Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Uno" by Naima (Jazz/Rock Artist from Spain)

"Uno" is the inspiring new release from the European contemporary jazz unit Naima. The group uses an abundant array of musical elements and styles for their exploration and improvisation, drawing from many different influences and sources. The musicians establish a picture with each tune, which is then designed and shaped by the interaction between the different instruments and nurtured to completion. A good example of this is the opening track "Bicho," where the theme is first established by the piano and then developed by the other instruments. Listen to the fantastic interplay between the piano, soprano sax, and drums on the fiery "Totem." "Ana" is a quieter, gentler track, possessing expressive melodies and a more delicate, understated interaction between the musicians. "Alas Cortadas" is also a tender piece, but has a definitive pulse and groove. "Sicalipsis" is another example of the fine interplay between the musicians, weaving their own musical comments throughout the tune while still complementing each other and staying within the given framework of the music. This is an impressive album to be enjoyed by fans of improvisational and contemporary jazz reminiscent of the style of Wayne Shorter.
-Rodney and the Reviewer Team
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"Reflexos" by Rui Caetano Trio (Jazz Artist from Portugal)

"Reflexos" is the first recording from Portuguese pianist Rui Caetano and his trio, featuring Bernardo Moreira on bass and Marco Franco on drums. The album is a collection of original compositions inspired by Caetano's life experiences. Although the setting for these sessions consists of a piano trio, this is far from a traditional piano trio jazz album. The compositions are very inventive and performed in a loose, free, interactive manner by the musicians. This trio has created a flowing, highly-original sound that is not easily categorized. "Sons Reflexos" begins in a dark, shadowy manner with each musician coloring in a sparse style before fusing together into an interactive, melodic tune. "Luisa" is a soft, delicate ballad featuring an eloquent approach from Caetano, with Franco providing subtle, fitting support underneath with swishing brushes and sizzling, swirling cymbals. The broken swing of "Casa Vertical" and "Dança do Cavalo Marinho" provides an audio landscape for the musicians to be extremely interactive, floating and weaving throughout the compositions as if they were painting scenery. "O Tempo Foi" is another ballad, displaying again the gentle, expressive side of Caetano. "Oceano" is a spirited closing track, with the musicians again interacting brilliantly, showcasing their creative ability to take liberties within the tune while still functioning as one interconnected unit. This album will appeal to the jazz fan, particularly those who enjoy the piano trio performing in a non-traditional, loose and free style.
-Rodney and the Reviewer Team
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Friday, October 10, 2008

“Mijn Wereld (My World)” by Willem Van Leeuwen (Pop/Jazz Artist from the Netherlands)

"Mijn Wereld (My World)" is the terrific big band/jazz debut from singer/songwriter Willem Van Leeuwen that features big band standards and Van Leeuwen originals. Lead by the crooning vocals of Van Leeuwen, not unlike Frank Sinatra and Michael Bublé, "Mijn Wereld (My World)" is filled with splashy big band arrangements of booming horns and woodwinds, as well as some great piano jazz. This release is filled with fun and upbeat songs that make you smile and sway, including Dutch big band renditions of classics from the Great American Songbook, including "I Feel Good" and "Strangers in the Night," respectively entitled "Voel Me Goed" and "Vreemdgaan in De Nacht." "Mijn Wereld (My World)" is well-produced, and the recordings and arrangements all sound outstanding. "Geboren Uit Nood (One for My Baby)" is a pleasant, jazzy track with beautiful piano work, a simple but fitting drum beat, and a lovely vocal performance from Van Leeuwen. "Droom (Home)" is an emotive closer with more excellent piano work and crooning vocals. With "Mijn Wereld (My World)," Willem Van Leeuwen has welcomed us to his world with open arms, no matter what language we speak. Fans of Dutch big band and jazz are definitely going to want to pick this one up.
-Chris & the Reviewer Team
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"Let's..." by Roger Cairns (Jazz Artist from Los Angeles, California (CA))

