high regard for the past 30 years.
The Other Side of the Story is an album full of head nodding songs with a Wayne Shorter feel, coupled with a spiritual and arcadian effect that only Matt Kane can deliver. Kane’s influence is all over this album along with the undisputed truth that he can write songs and write them well. (Image courtesy of Matt Kane)
The team Kane put together for this album, comprised of vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, Pianist Klaus Mueller, guitar player Vic Juris and bass player Mark Peterson. The Chromatic solos fo Schlamb and Muller work together perfectly on each track of the album. Couple their playing together with the dynamic, sexy riffs and phrasing of Juris’ guitar playing is an added bonus. Kane and Peterson back each soloist with solid rhythm. Kane’s drumming technique drives the music forward, generating statements of his own, with tight snare whips in a march-like pace.
What I love about this album is that Kane explores a plethora of moods. “Jump Rope Dance” is an exceptional example of funk, while “Eureka Springs” has an energetic feel of a road trip. Then there is “Distance” which exhibits a rustic, rural feel, like being out in the wilderness camping. “Drive” is all about a rock feel and is also Kane putting on a drum clinic. He starts with a single tap to a full explosion of controlled drumming.
The Other Side of the Story is a collective adventure that will take you on a ride through all the different moods Kane brings to the table. Kane tells the other side of the story to us very well, not only as a bandleader but as a composer too. This is the first album Kane composed and I am waiting with “Great Expectations” for his next work. This album is a must-have for Jazz lovers and music enthusiasts of all genres as well.
The Painted Lady Suite is the debut album by the Michael Leonhart Orchestra (MLO). Inspired by the incredible 9 thousand mile migration of the the “Painted Lady” butterfly. This suite is broken into two parts with seven movements. Each part represents, two separate journeys of the “Painted Lady” butterfly. One journey is over North America to Canada. The other from the Arctic Circle over Europe to North Africa. Additionally, this compilation also contains three earlier pieces composed by Leonhart specifically for MLO. First, is the additional track “In the Kingdom of MQ”. A cool march , with a stimulating solo by tenor sax player Donny McCaslin. “In the Kingdom of MQ” is dedicated to Leonhart’s younger son Milo. Portraying his son’s confident steps from toddler-hood to the joyful discoveries of being a young boy. Next,” Music Your Grandparents Would Like” is what fusion is all about. A “big band” swing with a rock feel, guitarist Nels Cline delivers a solo which Zappa would appreciate. Thirdly the piece, “The Girl From Udaipur” depicts a family trip to India. The baritone sax solos of Ian Hendrickson-Smith and Jay Leonhart bring this album to a chilling close.
First of all, I love this album because each song delivers a taste of the classical masters, such as Ravel and Stravinski. If you are familiar with “Bolero” by Ravel, you can definitely recognize his influence in a lot of the music on this album. Furthermore, you can also hear the influence of rock guitar legends Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix on this album as well. Finally, the glue holding this album together is the style of Miles Davis and Quincy Jones.
This is a definite “add” to your collection. This album is perfect for any mood, therefore a must have for all Jazz aficionados. Additionally, the progress and evolution of MLO parallels the journey of the “Painted Lady” butterfly. Hence the creation of “The Painted Lady Suite”, which really hits home. More importantly, this album is an illustration of a blend of genres that work well together. “Painted Lady Suite” is solid, however the three additional tracks are what really make this album exceptional.
I Absolutely love this album. The DIVA Jazz Orchestra is an ensemble of fifteen extremely talented and versatile female musicians, that swing, with a “Big Band” sound that will completely leave you thirsting for more. The fact that this band is comprised entirely of women, makes it a melting pot for talented musicians who remain greatly under exposed to define and express themselves in such a male dominated industry. They are hard charging, powerful and their anniversary project album is all that and more. Every song on this album swings with vibrant sound and stellar soloists that really take charge. This twelve song collection contains all original compositions by its members. The precision of each contribution to the project, highlights the alliance of skill by each musician, beyond their exceptional playing artistry.
The first track on the album is “East Coast Andy” which really sets the mood for the entire compilation. The melody is performed with an excellent woodwind section surrounded by a strong brass section. Each section of band hits, show how tight a band can be after playing together for twenty-five years. Jami Dauber’s trumpet solo is marvelous and stirring. The solo is full of blues tonality over the medium-tempo of solid swing. Baritone sax player Leigh Pilzer’s is just buzzing with the full rich language of Jazz, which is the heart and soul of this song and all of the other pieces on this tremendous work.
A 25th anniversary is a rare milestone in the music world today. Band leader Sherrie Maricle, is the driving force behind this Jazz machine of excellence. The DIVA Jazz Orchestra goes above and beyond the label of an just another all-female band. This is all about a combined sound and force of women who have worked hard for each of their accomplishments as players and game-changers in the industry today.
