For the real deal go to Improvijazzation Nation Magazine, from the awesome hand of Rotcod Zzaj. This page consists of my work only. I can do that, its my website. The magazine looks better and has links that work consistently too.


Mikrojazz – Neue Expressionistische Musik: This is interpreted and sometimes freely improvised microtonal harmonic jazz, with a special interest in the little places between the 12 regular notes in equal temperament heard on our most familiar musical scales. This feels like experimental instrumental explorations that you can tap your toe to, it’s something to appreciate while giving it your full attention and perhaps not something you would put on for background soundscape to accompany anything else you might be doing. Or maybe not, maybe at times you dig some ambient soulful jazz dissonance with a beat. Some might call it Middle Eastern blues gamelan.

The space between regular notes can sometimes stand out and be heard as a wrong note, but to sophisticated listeners instead it is a powerful and multicolored utilization of more instrumental possibilities, and the more you listen the more interesting a range of sounds you will hear. The further you get from home the stranger things can seem, which might be why you sometimes go all the way out there to visit. The saxophone based aspects of this music utilize a scale with 128 notes in an octave, instead of the regular 12 notes, while the guitar slides and curves countless notes in wonderfully strange ways. It’s not sounding like science, it just all happens on that strange tiny scale and it can positively change your palette of listening.

The promotional accompaniment that comes with Mikrojazz – Neue Expressionistische Musik refers to pairing each song with a German Expressionist painter or artist, including Georg Grosz, Emile Nolde, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, August Macke, Egon Schiele, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix and the American painter Jean Michel Basquiat. I did not get any such pictures in the Press Contact version I received, maybe when you buy the album you will. It makes sense, German Expressionism, well…, okay maybe it’s not supposed to make perfect sense for you to dig it.

Philipp Gerschlauer    alto saxophone
David Fiuczynski        wicked whammy bar fretted and fretless guitar
Georgi Mikadze microtonal keyboard
Matt Garrison fretless bass
Jack DeJohnette        drumming legend

Mr. DeJohnette brings his “abstract thinker” drumming style, he has played with fusion jazz giants including Miles Davis, Charles Lloyd, Freddie Hubbard, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, John Abercrombie, Alice Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock and John Scofield as well as for a time frequently sitting in with Sun Ra and he also can be heard on three recordings with the John Coltrane Quintet. DeJohnette was born in Chicago and began as a pianist, before switching to drums.

Gerschlauer was inspired by French composer Gérard Grisey and Paul Desmond and has been independently exploring the world of microtonal music in Berlin and New York. Fiuczynski heads up the Planet MicroJam Institute at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. It makes sense that they would play together and Fiuczynski invited Gerschlauer to Berklee to present his music and talk about playing microtonal saxophone and of course also playing with Berklee’s resident Planet MicroJam Ensemble. According to the program notes, Fiuczynski has been operating on the fringe for decades, flaunting mondo-chops with his avant- jazz-funk band Screaming Headless Torsos in the early 1990s, as a member of Hasidic New Wave in the late ‘90s and in collaboration with keyboardist John Medeski on 1994’s Lunar Crush and subsequently with his KiF trio and experimental Black Cherry Acid Lab.

Mikro Steps (4:34) Giant bending and fancy stepping, bringing a very complex new dimension to the original masterwork Giant Steps. It melts and that is a fantastic new way to experience conventionally felt music.

Fur Mary Wigman (7:02) Strange shadows and odd slow colors whirl and turn, a poem (no words only sound) about a complex dancer who took off her pointe shoes to dance for her art and brought us all new forms of expressionist dance or Ausdruckstanz. Mary Wigman was born in 1886 and pioneered/choreographed what became known as New German modern dance from 1920 through 1942 in the high Weimar German culture, which influenced the entire foundation of fine arts dance at that time. She passed away in 1973.

Lullaby Nightmare (3:37) Starts with the microtonal keyboard and moves steadily into dark dreamy caverns with large fish swimming below, never seen. With the night motions there is what sounds like a toy piano, and that brings a complexity unexpected.

MicCroy Tyner (7:31) Saxophone traditions that melt in your afternoon or evening, the guitar somehow otherwise brings in some strange birds that dance, the keyboard keeps adding textures and the drum/bass keeps it all on time so you just float. McCoy Tyner is a left handed jazz pianist from Philadelphia and he made history with the John Coltrane Quartet in addition to his stellar solo career.

Umamung (5:04) Mr. DeJohnette brings us in, joined by the team to create a strange steady unfolding song which I find to have the effect of the way that the light from the sun and the shadows meld together during an eclipse.

Last Chance (4:26) Keyboard/sax careful building, a tale of kingdoms and times that melt as the story develops. The bass has a nice long bending passage and is waving a bit of magic to enjoy.

November (6:47) Chaos in the wind, this one has more energy and complexity than what we have heard so far. It’s good to ride on blowing leaves sometimes. A fusion powered melting jazz showcase.

Hangover (7:56) Slow it down, keep the lights low, roll back under the covers and enjoy that melting dream some more. Don’t go anywhere for awhile, just relax. Your head is going to be just fine if you let it wander lightly. I like this one the best.

LaMonte’s Gamelan Jam (6:32) La Monte Young is a minimalist of the avant-garde flavor, he is well known in the downtown and Fluxus scene. This number has an Indonesian groove painted with the fundamentally western instruments, lots of trees and rocks melting by the ocean in the fog. There is a strange monster way out in that ocean, but this song only brings the mystery, not the danger.

