Sunday, January 29, 2017

CD Review: Ron Boustead "Unlikely Valentine"

Ron Boustead has a long and solid reputation as one of the most talented Vocalist and Lyricist performing today.  For the past 34 years, Ron has been performing and writing lyrics since he was just 16.  His many past credits include recording a vocal CD featuring lyrics he had written to tunes by the likes of Chet Baker,  Chick Corea, and Freddie Hubbard.  Over his career, he released three more CDs and learned a new trade. He became a top-notch mastering engineer, worked at the legendary Precision Mastering where he cut CD and vinyl masters for artists like Prince, Rolling Stones, Seal, Kiss, R.E.M., and many others.  After all of these achievements, Ron thought it was time for him to make a CD that reflected his evolving tastes and growth as an artist.  His new CD "Unlikely Valentine" is cool and hip.  Ron put together a mix of tunes that include lyrics he provided and a fresh take on lesser-done standards.  When Boustead began thinking about this project, he decided he wanted the music to be upbeat and bebop-oriented, yet accessible to people who aren't necessarily hard-core Jazz fans.  In my opinion, he has reached these goals!  His new CD is fresh and live and his lyrics seem real and natural.  His performance on the tune he wrote, "Coffee" is outstanding in style and lyric and Ron's vocal is perfect and "Sinatra-like".  If you like straight ahead Jazz vocals, you will love this new CD that is being released on February 14, 2017.  It will be available on Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.

The Band:  
Ron Boustead, Vocals and Lyrics
Bill Cunliffe, Piano and Arrangements
Mitchel Forman, Piano and Arrangements
Pat Kelly, Acoustic and Electric Guitar
Bob Sheppard, Sax and Flute
Bob McChesney, Trombone
Ron Stout, Flugelhorn
John Leftwich, Bass
Jake Reed, Drums

1. "Unlikely Valentine"
2. "Love Potion # 9"
3. "Coffee"
4. " I Won't Scat"
5. "Til Now"
6. "Autumn Leaves"
7. "Love's Carousel"
8. "Along Came Betty"
9. "I Love My Wife"
10. "Love Came On Stealthy Fingers"

I found and attached a couple of "YouTube" videos that I think you will enjoy.  The first is Ron telling his story about his new CD and the second I just had to share,  Ron singing my number one greatest song, "The Nearness of You".  Enjoy!

 Ron Boustead Tell the Story of His New CD, "Unlikely Valentine"

                                                 Ron Boustead "The Nearness of You"

Thursday, January 19, 2017

CD Review: Mikole Kaar, "Give Em Heaven"

Anyone who has visited the Southern California live Jazz scene has probably run into Composer, Arranger and Reed player, Mikole Kaar.  Mikole Kaar has dedicated his entire life to live performing and even now when he has gigs 5 to 6 times a week, the first time he has a free night, you will find him sitting-in with other Jazz groups.  Playing since he was 9 years old, Mikole has studied Clarinet at Cal State and then became a Flute major at University of San Diego.

Mikole has just published a new CD, "Give Em Heaven" and it has been getting excellent reviews.  There is a mix of 10 songs on the CD, some great Jazz standards and a few written by Mikole for this CD.  The Jazz is hot and cool and so is the sound as Mikole has gathered 3 seasoned musicians to support him on this CD.  His supporting cast is made up of the fabulous guitar player and Desert favorite, Doug MacDonald who never disappoints his large Jazz fan base with his great playing, Paul Kreibich is on Drums and Harvey Newmark is on Bass.  Together they make beautiful music!

This CD has a wonderful groove and I especially like the pairing of up-tempo tunes with a couple of outstanding ballads.  I love the interpretation of the old Jazz standard "Invitation" that still sounds haunting every time I hear it.  One cut that Mikole composed, "A Song For Claire" has been selected to be on this year's "Desert Jam CD".  Profits from this CD go to "Wellness in the Desert Charity".  I also loved cut 4, "Darlicious".  I have to say that the influence of Doug MacDonald's wonderful guitar work on Mikole's playing is clear.  These two seasoned pros have been playing live performances together for a while now and they work perfectly together.  You can buy the CD or any of the tunes on Spotify, YouTube and Google and you can go on site to hear some of the great stuff Mikole has put down.  Mikole plays all over town and currently does gigs at "Oscars" in Palm Springs among other live music spots in the Valley.

I found a "YouTube" of Mikole Kaar playing the flute for the song "Comin' Home" with the Jackson Garrett Band to give you a sample of Mikole's playing style.  Enjoy!

