Tag Archives | Album

Wood and Strings is “Seventy minutes of clever, subtle, inventive music”

By: Leonid Auskern

For many years I have been listening to American guitarist John Stein (all his CDs are on Whaling City Sound and invariably fall into our “CD-Reviews”) and he never ceases to amaze with every new work. This time it’s a duet album, where bass player Dave Zinno is John’s partner.

The story of this project is told in the liner notes to the album by Stein himself (besides his notes, there is also a great text from John Thomas, not the first time commenting on Stein’s work). In 2016, Stein signed a contract for a month of performances at a restaurant in New Bedford, Massachusetts (the city where the Whaling City Sound label is based). John’s friend and label owner, Neal Weiss, recommended Dave Zinno as a duet partner. The two musicians “fused” so successfully, that the idea to record a joint album was born. Some of it was recorded live at the restaurant, in the morning before its official opening. Then a few weeks later, the musicians moved to Stein’s home studio, where they finished the work with the help of the classy sound engineer Antonio Oliart Ros. So the album “Wood and Strings” was born.

“Wood and strings” – that’s what John and Dave called it, meaning their instruments: guitar and double bass. I would call it “Strings and Fingers” rather: it was the touch of the sensitive, understanding, and able fingers of the musicians that gave birth to the magic miracle of this wonderful music. The album contains 14 songs: a few of Stein’s compositions, some standards, and one song of Zinno’s. The album can be savored as a delicious dish, if mainstream jazz is the “kitchen” you like. Stein has long been considered one of the foremost guitarists in this genre. In Dave Zinno, he found a worthy partner. “Up and at ‘Em” and “Switch-a-roo” (composed by Stein), and “Beatrice” by Sam Rivers are highlights. Of course, there was a place in the program for Brazilian jazz, a type of music for which Stein has very warm feelings: “Modinha” from de Moraes and Jobim fit the bill. Seventy minutes of clever, subtle, inventive music is “Wood and Strings,” at your service!
Image result for john stein wood and strings
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Alma Micic’s That Old Feeling has a “bold repertoire and compelling performance”

By: C. Michael Bailey

Serbian vocalist Alma Micic‘s 2014 Tonight (CTA Records) was a welcome addition to the jazz vocals discography because of its bold repertoire and compelling performance. Micic returns with a decidedly more focused and refined recording that mixes the new and old with her own original “Ne Zaboravi me” and Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” with durable standbys, “That Old feeling” and “Blue Moon.” Micic is joined by guitarist and husband Rale Micic, bassist Corcoran Holt, drummer Jonathan Blake and vibraphonist Tom Beckham, the latter whose presence provides the recital a playful sepia patina. Both Micics and Beckham tear it up on “Moonglow” and then, “Cry Me a River” and “Honeysuckle Rose” in a triptych highlighting the first half of the 20th Century. Micic’s voice is red-wine complex with subtle notes of Eastern Europe. The best selection on the recording, easily, is “Estate” which the Micics perform as a duet. That Old Feeling is a fine follow-up to Tonight and precedes some doubtlessly fine.

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Veteren guitarist Reggie Young Steps Into the forefront

Forever young 3/3
D. Oscar Groomes- Veteran guitarist Reggie Young has spent most of his life in supporting roles to stars like Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and Elvis Presley. On Forever Young he steps into the forefront as a leader performing seven classics with a decidedly contemporary, pop vibe. There’s a smoky blues groove on “Memphis Grease” and a laid back relaxed feel on “It’s About Time” and “Exit 209”. The latter two illustrate the dominant theme on a late but respectable debut.Image result for reggie young forever young
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Starportrait reviews ” To Grover With Love/LIVE IN JAPAN”

StarportraitLayout 1Having musical idols is something normal for a musician. To perform with most of them is fortune, grace and bases certainly also on the skills of the artist. Keyboardist, arranger and producer Jason Miles is the perfect example for such a lucky high talented guy.

He performed and recorded with Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, David Sanborn or Grover Washington Jr., to name a few. His intimate knowledge of these musicians has been reflected in numerous tribute albums.

But the music and the person of Grover Washington Jr. has especially not let him go. The homage albums To Grover with Love (2001) and 2 Grover With Love (2008) and the production of Grover Live (2010) come from his feather.

To Grover With Love / Live In Japan (2016) is the live recording of a concert at Blue Note Tokyo in June 2010. With Jason Miles performed saxophonists Andy Snitzer and Eric Darius, bassist Gerald Veasley, guitarist Nick Moroch and drummer Buddy Williams.