Walking Not Flying (2:57) Walking bass and saxophone with the melting microtonal guitar-keyboard bells, I think this one does fly.

Sofia Im Tuerkischen Cafe (3:44) Sophia is wise, and in a Turkish Cafe you are served in special small cups, a very delicious sweet hot dark beverage. Sofia takes her time and savors the strength of this extraordinary treat.

Zirkus Macabre (3:21) Your head just fell off.

This is recommended as highly innovative exploratory work of the microtonal idiom, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED with an EQ of 4.8          Robin B. James

Roswell Rudd – EMBRACE:  A clever and innovative trio supporting an awesome romantic vocalist. These are all covers of established standards and major works, but they have been interpreted in such a way that they are often truly highly original sounding. This is wise old sadness, done perfectly.

Roswell Rudd: Trombone
Fay Victor: Voice
Lafayette Harris: Piano
Ken Filiano: Double Bass

Something To Live For (8:22) Relaxed, slow, easy, moody, and pretty. Original dream by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington.

Goodbye Porkpie Hat (6:39) You read the title and if you know the song you immediately get a whiff of that certain slow walking saxophone sound, Seamus Blake is the saxophonist on the original recordings, and the composition is an homage to Lester Young. When you hear the recording here, eventually there are places that link to the original and you go “oh yeah!” but I had no idea this was a cover of a Charles Mingus tune the first time I heard this recording. Plus this version has new lyrics too! This is a great new recipe for a fine old dish.

Can’t We Be Friends (7:46) A tale of disappointment, maybe you have heard the original by Paul James and Kay Swift. This is a classical triumph, jazz night with no cigarettes and I like it so much better now. Play on and on, all through the evening.

I Hadn’t Anyone Till You (7:20) Growling lady and trombone, brings up some real sweet and naughty gravel. Ray Noble smiles, another broken heart song.

Too Late Now (11:34) This is an instrumental, with bowed viol music and is based on Burton Lane’s originally haunting original composition..

House of the Rising Sun (8:17) The traditional sad story of ruin and misery. Watch out lest it happen on you too. Oh my Lordy,. so well done here, its new again.

I Look In The Mirror (4:38) Bright and upbeat trombone sass with the playful lyrics of Verna Gillis scattering the groove and keeping us snapping and popping.

Pannonica (10:32) A thoughtful exploration of a fantastic tune by the amazing Thelonious Monk.

Do it, buy this album and melt away your troubles each time you play it, listen to these stories sung and lived, feel the release and know that all is good, know that love is eternal and impossible, just listen!  VERY VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED with an EQ 3.8       Robin B. James

The Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra: Get It How You Live  This is a real treat! An original big band jazz sound supporting vocalists Dionne Farris and Dashill Smith. This is the funkish side of R&B with a tiny flavor of Hip Hop spice, and all big band sound, all luxury. Russell Gunn is the producer, conductor, arranger, composer, trumpet player and Wes Funderburk is the awesome arranger. Recorded at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Mixed and Mastered by “Super” Dave Darlington at Bass Hit Studios in New York. This is a great band for just relaxing and getting your night out properly illuminated. This is a sweet time. You get the services of a whole village of musicians doing the professional things that they do.

Who is doing all this? Here are the master musicians:

Trumpets: Russell Gunn, Curtis Watson, Lee King, Melvin Jones, Daniel Harper, Ali Barr, Darren
English

Saxophones: Akeem Marable (alto), Brian Hogans (alto), Mike Walton (tenor), Jamel Mitchell
(tenor), Eric Fontaine (bass) (also alto clarinet), James Robertson (alto)

Trombones: Saunders Sermons, Derrick Jackson, Derrick White, Tom Gibson

Rhythm: Che Marshall (Drums), Tabari Lake (Bass), Phil Davis (Keys), Rod Harris Jr. (Guitar), Ali
Barr (Percussion)

So what are they doing with so many folks?

Get it how you live (1.45) Brings us in for the party, with a crowd and a male voice making the
introductory soliloquy. The brass titters and grooves. Can you dig it? Oh yeah!

The critic’s song (4.47) Bursting in with an insistent groove, big brass with a tight polish. Gets you
up and moving, all big and dazzling.

Fair (11:34) Now we meet the fine female vocalist, layers of horns with mystery, singing about the
complexities of modern romance. This one has lots of room to savor. The fair is not fair.

If I ever fall in love (3:35) The trumpet leads the way, setting up the landscape for the story which
is about unspoken romance.

Sybil’s blues (featuring Theo Croker) (5:03) Theo sets it up, the guitar brings us in, and the whole
band takes off. Get on up and move!

Hopeless (6:59) Back in the arms of a more subdued groove, she tells us how she feels the
morning after. I think this one is my favorite. It’s all good.

Lyne’s joint (6:06) A tale told with no words, and in no hurry but with some muscular articulation
and some fine details. The trumpet does most of the talking, surrounded by the chorus of the big
band.

Switch melody (10:38) Summer afternoon, it's all bright and full, feeling great! This is really a trio
of songs. I love the voices mixed in with the band, and she tells a story about new love.

Ballad of the sad young men (6:27) Thoughtful, after all that power and funk, we settle down and
say goodbye with this last song of the set, thinking about sad young men who are recovering from
their romantic misses.