An institution of all coffee shops in NYC, the “Lower East Side Coffee Shop” says it all. I love this shop, and pretty much all “Original” and “True” New Yorkers love this place or at least know of it. What I love the most aside from the price, is that it is completely unchanged and in keeping with the “Coffee Shop” tradition.
When you walk into this java hub, you are taken back to a vintage era. An age of leather booths for four and tables for two. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and breakfast foods, that get your taste-buds going, fills the air. The staff is professional and seasoned and probably have been at this coffee emporium since its establishment.
My favorite time to visit is early morning. There is nothing better than listening to “WBGO DJ” Gary Walker spinning timeless Jazz classics over a hot cup of coffee. That first sip of coffee with the anticipation of my favorite breakfast is what I like to call “Great Expectations” as the early morning stress melts away. Every once and while, you can relive your youth, watching a young guy make an ass out of himself to impress his date after a night out on the town.
What makes early morning special, is you get to see both sides of the city. The night time crowd retiring and the early risers beginning their day. Either way this place removes the weight of the world off of you, for however long it takes to down a cup of coffee or a bowl of oatmeal.
The “Lower East Side Coffee Shop” is open 24 hours a day and believe me, I have been there all hours of the day and evening. From a night of hard partying with friends to actually meeting first dates. The “Lower East Side Coffee Shop” is truly a great spot to start your day or end your evening. It is a staple in the realm of the “Coffee Institution”.
Wes Montgomery, Jazz Guitarist/Musician/Legend, that’s what I think about this brilliant composer and instrumentalist. Born in Indianapolis Indiana, the guitarist had one of the most successful careers in the world of Jazz. Just recently I had a chance to hear a recording of Wes live in Paris which was produced on March 27, 1965 and had been re-released digitally in a two CD set by Resonance Records. There are two reasons as to what makes this recording so unique. This was Wes’ first and only performance in Paris, AKA the “City of Light” and it was recorded in “ORTF”. Now you’re probably saying to yourself, “What the hell is ‘ORTF'”. “ORTF” is a technique used to record stereo sound. Now I can go on and talk about recording techniques, however that’s not what this is about.
Wes was joined on the stage, by Jazz legends, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Arthur Harper, drummer Jimmy Lovelace, and special guest, tenor sax player Johnny Griffin, all solid at what they play in the Jazz world. The arrangement are flawless and truly some of Wes’ best work along with his accompaniment. Harold’s piano is full of the freewheeling spirit of “Bop” and the tight rhythm section keeping the pace for the finger picking leads and the slash chord solos with the magnificence only Montgomery can deliver.
The mid-’60s was considered a time of “Pop Jazz” which is where Wes tended to drift towards, however, he still kept to his bebob and blues roots through the entire performance. Song number four on CD number two is a perfect example of this combination of genre and style that is the antithesis of Wes Montgomery. The entire album illustrates the long lasting impression his creativity left on the world of Jazz and all the genres of music today and days of the past. We lost Wes 3 years after this iconic performance, June 15, 1968 at the age of 45 due to a massive heart attack. A crushing blow to the Jazz and performing artist community. This album is a must have for all Jazz enthusiasts.
People ask me all the time if there is a particular Jazz album for a specific occasion or “What’s a good album to sit back and just chill to”? I make a ton of recommendations because there is a lot of Jazz out there. One album that really stands out to me is “Fishing for Compliments” a blend of Cool, Swing and Smooth Jazz all rolled up into one hell of an album created by tenor sax phenom Scott Kreitzer. Kreitzer is accompanied on this album by one of the best rhythm sections in the business today, including: Kenny Washington, David Finck, Andy Ezrin and Kreitzor’s mentor, Ira Sullivan. Each artist in this combination, compliment each other throughout the entire album the way only true Jazz masters can. This compilation is flavored with all of the various influences throughout Scott’s Career such as John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Clifford Brown, and Ira Sullivan.
Just a little about the man behind this album, a current New York City Resident, Scott is originally from South Florida and started his musical journey on the clarinet when he was twelve years old. At the age of fifteen, Scott was introduced to the tenor sax and Jazz legend Ira Sullivan, who later became his mentor. When Scott turned nineteen he ventured off to New York City where he was able to study with Joe Lovano, Eddie Daniels, and Bob Mintzer, while he was still able to continue his education at William Paterson College.
“Fishing for Compliments” is on of those albums that can be played on any occasion for any type of mood. Whether your throwing an exclusive dinner party or you need to come down after a stressful day, this album is the perfect answer for any situation. Have a listen, swing and enjoy!