Friday, October 4, 2019

CD Review: Lisa Rich, "Highwire"

Lisa Rich has an interesting story to tell.  In the 1980's she was one of the most promising Jazz singers in the US.  She and her lush voice performed in some of the most prestigious Jazz settings in the US including a series of concerts in China and India. It was not only her voice that brought her into a national focus, her ability to handle sensitive lyrics and melodies were near perfect.  She recorded two CD's before recording "Highwire" in 1987 but never released.  Lisa Rich experienced serious health issues that caused her to stop performing and pause her career.  She then opened up a music studio and worked as a Vocal teacher and gave private lessons and conducted workshops.  It was not until 2018 that Lisa returned to the music she had begun so long ago and remixed the "Highwire" CD and released it in August of 2019.

"Highwire" is really a tribute to the writing genius of Chick Corea.  A chance encounter with Chick Corea moved him to present Lisa with several of his songs.  Lisa interprets five of Corea's songs on this CD and also two songs by Ralph Towner, one by Duke Ellington, Ornette Coleman and Loonis McGlohon and the standard, "We'll Be Together Again" by Carl Fischer and Frankie Laine.

The supporting musical cast on "Highwire" is terrific starting with outstanding Piano work from Marc Copland, Bassist Drew Gress and Drummer Michael Smith.  David Kane also provides great piano support on tracks 3 and 6.

This CD remix was recorded 32 years ago but proves again that good music is timeless.  Lisa Rich has a natural ease and smoky lush voice that reminds us what Jazz Vocals are all about.  All the songs included in this CD are difficult but sensitive and Lisa sings everyone flawlessly.

1. "High Wire The Aerialist"
2. "Contessa" 
3. "Celeste/Prelude To A Kiss"
4. "Bud Powell"
5. "Stardancer"
6. "Lonely Woman"
7. "Songbird"
8. "The Jinn"
9. "We'll Be Together Again"
10. "The Silence Of A Candle"

Lisa Rich-Vocals
Marc Copland-Piano
Drew Gress-Acoustic Bass
Michael Smith-Drums
David Kane-Piano (Track 3 & 6) 

I have selected two YouTubes for you to review that showcase Lisa Rich's wonderful Vocal talents. The first one is "High Wire The Aerialist", music by Chick Corea, Lyric by Tony Cohan.  The second is a terrific version of the standard, "We'll Be Together Again", Music by Carl T Fischer, Lyric by Frankie Laine.

Friday, September 13, 2019

CD Review: Fred Hersch & The WDR Big Band Release "Begin Again"

Fred Hersch continues to amaze me with the depth of his musical talents.   His solo recordings are masterful performances and his Piano trio work is possibly the best heard today.  But his talents don't stop there.  In Fred's lastest CD "Begin Again" he joins the wonderful WDR Big Band playing his compositions Arranged and Conducted by six-time Grammy winner, Vince Mendoza.  "Begin Again" contains some supurb compositions by Hersch and some wonderful performances by the members of WDR Big Band recently described by "DownBeat" as "One of Europe's finest large Jazz ensembles".  I find it impossible to determine what brings more to this CD, the magnificent compositions Hersch has written or the impeccable orchestrations Mendoza put together.  It really doesn't matter because this CD has music that needs to be heard by any Jazz lover.   The feel of the songs seem almost classical in nature and yet, they seamlessly provide space for talented solo opportunities from a group of musicians that include Alto Saxophonists Johan Horlen and Karolina Strassmayer, Tenor Sax player Paul Heller, Trumpeters Ruud Breuls and Andy Haderer, Tombonists Ludwig Nuss and Andy Hunter and Drummer Hans Dekker.  All these players are outstanding European Jazz players who were new to me, but Jazz is not limited by boundaries or language.  It  allows great musicians playing great music to be enjoyed by all!

Fred Hersch is one of the most respected Jazz musicians currently performing and is already one of the most influential in Jazz history.  Joining him in this project to provide arrangements, Vince Mendoza provides clear proof as to why he has had 33 Grammy nominations and 6 Grammy wins.  One might think that putting two musical giants together might have some issues but Hersch and Mendoza blend their talents perfectly to produce great music!