If you like a good full sound, a masterful array of musicians and a vocalist who has a range to die
for, this is the one.  Rated HIGHLY COMPLETELY RECOMMENDED THAT YOU BUY THIS ALBUM. EQ 4

Robin B. James

 

Dave Kerzner: Static  A “progressive rock opera,” a concept album about the distractions, chaos and clutter in everyday life and navigating past this “static interference” in our heads towards happiness and clarity. This is a follow up studio solo album after the debut album New World. This has a classic progressive rock sound through and through, with various kinds of distortions featured to connect it all together with the album title. The promotional materials included describe the dramatic twists and turns from dark moods to uplifting atmospheric pieces to rich nostalgic rock sounds to modern rock edge. They know what they are doing.

The musicians here are previously (and continuing) from the progressive rock band Sound of Contact which was founded by Dave Kerzner and Simon Collins (son of Phil Collins).

The core group:  Dave Kerzner – lead and backing vocals, keyboards, drums, bass, guitar; Fernando Perdomo – guitar, bass, drums, backing vocals; Randy McStine – guitar & FX; Matt Dorsey – bass; Dereck Cintron – drums and Ruti Celli – cello

Joined by:  Steve Hackett (of Genesis) – guitar; Durga McBroom (of Pink Floyd) – vocals; Lorelei McBroom – vocals; Nick D’Virgilio (of Big Big Train, Spocks Beard) – drums; Colin Edwin (of Porcupine Tree) – bass; Ewa Karolina Lewowska – vocals; Alex Cromarty (of Mostly Autumn) – drums; Stuart Fletcher (of Sea Horses) – bass; Chris Johnson – guitar and more!

Prelude (0:39) Very short. Sets the mood. Ties in with the title. There is static. There is a keyboard.

Hypocrites (8:28) A complaint about the world and the people in it.

Static (5:18) Atmospheric keyboards and soaring guitars, lost in a haze of confusion.

Reckless (5:39) Horny guy with guitars makes his play for fast times. Do not let this guy (the character in the song of course) drive a car.

Chain Reaction (4:43) Big guitars set a series of consequential events in motion. The complaints continue.

Trust (4:45) Piano (probably just a keyboard not a big wooden instrument) lamentation of lost romance, days now beyond recovery. Time is cruel. It is too late now. I hear some strings in there too.

Quiet Storm (2:07) Now things are slowly picking up, this offers more of a complex sound with something that sounds to me like little hopping robot frogs. You can still feel the pain.It builds darkly.

Dirty Soap Box (5:43) The complexity continues, as does the darkness, walking the city streets with torches, a large cast of characters engaged in struggles.

The Truth Behind (7:11) Back to a more relaxed presentation, those keys again, a dark search for clarity. There is a larger vocal ponderation. We can rise above.

Right Back to the Start (1:49) Short and sweet, this one lifts up and gives hope again. More strings. Beginning again does provide new hope. Things are getting worked out and there is room for happiness.

Statistic (2:53) Now that we are perked up, it’s time to break through and take an accounting of all we have been through, this one is mostly instrumental. It offers strength.

Millenium Man (3:30) Power and confidence, building to a  more complex analysis of the times. There is more of a bounce in this tempo, with messages. The church of greed breaks down, exposing a prevailing groove. That guy who should not drive (from Reckless) is gaining personal insight and building a new life through reflection, shedding his old ways.

State of Innocence (4:48) Now we are rising up, calmly and with a piano sound. The past problems are gone and only the dawn survives. Hope prevails!

The Carnival of Modern Life (16:52) This is freakishly long compared to the other numbers on the album, but it does justice to the journey. There is a much more complex blend of talents and sounds here, could the previous 13 songs be unnecessary? There is more of a narrative script and complicated mixture of tastes and sights heard here compared to the territory we have just covered, the entire story is told here in one long exposition. Dig the organ playing monkey and the soulful barker. Get your rock beats on here, get strong and righteous. All your favorite prog rock stars are shining here! Now I am thinking you could skip the rest of the album and just listen to the last song, it’s got the whole story contained nicely. On the other hand, these are very talented musicians with lots to offer.  RECOMMENDED with an EQ of 3.72  Robin B. James

 

Rafal Sarnecki – Climbing Trees:  This is all instrumental and is satisfyingly compelling in its synergy of talents, lots of intricate turns and synchronized complex unique musical expressions. Ten original compositions drawing from the composer’s intuitive understanding of everyone’s amazing special abilities. Nobody is trying to grab the light or otherwise stand out, they do not need to. The vocals are treated as an instrument, there are no lyrics, lots of doo-bee ahhhh ooooh. Therefore this is entirely international and universal in its reach. The conductor/composer Rafal Sarnecki was born in Poland and is currently residing in NYC, he has taken his sound and toured the West and East coasts of the USA, toured and taught music in China, Malaysia, South Korea, Chile, and Israel. The title Climbing Trees has something to do with facing fears, in this case climbing trees is a way to overcome any fear of heights, just as stage fright is overcome by going on stage. They reach higher and higher. There is no anxiety here, it’s all smooth. The composer/guitarist reveals that “the satisfaction from fighting the fear was very strong and addictive. The memory from childhood resembles many situations in my adult life.”

Rafal Sarnecki: guitar/composer
Lucas Pino: saxophone
Bogna Kicinska: vocals
Glenn Zaleski: piano
Rick Rosato: bass
Colin Stranahan: drums

They are not imitating the masters or echoing some established territory, they are making their own way in a risky but pleasant and relaxing groove. There is more instrumental chemistry and dexterity than raw power, which I find to be just fine. After listening you are not exhausted from a work-out, you are refreshed and ready for whatever the evening holds for you next. You can sit and listen, they give you plenty to engage you and to be entertained with, or you can use it as a landscape behind your evening’s illumination.

