Friday, September 26, 2014

CD Review: Julie Kelly "Happy To Be"


My first listening introduction to Julie Kelly was by way of her new CD "Happy To Be".  After listening to just the first few songs, it became clear why Julie is one of the most respected Jazz singers on the West Coast.  If anyone ever asks you to define Jazz singing, save your time and theirs by simply telling them to listen to Julie Kelly and her CD "Happy To Be". Julie's pure warm voice has a sensibility to melody and lyric that's very rare.  Her selection of songs on this CD reinforces her perfect taste in the best in melody and her wonderful lyric writing abilities.  She wrote the lyrics for two songs on the CD, "The Blues According to Orpheus" and "For Joni".   "For Joni" began as a poem she wrote for Joni Mitchell.  Tierney Sutton the marvelous Jazz singer in her own right calls this tune nothing less than a "gorgeous anthem" to all who love Joni Mitchell.

One of the essential talents that all Jazz singers need to develop is the ability to pick the best  musicians who will lift the singer to higher levels.  The musicians Julie has selected to support her on this CD are spectacular!  Bill Cunliffe has worked with Julie on other projects and is a widely respected pianist and Grammy Award-winning arranger, Anthony Wilson the outstanding guitarist who works with only the best musicians including Diana Krall, Tom Warrington known as one of the best Bass players in the country, world-class Drummer Joe LaBarbera who worked with Bill Evans for years and a Horn section comprised of A-list players including Bob Sheppard, Clay Jenkins, Ron Stout and Bob McChesney.  Also, there is an additional contribution made by the following fine musicians:  Walter Rodriguez, Percussion, Kim Richmand, Saxophone and on Vibes the "superb" Nick Mancini.

Julie Kelly has given the Jazz world a wonderful gift of great music that validates that Jazz singing still has a special place in today's music scene!

I have attached a "You-Tube" video of Julie singing "You're The Dangerous Type" from her CD "Happy To Be".


Saturday, September 20, 2014

CD Review: Ginger Berglund & Scott Whitfield sing "Solitary Moon", The Johnny Mandel Songbook


"Solitary Moon" is a major league tribute to one of the best composers of Jazz, Pop and Film Music, Johnny Mandel. He has long been recognized within the music industry as one of its creative giants yet, it has always been my belief that Johnny Mandel has never received the deserved level of credit from the music public. But make no mistake about it, the multitalented Mandel is equal to the best songwriters and musicians of the past 100 years.

This CD starts with a tribute to Johnny Mandel, but that is not where the magic ends. Ginger Berglund and Scott Whitfield could have recorded this CD with just the two of them, and I know this CD would have been terrific. However, Ginger and Scott chose to bring along some of the most respected musicians performing on the Jazz scene today. The result is a musical product that is close to perfection music and a musical treat for the ears.

Ginger Berglund has a sterling resume of work as a vocalist including recording with Steve Allen and the great pianist Paul Smith. She has sung with Kenny Rankin and the great Brazilian Jazz vocalist Flora Purim and her husband, the premiere fusion Jazz Percussionist Airto Moreira. Ginger still performs with the Stan Kenton Alumni Band, The Modernaires, The Tracy Wells Big Band and the Jumpin' Joz Band.

Scott Whitfield is a world class Trombonist, Arranger and Singer. He is internationally recognized for his work with many contemporary big bands, including the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, The Clare Fischer Bib Band, The Bill Holman Band, The Phil Norman Tentet and his own Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra. Whitfield also plays trombone for the Johnny Mandel Orchestra.

Ginger and Scott chose 15 tracks for this CD and Whitfield did all the arrangement from big band to small group, from vocal duets to a cappella five-part harmony.  Singing together they treat us with beautiful Mandel melodies and perfect harmonies that you will seldom hear today. They are perfect singing together! Both Berglund and Whitfield are also members of the Modernaires, the legendary vocal group that performed in the 1940's for The Glenn Miller Band. Whitman is also a member of the LAVA (Los Angeles Vocal Alliance), a new vocal group of brass players who sing in four-part harmony. They make their recording debut on Whitfield's version of the Mandel classic, "Emily".

I can't end this review without listing the superb list of musicians that contributed to this wonderful CD. I am sure that you will know many of them from their past work. Thank you Ginger and Scott for sharing your wonderful musical talents with us!

