Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pre-Release CD Review: Ron Boustead's "Mosaic"

Ron Boustead 

I listen to a lot of new CDs every week, and there is always a few real musical gems that I discover in my pile. I like a lot of the new artists but I only fall in love with a very small number.  Ron Boustead is  an artist that I have fallen in love with because of his "Mosaic" CD.  Usually I have to hear a new artist several times before I get a deep feeling for the new songs and the artist. Not so with Ron Boustead and his new CD "Mosaic".  This CD took a few years to produce and after just hearing it once, you will know why it took so long to complete.  Everything about this CD is brilliant!  The selection of songs are great, the singer is great, the mixing is great, the arrangements are great and the supporting group of musicians are superb.

Ron Boustead is a gifted vocalist and songwriter. "Mosaic" contains 4 songs he wrote and the balance of 6 songs are classics that Ron has applied his own interpretation to. I put a photo above of the credits because this CD was not created by getting a small group of musicians in a room and pumping out a CD.  Ron Boustead has put many hours of thought into who he wanted for each track and used lots of different players on each one.  Sometimes this can be a problem because the final product comes out uneven and not matched.  Not so here, the listener is carried seamlessly throughout the entire sound ride with no clue that each track contained a different group of professional musicians. The fact that the musicians Ron has chosen are world class players made the process work.

Ron sings and writes music in the same spirit that brings to mind some of the greatest songwriters of popular music today like Carole King, James Taylor, Jon Lucien, Bill Withers, Billy Larkin and contemporary Brazillian composer Leo Minax. This terrific CD will be available on September 3, 2013.

           1.   Moon Song                              6.   Careless Wind
           2.   You're Sensational                   7.   Every Monent Of You
           3.   No Me Without You                8.   Everything Be Ok
           4.   Wishful Thinking                     9.   Whatever Happens
           5.   And Now?                               10.  Secret 'O Life

I found one of the songs on the CD, "Moon Song" on Youtube and have attached it so you can hear Ron Boustead for yourself.  Enjoy!

                                                Ron Boustead Singing "Moon Song" 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Jazz is Alive and Well in Canada By J. Crawford Reid

Carol  McCartney and Kieran Overs

Carol McCartney and Chris Robinson

The Music Man Blog has a large number of followers in Canada, and this blog was written by a Canadian guest writer, J Crawford Reid.  Crawford has previously written a guest blog for us and he is our man in Canada who keeps us up-to-date about Jazz happenings in Canada. The following is his latest article:

This is a blog about a concert at Brantford Downtown Jazz in my town, Brantford, Ontario.  The series has been happening for 16 years! Yes, 16 years.  It's held in the lobby of the local theatre.  Maybe 200 people attend and the atmosphere is much like Vicky's in Indian Wells, Ca. with the audience that is quiet and respectful of the artists.

This week one of my favorite vocalist, Carol McCartney was featured.  I believe Carol is one of the best Jazz vocalists in Canada and always brings along a talented group of musicians to support her. Carol sings songs from the "Great American Songbook" along with some standard Jazz tunes. Tonight Carol sang one of my favorite Lester Young tunes "Just You, Just Me" brilliantly. Pres would have been pleased! Many of the songs she sang featured her excellent scat singing, something she loves to do. Carol also sang a beautiful version of "Yesterdays" and a tremendous arrangement of "Night and Day" arranged by the great Canadian arranger, Rick Wilkins. Carol did a couple of Jazz tunes too, like Bobby Timmons "Dat Dere" and a glorious tribute to Nancy Wilson, "West Coast Blues". The last tune Carol sang was "I'm Old Fashioned" that brought a great evening of Jazz to a wonderful finish.  

Carol has a new CD out "A Night In Tunisia" that really swings!  I'm sure that Dizzy was the driving inspiration for this wonderful CD.  You can hear Carol McCartney sing some of the songs from her new CD by visiting her site: "".  I have also attached a "YouTube" Video of Carol singing, "These Foolish Things" that I know you will enjoy. Carol performs all over the East including the USA, so if she has a gig near you, she is worth the effort to go see.

                                                                   Carol McCartney "These Foolish Things"

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vinyl LP's, Everyone Thing Old Is New Again!

Spring Is Here

A recent article published in the New York Times "Weaned on Cds, They're Reaching for Vinyl" got my attention.  The article was written by Allan Lozinn and was about the growth of Vinyl LP sales. I was aware last year that some small music labels were rereleasing vinyl LP's, but this is the first article since then that cites the progress and sales of vinyl LP's.  Many of my musician friends have always expressed the opinion that the sound you hear from LP's was warmer and had more depth than the CDs that all but replaced the LP industry. Personally I have never heard a vinyl LP that had a better sound than a digital CD but I have not gotten the chance to listen to many of the new LP's, so it's still an open question for me.