Solar Eclipse 8:34 Steady slow steps, lead by the piano and supported by the drumwork. Everyone has a different path and they somehow all stay together at the same time.

Dadaism 9:04 The bass brings it in, the drums roll up, and they take us on another fine soaring tour of the land of badabaaah.

Little Dolphin Part 1 1:23 Guitar intricacy matched with the piano weaving a short introduction to the wordless story of the little dolphin.

Little Dolphin Part 2 3:49 Now the piano builds up the foundation, joined by the drums and things move at a slightly faster tempo. The little dolphin is a nickname for Rafal given to him by his music students in China.

Little Dolphin Part 3 4:00 For the third section the guitar strums slowly and some saxophone language is spoken, drums unify the pace. Progressive jazz dialogs build to portray a fuller understanding of the relationship of the little dolphin to the ocean. All of the constructions from part one and two are finalized here, with some new feelings added.

Zhongguo 6:05 Guitar steps kick it off, the journey takes the whole convoy of different parts along to its destination, and its all about the journey. The saxophone has wings! The vocals are the main thing, but not the only thing going on. The same phrase is repeated all throughout, but there are plenty of added details and extras.

Write a Letter to Yourself 7:31 The drums start us off, the piano does its dance, and the guitar swings over it all. The vocals are amazing without trying too hard, it’s a good letter to read with your ears.

Disappointing Fresh Peach 3:35 It’s sort of a puzzle and sort of a flower, intricate and naturally well constructed. I do not find this a disappointment, it’s a complex process.

Hydrodynamics 6:47 Faster and more complex than the other musical tales found in the album, sort of an exploration of a breezy land and seascape with lots of details.

Homo Sapiens 7:41 More meditative now, a good way to finish the album’s journey. Part jazz and part concerto.

Overall I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this well constructed instrumental masterpiece and find it to easily deliver an EQ of 3.9     Robin B. James

Amy Denio/Spoot Music – THE BIG EMBRACE:  There is only one person named on the album, on the cover, but there are hundreds of musical instrumentalists and vocalists heard on this recording. She could not possibly have played or sung or otherwise actualized by herself all of the amazing sounds heard here. Or could she?

l’Abbraccione (444) Strumming zither box thing with a bright gaelic garlic kiss, the room is huge and probably dark because its a concert but it’s just you and her, but suddenly there are more of her, a very small choir of Amy each has her eyes closed and she is singing strong. This musical form is the infinite over and over again progression, I like it, reminds me of walking in the village.

Romadame (3.36) Pippy fast step, declarative maybe even defiant. Vivid colors and vivid dreams, another Amy choir but this time just a bit more off in the distance. Guitar this time, I think.

Thanksgiving (2.44) Sitting around the table with the folks, moments after the feasting, talking about life and you know. Morning warning. Glockenspiel supports the vocals, and its plentiful, minimal with nothing lacking. Some saxophones join in midway through, the sound stays easy, there is nothing crowded about it.

Zap Sistah (3.15) Amy has nailed the short composition form, little pictures and gems brought together in sound to tell a story. Like poetry or the short story, these songs are lessons to be learned, thoughts to be thunk. Words to be pondered or measured. A Zap sistah is a strong sassy babe who will kick your butt. They have been around, they know the score, they laugh at adversity. Mouth noises, clicking.

Rx For the Afterlife (3.25) The afterlife is in a big place, dark and you would not know where the walls are, or if there even are any. Nobody has gotten word back from the Afterlife. This time the choir of Amy is more of a closer slow motion doo-wop-transfer unit, each taking different parts for the chorus or chorus-like places in the composition. What do they eat over there? Bass and echo effects.

Prostate before a Periwinkle (3.53) Accordion and glockenspiel with clarinets. Mostly accordion. Easy pace, very soothing, it’s important to have reliable soothing music to rest in when you need to rest. The second half of the song has a loose skin-drum patter, delicious. Distant lands probably have music like this, I don’t know for sure. It’s wonderful.

Rx for the Wife (4.44) Horns! Many of them, with that patter skin-drum thing going on. Also a restful and soothing resource but very different than the previous periwinkle. Midway through the mediations there is an odd phrase, sort of a radio reference, summer music. From here on this song becomes very complex, this has become a sound collage of strange voices that are utilized as instruments in there mixed with the brass, horns, and of course the eternal choir of Amy. Maybe some frogs, fake frogs.

Rx for A Scrambled Egg and Peanut Butter Sandwich (2.00) Nifty little spunky white girl rap boom box vocal thing, sweet. I am not able to get the egg-peanut butter combo to work for me, I guess I am going to have to actually try eating it. Could be awesome. Sort of a personal thing, but it’s good to think up new recipes. Snappy pace, fun in the lunch line.

Rx for the Recife (1.55) A vacation recipe. Sounds delicious, beaches are for summer. Wait, this is a song about sharks eating surfers… It’s still got me going like I am dancing with my eyes closed in circles with my arms out waving around. This time I am not tempted to try the recipe, it’s for sharks, and they say something that sounds like “noyce!” which probably is something like Australian for “nice!” Those rascal sharks, I guess we gotta love ’em. Recife is in Pernambuco, you know. It’s the capital city. They have historic Brazilian beaches there.

