Wednesday, December 31, 2014

CD Review: Five Plus Six "Such Sweet Thunder"


Jazz is alive and well in all parts of the USA.  Most of the new Jazz CDs I am asked to review, especially big bands are either the West Coast or the East Coast.  However, Vance Thompson's new Jazz band, Five Plus Six direct from Knoxville, Tennessee proves that great Jazz is being creative all over the USA.  Vance Thompson is an outstanding Jazz Trumpet player, and he has provided some  sensational arrangements of classic Jazz composition from the masters of Jazz: Thelonious Monk, Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington.  And believe it or not Vance has arranged a gem from the musical pen of Dolly Parton that would knock Dolly off her chair, "Little Sparrow".

The heart of this new eleven-piece band combines Vance Thompson's core quintet with six additional horns.  The additional horn players while younger musicians, play with seasoned musicianship and add a noticeable excitement to the overall big band sound.  Five Plus Six has produced a terrific Jazz product and would thrill anyone who loves the big band Jazz sound.

As a side-note, this CD was made possible through a fund raising project done in coordination with the site, "Pledgemusic.com".  Its great that we have so many sites now where musicians can get financial support to record new CDs that benefit all music lovers.  The world is a better place because musicians like Vance Thompson can share their creative talents with us.

        The Lineup:
       
        "The Five"
Vance Thompson- Trumpet & Flugel and all arrangement except "Four in One".
Michael Wyatt-Trumpet
Joe Jordan-Trumpet
Tylar Bullion-Trombone
Sean Copeland-Tenor & Bass Trombone

         "The Six"
Keith Brown-Piano & Fender Rhodes
Jamel Mitchell-Alto & Soprano Sax
Taylor Coker-Bass
Greg Tardy-Tenor Sax & Bass Clarinet
Nolan Nevels-Drums
David King-Baritone and Soprano Sax

"Four and One" arrangement by Donald Brown and Keith Brown
Executive Producers: Barbara and Jeffrey Crist
Associate Producers: Bill and Elisabeth Rukeyser

Playlist:
"Pannonia"-Thelonious Monk
"Isfahan"-Billy Strayhorn
"Little Sparrow-Dolly Parton
"Ugly Beauty"-Thelonious Monk
"Such Sweet Thunder"-Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn
"Prelude To A Kiss"-Duke Ellington
"Rocklin In Rhythm"-Duke Ellington
"Four In One"-Thelonious Monk
"He's Gone Away"-Traditional Appalachian Folk Song

I found a "YouTube" of Five Plus Six playing "Rockin In Rhythm" that is guaranteed to make you feel good!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

CD Review: Barbara Rose "Christmas CD"


The talented and beautiful Barbara Rose has produced a new "Christmas" CD,  and it's what you expect from Barbara.  It's amazingly good! Barbara Rose's talent is hard to properly describe.  She began her musical life at age 3, attended Julliard and graduated at the age of 10.  By the time she was 17, she was playing and singing in the top night spots in New York City, like The St. Regis Hotel, The Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel, Peacock Alley at TheWaldorf-Astoria Hotel and Tavern on the Green.  Currently, Barbara entertains a large following of fans at the Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank, NJ usually on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for brunch.  Barbara is very much in demand, so if you want to see her, be sure to call ahead to make sure she is appearing. Barbara plays and sings all styles of music from Classic to American Jazz. She is also a fine composer and does all her own arrangements which are always unique and beautiful. Her "Christmas" CD must be heard by everyone who loves the historical music of Christmas.

    Playlist:

1. Winter Wonderland                          2. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
3. Santa Claus is coming To Town      4. Silent Night, Drummer Boy
5. We Need A Little Christmas            6. O Holy Night
7. Carol of Bells, Christmas Medley   8. Blue, White, Toy Land, All is Fair in Love
9. Hark                                                 10. I'll Be Home For Christmas

I have attached two YouTube videos I found I am sure you will love.  The first is Barbara's arrangement of "Carol of the Bells of Christmas Medley" and the second, "Dear Santa" is a tribute to our troops that Barbara wrote, arranged and performed.  Barbara says "I was inspired in 2001 by her prayers for peace and especially in tribute to our troops during the holidays, who continue to fight for freedom in the world.


                               Barbara Rose Playing "Carol of the Bells, Christmas Medley"


                                                Barbara Rose Playing Her Own Composition
                                                                      "Dear Santa'

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Keith Jarrett Still the King of Jazz Piano

                                  Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock 

On Sunday November 30, I received my first Christmas present.  I got tickets to see Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette perform live at NJPAC in Newark, NJ.  I never saw Keith in person, and I had very high expectations.  I can only say that my high expectations were exceeded with not only Keith but also the performance of Keith's partners of over 30 years, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette.  NJPAC had advertised the concert as "Jazz Geniuses in Concert", and they captured the happening perfectly!

The audience consisted of a mix of ages, from early 20's to some who were in their 80's. What I found as remarkable was the absolute respect the entire audience held for Keith and his remarkable side men.  Every time Keith approached the piano, there was total silence in a room packed with an overflow of Jazz lovers. I have never experience this respectful tribute to any other Jazz musician I have heard live.

Keith Jarrett is universally recognized as one of the most creative improvisers of Jazz Piano. His brilliance is aided by his Classical educational which brings improvised Jazz to wonderful heights that elevate his listeners to Jazz heaven.  The word genius is overused at lot especially in the music world, but there is no better word that describes the music Keith creates!

Performing tonight with Keith were two other musical giants, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette.  Gary Peacock is still playing world-class Bass at the highest level at 79 years of age and still supports Keith's improvisations like he was his twin brother.  Supporting a genius Jazz piano player like Keith is, in my opinion,  one of the most difficult assignments for even the most talented high-level professional musician.  Keith travels his own path through some of the greatest standards ever written; and, therefore, nothing for Gary or Jack is on automatic pilot. Gary's solos were a perfect compliment for Keith's emotional renditions of classic songs, like "I Fall In Love Too Easily".

Jack DeJohnette is a remarkable drummer.  He is one of the greatest drummers in Jazz history and hearing him support Keith and Jack leaves the listener with no doubt of his brilliance.  Jack proves that there is so much more to playing Drums that simply loudly keeping time. He is a student of sounds and uses his percussion instruments like a scientist working in a lab constantly looking for even the slightest variations of sounds to support the construction of this trio's wonderful music.

The trio is touring and I recommend that you make every effort to see them if they get close to where you live. To hear this group live is a Jazz experience of a lifetime!

I found a "YouTube" that I have attached below to remind you of the brilliance of Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette. This "YouTube" was recorded live in 1993.

                       Keith Jarret, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette "I Fall In Love Too Easily"


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...