1. "Begin Again"
2. "Song Without Words #2"
3. "Havana"
4. "Out Someplace"
5. "Pastorale"
6. "Rain Waltz"
7. "The Big Easy"
8. "Forward Motion"
9. "The Orb"

Fred Hersch- Piano and all Compositions and Arrangement for the "Orb"
Vince Mendoza- Arrangements and Orchestrations
The WDR Big Band:
    Alto Sax- Johan Horlen, Karolina Strassmayer
    Tenor Sax- Olivier Peters 
    Tenor Sax- Paul Heller
    Baritone Sax- Jens Neufang
    Trombone- Ludwig Nuss, Andrea Andreoli, Andy Hunter
    Bass Trombone/Tuba- Mattis Cederberg
    Trumpet- Wim Both, Rob Bruynen, Andy Haderer, Ruud Breuls
    Guitar- Paul Shigihara
    Bass- John Goldsby
    Drums- Hans Dekker

I have attached two "YouTubes" from this wonderful new CD that I guarantee will delight you.  The first is "Havana" that speaks well for the composing and playing talents of  Fred Hersch and the Arranging and Conducting unique skills of Vince Mendoza.

The second "YouTube" is "Rain Waltz" and it's also a brilliant combination of composing and arranging.  You might want to grab an umbrella because you may feel the rain.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

CD Review: Larry Fuller New CD, "Overjoyed"

Larry Fuller has released his new CD "Overjoyed" and I think its a gem!  Larry Fuller is a masterful pianist who has not only technical expertise but also the ability to emotionally connect with his audiences.  One reason he has this rare combination of skills is because he learned his craft the old fashioned way, on the bandstand.  Larry has varied experience playings with four giants of mainstream Jazz.  He started with legendary Bassist, Ray Brown, then worked with vocalist Ernestine Anderson, moved to the musical wonder, Jeff Hamilton and then joined with acclaimed guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli.  Four top level musicians by any measure and Larry brought and took from each one of them to develop his personal style.

Larry brought Bassist Hassan Shakur and Drummer Lewis Nash to join him to perform a great group of song from the "Great American Songbook" including Jazz, Blues Pop standards and some beautiful originals.

The playlist is a wonderful collection of songs with "Overjoyed" by Stevie Wonder, "Bossa Beguine" by Oscar Peterson, "Fried Pies" by Wes Montgomery, "Cubano Chant" by Ray Bryant, "Lined with a Groove" by Ray Brown, and the standards, "How Long Has This Been, "Going On"Never Let Me Go", and "Mona Lisa".

Larry Fuller is a Jazz giant and tours around the country.  When he is in your area,  let nothing stay in your way to see him perform live.  I guarantee it will be a musical treat you will not forget!

1. "Fried Pies"
2. "Overjoyed"
3. "Lined With A Groove"
4. "Jane's Theme"
5. "The Mooch"
6. "How Long Has This Been Going On"
7. "Cubano Chant"
8. " Mona Lisa"
9. "Bossa Beguine"
10. "Bossa Nova Do Marilla"
11. "Never Let Me Go"
12. "Go My Mojo Workin"

Larry Fuller- Piano
Hassan Shakur- Bass
Lewis Nash-Drums
I have attached two "YouTubes" from Larry Fuller's terrific new CD "Overjoyed"  The first is Wes Montgomery's "Fried Pies" and the second is Stevie Wonder's class "Overjoyed".

Thursday, August 8, 2019

CD Review: Beata Pater releases Her 9th CD, "TeT"

Beata Pater has just released her 9th CD entitled "TeT" and it's a beautiful piece of musical art.   Backed by an 18-piece band that includes a wind and brass double quartet, and a double string quartet,   Beata began playing violin at the age of 6 and became "totally obsessed with the instrument".  She was a serious student of classical music but at age 15 she joined a Funk/Jazz/Fusion band that enjoyed some success while still living in her native Poland.  Still looking for something new, she moved to England to continue her violin studies.  While studying in England another opportunity arose in Japan.  She was contracted to teach violin at the Yamaha school for six months but stayed for 10 years.

All this instrumental training  and experiment with genres allowed Beata to develop her singing voice and style from the perspective of a highly trained instrumentalist.  Beata uses her voice as a finely tuned instrument and the results are rich and satisfying.  In fact, at times when I was listening to her CD, I almost forgot she was doing a vocal since the sound of her voice was so soft and beautiful .  She is one of the finest examples of what a Jazz singer is all about.