Boat People (4.00) The Amy choir has an introduction that seems to me sort of Brazilian sounding, percussive mouth noises, a glockenspiel, and the bass is lush and coastal. This is about Vietnamese boat people, remember them? That was a while ago, after the war, the one in the early nineteen-seventies. The war of my childhood, we watched it every night while eating supper. We rescued the boat people back then. We brought them home to live here. I think there are some unidentified persons singing, not sure. It could be just Amy singing and clicking her mouth percussively.

Mayflower (3.23) Sort of a journal of the voyage. Nautical Amy tells the story, is that peg leg real? No but its effective. Salty Amy. The clarinet takes it away, assisted by the glockenspiel. This gets back to the recipe form again. Turkey is eaten.

Donald The Lump (2.41) This is a protest ditty of course. Usually Amy uses poetry, this is a black eye on a dumpster fire. Governments have secrets and Amy has a bass. This is proof that there is another person besides Amy, you can hear his voice, and he is not playing games. The onald. We used to call him The Donald, remember back then? He has his methods, famously unusual. Americans are unpredictable, spontaneous and unusual, therefore The Donald is president this time. No games, right? The choir gets very odd, twittery little underwater monkey bleats.

Feral Fleas (2.11) This features a more comedic straight-faced Amy oompa choir, exposing the voice of the fleas. Everyone must eat. The old folk songs about unheard voices being championed are a strong tradition, here is a sort of pop ditty making it modern, or urban maybe.

7,500 Kisses (5.13) This has a very different sound, it makes me swoon (this is my favorite number on the album). There are flute-like sustained whispers, joined by strings bowed electric in a haunting whistling manner. Manor. It’s probably coming from that famous old haunted house on the edge of the village, there are spooky hints of music coming from further off, wafting in the breeze, in the evening at sunset. Someone should probably mow the lawn, but I like it that way, with the tall flowers blooming in the lawn, sort of wild.

Biopsy of Statecraft (5.12) Another protest ditty, I think. Whatever it is, it clicks, it’s poetry so its not obviously political. The world needs plenty of these. The choir starts off in a distant dark room and opens the ceiling up to talk about current affairs, but in a slow and careful way, every syllable is heard, one at a time, step after step, closer and closer or further and further. The instrument used for accent beats sounds like a clock tick, maybe its been isolated and made to itch like a scratch in sand. The sermon is about the folly of government, maybe. It’s more of a poem than a sermon, but it has that kind of serious sermon gravity without the serious frown-thing. Candles in the dark cathedral. A strange place for a biopsy.

I Love this Cunterie (2.13) The duo is back for an encore, Amy and The Donald. The spelling of the song title is awkward, but that is the point, so squirm. Bass with unusual but certainly snappy percussion, holding together a broth made with recordings of the famous television president who has been made to say the plain truth, though that might not have been what he was thinking when he said it. His crowd is appreciative, you know what that means, hoots and shouts of joy always agreeing with The Donald.

I met Amy in the mid 1980s and I believe for certain that she certainly did play or sing or otherwise actualize everything heard here (of course she may have snuck in some close personal friends without telling anyone else about it), she is AMAZING! The songs here are all very powerful and thought provoking. Each number stands proud and tall. There is much more to be said about love and the Big Embrace, keep listening.  VERY HIGHLY RATED with an EQ 3.499        Robin B. James

Jeremy Ledbetter Trio – Got A Light?:  Piano jazz, smooth and supercharged flowing improvisations with a fountain of drums and bass AN INTERSTELLAR COLLISION OF WORLD MUSIC AND CONTEMPORARY JAZZ the promotional material that accompanies the music also says that the album is a controlled explosion of big musical ideas, stylistic variety, vivid colours and compelling musical storytelling. What’s not to love about all that? Plus its from Canada, at the top of their game. This debut album exhibits Inspirations ranging from Venezuela to Myanmar influences which covers a lot of musical territory. The compositions are all original except for Gift Shop which is a tribute to the great Gord Downie.

Jeremy Ledbetter piano
Rich Brown bass
Larnell Lewis drums
Eliana Cuebvas and Leila Ledbetter provide vocals on Her New Wings
Reimundo Sosa bata drums
Recorded at Ruge Valley Studios in Toronto Canada by John “Beetle” Bailey.

This is a conceptually related sequence of piano based musical numbers well suited for relaxing and for accompanying fine dining, a rich wandering sonic landscape. Breathe out and relax, there is nothing to prove here, it’s all a natural flowing living thing.

Amanecer 7:1 I am seeing Icarus in my mind, learning to fly and full of ambition. It’s a well told tale worth hearing again and again.

Got A Light 4:04 Playful start-stop funk groove that gets as far down as a sunny day can get.

Her New WIngs 4:10 This one has the melodeon and the vocals. The story is told and the breeze blows by, this takes us along on a healing glide. This one has the vocals so it really shines.

About Climbing Mountains 8:02 It starts with a strong hand and immediately broadens out into a bright green sunlit field, the mountains are gigantic. It’s a long strong story with lots of musical detail and flourishes. You must climb the mountain carefully so that everyone makes it, not just the people climbing today, but also all the children to come must also climb the mountain and they must have all the knowledge we have now plus all the new knowledge that has come to light since we started climbing.

Mais Um 5:30 This one is a celebrationof the bass which is more up front with solos than elsewhere on this album. Get up and dance, at least in your imagination. Better yet, just stand up and let it take you. Use your Spanish steps and your Cuban wiggle.

Suspirito 5:34 Slow everything down and listen while you hear your own breathing with the melodic dream moving in and around your senses. Another journey into new territory, carefully fitting everything in and feeling the combined radiances. Float and react to the questions and simple pictures made of sound. It’s a good ride. The story has a good ending and it goes on forever.

