Friday, November 27, 2015

CD Review: Kim Nazarian "Some Morning"

As a music reviewer I have the privilege of being introduced to many great new singers.  Kim Nazarian is not a great singer.  She is a brilliantly talented singer with vocal chops and exceptional timing that every singer yearns for!  Some singers can do ballads, some singers can scat along with up tempo tunes but Kim can do it all.  Her voice is golden and her approach to lyrics is spot on perfect.  Kim has the ability to enhance lyrics without getting in the way.  The result captures the essence of emotion that the composer had in mind, together with fitting her own personality into each song making them her own.  Grammy Award-nominee Kim Nazarian gained fame as a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Jazz vocal group, "New York Voices".

Kim is joined on this CD by the five time Grammy Award-winning producer and Trombonist Jay Ashby.  All the tunes on this CD are arranged in whole or in part by Ashby with help from Kim on several.  The arrangements are Sinatra-perfect and fit both Kim and the talented musicians on this CD perfectly!   Jay Ashby's Trombone performances are pure magic on this CD. The list of contributing musicians is wonderful including special guests: Gary Burton, Paquito D'Rivera, Sean Jones, and John Pizzarelli.  

Kim Nazarian's "Some Morning" is a sensationally good CD.  And how do I know that?  I tried to select a cut from this CD that would give you a feel of Kim's great singing and the fine talents of the musicians with her.  It took me an hour to select the two cuts below that I found on "YouTube" because I couldn't decide which ones were the best.  I loved every cut on the CD!

The First cut below is called "Robbin's Nest Boneology"  and it's a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Trombonist JJ Johnson. It will show the extent of Kim's vocal skills and Ashby's mellow Trombone sounds that blend perfectly together.

The Second "YouTube"  presents the song "Tell Him I Said Hello" that is a tribute to Better Carter from her big band vocalist, taking on a Bossa Nova spin.  This cut also contains a terrific Clarinet Solo from the brilliant Paquito D'Rivera.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cd Review: John Fedchock "Like It Is"

Trombonist and world-class arranger John Fedchock has enjoyed a 35-year career that has included being the chief arranger for the legendary Woody Herman during the 1980's.  This is the 5th album for the 16-piece band and Fedchock's eighth as leader.  "Like it is" features five Fedchock originals and five arrangements of Jazz and American classics.  I absolutely love his arrangements, they are fresh and new but remain true to the history of the great big bands.  His Trombone playing is superb, his tone is heavenly and his improvisation is what ever master Jazz player strives for.

Fed chock's idea for this album is his musical desire to mesh the old with the new.  "Even though many embrace the big band's evolution, there seem to be plenty of folks who'd prefer everything just remain like it was.  But truth be told, some of the best things in music have come from combining the 'Like it was' with the 'Like it is', melding the greatness of the past with a fresh perspective using today ears". 

The musicians on this album are all experienced New York City superstars and prove the point in eleven different outstanding solos.  Saxophonists Mark Vinci, Charles Pillow, Rich Perry, Walt Weiskopf, Gary Smulyan, and Scott Robinson.  Trumpeters Scott Wendholt and Barry Ries, Pianist Allen Farnham, Bassist Dick Sarpola and Drummer Dave Ratajczak.  Bobby Sanabria's Latin percussion joins the band on three tracks bringing the sound and Rhythm to perfection!

The playlist for the CD is what you would expect from John, some old, some new but all exceptional music.

1, "You and the Night and the Music"
2. "Like It Is"
3. "Never Let Me Go"
4. "Just Sayin"
5. "Ojos De Rojo"
6. " Hair of the Doag"
7. "Havana"
8. "Just Squeeze Me"
9. "For Heavens's Sake"
10. "Ten Thirty 30"

If you long for the big band sound and arrangement of the past re-mastered to today's musical world, you must pick up this CD.  This band captures the emotion of the songs and yet can run with the best of the best bands of yesterday, today and tomorrow.  I could listen to John Fedchock play Trombone forever and never get bored.  His feel for standards and sound are as good as it gets! Don't just take my word for it, listen to the "YouTube" link below of John playing "Never Let Me Go"!

Ok, now listen to the "Youtube" of John Fedchock's New York Big Band playing the Dietz and Schwartz gem "You and the Night and the Music".

Saturday, November 7, 2015

CD Review: Fred Hersch "Solo"

I recently received a review copy of Fred Hersch's new CD, "Solo",  recorded live in a Catskill, NY church in 2014 as part of the Wyndham Chamber Music Festival.  This was my first experience listening to Fred Hersch, and I truly can say that his playing has had an emotional effect for me.  There are only 7 cuts on the CD but the songs Mr. Hersch has chosen to include are wonderful including two original compositions, cut# 3, "Pastorale" that Mr. Hersch wrote in honor of Robert Schumann and cut#4, "Whirl"written in honor of Ballet principal, Suzanne Farrell.

This CD is his 10th solo recording and according to Hersch "I firmly believe this may be the all-around best solo album I've ever done.  I liked the piano and the environment of playing in a small wooden church just big enough to get some reverberance".

Mr. Hersch has played with many Jazz greats like Phil Woods, George Shearing, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Billy Harper, Lee Konitz, Art Farmer, Gary Burton and Toots Thielemans.  He attributes his turn-on to Jazz to John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Miles Davis and Chick Corea.  At this stage in his career, he stands side by side with these greats.

There is nothing casual about Hersch's playing style and his Jazz composition.  It is studied and, yet, seems new and free and the construction of his solos capture the emotion of the songs he plays and puts new life into them.  If you love thoughtful, creative and new Jazz playing, Fred Hersch should be at the top of your favorites list.

1. "Olha Maria/O Grande Amor"- Jobim
2. "Caravan"- Tizol
3. "Pastorale- Hersch
4. "Whirl"- Hersch
5. "The Song Is You"- Kern
6. "In Walked Bud"- Monk
7. "Both Sides Now" Mitchell

I located a cut from the CD, Jerome Kern's magnificent classic, "The Song Is You" on "YouTube" that will let you experience the brilliance of Fred Hersch's Jazz Piano Style.

CD Review: Clairdee Releases Her Forth CD, "A Love Letter to Lina"

San Francisco based Vocalist Clairdee has admired and been a fan of Lena Horne since she was four years old.  Clairdee was not just in...