The main problem with the new "Vinyl LP" industry is not the lack of interest or buyers.  It turns out that the core problem is lack of pressing equipment needed to manufacture the LP's. According to Lozinn's article, about a dozen pressing plants are now up and in operation.  In addition, every major record label is releasing vinyl and most new releases have a vinyl version.  This is great for the growth of the vinyl industry but the effect is putting more pressure on the pressing industry that does not have enough equipment to satisfy the growing demand.  Most of the vinyl manufacturers are using used presses that cost about $25,000 and then they have to spend additional money to recondition them.  New pressing machines are very costly, running up to $500,000; a cost most labels can't justify.

When I first heard about vinyl LP's being issued again, my thought was that there is as much value in the LP art on the album cover as there is in the music on the vinyl itself. Now, if the quality of sound is more satisfying to a music fan than CDs, then this would explain the strong demand for the new vinyl LP's. Lozinn notes that "a growing number of classic albums including the complete Beatles and early Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan catalogs have had vinyl reissues in recent years as well."

One surprising comment in the Lozinn article was that the market seems to be driven by young kids who think collecting these new vinyl LP's is cool.  Josh Bizarre, the Director of Sales and Management of Music Direct, a Chicago company that manufactures vinyl and turntables provided the following interesting quote,"We never expected the vinyl resurgence to become as crazy as it is," he said. "But it's come full circle.  We get kids calling us up and telling us why they listen to vinyl and when we ask them why they don't listen to CDs, they say, CDs? My dad listens to CDs, why would I do that?"    

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

CD Review: Gene Ess, "Fractal Attraction"

David Berkman, Thana Alexa, Gene Ess, Thomson Kneeland and Gene Jackson
"Fractal Attraction" is a new album for a quintet by Gene Ess. Seven songs on this CD are original pieces composed by Gene Ess and one song was written by Thana Alexa.  All of the songs are fresh, original and compelling. Award winning guitarist, Gene Ess, comes from a diverse background that has formed his unique style. Gene's early years were filled with the sounds of Beethoven and Chopin.  Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Gene grew up on a US Air Force base on Okinawa. The result of all this mixed life and musical experiences gave Gene the ability to compose and perform a refreshing new and terrific sound that joins Pop, Classical and Jazz.

I was most impressed with the voice of Thana Alexa that is used more as an instrument throughout this CD.  Thana voice joins Gene's guitar perfectly and creates an exciting new united sound that works perfectly with Gene's compositions.

According to Gene "Fractal is the name given to images, landscapes, sounds and any other pattern that is self-similar in nature, that is, if you look at one small part, no matter how small, you get a sense of the whole picture. With this in mind, the music was composed from a loose (a la jazz) perspective and not a  rigid adherence to any rules or subsets of rules imposed by the fractal composing techniques. The result is a collection of swinging music that looks forward and looks to the past with musical respect. The supporting musicians on this Cd are truly experienced and professional.  Thana Alexa on Voice, David Berkman, Piano, Thomson Kneeland, Bass and Gene Jackson, Drums.

This CD will surely win many awards and will truly deserve them.  It's the new sound of Jazz that combines traditional Jazz with the sounds of new Jazz creating a different but comfortable new sound. "Fractal Attraction" was released on May 8, 2013 and is available at all fine retailers.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pre-Release CD Review: Frank Wess, "Magic 101"

When I was playing sax at age 15, two of my earliest influences were Lester Young and Ben Webster. As I reflect back, one of the reasons I love these two Tenor sax players and many others from this golden area of Tenor Sax players was because each one of them had the ability to play ballads in a way that would bring the lyric to life. According to the liner notes I read, "Both Young and Webster always said that they always thought about the lyrics to each song as they played". In this CD, Frank Wess brings new life to some gold plated standards, remaining loyal to melody, projecting the emotion of the lyrics and yet producing a new version of songs we have listened to our whole lives.

If you were a fan of the post-World War II Tenor Sax greats, you will get great pleasure listening to this New CD.  Frank has selected a splendid assortment of 7 songs including 4 ballads, and three other classic Jazz tunes.  Frank is supported by a very accomplished rhythm section consisting of Kenny Barron on Piano, Kenny Davis on Bass and Winard Harper on Drums.

By the way, not that you could tell from Frank Wess' fabulous playing, but he is 91 years of age!  My personal thanks to Mr. Wess for giving new life to all the great Tenor memories that have been stored in my memory since I was a teenager.

          Songs on the CD
Say It Isn't So                                       Berlin
The Very Thought of you                    Noble
Pretty Lady                                           Wess
Come Rain Or Come Shine                  Mercer & Arlen
Easy Living                                          Robin & Ranger
Blue Monk                                           Monk
All Too Soon                                       Ellington

This CD will be available in June 2013.

CD Review: John Vanore, "Primary Colors"

Trumpeter, Composer, Producer, Educator and Bandleader John Vanore has just released a long-forgotten studio recording of a duet he reco...