Saturday, December 8, 2018

CD Review: Shirley Crabbe, "Bridges"

Vocalist Shirley Crabbe is a marvelous Jazz singer who makes singing seem effortless.  Her interpretation of Lyric and her beautiful Voice produce a sound as smooth as silk!  Her CD is called "Bridges" and it's all about connections through our lives.  It contains an eclectic list of songs, including some Jazz standards, a Pop tune, a couple of originals and a hip, updated version of "Blessed Assurance" which is a well-known Christian hymn that is one of her mother's favorite songs.  The first cut on the CD is the Irving Berlin classic "Isn't It A Lovely Day" that is closely associated with Ella Fitzgerald who was an important influence on Shirley Crabbe.  Whenever I listen to a singer for the first time, I really like to hear them sing a classic standard song.  Singing a song that has been covered by all of the greatest Jazz vocalists in history usually tells me up front the level of talent the vocalists has.  Most singers simply copy the style of the performer who had the hit and most times the results are less than satisfying.  However, even though Ella was one of Shirley's influences, she takes on the classic song and brings some of herself to it, adding something new but retaining the integrity of the original recording.  Few singers can accomplish this feat and Shirley is one of them.  It was a pleasure to experience her talents on this CD and I highly recommend that this CD would make a terrific Christmas present for any lover of the "Great American Songbook". 

Shirley has gathered two brilliant Jazz Pianists to join her on this CD, David Budway and Donald Vega who also was the musical director for the CD.  In addition, the fine list of musicians below helped make this CD an outstanding musical presentation.

Shirley Crabbe-Vocals
Donald Vega-Piano & Musical Director
David "The Budman" Budway (1,8,9)
Clovis Nicolas-Bass
Ulysses Owens Jr-Drums
Alvester Garnett-Drums- (2,10)
Brandon Lee-Trumpet
Chris Cardona-Violin
Sean Carney-Violin
Todd Low-Viola
Stephanie Cummins-Cello

1. "Isn't It A Lovely Day"
2. "Taking A Chance On Love"
3.  "Bridges"
4. "The Bridge"
5. "I Didn't Know What Time It Was"
6. "Promise Me"
7. "The Windmills Of Your Mind"
8. "And So It Goes"
9. "Thief In The Night"
10. "Blessed Assurance"


I found two "YouTube" videos showcasing the great Jazz vocal singing by Shirley Crabbe.  I am sure you will enjoy the wonderful arrangements also!  The first one is an Irving Berlin classic, "Isn't This A Lovely Day" and the second is the Evergreen "Taking A Chance on Love".

Sunday, November 11, 2018

CD Review: "The Music of Gary Lindsay: Are We Still Dreaming" Featuring the South Florida Jazz Orchestra"

Grammy-nominated Arranger Gary Lindsay has released a new CD,  "The Music of Gary Lindsay: Are We Still Dreaming"  featuring The South Florida Jazz Orchestra.   Gary Lindsay has written big band charts that have been performed by everyone from Maynard Ferguson and the Atlantean Driftwood Band to the Airmen of Note and the Florida Philharmonic.  This is Gary's first CD that is devoted entirely to his big band arrangements.  Gary Lindsay is also an Alto Sax player and performs, records and arranges for the Miami Saxophone Quartet.  To say he is a gifted Arranger would be a serious understatement.  He arranges in the tradition of Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson and all the other great big band arrangers of the 50's and 60's.  His arranging is thoughtful,  spirited, traditional and, yet, new and inspiring.

 I have to hear a new CD several times in order to really get a clear feel as to its message.  Not so with this CD.  The South Florida Orchestra is so talented and performs seamlessly on every song with wonderful arrangement.  Anyone who likes the big band Jazz sound will flip over this CD.  The orchestra was directed perfectly by Chuck Bergeron who let the players and singers have their way without any loss of control of the ultimate sound.  The musicians who performed on this CD are all sensational, and I thank them for their world class contributions to this project.

Gary Lindsay has received multiple well-deserved awards and I am sure his Grammy nomination for Jazz arranging for Arturo Sandoval's album "I Remember Clifford" is at the top of his list of accomplishments!

Doing reviews is not always fun for me , however,  getting to listen to this great big band CD one that I probably would have missed if not reviewing, make it all worthwhile!