 "TeT" contains a selection of Jazz standards and original tunes by contemporary composers.  Each tune is beautifully and musically done to the highest standards.  Pater calls the CD "TeT" because there are nine tunes on this recording and "TeT" is the ninth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the symbol for the number 9.


1. "Little Sunflower"
2. "Lazy Afternoon"
3. "I feel You"
4. "Crystal Silence"
5. "Old Devil Moon"
6. "Invitation"
7. "The Contessa"
8. "Strays"
9. "Ode to Max"


Beata Pater- Vocal
Hiromu Aoki- Piano
Dan Felszli- Bass
Brynn Albanese- Violin
Emily Lanzone-Violin
Peter Janduloa-Hudson- Viola
Barbara Spencer- Cello
Stefen Kuehn- Trumpet/Flugehorn
John Gove- Trombone
Meredith Brown- French Horn
Aaron Lington- Bass Clarinet/Flute

I have attached two "YouTubes" for your listening pleasure.  The first one is the classic Jazz tune, "Little Sunflower" composed by Freddie Hubbard and Al Jarreau.  This is one of my favorite Jazz tunes and I loved hearing my good friend who recently passed, Steve Madaio  play this on his Trumpet.  Steve's version was a lot faster than Beata's but both version are just terrific!  The second "YouTube" is an absolutely brilliant version of the Jazz standard "Invitation".  I know you will enjoy both!


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

CD Review: Tierney Sutton and Her Band Continues their Recording Excellence With Their New CE: "Screenplay"

On May 17, 2019, Tierney Sutton and her wonderful band released a simply beautiful new CD called "Screenplay" that covers outstanding songs from American films.  Tierney Sutton has been performing for over 25 years  and has gathered 8 Grammy nominations for her stellar Jazz vocal work.  You might think that receiving 8 Grammy Nominations would make Tierney one of the biggest popular vocalist performing today but wait, Tierney Sutton is a Jazz singer.  Jazz singers just don't get the respect they deserve. Not only is Tierney a Jazz singer but one of the very best in her trade.  Tierney doesn't show up and just sing Jazz standards like most Jazz singers.  No, Tierney's arrangements are spectacular, fresh and unique.  So different that lots of up and coming Jazz singers borrow them and mostly without permission,  I have to add.  The wonderful arrangements were created with help from The Tierney Sutton Band's talented band members including of course, Tierney herself.  Tierney Sutton deserves tons more accolades and more attention from the listening public and the music industry.  She is in a class of her own, never playing it safe and always taking chances and her final music product is always superb!

A few months ago I had the pleasure of hearing Tierney sing at Pete Carlson's Golf Shop in Palm Desert, CA and her performance reminded me again of how special her singing is.  Tierney is a gift for any music lover of Jazz singing.  I have no doubt that she is one of the top 5 Jazz vocalists performing today.  The Tierney Sutton Band tours the country so be alert to when she is performing in your area and don't let anything stop you from hearing Tierney Sutton and this band.

This review would not be complete without showering  praise on the members of this talented and creative band.  Every member of this band is a high-level musician not only for their playing capabilities but also their understanding of Tierney Sutton's phrasing and touch for lyrics.  Of course, their contributions to the arrangements are stunning!  The band is one of the most creative and artistically satisfying groups performing currently.

The CD has 15 cuts, each one a gem, and the Band approaches every one of these great songs from American movies in a different path than the original arrangements.


Tierney Sutton- Vocals
Christian Jacob- Piano
Kevin Axt- Bass
Trey Henry- Bass
Ray Brinker- Drums
Serge Merlaud- Guitar (5, 12,13)
Alan Bergman- Vocals (12)


1. "The Windmills of Your Mind"
2. "Moon River/Calling You"
3.  "On a Clear Day"
4. "What Are You doing the Rest of Your Life"
5. "I've Got No Strings"
6. "If I Only Had a Brain?"
7. "The Sound of Silence"
8. "Goodbye for Now"
9. "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"
10. "Hopelessly Devoted to You"
11. "You're the One That I Want"
12. "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?"
13. "It might Be Now"
14. "Every Now and Then"
15. "Arrow"

