Saturday, May 23, 2020

CD Review: Jenny Davis, "Rearranged"

Composer, Arranger, Bandleader and Jazz Vocalist, Jenny Davis has just released her 4th album as a leader.  This CD spotlights Jenny Davis' brilliant Composing talents along with her polished and sensitive vocal abilities.  Davis composed and arranged eight of the 11 tracks on this CD.  The music and lyrics on these wonderful Davis compostions are the result of over 20 years of study and performing that deeply reflect the experiences of her activist life.  The quality of her music stands on its own but the addition of her sensitive lyrics puts these songs in a special master-class level.  According to Davis, "Being a composer is about more than creating amazing music.  It's also an opportunity to reach the hears and minds through the metaphysical power of the music".  When you listen to the songs on this CD, I am sure you will agree that this mission was accomplished!

Davis has gathered an outstanding group of musicians to join her on this CD project.  Leading the way is three-time Grammy-nominated Brazilian Pianist, Composer and Arranger, Jovino Santos Neto.  He is a long-time Music Director of the Hermeto Pascoal Band and has also collaborated with symphonic orchestras in the US and Europe.  His piano performance is perfect for Davis' music and voice as you will hear on the attached cuts from the CD.   The work and planning that went into the creation of this CD was massive and has resulted in a beautiful musical event for anyone that listens to it.

1. "Accptar"
2. "And What IF I Don't"
3. "Come With Me"
4. "Rearranged"
5. "Yeoman Warders"
6. "Invitation"
7. "Saying Yes"
8. "Calling You"
9. "Answer The Call"
10. "Gemini Tango"
11. "Wise Up"
12. "Rearranged"  Live Performance by the Sirius String Quartet

1. Jenny Davis-Vocals/ Compositions  
2. Jovino Santos Neto-Piano
3. Chuck Deardorf-Bass
4. Jeff Busch- Drums
5. Kurt Festinger-Tenor Sax
6. Dimitri Matheny-Flugelhorn
7. Mark Taylor-Alto Sax
8. Heather Bentley-Viola/Violin 
9. David Lange-Accordian

The Yeoman Warders Sax Quar,tet:
1. Kate Olsen-Soprano
2. Mark Taylor-Alto
3. Cynthia Mullis-Tenor
4. Jim Dejoie-Baritone

Additional Vocals:
1. Lorrie Ruiz
2. Vanessa Littrell     

I had a really hard time deciding what songs from this CD to attach because the playlist is so outstanding.  I have selected two Jenny Davis originals for you to experience.  The first one is "Aceptar" that will let you experience the wonderful piano work from the Jovino Santos Neto Trio.  The second is the title track "Rearranged".  Both are great compositions and joyous music!  I also want to recommend that you buy this CD and listen to Davis' performance on the song "Invitation".  This song written by Bronislau Kaper has always been one of my favorite songs and Davis' arrangement is terrific.



Monday, May 4, 2020

The Five Most Heart-Felt American Ballads Named After A Women

                                                       "Tulips and Oranges"  2117
                                                Still Life Oil on Canvas- 16 X 20

While spending time in "Lockdown" for the last couple of weeks, I started to think about some of the great songs that have been written and named after women.  So I started to search out a list and I was surprised that I found a lot more candidates then I had imagined.  I wanted to select only five songs that I believe are the best examples performed in a Jazz-like format.   I think that the five songs below would find their way on anyone's list.  There are others that one may argue should be among the top five, and I have no argument with that thinking.  But these five songs are hard to ignore.  In order to add to your enjoyment, I have attached a vocal arrangement and an instrumental of each song.  The list of performers is sterling.  Some old, some young but all are best of class at what they do.

The first "YouTube"is for the classic song "Laura".   I have selected the instrumental version which includes a terrific Trombone solo performed by Bob McChesney with Pat Tuzzolino on Piano.  Pat also did the wonderful arrangement.  I felt that McChesney and Tuzzolino captured the emotion of the music and presented the story of Laura even without the lyrics.   The selection of the vocal version was difficult as many of our great vocalists have recorded this song.  I finally decided to go with The Four Freshman's recording.   The Music for "Laura" was composed for the 1944 movie of the same name by David Raksin  and the lyrics were written by Johnny Mercer.