Gift Shop 3:42 This is all about memories and selecting something for a friend from a variety of possible gifts. Time well worth spending looking at a thoughtful range of treats and interesting small worlds. This one ends in good dreams.

The Pepper Drinker 5:22 Now we are jumping around again, dancing and showing off on an Iberian tapestry. The steps are very close and intricate, they have the important classic structures and some new sparkles mixed in.

The Tightrope Walker 6:54 It starts cautiously, building interest and adding depth constantly. Way up there is a small man on his feet with no safety, but he keeps his steps moving steadily as he progresses across the sky. He jumps sometimes, it’s a wonder if he will continue to survive. Things happen quickly, never missing a step, building and innovating. He just jumped out of sight, and now he is returning as if nothing happened.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED EQ 3.4        Robin B. James

Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis – The Stone House:  Big electric guitars and traps, the lights and all the colors. Colours. This is the European Union at its finest, young musicians working a fine tradition of progressive rock sonics. They are all very good at their techniques, gifted hands for our ears. The bass keeps the whole thing together but nobody notices it, its always there, on every song, but it’s sophisticated and not obtrusive. He could show off more if he wanted to.

Mark Wingfield guitar
Markus Reuter Touch Guitars AU8
Yaron Stavi fretless bass guitar
Asaf Sirkus drums

Recorded in Spain in February of 2016, mixed and mastered July through September of 2016, and released on Valentine’s Day 2017. Great stuff!

Rush 12:15 It calls to you, there is a cautious approach, the temperature rises, the drums come in, now the long notes get more busy. Lots of fade in sustained notes and some doppler shift type rushes. The drums get more complex and tell more of the tale, while the two guitars visit with each other. There are lots of big things moving out there.

Four Moons 5:12 This is a journey, there are strange landscapes and vistas, as well as the expanse above. Trace with your finger the different textures and variations.

Silver 8:33 This one has a faster beat, puzzle pieces fitting together, almost a dance always a background to those cosmic motions. The two guitars make up the main action, supported well and allowed to follow its own path. The energy builds, gets pretty wild and then discovers a new level. Its cheerful and thoughtful at play, endlessly building and wrything.

Fjords de Catalunya 9:45 Whales are calling, long deep dark and spooky. Rocks in the water, some break the surface. High cliffs with forests on top. There are probably Catalunyan trolls or elves or spirits watching from up there. Little human faces of dried apple leather. The huge sea is calm but there is something out there. The tempo is slower because its so big, it takes a while to finish a gesture or motion.

Tarasque 10:09 Blaze of drums, comes on fast, the tremolo setting is at eleven, but this is about the drums. The guitars come in, the whole thing is building with strength and power. It’s got lots of contributions, like fills for the drum solo done with scratchy guitars. These guys have a way of creating a sound landscape and then directing us to look above where more things have been happening for a long time.

Bona Nit Senor Rovira 13:58 The pace is easy-going, relaxed. There is an accent that is probably Italian but what do I know. The pace is steady, walking with a bit of a lift, going places. At various points they all turn and go in a new direction but the pace is strong, you are no longer walking and it’s a long way down. The pace supports the dialogs of the guitars and drums. It’s a nice day and you like it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED EQ 3.8       Robin B. James

Slivovitz – LiveR:  Traditional live performance jazz plus big buzz-saw guitar and lilting violin instrumentals. Good stuff! Won’t make you fat. You can get your punchy harmonica workout on to a different kind of groove.Pietro Santangelo: tenor & alto sax; Marcello Giannini: electric & acoustic guitars; Riccardo Villari: electric violin; Ciro Riccardi: trumpet; Derek Di Perri: harmonica; Vincenzo Lamagna: bass guitar and Salvatore Rainone: drums

Mai Per Comando (5:40) Energetic romp psychedelic harmonica crazy time signatures jumpin around lots of fun big bass monsters jump out at you good times.

Cleopatra Through (7:30) Starts with the band driving free then it has a guitar violin percussion section, before it heads into a succession of some smooth changes, always moving forward but the territory keeps changing, building towards a nice frenzy.

Currywurst (7:46) Fast and showy, this one is one of my faves from the album. Indo-Geranic cookin-roots as interpreted by the Italian band using a Creole Jazz form. Then some vindu-violin. It’s all good.

Egiziaca (8:23) Rock with brass, nice and lively. Again we are cooking with fusion forms. They like to sort of stop in the middle and work on tiny things, takin’ it way down and building back up to a full boogie again for the ending cycle. Ends with an Arabesque.

Mani in Faccia (7:49) Live instruments mimicking tape loops, very interesting use of the sound form in a live band. Later the brass takes a break and the guitar fills the forum. This builds to a tribal workout and then builds new ornaments for the bright sunshine. These guys have lots of interesting ideas.

Negative Creep (5:10) Grunge bleach classic done in perfect punchy next-wave reduction, no lyrics needed and none are offered. I think this is hilarious! Well done.

Caldo Bagno (7:50) A cruise on a large vessel, a sky full and a drop in the ocean.

MoonJune Records; Soundfly Records

Recorded in the Casa di Alex in Milan Italy

Rated MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED with an EQ of 4.9     – Robin B. James

Owen Broder – HERITAGE:  Incorporates traditional tune fragments into an improvisational framework. The violin makes the jazz sound more folky, which is a great thing. This is a product of people doing something they love, with people who demonstrate respect and admiration, with matching enthusiasm and commitment, a truly remarkable team.

