Friday, March 27, 2020

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 recorded in the mid-80s with his friend and frequent playing partner, Pianist, Composer and Educator Ron Thomas.  Both players have had stellar musical careers and their new CD, "Primary Colors" was produced from studio recording tapes recorded during 1984 and 1985.  Both Vanore and Thomas have covered a lot of musical ground since 1985.  It is interesting to listen to the cuts on this CD and discover that both these master musicians were brilliant musicians even 35 year ago.  John Vanore's tone and phrasing on the 7 songs on this CD are sparking good!  Ron Thomas' mastery of the (at the time) cutting-edge Yamaha DX-7 is very interesting.  In 1985 most musicians were just starting to experiment with the DX-7 but clearly Ron Thomas was leading the charge.

According to Vanore "The sessions' only protocol was a willingness to experiment in the way of sound, song form and more. We weren't approaching this stuff like head/solos/head.  Our approach was more compositional and spontaneity was also paramount, and while there may be overdubbed layers at various points, a single-take ethic was honored throughout the informal sessions."

Even though the music on this CD was recorded years ago, it still sounds fresh and new which is a testament to the high quality of these two talented musicians.

John Vanore: Trumpet & Flugelhorn and Producer
Ron Thomas: Piano, Fender Rhodes, Yamaha DX-7

1. "Final Dawn"
2. "Lady"
3. "Yesterdays"
4. "A Time For Love"
5. "Origins of Rude"
6. "Return"
7. "Secret Love" 

I have attached two "YouTube" videos for your listening pleasure.  The first is the beautiful classic written by Johnny Mandel, "A Time For Love".   The second is the Jerome Kern gem, "Yesterdays"  I know you will enjoy both.

                                                                    "A Time For Love"


Friday, March 20, 2020

CD Review: Henry Franklin and Robert Turner and "3 More Sounds" Release "Ghetto Princes" A tribute to Gene Harris

Henry "The Skipper" Franklin and Robert Turner and their group " 3 More Sounds" have produced and recorded a terrific new CD that is a tribute to Gene Harris.  The idea for the CD was born when Robert's and Henry's paths crossed in 2014 in Hangzhou, China.  Henry was just finishing  a tour gig in this Chinese city and  Robert was just coming in to replace Henry Franklin's Band.   Henry Franklin had worked with Gene Harris on numerous occasions and Robert Turner always treasured Gene Harris as one of his playing heros.  As soon as Robert found out that Henry had a long playing history with Gene Harris, he couldn't ask questions about Gene quick enough. After many hours of discussion,  these two major players decided that they would someday cut a CD as a tribute to Gene Harris and "Ghetto Princes" is the result.  As you listen to the cuts on this new CD,  you will hear Robert at times playing very much in the Gene Harris fashion.

Robert Turner is one of the brightest musical stars playing today and his ability to arrange and swing music is recognized throughout the Jazz world.  He is not just a casual player, Robert is a fine technician and has a clear understanding of music composition and how it develops.  I have heard him playing live with several artists and he can handle any kind of music for vocalists or instrumentalist with easy, style, and creativity.

Henry "The Skipper" Franklin is a living legion and continues to impress Jazz lovers wherever he performs.  I have heard him with small trios and also with big Jazz groups and he can do it all.  His high level of Bass playing is internationally known and sought out.  He has a long list of Jazz giants that he has worked with like Roy Ayers, Gene Harris, Freddie Hubbard and Joe Williams just to name a few.

Joining these two remarkable Jazz performers is Khoran Harrison on Drums.  Khoran and Robert have been playing friends since they were teenagers and know each others' playing style inside out.  Veteran Drummer Carl Burnett was added as a special guest and he plays Drums on Cuts 2, 4 and 9.

"Ghetto Princes" is an easy listening Jazz recording because it's simply great Jazz music and arrangements.  No gimmicks or tricks here,  just great American Jazz!

1. "Ghetto Princes"
2. "Besame Mucho"
3. "Willow Weep For Me"
4. "Uptown Sop"
5. "I Thought About You"
6. "Love For Sale"
7. "You Don't Know Me"
8. "Battle Hymm of the Republic"/  "John Brown's Body"
9. "Things Ain't What They Used To Be"

Robert Turner- Piano
Henry "The Skipper" Franklin- Bass
Khoran Harrison- Drums
Carl Burnett- Drums  Cuts 2, 4, and 9

I have attached two "YouTube" videos for your listening pleasure.  The song is Cole Porter's "Love For Sale" that features a terrific Bass solo from Henry Franklin.  The second song is an up-tempo version of "Besame Mucho" composed by Consuelo Velazquez.