The second "YouTube" is "Emily" with music by the great Johnny Mandel and Lyrics by the incomparable Johnny Mercer.  The song was composed for the 1964 film "The Americanization of Emily" but strangely it was not sung in the movie, so it couldn't be nominated for an Academy Award.  The award for best song in 1964 was "Chim Chim" from Mary Poppins.  If the Directors of "The Americanization of Emily" had any musical brains, they would have taken home an Academy Award for this Mandel and Mercer gem.  But who knew!  I selected the Tony Bennett recording of "Emily" because Tony's approach to the lyric just brings it alive with emotion.  The fact that the pianist accompanied him was Bill Evans makes this recording as good as you can get.   For the instrumental version, I wanted to use Fred Hersch's solo piano recording but I could not find it posted on "YouTube".  I did find a recording with The Bill Evans Trio that I also love.  Bill is joined by Eddie Gomez on Bass and Marty Monell on Drums.


The third selection is the song "Mona Lisa" , music and lyric by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston.The song was written for the 1950 film "Captain Carey" and won an Academy Award for best picture.  The title and lyrics refer to the Leonardo da Vinci painting "Mona Lisa" .  I'm sure it is no surprise that the vocal I choose was Nat King Cole's recording.  This recording was made 70 years ago and it still sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday.   I chose a recently released instrumental version performed by Pianist Larry Fuller.  It's on Larry's new CD, "Overjoyed" and it's a great piece of music!

                                          " Mona Lisa"

The fourth selection is the song "I Loves You Porgy" written by George and Ira Gershwin with lyric help from DuBose Heyward.  This song was published in 1935 for the Opera, "Porgy and Bess" and is still being performed all over the world.  A great piece of music with a lyric that brings the emotion of the story to life .   I picked the Billie Holiday vocal because it still speaks to me.   The instrumental is a haunting recording by Trumpet superstar Arturo Sandoval.
                                    "I Loves You Porgy"

Our last selection is the song "Nancy With the Laughing Face" written by Jimmy Van Heusen and yes, comedian Phil Silvers.  This song written for Sinatra's daughter has been covered by tons of Jazz greats.  It just has a nice feel to it and having the Sinatra history attached  certainly helps its longevity.  The instrumental version I selected is from my life-long favorite Alto Sax player, Cannonball Adderley who is joined on Piano by Bill Evans.  The vocal version I picked is from the fabulous Jazz Vocalist, Kurt Ellin.

Well, there you have it!  Some of the finest Ballads composing and singing the American Jazz world has ever produced.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it.

                                                                                   " Nancy With the Smiling Face"

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

CD Review: Delfeayo Marsalis & The Uptown Jazz Orchestra, "Jazz Party"

Acclaimed Trombonist, Composer, Producer and Band Leader, Delfeayo Marsalis has released his seventh CD entitled "Jazz Party".  If you love the New Orleans music vibe, this is a CD you will want to add to your music collection.  The goal of this CD was to capture the exuberant energy of the Wednesday night shows he does with the Uptown Jazz Orchestra at Snug Harbor in New Orleans.  I am sure that you will agree after hearing the two cuts attached below that he has accomplished his goal!  Marsalis states "Jazz, the indigenous American music, is a music of celebration and optimism.  The Uptown Jazz Orchestra is such a fun band that I wanted to capture its uniqueness.  The idea was to keep the wide variety of styles that we play but to really capture the joy that is a central trademark of the band".
Delfeayo Marsalis is recognized as one of the best Jazz Trombonists performing today and he also has composed over 100 songs that help introduce kids to Jazz through musical theatre.  He has musically touched over 5,000 students nationally with his "Swinging with the Cool School" soft introduction to Jazz workshops.  Marsalis is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, holds a master's degree in Jazz performance from the University of Louisville and was conferred a doctorate by New England College.  Delfeayo Marsalis is a major Jazz star that never lost site of who he is and where he came from.  Even though Delfeayo has become a major Jazz performer and composer he contributes much time and effort to keep Jazz alive by exposing Jazz to young people. 

If you like the feel of New Orleans and its Jazz scene, no doubt you will love this CD.


I have attached two "YouTube" videos that will give you a good taste of the Uptown Jazz Orchestra.  The first one is the title track, "Jazz party" composed by Delfeayo that features vocalist Tonya Boyd-Cannon.  The second one highlights the energy of the Orchestra, "Raid on the Mingus House Party".   