What makes this live album so special? The top notch performers, the carefully chosen selection of the best songs Grover has written and the excellent sound quality of the recording. Special guests on this album are singer Ryan Shaw and late percussionist Ralph Macdonald who produced several of Grover’s albums and also has written some of his songs.
The event opens with the title song of Grover’s chart breaking album Winelight (1980). Although a well-known piece it allows the musicians to unleash their creative personalities in fine nuances and solos. Especially the two accomplished saxophonists Andy Snitzer and Eric Darius pull off all registers of their prowess.

On Sassy Stew from Inside Moves the band strives for a more contemporary jazz approach in comparison to the original. The mellow Latin tinged Take Me There develops in this live version a contemporary jazz bliss with an extensive sax solo, above all expected quality.

Loran’s Dance from Grover’s album Reed Seed (1978) is a cover of Idris Muhammad’s original featuring Grover on sax. At that time the style was designated yet as jazz funk. The live album offers an eclectic improvisational exploration with a great bass solo by Gerald Veasley.

Calling Just the 2 of Us a world hit is an understatement. Better describe the song as a world heritage. The live rendition featuring blessed singer Ryan Shaw and with the percussion of Ralph MacDonald under the baton of Jason Miles is just out of this world.

Black Frost from Grover’s album Mr. Magic (1975) is disrespectfully considered by critics as commercial jazz. The original sounds first like a movie score of Isaac Hayes before Grover starts to improvise. The version on this album breathes new life into this tune. Especially the question and answer interplay between Miles, Moroch and the sax players shakes off the chains of notation by first and foremost emphasizing the aspect of improvisation.

Inner City Blues was the first track on Grover’s same titled debut album (1972), a cover of Marvin Gaye’s hit from the previous year. The roof-raising live version with both saxophonists in forefront is an incredibly entertaining ride. Let It Flow taken from the album Winelight is the ultimate platform for solos by bass giant Gerald Veasley, sax player Andy Snitzer and percussionist Ralph Macdonald in cooperation with Buddy Williams.

Final tune of this impressive live album is Mr. Magic. A showdown for all performers especially the compelling sax players by blowing the dust from their tenor saxophones.

To Grover With Love / Live In Japan sparkes an innovative fire with an intensity only legends can inflame. A stunning recording that truly transcends the contemporary jazz genre.

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UK Jazzwise Magazine Reviews To Grover With Love/ Live In Japan by Jason Miles

Unknown-4Jason Miles

To Grover, With Love/

Live In Japan

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Whaling City Sound WCS078 • • • •

JasonMiles(ky),Andy Snitzer,EricDarius (ts),GeraldVeasley(b),NickyMoroch(g), Buddy Williams (d), Ralph MacDonald (perc)andRyanShaw(v).Rec.June2010

Many people were touched by the sound of saxophonist Graver Washington Jr, and none more so than keyboardist/producer Jason Miles. This nine-track album is his third tribute to the late musician and is dominated by tunes from Washington’s Winelight and Mr Magic sets, including t h e title tracks, ‘Take M e There’ a n d ‘Just The Two Of Us’ (which features Ryan Shaw o n vocals). Miles wanted to recreate the vibe and feel of the New York jazz clubs of the 1970s and has succeeded there’s an energy and intensity, both in the band’s performance and the audience reaction to it. Saxophonists Darius and Snitzer step into Washington’s shoes and more than rise to the challenge, while the rhythm section o f Veasley, Williams and MacDonald (whodied the following year) sounds formidable. Guitarist Nicky Moroch’s taut, angular lines enrich the mix, while Miles spends most of the time supporting and comping, save an extended solo o n ‘Inner City Blues’. The many highlights include ‘Black Frost’, which combines gutsy sax playing with call-and-response sections with guitar and keyboard; the exquisite sax sound on ‘Sassy Stew’, ‘Loran’s Dance’, which highlights Moroch’s guitar and Veasley’s bass, andthe 12-minute ‘Let It Flow (For Dr J)’, where Veasley solos again and MacDonald delivers an extended conga workout at the coda. The encore, an exuberant version of ‘Mr Magic’, hasDarius and Snitze’ trading fours a n d everyone playing a brief solo. During the show, Miles states that Grover Washington’s music “will live on forever”. Albums like this will certainly help keep that: legacy alive. -George Cole

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