Ginger Berglund: Voice                     Scott Whitfield: Voice, Trombone, All arrangements
Corey Allen: Piano                            Jennifer Laitham: Bass
Kendall Kay: Drums                         Roger Neumann: Tenor Sax, Bari Sax, Bass Clarinet
Rusty Higgins: Alto Sax, Flute, Alto Clarinet       Billy Kerr: Alto Sax
Pete Christieb: Tenor Sax, Clarinet   Nancy Newman: Bari Sax
Jamie Hovorke: Trumpet                   Carl Saunders: Trumpet
Ira Nepus: Trumbone                         Linda Small: Trombone
Rich Nullock: Bass Trombone           John Dickson: Horn
Stephanie O'Keefe: Horn

SPECIAL GUESTS:

Ken Peplowski: Clarinet                    Don Shelton: Clarinet
Jack Peterson: Guitar                         Airto Moreira: Percussion

The Modernaires: Julie Dickson, Ginger Berglund, Jimmy Stephens, Joe Croyle, Scott Whitfield 

Lava: Jonathan Dane, Larry Williams, Scott Whitfield, Rich Bullock


I have attached a "YouTube" video of Ginger and Scott singing the first cut from "Solitary Moon"                                                      "Cinnamon & Clove".




Saturday, September 13, 2014

CD Review: Murali Coryell "Restless Mind"


Murali Coryell, a contemporary soul-blues singer/guitarist and songwriter released a new, terrific CD "Restless Minds" on August 19, 2014. I published a review of Coryell's last CD "Live" on this site on 1/10/2013.  This new CD is another gem! If you are a Blues and Jazz fan, Murali Coryell is your guy. He continues to impress not only with his Guitar playing but with his soulful singing ability that matches his Guitar playing perfectly. "Restless Mind" features 11 original songs written by Coryell and a great cover of Marvin Gaye's classic "Let's Get It On".

Murali Coryell has truly arrived as one of the great contemporary soul-blues singer/guitar players. He has paid his dues over many years honing his trade, but his last two CDs prove that he has truly arrived to the forefront of soulful Blues performing today. The group of musicians that Coryell has put together for this CD are outstanding in their own right.  Ernie Durawa on Drums, Chris Alcaraz on Bass, Joe Morales on Saxophone and Jimmy Shortell on Trumpet. If you love the Blues, you need to get this CD for your collection.

                  Song List
1. "Waiting and Wasting Away"
2. "Kiss Me First"
3. "Restless Mind"
4. "I'm So Happy"
5. "Sex Maniac'
6. "Crime of Opportunity"
7. "I Can't Give You Up"
8. "Tag Along"
9. "I Need Someone To Love"
10. "Lonely Eyes"
11. "Everyday is a Struggle"
12. "Let's Get It On" 

I have attached a "YouTube" video of Coryell singing "Crime of Opportunity" one of the original songs he wrote for "Restless Mind".

                                  Crime of Opportunity Written and Performed by Murali Coryell

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

CD Review: Frank DiSalvo "All Things Are Possible for Those Who Believe"


Over the past few years Frank DiSalvo has quickly become one of the most popular and loved entertainers performing in the Coachella Valley. When I first played this CD, I was surprised by the great arrangements but not by the outstanding singing. Frank has always been a great voice, but I think the quality of his singing on this CD is exceptionally good. In spite of the huge amount of success and following Frank has developed, he has never stopped working to improve his trade. The sounds on this CD prove that all of Frank's efforts have brought him to a much higher level as a singer.

"All Things Are Possible for Those Who Believe" is a "feel good" CD that is guaranteed to lift your spirits and appeal to your patriotism! The songs represent Frank's personality and his beliefs and the spirit within these songs is contagious. I have to admit that after years of following Frank's career, it is so satisfying to see the development of his singing skills. Frank has always been a talented performer, but the release of this CD proves that he has truly arrived as a major league singer!

If you would like to buy a copy, just go to Frank's website: frankdisalvo.com and send Frank an email and he will give you the details.

              Song List
1. "You Raise Me Up"
2. "Wind Beneath My Wings"
3. "The Prayer"
4. "The Impossible Dream"
5. "Wonderful World"
6. "Hallelujah"
7. "God Bless The USA"
8. "Liberty"
9. "I Come Back To You Again"
10. "Heartlight"

CD REVIEW: MIKE SPINRAD'S "HORNS"

Drummer, Composer and Arranger Mike Spinrad is a stalwart on the San Francisco Bay area Jazz scene.  According to Spinrad his goal as a...