I have selected  2 "YouTubes" for your listening pleasure.  The first one is one of my personal favorites, "The Windmills of Your Mind" with music by the late Michel Legrand and lyric by Alan and Marilyn Bergman.  The arrangement is by Tierney Sutton.  The second is "The Sound of Silence" from the move "The Graduate".   The arrangement is by Trey Henry and Ray Brinker.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

CD Review: Guitar Player and Blues Vocalist Josh Hyde releases his new CD, "Into the Soul"

Guitar player/singer/songwriter Josh Hyde released his second album "Into the Soul" on April 26, 2019.  Josh Hyde has written all the songs on his new CD and they all have a comfortable feel,  like you've  experienced them before.  At times, the sound of Josh's music feels somewhat imperfect and that's the charm of this CD.  Josh writes, sings and plays the Blues and the feel is what you might have heard on the radio in the 1970's.  Josh had a unique musical vision for this CD.   He offers "I always wanted to do an analog recording, work on reel-to-reel.  The producer,  Joe V. McMahan, just by chance, knew of a machine that was being sold by Robert Plant's producer. So we ended up buying this 24 track analog machine that Robert Plant had done a few records on. It kind of gave the album a different sound.  There's nothing really like analog".

This CD has a wonderful groove and a major part of this feel is because of the talented musicians that support Josh.  If you like the Blues, you will love this CD.  

1. Josh Hyde-Guitar/ Vocals/ Vibraphone
2. Joe V, McMahan-Guitar/Vibraphone
3. Ron Eoff- Bass
4. Derrek Phillips- Drums/ Percussion
5. Jimmy Wallace- Organ/Piano/Keys
6. Chris Lippincott-Pedal Steel

1. "Rocking Chair"
2. "Smile"
3. "For You I Ache"
4. "Lover's Curse"
5. "The Edge of Love"
6. "Can't Let Go"
7. "The Key"
8. "Down on Bourbon Street"
9. "All You Need is Soul"
10. "Call My Name"
11." Reasons Why"

I have attached two "YouTubes" for your listening enjoyment.  The first one is the opening tune on the CD, "Rocking Chair"  and the second is also one of my favorites,  "Smile".  Josh Hyde writes from the heart and his lyrics are emotional and believable!

Monday, June 17, 2019

CD Review: "Five Play Live from the Firehouse Stage"

Five Play is a popular Jazz Band where five remarkably talented women musicians perform with a
deep sense of traditional Jazz band music including original compositions and standards with arrangements that are true to the history of American Jazz.  The band consists of Sherrie Maricle-MusicalDirector/Drums, Tomoko Ohno-Piano,  Noriko Ueda-Bass,  JamiDauber-Trumpet/Flugelhorn and Janelle Reichman-Tenor Sax/Clarinet.  Each one of these talented ladies contributed an original composition for this CD and all worked on the arrangements.  The songs and arrangements are just plain fun that bring the listener back to previous era when Jazz bands ruled!

Five Play has performed at many of the world's most prestigious concert halls, musical festivals and
Jazz clubs from Carnegie Hall to The Kennedy Center.  In 2004, the quintet was recognized in DownBeat Magazine's Annual Readers' Poll as one of the best small groups of the year.  In 1999 their inaugural CD, "On the Brink", was voted best CD of the year by Jazz journalist icon Nat Hentoff.

1. "T-Bone Special"
2. "Samba De Sorvete"
3. "Just Squeeze Me"
4. "Uneven Pieces"
5. "The Pilot"
6. "Nancy with the Laughing Face"
7. "Circles"
8. "I Can't Give you Anything But Love"
9. "Unexpected"
10. "The time Being"

I have attached two "YouTubes" for your listening enjoyment.  The first one is Five Play's fine version of the Duke Ellington classic "Just Squeeze Me"  with excellent Clarinet work by Janelle Reichman and the second one is a Basie-inspired arrangement of the Jimmy McHugh classic, "I Can't Give You Anything But Love".

CD Review: Lisa Rich, "Highwire"

Lisa Rich has an interesting story to tell.  In the 1980's she was one of the most promising Jazz singers in the US.  She and her lus...