Goin up home (5:45) Simple elegance, music of a journey, thinking ahead to arrival in a place from the past. As the song progresses there are more voices added, playful and intense in places, overall a nice ride.

Wherever the Road Leads (6:31) More travelling music, feel the road gliding below, count the progress in smiles, keep the step going so steadily. The woodwinds make for an entertaining dialog with fellow travellers, taking turns with strings and more brass. Just when it might be over, along comes another adventure. Keep going!

Jambalaya (4:34) A slow start to a major traditional cook out, what I like most about it is that you don’t know what it is until you are deep in the broth, then it’s oh yeah. Groove with the Southern Cuisine with a new presentation. I am still waiting for the grits, they show up rather late in the meal. They never do break out the crawfish pie.

Cripple Creek (7:08) This one starts with the fiddle as it should. Goin’ in a whirl.

Wayfaring Stranger (9:42) This song has haunting old traditional words, nicely sung. It’s a dark and sad theme, just the way you like it. The theme of traveling is back, this one takes its time, no hurry. Maybe we are sitting by the campfire in the darkest moments of deep night.

I’m Not Afraid to Die (5:54) When I listen to this with my eyes closed I am watching the ocean, winds bring spray up, the horizon goes on forever. Horns and the piano, moving brightly with the percussion, it’s a beautiful day. See the sun sparkle!

Brodeo (8:27) A more complex rhythm, strings bring us in, the whole orchestra comes along to meet us and wrap us in warm arms. Do some dancing if you like the jig. This changes to tell a more careful story. More building and we are headed into new territory with new dances.

The People Could Fly (7:53) Vocals open up the landscape where we are going next. If you look far enough you can see them flying but it was a long time ago. Dancing pianos and a vibraphone with a chorus saying some old foreign words, I think. There are some Icarus moments when things resort to failure but that just provides an opening for another way up. Now we are dancing on the edge of the cliff, with wind. Now it might be a children’s song, with adventure.

A Wiser Man Than Me (6:36) An old story, told with grace by a woodwind soloist and a choir, at least in the beginning. Traditional amazing piano and percussion structures support the old story as it unfolds and eventually the whole orchestra blooms. There is peace and hope, sway along with us.

The Ensemble: Owen Broder, woodwinds; Sara Caswell, violin; Scott Wendholt, trumpet, flugelhorn; Nick Finzer, trombone.

Soloists: James Shipp, vibraphone, percussion; Frank Kimbrough, piano; Jay Anderson, bass; Matt Wilson, drums

Vocalists: Wendy Gilles, Kate McGarry, Vuyo Sotashe

ArtistShare is the label on the record jacket.

www.owenbroder.com

Highly Recommended EQ 4.79 Robin James

The Ed Palermo Big Band THE ADVENTURES OF ZODD ZUNDGREN:  “A Dizzying and Ingenious Reinvention of Music by Frank Zappa and Todd Rundgren”… my first thought was that this is a collection of songs lovingly reproduced by musicians of dazzling competence, but it’s got nothing original, nothing interpreted, they hit each note just exactly as heard on the original recordings. All replication and no innovation, which some fans would truly appreciate, I am sure.

The second thought, this might work for a fan of either or both Todd Rundgren and Frank Zappa. Another second thought (maybe just call it a third thought), a true Zappa fan would just barf, someone inexperienced wanting to explore light versions of the dark master (Zappa) might get something from this. This is not for traditional jazz lovers who look for new ideas. It does showcase fantastic professional chops and ear works. These guys are pros, no doubt about it.

Twenty five numbers:

The Solemn Z-Men Credo (0.25) This is very short. It’s got an acapella freedom chorus.

Peaches in Regalia (Frank Zappa) (3.19) Magnificent brass, none of the percussion as heard on the original but there are drums.

Influenza (Todd Rundgren) (5.50) These guys are working too hard here, a pop song redone as a band workout and no lyrics. This is just awful.

Yer Fast (Todd Rundgren) (1.27) This has lyrics, it’s getting better than the other songs. It has a sense of humor. But its very short, but that is the way it was intended.

Absolutely Free (Frank Zappa) (4.28) A loving reproduction sans lyrics. No nasal snorting as found in the original. Sanitary!

Breathless (Part 1) (Todd Rundgren) (1.38) The arrangement is noteworthy, again the band gets its workout on, but the original is soooo much better, with more textures and goofy interludes.

Big Swifty (Frank Zappa) (1.16) I think the band enjoyed doing this short workout, the guitar has more fun.

Kiddie Boy (Todd Rundgren) (3.43) Has lyrics and the band is in fine form, groovin. This one song might be worth the price of the album.

Montana (Frank Zappa) (6.42) Has lyrics, nice arrangement, the drums are given more energy than the version of Peaches in Regalia.

Emperor of the Highway (Todd Rundgren) (1.38) At last some fun, the original version has just a piano, this is a whole orchestrated embellishment. Fun is important.

You are What You Is (Frank Zappa) (1.45) Another shortie. The strings have it, dancing on top of the band.

Echidna’s Arf (Of You) (Frank Zappa) (featuring The Louisiana Swindle Singers) (3.54) Dabba dabba doobie dwee yeah! Shoobie do doobie do dooo wah…

Hello Its Me (Todd Rundgren) (3.31) It’s all about vocals, Todd had a major pop hit with this one. Nothing new here, but its done well.

Big Swifty Coda (Frank Zappa) (1.36) Tight, busy and bouncy. Well done.