Monday, March 9, 2020

CD Review: The Coachella Valley Trio, "Mid Century Modern"

Guitarist Doug MacDonald has just released a new CD, "Mid Century Modern" with his trio, "The Coachella Valley Trio""Mid Century Modern" is a phrase visitors to the Palm Springs California area frequently hear.  It brings to mind American Modernism and its distinctive architecture that had its roots in not only Palm Springs but in the entire Coachella Valley area.   The life style in this area of California has its own vibe and it's cool and chilled.  Live Jazz music is alive and well in the Coachella Valley and Guitarist, Composer and Arranger, Doug MacDonald is in the forefront of the musical action.  Doug is one of the finest guitar technicians performing today and is highly sought out by Jazz venues from coast to coast.  When Doug is not traveling for out of state gigs, he is performing at many different Jazz sites including AJ's on the Green in Cathedral City every Wednesday.  In addition, Doug hosts a local Jazz radio show on a small but excellent non-profit 24-hour Jazz station in Palm Desert, CA,  KAJI Radio.   Doug's Trio, "The Coachella Valley Trio"  has been performing in the Coachella Valley Jazz clubs for several years and has developed a large following of fans.  The trio consists of Doug MacDonald on Guitar, Larry Holloway on Bass and Tim Pleasant on Drums.  Doug invited special guest, Big Black who plays the Djembe to join the group on several cuts.

Larry Holloway is one of the most respected Bass players in the West and in addition to all his playing gigs he finds time to manage the renowned "Coachella Valley Symphony".  Tim Pleasant, the Drummer for the group and Doug have known each other for years preforming together in the Valley and also in the New York area.  As a result of the talent level of these three musicians and the length of time they have played together, the sounds from the trio at times seem to be merged into one voice.  I had the pleasure of hearing Big Black play with this group recently at AJ's and he adds a special element of excitement to this wonderful trio.

There are 11 wonderful songs on this CD,  8 beautiful standards and 3 original songs written by Doug,  So you get to hear some great standards and also experience Doug's excellent composing at the same time.

Doug MacDonald, Guitar
Larry Holloway, Bass
Tim Pleasant, Drums
Special Guest, Big Black, Djembe

1. "My Shining Hour"
2. "Lance or Lot"
3. "Cat City Samba"
4. "Tran Jam"
5. "What's New"
6. "Give Me The Simple Life
7. "Stranger in Paradise"
8. "I Hadn't Anyone Till You"
9. "Woody'N You"
10. "Bossa Nueva"
11. "The Way You Look Tonight"

I have attached two "YouTube" videos for you to listen to.  The first is a tune written by Doug, "Cat City Samba".  The second "YouTube" is the Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen gem, "My Shinning Hour".
                                                                "Cat City Samba"
"My Shining Hour"


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

CD Review: Jeff Rupert & George Garzone, "The Ripple"

I have a real treat for anyone who loves to listen to the great Tenor Sax players of years gone by.  I just listened to a new CD, "The Ripple" featuring Jeff Rupert and George Garzone that was just released in January of this year and it's a listening celebration of the sounds of great Tenor Sax playing.  The title of this CD refers to the far-reaching effects of the great Lester Young and his playing influence on many of the great players who followed him.  By the late 1930's, Young emerged as the most profound improviser since Louis Armstrong.  He influenced not only Saxophonists, but Pianists, Trombone players and others who learned to improvise through Young.  Loved by all and nicknamed "Prez" by Billie Holiday, Lester Young brought individual style, song and concept to the American Jazz scene that continues to influence Jazz players up to this day.

Jeff Rupert and George Garzone are two of the best Tenor Sax players performing today, and they wanted to acknowledge Lester Young's influence on the style and tone of some of the most famous Tenor Sax players.  There are no songs written or recorded by Young on this CD.  Instead,  it highlight songs that were recorded or composed by some of the musicians influenced by Young, including Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Eddie Harris, Zoot Sims, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson and others.  I have featured both Jeff Rupert and George Garzone in my Musician Blog before because they have and still are contributing to the American Jazz scene by performing and educating.  Most recently, I reviewed a wonderful new big band CD by The Flying Horse Big Band that was founded and directed by Jeff Rupert.  Jeff is Trustee Endowed Chair, and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Central Florida.  George Garzone is a member of the Fringe, a Jazz trio founded in 1972.  He is also a member of the Grammy-winning Joe Lovano Nonet.  Garzone is a sought-after Jazz educator currently teaching at Berklee College of Music.  He pioneered the triadic chromatic approach.  His students include Joshua Redman, Branford Marsalis, Teadross Avery, Luciana Souza, Mark Turner, Donny McCaslin, Doug Yates and Danilo Perez.

Joining Jeff and George on this CD are some long-standing outstanding musicians and friends, Richard Drexler on Piano, Marty Morell on Drums and Jeremy Allen on Bass.  This CD produces some great sounds and revisits great musical history in a very comfortable way.  It's a winner for all Jazz lovers.

I have attached two "YouTube" videos and picking just two was no easy task because I loved every track.  The first one is "Without A Song" that is a tribute to Joe Henderson's famous version.  The second video is Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust" that I think illustrates the duo's reverence for Young's impact.

I want to finish with a quote that I loved from Jeff Rupert, "Working on this music gave me the sense of having two painters collaborating on one canvas.  I think of Monet, Picasso, or Dali, though I'm not sure who George evokes, perhaps all of the above plus Pollock."

1. "Bahia"
2. "Go-Go"
3. "Stardust"
4. "Without A Song"
5. "The Shadow Of Your Smile"
6. "Detour Ahead"
7. "The Red Door"
8. "Red Hop"
9. "Hoboken"
10. "Beauty Becomes You"
11. "Lester Left Town"
12. "Alone Together"


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...