1. "Moment In Time"
2. "Spring Is Here/Up Jumped Spring
3. "Toward Hope"
4. "Easy Living"
5. "Better Days Ahead"
6. "Are We Still Dreaming"
7. "Round Midnight"
8. "Ummg"

Gary Keller- Alto, Soprano and Flute
Gary Lindsay- Alto, Clarinet
Ed Calle- Tenor, Flute
Phil Doyle- Tenor, Flute
Jason Kush- Tenor, Flute
Mike Brignola- Bari Sax, Bass Clarinet
Rick Margitza- Guest Soloist on "Toward Hope"
Augie Haas- Trumpet 
Jeff Kievit- Trumpet
Greg Gisbert- Trumpet
Jason Carder- Trumpet
Alex Norris- Trumpet
Peter Francis-Trumpet
Richard Todd- French Horn
Martin Bejerano- Electric & Acoustic Piano
John Hart- Guitar
Chuck Bergeron- Acoustic & Electric Bass
John Yarling- Drums
Brian Potts- Shaker, Pandeiro
Ksenija Komljenovi- Vibes & Xylophone
Dana Teboe- Trombone
Dante Luciani- Trombone
John Kricker- Trombone
Major Bailey- Trombone
Derek Pyle- Trombone
Andrew Peal-Trombone
I found two "YouTube" videos of two songs from this new CD.  Both are just outstanding examples of master Jazz arranging and some of the best Jazz singing and playing you can find anywhere!  The first is a medley of "Spring is Here" by Richard Rogers and "Up Jumped Spring" by Freddie Hubbard.  There is no way to top this creative combination.  The recording features some great singing by Julia Dollison and outstanding solos by Dante Luciani on Trombone and Phil Doyle on Tenor.  

The second "YouTube" video is a cover on the Thelonious Monk classic "Round Midnight".  According to Gary Lindsay, this arrangement was inspired by the Stan Kenton sound.  It's a  magnificent arrangement that features a soulful sound from Ed Calle on Tenor.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Drummer, Composer and Arranger Mike Spinrad is a stalwart on the San Francisco Bay area Jazz scene.  According to Spinrad his goal as a musician and composer is "to project emotions and have fun with his music".  I believe he has accomplished this goal in his new CD,  "Horns" that was released this past August.  As soon as Spinrad decided to do this CD the first person he contacted was his old friend Guido Fazio who in addition to playing wonderful Tenor sax and flute on the CD, also arranged the horn sections.  According to Spinrad, "He's a monster player with amazing instincts, and even more important, his approach to music mirrors my approach.  For me, music needs emotional content.  It's great to listen to someone with incredible technique, but technique alone doesn't move me. Guido has great technique and plays with an incredible amount of heart and soul".  Mike Spinrad wrote all of the eight songs on this CD and all are terrific compositions with wonderful emotional output!

Mike Spinrad- Drums, Percussion and Composing
Don Turney- Piano and Organ
Guido Fazio- Tenor Sax,  Flute and Horn Arranger
Richard Conway- Trumpet and Flugelhorn
Larry Stewart- Baritone Sax (Tracks 3,4,5,6,7,8)
Eric Lyons- Bass (Tracks 1,2)
John Hettel- Bass (Tracks 3,4,8)
Daniel Parentis-Bass (5,6)

1. "Smarter"
2. "Chaim"
3. "Bette'n Hy"
4. "Shelia"
5. "Raul"
6. "Brooke"
7. "Manny"
8. "Texarkana"

I have attached a "YouTube" of the first cut on the CD "Horns" written by Mike Spinrad and John Groves entitled "Smarber".  But I also loved the last cut on the CD so you are getting a double treat.  Listen to "Texarkana", it really cooks!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

CD Review: Stephane Spira :New Playground"

Stephane Spira

Saxophonist and Composer Stephane Spira's success has not come easily or quickly.  Stephane is self-taught while also pursuing an engineering degree.  He worked as an engineer in Saudi Arabia and then in the 1990s he headed back to his hometown of Paris to pursue music full time.  After 15 years of playing in Paris clubs and recording two albums,  Spira decided to make a major life change by moving to New York City and start over.  Rather than finding rejection in the sometime cold "Big Apple", he found inspiration and a Jazz career playing with a core group of tremendous musicians.  He also fell in love with an equally creative women who became mother of his son.  Spira wrote 7 of the 8 songs included in "New Playground" to celebrate the creative and personal happiness he discovered since making the change in his life.  You may find it interesting as I did that Spira got his first Saxophone at the age of 22.  Late for most Jazz musicians but not for those whose inspiration and creativity must be freed.