"Jazz Party"

"Raid on the Mingus House Party"

Thursday, April 23, 2020

CD Review: Anthony Jefferson, "All I Am"

I am excited to share a new CD "All I Am" just released by Anthony Jefferson.  I received the review copy of this CD a while ago and only had time to preview a few of the songs.  I thought Jefferson's singing and the playlist were excellent but never got a chance to get back to it until I found myself thinking about the few songs I had heard only once so I decided to play the complete CD.  This time I fell in love with Anthony Jefferson's voice and vocialist skills.  Jefferson has a silky smooth Baritone voice and his phrasing is surpurb.  His vocal range spans several octaves from beautiful deep tones to crystal clear upper tones.   Noteworthy is his effort to sing the lyrics not only with emotion and understanding but with clarity, always making sure to never cut off the end of any words.  Anthony Jefferson is truly an example of a professional Vocalist who has studied hard to learn his trade and now is singing at the highest professional level.  At times his voice and phrasing reminds me of Nat King Cole and certainly adds to the enjoyment of his singing.

Jefferson's life experiences have left a strong mark on his singing personality.  Born and raised in New Orleans, he was singing as soon as he could talk.  He studied piano from the age of five to thirteen and attended a high school that had the best band in New Orleans.  After graduation from high school, Jefferson headed to Los Angeles to find his place in the entertainment business.  He enrolled in Los Angeles City College where he took classes in musical theater as well as the standard academic coursework.  He supported himself by working for UPS when not in classes.

Next stop was to audition for the internationally renowned California Institute of the Arts.  He was awarded a full scholarship.  He began his studies in the Classical music department and then transferred to the Jazz department where he excelled.  After two years at (CalArts) a dean suggested that the next step for Jefferson's growth should be the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

After completing two years at Berklee College of Music,  Jefferson moved back to New Orleans and opened a highly successful restaurant that hosted Jazz jams.  During the next several years while operating his restaurant, he continued performing and studying to improve his singing skills.  After several years of hard work, Jefferson decided that it was time to leave the restaurant business and take a well-earned vacation.  He loved sailing and one of the places he sailed to was the Dominican Republic where he fell in love with the lifestyle and culture.  It was during his 10-year stay in the Dominican Republic that Jefferson met multi-instrumentalist Corey Allen.  This friendship resulted in the creation of the "All I Am" CD.  Corey Allen put together spectacular String and Horn arrangements that amplify Jefferson's innate warmth and soulfulness.

Anthony Jefferson has been a major star in the Dominican Republic and now with the release of "All I am" he deserves to become a recognized star throughout the US.

1. "All I Am"
2. " Marnie"
3. "Besame Mucho"
4. "Night And Day"
5. "Willow Weep For Me"
6. "Summertime"
7. "Impossible"
8. "Rainy Night In Georgia"
9. "Me and Mrs Jones"
10. "In the Presence of"
11. "You've Got A Friend"

Anthony Jefferson- Vocals, Producer
Corey Allen- Piano, Keys, Arrangements
Federico Mendez- Guitar
Pengbian Sang- Bass
Esar Simo- Bass
Guy Frometa- Drums
Sly De Moya- Drums, Percussion
Tom McCauley- Guitar, Percussion

Special Guests:
Mark Rapp- Trumpet
Patricia Pereyra- Vocals
Gustavo A. Hostos- Vocals
The Corey Allen Strings:
Milena Zivkovic, Igor Vasiljevic, Zvezdana Radojkovic
The Corey Allen Horns:
Ernesto Nunez, Pedro Liberato-Trumpet
Sandy Gabriel- Alto Sax
Jesus Abru- Tenor Sax
Gabriel Parra- Baritone Sax
Carlos Torres- Trombone

Background Vocals:
Sabrina Estepan, Benny Hiraldo, Emmanuel Pena, Fende Sincere

This CD includes an eclectic list of songs from the Great American Songbook, pop music, R & B and the movies and picking just two cuts from this CD was difficult.   I settled on two "YouTubes" for you to listen to. The first is "Willow Weep For Me" and the second is "Besame Mucho" where Anthony is joined by the wonderful vocalist, Patricia Pereyra.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