Wailing Wall (Todd Rundgren) (4.00) No lyrics. The song originally was vocal with piano, this is all puffed up for the band, keeping everyone busy, but these guys in the big band present no lyrics. Seems wrong.

Florentine Pogen (Frank Zappa) (7.25) This one is the monster, it just might work because they take time to honor the master. But it is sanitary. The lyrics really help this monster to work.

Flamingo (Todd Rundgren) (2.23) Nice try, too many people. The original is slimmer and gets into more little places, this is a fat ham sandwich.

Marqueson’s Chicken (Frank Zappa) (3.53) Nice and tricky here, this might hit it like Kiddie Boy for a listen, out of the whole album, showing off the arrangements and all that technical stuff.

Song of the Viking (Todd Rundgren) (1.58) Todd did all this with just his voice and piano (drum too). Here we have the whole bamned dand but it does not help much but the chores get done.

Janets Big Dance Number (Frank Zappa) (1.51) This goes on the short list of possible listens on this album.

Broke Down and Busted (Todd Rundgren) (5.13) This goes on that short list too. Nice arrangements and plenty of lyrics.

Breathless (Part 2) (Todd Rundgren) (0.51) So short.

Zoot Allures (Frank Zappa) (2.50) Again with finding a place for the whole band to stay busy, but no zap. This interpretation might be the worst musical number of the whole album.

Yer Fast (Todd Rundgren) (0.54) Excellent lyrical work with the band. I like it.

(hidden track) (1.43) Leans toward the Rundgren side, vocals and piano. It’s a good question to ask when it’s all over.

The Z-Men by instrument — Rakishly Ribald Reeds: Cliff Lyons, Phil Chester, Bill Straub, Ben Kono, Barbara Cifelli; Triumphant Trumpets: Ronnie Buttacavoli, John Bailey, Steve Jankowski; Terrifying Trombones: Charley Gordon, Mike Boschen, Matt Ingman; Pulsating Piano: Bob Quaranta; Scintillating Synth/Sampler: Ted Kooshian; Browbeating Bass: Paul Adamy; Daredevil Drums: Ray Marchica; Iconic Electric & Acoustic Violins, Villainous Vocals: Katie Jacoby; Gallant Guitar & Valorous Vocals: Bruce McDaniel

Cuneiform Records  NOT RECOMMENDED AT ALL EQ 3.998      Robin James

Samantha Boshnack Quintet – NELLIE BLY PROJECT: Sometimes it’s just music and sometimes its a vehicle for the spoken word, increasing the power felt by each. There is no such thing as “just music” it’s an emotional complex, it depends on what you normally listen to, that is giving it new dimensions. It’s going to new places on familiar vehicles. The words bring a lot of weight, depending on how much saxophone you normally listen to. Drums, keyboards and the jazz sound, easy to identify but impossible to explain. How can words have anything to do with sound? They are completely different. Listen to how Sam uses her words, she has our nourishment. This is a jazz of clarity and composure. It’s got the groove.

Expositions (7:22) has that odd note that works so well. Innocent, unaffected and frank. After One is in Trouble (10:18) gives us a new light. 72 Days (10:50) it’s only 28000 miles, I shall be back again. Legacy (5:28) poses questions about fate. Who does this? Samantha Boshnack; trumpet and vocal; Beth Fleenor: clarinet and bass clarinet; Alex Chadsey: piano and keyboards; Isaac Castillo: upright and electric bass; Max Wood: drums (that is the quintet); with Valerie Holt and Anne Mathews providing some vocals; and Anne Whitfield providing some spoken vocals.
The sound is healing and positive, it’s like futuristic birdsong with more direction than birds accept, only its familiar and its spoken (in a jazz way) in our biped language. It does not get tangled with complexity. You are going to enjoy listening to it.

It does not need to get any heavier than the spoken word parts. There is decorating and there is dissection. Ordered meditation and what we got was this jazz stuff. Worked out pretty well.

Now about Nellie Bly, who was she? We think about history and her story adds dimension for the clear-thinking jazz music itself. Yes, put them together. The logo woman with her heavy sweater-suit adventuring outfit suggests a historic mindset, ready for a major cosmic adventure. There is a gallery of important people from the past, perhaps they are immortal and still live. Who is Nellie Bly? I think her photographic portraits look empowered. She is well educated. She has an active soul and she is on a mission. She’s a feisty wealthy chick charity journalist who was able to actually follow the trail of the fictitious Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne. She was born in 1864 and made it around the world in 72 days. So there.

Nellie Bly (May 5, 1864-January 22, 1922) was a journalist who took on difficult topics of the time including investigating conditions in prisons and mental institutions. That could be really dangerous, getting inside a prison, undercover just to live and be patient and eventually to tell the story. Suffragette, Writer, Industrialist, Inventor. Her husband manufactured steel barrels and she patented some special kind of milk can and some cans that were made to stack easily, it sounds like a good time to have ideas and make them happen. She was widowed in 1904.

Let’s get back to the music. This is jazz, it has jazz forms, jazz instrumentation and jazz strategies. You can groove to it, very good for moods of quietude. Reflective spaces. Bring down that blood pressure. Put on the relaxed smile.
It has a soundscape quality, the perfect soundtrack for a particular afternoon or morning. Easy and constructive, meditative and reflective, and then out of the blue the voices come.

There is something called the B’shnorkestra, it appears to be much larger than the quintet. Keep an eye out and an ear open for the B’snorkestra and the quintet. Press and radio contact 206 412 7350 OH YES VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED EQ 4.89 Robin James