Stephane Spira plays Soprano Saxophone, an instrument that is not exactly a staple in American Jazz, however, his tone and skill will impress even the toughest critic!  His composing, phrasing and tones are infectious and totally uplifting for the listener.

The supporting cast on this CD is also outstanding!  The four remarkable players fit perfectly together, as if they are one.  Featured are Steve Wood on Bass, Joshua Richman on Piano and Keyboard and Jimmy Macbride on Drums.

Stephane Spira: Soprano Saxophone
Joshua Richman: Piano and Keys
Steve Wood: Bass
Jimmy Macbride: Drums

1. "Peter's Run"
2. "Gold Ring Variations"
3. "New York Windows"
4,  "Underground Ritual"
5. "Nocturne (Song For My Son)"
6. "New Playground"
7. "Kaleidoscope"
8. "Solid Wood" 

I have attached a "YouTube" of the first cut from "New Playground".  It's one of 7 wonderful songs written by Stephane Spira.  I think you will love the sound and the feel of the song after just 4 measures!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

CD Review: Joyann Parker, "Hard To Love"

It's been a while since I reviewed a new Blues CD because I had not hear anything exceptional.  My wait ended when I listened to Joyann Parker's "Hard To Love". Classically trained pianist, Joyann Parker has been singing and writing music for several years, but surprisingly she is relatively new to the Blues.  About 4 years ago, Joyann discovered the Blues.  "It just clicked" she said, "This is what I am supposed to do."

For Joyann the door to Blues and Soul music opened almost accidentally.  After singing Aretha Franklin's soul classic, "Chain of Fools," at a contest, Parker received an invitation to join a Blues band.  The following year, the band "Joyann Parker & Sweet Tea" won the Minnesota Blues Society's band competition and in 2015 went to Memphis to represent the Blues Society and compete in the International Blues Challenge.  According to Joyann, "After I went to the Stax Museum in Memphis, it was like somebody lit a fire under me.  I thought, I love this music. I want to write it so I went home and wrote the songs."

Joyann has a strong, beautiful and sensual voice with amazing range that fits the Blues perfectly.  Her songs are wonderful, fresh and all tell believable stories about love and life.  They are several levels above most new Blues songs you might hear today and they tell stories that hit home with her audiences.  She mentions something very interesting about the Blues.  "I have been performing for some younger crowds and they say "I don't like the Blues".  But after I perform one of my songs, they often say "I love that song".  I tell them "That's the Blues",   I have had the same experience going to a Blues concert with someone who tells me they don't really care for the Blues.  They usually leave the concert in love with the Blues.

Blues Singer/composer/Pianist Joyann Parker also co-produced this CD with the talented Guitar player Mark Lamoine who also contributed back-up Vocals.  Simply put "Hard to Love" is a classic Blues CD spotlighting a soon to be classic Blues Vocalist!
Joyann Parker-Vocal, Guitar, Piano, Trumpet, Composer, Arranger, Co-Producer
Mark Lamoine- Guitar, Background Vocals, Co-Producer
Tim Wick-Piano, Organ
Michael Carvale-Bass
Alec Tackmann-Drums, Percussion
Gunhild Carling-Horns on "Who What When Where Why"

1. "Memphis"
2. "Envy"
3. "Home"
4. "Dizzy"
5. "Jigsaw Heart" 
6.  "Who What When Where Why"
7. "Bluer Than You"
8. "Ray"
9.  "Evil Heart"
10. Take Your Heart and Run"
11. "Your Mama"
12. "What Happened to Me"
13. "Hard To Love"

I have attached a "YouTube" of Joyann Parker singing her original composition "Memphis" from her new CD, "Hard To Love".

Sunday, September 16, 2018

CD Review: The Ernie Krivda Swing City Septet, "A Bright and Shining Moment"

Cleveland may be famous for the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" but it's also famous as the home of the great Tenor Sax player Ernie Krivda.  Cleveland's beloved Tenor Sax Player, Ernie Krivda has produced a new Swing CD with his Septet titled, "A Bright and Shining Moment".  This album is loaded with 11 great Jazz gems and 7 original compositions by Krivda.  According to Krivda, "The Septet's mission was to reflect a broad swath of Jazz styles, touching on milestone eras of the music". Swing City's reason for being was to produce driving, lusty and accessible Jazz and they have clearly accomplished their goal! The Album contains many Jazz gems from the past including Ellington's "Caravan"  and "The Mooche".  There are two Gershwin tunes, "Summer Time" and "The Man I Love" and 4 songs from Carmichael, "Two Sleepy People", "The Nearness of You", "Little Old Lady" and "In the Cool Cool Cool Of the Evening".  