Roger Cairns' "Let's…" showcases the Scottish vocalist's ability to move seamlessly between many musical styles, settings and genres. His passion, versatility, and flexibility are on full display as he interprets jazz standards and more modern selections. The production is clean and straightforward, with the vocals upfront and Cairns being supported on most tracks by a jazz quartet consisting of piano, bass, drums, and sax, though the sax is replaced by a fitting jazzy guitar on the spirited "Gravy Waltz." From the New Orleans feel of "Moonlight Becomes You" to the Brazilian textures of "They Say It's Wonderful" and "How Am I To Know," Cairns' personality can't help but to shine through. His heartfelt rendition of the jazz standard "My One And Only Love" is a definite highlight, exhibiting his mastery of the jazz ballad. Additional notable tracks include the bouncy, lively "Stormy Monday" and the contemporary sound of "To The Ends Of The Earth." "Let's…" is recommended for fans of jazz vocals and, with the many different styles presented here including blues, jazz, ballads, and swing, music fans in general.
-Rodney and the Reviewer Team
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Thursday, October 9, 2008

“Heaven In A Nightclub” by William Edgar (Jazz Artist from Pennsylvania(PA))

"Heaven In A Nightclub" by William Edgar captures the sound and spirit of a live concert combining elements of jazz, spirituals, blues and gospel. This concert was obviously meant to be a spiritual experience as well as a musical one. These skillful musicians take you on a journey through history, from deep sorrow to indistinguishable joy. They begin the set with a spirited interpretation of the jazz standard "Autumn Leaves" and the fiery "Renewal," with the melodic sax of Joe Salvano and the soulful vocals of Ruth Naomi Floyd flowing on top of the rhythmic piano of William Edgar, all anchored by bass virtuoso John Patitucci. Edgar also offers commentary throughout, including his thoughts on the Underground Railroad and jazz composer Duke Ellington. "Motherless Child" begins with an emotional bass intro by Patitucci, continuing with Floyd's smooth, silky vocals while Edgar provides a subtle piano backdrop. "Jesus is on the Mainline" is an expressive and passionate solo piece from Patitucci, and his enormous talent is evident from the first note. "Train Underground" features sizzling vocals from Floyd, once again driven by the strong, unwavering bass of Patitucci. "Lay My Burden Down" is an energetic gospel tune, getting the crowd involved and showcasing the immense vocal abilities of Floyd. This release will be enjoyed by fans of jazz, blues, and gospel music in the vein of both Duke Ellington and Mahalia Jackson.
-Rodney and the Reviewer Team
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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

“No Easy Way” by Jean Laughlin (Jazz Artist from Illinois(IL))

"No Easy Way" is a noteworthy release by Chicago jazz singer/songwriter Jean Laughlin, who is known for her broad vocal abilities and incredibly personal style. The writing is skillful and intelligent with fresh, clever arrangements. She is backed by an incredible orchestra of talented musicians featuring brilliant soloists and swinging horn sections. The rhythm section is fabulous, setting up and emphasizing the ensemble figures with ease while also providing wonderful support throughout. "Open" is a sincere and genuine opener with honest lyrics and Laughlin singing straight from the heart. Another heartfelt track is "Moment to Moment," which not only touches on the struggles of everyday life, but also offers inspiration. Her personality and individuality shine through on each tune, from her fun sense of humor on "Party Down" and "Lookin' at the Downside" to her warm, smoky style on the ballads "Sad Eyes," "Cast Away," and "Home ( a lullaby)." One ballad that really stands out is the touching "Friendships Broken," featuring an illustrious string arrangement and passionate vocals. Another excellent track is the lively "Simplify," with her vocals dancing atop the rhythmic figures of the horn section and Laughlin again showcasing her humorous side. This album is highly recommended for any fan of adult contemporary vocalists and/or big band music.
-Rodney and the Reviewer Team
Check out Jean Laughlin's music on with link to purchase and links to popular sites