CD Review: Keith Oxman and Houston Person Release "Two Cigarettes in the Dark"

Saxophonist, Composer and Educator Keith Oxman has produced some great Jazz CDs over the years by collaborating with some of the greatest Jazz players including Tenor Saxophonist Dave Liebman, Trombonist Curtis Fuller and Alto Saxophonist Charles McPherson.  On his newest CD release, "Two Cigarettes in the Dark", Oxman has brought in the esteemed Tenor Sax player, Houston Person to join him.  Jazz giant Charles McPherson wrote the liner notes for "Two Cigarettes in the Dark" pointing out the stylistic contrast between the sounds of the two Tenors, comparing "Keith's long, flowing lines" to "Houton's warm, rich tone".   This CD has a warm and relaxed vibe and these two superb Tenor players melded perfectly together in every cut on the album.  No competition here, just mutual respect for each other's musical skills.

The playlist is interesting in that it featuring Originals, Standards and Vintage Tunes.  Keith brought along veteran Vocalist Annette Murrell to sing two of the Standards, "Everything Happens to Me" and "Crazy He Calls Me".   She sings these ballads like she has lived them.  Her rich, deep voice is filled with life experience and, she fits perfectly between these two Tenor greats! 

Keith Oxman- Tenor Sax
Houston Person- Tenor Sax
Annette Murrell- Vocals
Jeff Jenkins- Piano
Ken Walker- Bass
Paul Romaine- Drums

 1. "I've Never Been In Love Before"
2.  "Voss Is Bass"
3. "Everything Happens To Me"
4. "Two Cigarettes In The Dark"
5. "Bossa For Baby"
6. "Murphy's Law Impacts L.E.A.P."
7. "Crazy He Calls Me"
8. "Wind Chill"
9.  "Sweet Sucker"
10. "Murrellancholy" 

  "I've Never Been In Love Before"

                                                       "Everything Happens to Me"

Thursday, April 2, 2020

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 love with Lena Horne's beautiful voice but also with Lena's intelligence, dignity, talent and willingness to fight for what's right.  In Clairdee's new CD, "A Love letter to Lena" she pays her respect to her idol with inventive arrangements of songs by Billy Strayhorn and contemporary composers with Clairdee's compelling storytelling.

According to Clairdee,  "I didn't want (this CD) to be merely a tribute album of Lena's greatest hits.   My mother passed in 2007, and I wanted the CD to reflect my parents' hopes for their children through the lens of Lena's efforts for civil rights and equality.  I also want to include a few songs that people may not be so familar with".

When you listen to the complete playlist on this CD, you will quickly realize that Clairdee has accomplished her goal.  Some of the songs on the playlist were not familiar to me but when you listen to the lyric combined with Clairdee's (Spoken Interlude) on several of the songs,  the message she wanted to send is clearly heard.

Clairdee is an accomplished, master Jazz singer with a warm, deep silky voice.  Lena Horne was one of the giants of Jazz from the time she started singing but she was so much more;  she did fight for equality throughout her life.  Clairdee has done us all a service reminding us of Lena Horne's greatness as a Vocalist and a person.  For millions of Americans, she did make a difference.

                                      The Band

 I have attached two "YouTubes" from "A Love Letter To Lena".  The first is the classic "Old Devil Moon" recorded in a Latin groove and the second is an up-tempo version of "Lady be Good".

                                                                    "Old Devil Moon"

"I want to be happy"

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"


Friday, February 21, 2020

CD Review: Sam Fazio, "Let's Go"

This week the Musician Blog moves to the Windy City of Chicago to meet the marvelous singer, Sam Fazio who just released his fourth CD, "Let's Go".   Sam has performed at almost all the Jazz venues in Chicago including a 6-year run at the historic Drake Hotel.  In recent years, Sam has performed in many of the major Jazz rooms from LA to NYC with rave reviews.  If you like the era when vocalists were cherished for the quality of their voice and phrasing, then you will love Sam Fazio.  I found this CD interesting because Sam has put together a playlist of songs he loves to sing that cover Jazz and Pop tunes.  Sam has a rich, deep voice and his delivery is smooth as silk.  The first time you hear Sam sing some his, and probably your favorite songs, my bet is you will award him a place on your favorite singers' list.