In 2009, Ernie Krivda was the recipient of the Cleveland Arts Prize for lifetime achievement in music.   Saxophone Bandleader, Educator, Producer. Arranger and Composer Ernie Krivda has been a driving force in Jazz music since the 1960's.  He has performed with many Jazz giants including Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy DeFranco, and David Sanborn.

This is a great CD in the traditional Jazz school of music and will be enjoyed by Jazz lovers of all ages!

Ernie Krivda-Tenor Sax
Steve Enos-Trumpet
Chris Anderson-Trombone
Joe Hunter-Piano
Marion Hayden-Bass
Lee Bush-Guitar
John Bacon-Drums
Rick Porrello-Drums
Brian Thomas-Bass

1. "Lime House Blues"
2. "Roses"
3. "Summer Time"
4. "On The Road"
5. "A Bright and Shining Moment"
6. "The Man I Love"
7. "In The Cool Cool Cool of the Evening"
8. "Easter Blue"
9. "Caravan"
10. "Little Old Lady"
11. "Dream of Life"
12. "Hangin' With The Hoosiers"
13. "The Mooch"
14. "The Nearness of You"
15. "The Good Lady"16. "Two Sleepy People"

I have attached a YouTube of Ernie Krivda and the Swing City Septet playing Ellington's "Caravan" that I think you will enjoy!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

CD Review: Erin McDougald's "Outside the Soiree"

Superb Jazz Vocalist, Erin McDougal released her fourth studio recording, "Outside the Soiree" on March 16, 2018.  The information that was sent to me along with the CD stated "Erin McDougald's latest album exemplifies the concept of thinking - and singing - outside the box".  I couldn't agree more with  this statement!  Erin had her hand in most everything connected with this CD.  She contributed to all of the arrangements, except for #3 and #12,  selected a marvelous and, yet, an unusual group of songs for her playlist and picked a stellar band.  I am sure you will recognize most of the songs in her playlist but the essence of this CD is the fresh, new approach to each one that Erin has chosen.  It seems to me that Erin brings some of the vocal history of each song to the forefront and mixed it with great arrangements and impeccable Jazz singing that makes this CD super good listening.  I don't want to make light of the brilliance of taking an old song, keeping the original emotion of the original singers and then applying your own personal vocalized interpretations.  Few Jazz singers ever master this talent but there is no doubt that Erin has accomplish this feat!  Even though Erin's Vocals are new and fresh, every note and phrase she sings seem comfortable to the listener.  Her voice is pure and strong and she can go where few singers can travel with ease.

The band on this CD is as good as it ever gets for Vocalists.  They are all seasoned pros, and they all give Erin the space she needs while filling the supporting background perfectly.  The band features Guitarist and Pianist Rob Block, Bassist Cliff Schmitt, Drummer Rodney Green, Percussionists Mark Sherman and Chembo Corniel and Saxophonist Dan Block.  In addition, Erin brought in two old friends, Saxophonist David Liebman and Trumpeter Tom Harrell.  This is as good a group of Musicians that you will ever find!

1.   "Don't Be On The Outside"
2.   "Begin the Beguine"
3.   "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime"
4.   "Man With The Horn"
5.   "Midnight Sun"
6.   "Outside the Soiree"
7.   "Don't Wait For Me"
8.   "The Masquerade Is Over"
9.   "Spring Can Really Hang You Up"
10. "When the World Was Young"
11. "Linger A While / Avalon"
12. "Unusual Way"
13. "The Parting Glass"

I wanted to attach a "YouTube" of Erin singing one of the great songs from her album and it was a really tough job picking just one.  I settled on one of my classic favorites,  "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most".  Erin sings this ballet in an up-tempo fashion that works great!  Whether you are a professional Jazz singer or just a Jazz fan, Erin and her latest CD need to be on your "must-have" music list.

CD Review: Shirley Crabbe, "Bridges"

Vocalist Shirley Crabbe is a marvelous Jazz singer who makes singing seem effortless.  Her interpretation of Lyric and her beautiful ...