The Players:

Mikole Kaar: Composer, Arrange, Tenor, Flute and Vocals
Doug MacDonald: Guitar
Paul Kreibich: Drums
Harvey Newmark: Bass

1. "Give Em Heaven"
2. "Invitation"
3. "Coming Home Baby"
4. "Darlicious"
5. "A Song For Claire"
6. 'Blues For For Jack"
7, "Dynamic Dynamo"
8. "Black Ballet"
9. "Imagine"
10. "Please Make Up Your Mind"

Monday, January 16, 2017

CD Review: Andrea Claburn "Nightshade"

Vocalist, Songwriter and Arranger Andrea Claburn has published her new CD, "Nightshade" and it is a winner!  This is her debut album but based on her performance on this CD, she has obviously being training for years to arrive to her current professional level.  Andrea has a strong, warm, clear wonderful voice and a smooth approach to lyric that flows perfectly.  On this CD Andrea has put together a great mix of original compositions and re-imagined Jazz standards she has been performing over the past 10 years.  That's a long time for any musical professional before releasing their first CD but this was no accident.  According to Claburn, "Although I was performing regularly and getting positive responses from audiences, I resisted laying down a CD because I didn't want to just do songs and arrangements written by other people. I had my own concepts, but I didn't have the skills yet to realize them."  These are words of wisdom that other new performers should read and consider.  In addition to composing five songs for her CD, Andrea added her interpretations of compositions by diverse artists as Hoagy Carmichael, Pat Metheny and Betty Carter among others.  Andrea did all the arrangements except one.  Musically, this CD is outstanding and I recommend it highly.  This CD is being released on Friday the 13th of January, 2017  and based on what I have heard, it will bring nothing but good luck to Andrea Claburn! The CD is available on Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby.

The Band:

Andrea Claburn: Songwriter, Vocalist and Arranger
Matt Clark, Piano
Sam Bevan, Bass
Alan Hall, Drums
Kasey Knudsen, Alto Sax
John Sontos, Percussionist
Erik Jekabson, Trumpet
Terrence Brewer, Guitar
Mads Tolling, violinist
Joseph Hebert, Cello
Rob Ewing, Trombone


1. "Lionheart"
2. "Bird On A Wire"
3. "My Favorite Flavor"
4. "Infinite Wisdom"
5. "Turn On The Stars"
6. "After You've Gone"
7. " Skylark"
8. "I Can't Help it"
9. "The Fall of Man"
10. "Daybreak"
11 "Colors of Light"
12. "Steal Away"

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Jazz is Hot and Live at "Jazz For Jazz Lovers" at Pete Carlson's Golf and Tennis Store in Palm Desert, CA

Rob Lockart, Jonathan Richards, Clay Jenkins, Pete Carlson, Bill Cunliffe and Joe Labarbera
                                                              Picture Courtesy of Ashton Khachigian

The "Jazz for Jazz Lovers" music series at Peter Carlson's Golf and Tennis Store is in full swing.  On Saturday January 7, 2017, Pete hosted "The Joe Labarbera Quintet"  featuring Joe Labarbera on Drums, Clay Jenkins on Trumpet, Rob Lockart on Saxophone, Bill Cunliffe on Piano and Jonathan Richards on Bass.  The Jazz was spectacular and well appreciated by the standing room only crowd that was in attendance.  Joe Labarbera is recognized across the US and in Canada as one of the top Drummers performing today.  Tonight, he proved why he gets high praise from both Jazz lovers and Jazz professional musicians.  Joe put on a clinic of Drum skills,  not only on up-tempo tunes but also on ballads.  I am sure you don't hear the word sensitive when describing a great Drummer but this word fits Joe's playing to a tee.  What impressed me even more was Joe's ability to fit into his Quintet perfectly without under playing or over playing.  He always provided a balance with his four playing partners.

The musicians in Joe's Quintet were all solid gold Jazz guys starting with  the well-known superb Trumpet player, Clay Jenkins.  I am sure many of you have heard Clay play but to hear him in person playing with freshness and clarity is a super treat!   Bill Cunliffe was terrific on piano and because Joe and he have been friends for years, the flow between them is dead-on great.  Rob Lockart has also been with Joe for years, and he brings his own magic to this group.  His improvising is unusual, fresh and clear.  The last member of tonight's quintet was a young Bass player, Jonathan Richards.  Joe had heard Jonathan play a couple of times and decided to have him fill in whenever possible.  Jonathan may be young but he plays terrific Bass and Joe gave him many opportunities to solo to the delight of the audience.

Pete Carlson and his wife Edna are two of the most generous and well-loved people in the Desert.  They put in a tremendous effect in time and money to keep this Jazz series going.  All the profits from the concerts that go on throughout the winter season are donated to support music education and scholarships for young musicians in the Coachella Valley.  Stop by Pete's store and get a schedule and tickets to future shows.  Think about this, the people who attended this great Jazz performance only had to pay $25 dollars that's just $5.00 per member of this quintet......Where can you get a better live Jazz deal than this?

I found and attached a "Youtube" of "The Joe Labarbera Quintet" that I know you will enjoy.  This "Youtube" was recorded at Alva's Showroom on 1/19/2003.  The players on it are Joe on Drums, Clay Jenkins on Trumpet, Bill Cunliffe on Piano, Bob Sheppard on Tenor and Tom Washington on Bass.


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...