The arrangements for the 10 songs on the CD are new, creative and fresh.  The musical configuration on the 10 songs on "Let's Go" are different for each song. On one song like "Pure Imagination"  Sam sings with just a Piano and Harmonica and it's perfectly matched to the melody and lyric of this classic gem!  On some he used Piano and Drums then used Guitar and Harmonica for others.  The results are great and allows the listener to hear Sam perform in multi-musical environments.

I have attached a copy of the Playlist listed on the CD that shows who the difference musicians are on each track.

I have attached two "YouTube" videos from this CD.  The first is the wonderful "Pure Imagination" from the brilliant writing duo of Bricusse and Newley.  Chris White on Piano band and             Michael Peloquin on Harmonica give some wonderful supporting work behind Sam.  I just couldn't resist picking the Oldie but Goodie, "Do You Want To Dance" that Sam sings as smooth as silk with a new spirit of understanding of the lyric.  Enjoy!  


                                                          "So You Want To Dance"


   Playlist and Players:

Thursday, February 13, 2020

CD Review: "Albare Plays Jobim" by Albare

I have a treat for all the Latin Jazz lovers!  Guitarist and Composer, Albare has released his new CD, "Albare Plays Jobim" and it is one of the best new interpretations of songs from the Jobim song book that I have experienced in quite a while.  Albare exhibits a sensitive understanding of Antonio Carlos Jobim's creative compositions and rhythms which when combined with the Samba and Jazz produce the wonderful new musical sound of the Bossa Nova genre.  Albare states " As Jobim was such an influence in my playing, I feel this album is overdue and I am now ready to express the intense beauty of these melodies to my own satisfaction".    

Albare was born in Morocco and grew up in Israel and France.  His musical development was completely self-taught.  Sadly, Albare lost his central vision faculties due to a genetic illness; his playing is completely by ear.

The musicians joining Albare on this CD are all superstars in Latin Jazz and add greatly to this award-winning new CD.  Joe Chindamo plays Piano, conducted and put the String arrangements together.  Joe's accomplishments include recording over 60 film soundtracks, 23 CDs and collaborated with James Morrison, Ray Brown, The Brecker Brothers and Olivia Newton John,   On Drums is the sensational Antonio Sanchez.  Antonio has a degree in classical Piano from the National Conservatory in Mexico and Magna Cum Laude in Jazz Studies from Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory.  He has been awarded 5 Grammy's.  If you haven't heard him play Drums before,  get ready to be musically surprised.  Ricardo "Ricky" Rodriquez is on Bass and he is also a classically trained musician who was born in Puerto Rico and then moved to New York City where is he soon began playing with revered Jazz musicians and Latin Jazz luminaries including David Sanchez Quartet, Branford Marsalis and The Arturro O' Farrell and The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.

Albare- Guitars
Joe Chindamo- Piano, String Arrangements and Conductor 
Antonio Sanchez- Drums
Ricardo "Ricky" Rodriquez- Bass
Phil Turcio- Producer 

1. "One Note Samba"
2. "Corcovado"
3. "Chega De Saudade"
4. "Orfeu Negro"
5. "Desafinado"
6. "Agua de Beber"
7. "Double Rainbow"
8. "Aguas De Marco"
9.  "Wave"
10. "Brazil"

I have attached two "YouTube" videos so you can hear two songs from this CD.  The first is the opening tune on the CD, "One Note Samba".  The second one is the well-known Jobim song "Agua de Beber.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

CD Review: Kelley Johnson, "Something Good"

Vocalist and Arranger Kelley Johnson has released her 5th CD, "Something Good".  In this new CD, Kelley has chosen 10 familiar standards where she applied her own unique interpretation.  I have said many times that one of the tests I like to use when evaluating a new performer is how they approach a tried and true standard.   A lot of vocalists I hear singing standards simply use past recordings of the standard and the result, most times, is a rehashing of a familiar song.  However, Kelley approaches each familiar song from her own unique understanding of the music and lyric.  Her voice is silky and rich and her all important phrasing is new and spot on.   As I listened to "Something Good" I was struck with the ease of her delivery and a sound that feels effortless.  These are the classic skills of an accomplished Jazz Vocalist, and there is no doubt the Kelley Johnson delivers all these skills.

Kelley Johnson chose all the songs on her CD not just because they're great songs, but because they resonate with her on a deeper level.  In Kelley's words " These songs are about being an artist, being a partner, and being a daughter.  Like most people, I'm trying to maintain meaningful relationships and continue pursuing love and music with all the glory and humility that we need to keep our balance in an every-changing world.  Whether a song is about art or love or spiritual pursuit, it's really all the same path to acceptance."   Beautiful words, beautifully said Kelley!  Thanks for sharing your vocal inspirations with us!

Joining Kelley on this CD are some of the best musicians from the Pacific Northwest.  On Piano is Kelley's husband and performing partner, John Hansen who is one of the finest Jazz pianists in the Northwest.  Hansen provides wonderful support for Kelley which has been developed over 20 years of performing together.  Michael Glynn who has performed with Jazz legends such as Bud Shank, Jon Hendricks, Dave Grusin and Eric Alexander is on Bass and Veteran Drummer, Kendrick Scott adds perfect finish to the rhythm section.  Versatile  multi-instrumentalist Jay Thomas is a Seattle Jazz legion and performs Soprano Sax, Tenor Sax and Trumpet on this CD.

1. "Anyone Can Whistle"
2. "Goodbye To Love"
3. "You Do Something to Me"
4. "Lullaby of Birdland"
5. "Let's Do It"
6. "Some Other Time"
7. "Tip Toe"
8. "Unforgettable"
9. "You For Me"
10. "Something Good"

1. Kelley Johnson- Vocals, Whistle
2. John Hansen- Piano
3. Michael Glynn- Bass
4. Kendrick Scott- Drums
5. Jay Thomas- Soprano and Tenor Sax, Trumpet

I have attached two "YouTubes" videos of two cuts from "Something Good".  The first is the fine Stephen Sondheim tune "Anyone Can Whistle"  and the second one is a creative, new approach to the George Shearing classic, "Lullaby of Birdland".

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

CD Review: Roger Kellaway "The Many Open Minds of Roger Kellaway"

Composer Pianist Roger Kellaway is one of my favorite Jazz performers for multiple reasons.  He is a brilliant pianist who expresses his unique personality through his music.  Some of the adjectives I think describe this master musician would be witty, adventuresome, and an unpredictable spirit.  I have had the pleasure of hearing Roger in person several times over the last few years and every performance is different but spectacularly great.

"The Many Open Minds of Roger Kellaway" was recorded live at the world famous Jazz Bakery in Santa Monica, CA in August, 2010.  This recording is as fresh today as night it was cut!  Roger is joined on this CD by Bruce Forman on Guitar and Dan Lutz on Bass.  Together the trio revisits some of the most famous Jazz tunes ever written.  But in no way does this super talented trio just provide a cover for these famous tunes, they bring Roger's open and fresh musical mind to each one.  Roger has provided wonderful arrangements that keep the spirit of the melody in tack but takes each tune on an enjoyable and new path.  Starting with "Take Five' to "Night and Day" to "Caravan",  these tunes we all know well are re-imagined with creative Jazz spirit.

Roger Kellaway is a special Jazz giant who has covered a lot of Jazz ground during his 57 years of performing.  Roger is 80 years old this year but anyone listening to his CDs or seeing him perform in person will find his age hard to believe.  He is still playing at his prime losing none of his creativity, superb technical skills or enthusiasm.

Roger's lastest CD, "The Many Open Minds of Roger Kellaway" was released on November 1, 2019 by IPO Recordings, LLC.  This label has focused on releasing several recent CDs of Jazz giants like James Moody, Frank Wess, and Benny Golson just to name a few.  You should check out IPO's catalog that is filled with treasures from the Jazz masters.  They are keeping the best of our Jazz giants' music alive and should be supported by all Jazz fans.

Roger Kellaway-Piano
Bruce Forman-Guitar
Dan Lutz-Bass


I have attached two "YouTubes" for your enjoyment.  Picking just two was difficult because every song on this CD is great but I settled on the Paul Desmond classic "Take Five"  and Ellington's evergreen "Caravan".

CD Review: Jenny Davis, "Rearranged"

Composer, Arranger, Bandleader and Jazz Vocalist, Jenny Davis has just released her 4th album as a leader.  This CD spotlights Jenn...