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I will start the new year with a review of a CD that has been released on December 14 by Carl Bartlett , Jr., an alto saxophonist and composer from Queens, NY. The album is called “PROMISE!” and Carl has produced and released it on his own label.

He describes his music as Post-Bop/ Straight-Ahead/ Contemporary Jazz, so expect something new , something you have not heard before.

There are 8 songs on the album, all are original material from Carl.

The CD starts with the title song “PROMISE!” and as you can expect from a title with capital letters, the song is a strong statement of what the CD and Carl’s music is all about: After an intro with saxophone and piano the head is moving between 3/4 meter and 4/4 meter and the tonal center moves from Bb to Eb, which gives the the melody a very open feeling. With the solos comes then the rhythmic variation to a halt, but harmonically the two tonal centers continue to exist. Multiple tonal centers is one of the most characteristic elements of contemporary jazz music and we see with Carl a master in composing, arranging and playing this kind of music. Also his fellow musicians convince in this song , Yoichi Uzeki on piano and Sylvia Cuenca on drums shine with their solos.

The second tune, a bossa nova called “High Pizzazz” has a 5/4 meter bridge and modulates between D minor and F# minor with the tonal center as C# major. The first solo here is given to Marcus McLaurine on bass, followed by Carl on alto saxophone. Even if this harmonic structure looks complex, you can follow this song quite easily. According to Carl “High Pizzazz” is a tune where people really connect during a concert and and I am no exception here, this song is one of my favorite tunes an the album.

The third song is called “Dialed In (Like A Laser)” and it starts with the saxophone mimicking a phone call followed by a furious unisono intro for piano and saxophone. The tune is a very fast swing in 11/4 meter with a interesting two bar piano vamp where the 11 beats are split into a 5-3-3 / 3-3-3-2 pattern. The best part of this song is the dialog between piano and drums followed by a great drums solo.

Now it’s time for the ballad “As The Gift Unfolds Before My Eyes”. Yoichi Uzeki on piano plays a beautiful classically inspired intro. The melody has many long notes which are intoned perfectly by  Carl. The first solo goes to  Marcus McLaurine on bass, followed by shorter saxophone and piano solos. 

The next song is called “The Bartlett Family” and it features  Charles Bartlett on trumpet. Charles is Carl’s uncle and he is also responsible for dragging Carl at the age of 14 into jazz music by presenting him a Brecker Brothers album on Christmas Day (to be precise it was the album Dream Suite/New York by Dreams).  After the tunes in odd meters, “The Bartlett Family” sounds like traditional jazz music with it’s 4/4 medium swing and it’s almost regular form. The classic hard-bop quintet cast adds to this impression. Easy to follow and easy to listen, another of my personal favorites.

“Ethereal Heartbeats” starts with a very freely improvised bass intro, followed by an enchanting melody in 5/4 meter. The solos are played over an 5/4 meter medium slow bossa nova and a 4/4 double time samba. These tempo changes and how light and easy the whole band stays on time is very impressive.

“Fidgety Season” is the seventh song on the CD and this song was recorded before on Carl’s first album “Hopeful”. The tune is a 3/4 medium swing with solos for piano, bass, saxophone and drums. It comes with a nice melody and very pushing pulse in the saxophone solo. Carl told me that he recorded the song again because the audience likes it so much so he wanted to give a kind of deja-vu to the listeners (another reason is the little story around this song about Carl’s students becoming fidgety in June), so here you have the official Carl Bartlett, Jr. hymn.

The CD finishes with “It’s Been So Grand”, a 24-bar blues in F key in best Charlie Parker tradition, very fast and with a chromatic melody played unisono by saxophone and trumpet. The solos are either in one key (trumpet) or are alternating between the F and B key (piano, saxophone).

As a summary I have to say, the CD contains outstanding material, played excellently be very experienced and sophisticated musicians that understand the material very well. The band is playing together for quite some time and you can hear that, the interplay is impressive.

Charles Bartlett as guest brings extra richness in sound but also a kind of traditional approach which helps the listener to relax a little bit.

The mastering and the overall sound quality is also outstanding, all instruments are clear and distinct.

All songs were recorded live so when you go to a concert you can expect the same kind of mastery.

Carl was so generous to send me the lead sheets to all the songs which helped me a lot to see through all the rich material that has been provided on this album.

I tried to explain the structure of the songs to give you a head start when listening to the CD. Please take your time to explore new territories, it’s worth.

From left to right: Yoichi Uzeki (piano), Charles Bartlett (trumpet), Sylvia Cuenca (drums), Marcus McLaurine (bass), Carl Bartlett, Jr. (saxophone)

If you want to know more about Carl, please go to his website. It has updates on shows and links to order the CD. Enjoy.
http://www.carlbartlettjr.com/

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Once or twice a year I order the newest CD releases from posi-tone records. I like their work very much, the quality of the material is very good and I know it is contemporary jazz music from the finest musicians in the US, especially from New York.

In this year’s package the album “Now Hear This!” from tenor saxophonist Ken Fowser made it on top of my playlist. Ken comes originally from Philadelphia where he started his studies. He moved to New York in 2005, and attended graduate studies at SUNY Purchase College where he received his masters degree in 2008.

Becoming more visible on the live music scene, in the latter 2000s Ken Fowser enjoyed residencies at iconic New York venues. Hosting the session at Smalls Jazz Club every Tuesday for four years, and playing the late set at Smoke Jazz and Supper Club every Friday for two years, he followed headlining sets of such masters as the late Cedar Walton, Buster Williams and perhaps his greatest influence, George Coleman.

The line-up for this album is identical with the line-up from his 2016 posi-tone release “Standing Tall”, with Josh Bruneau on trumpet and flugelhorn, Rick Germanson on piano, Paul Gill on bass and Jason Tiemann on drums, which means that the band is very well-rehearsed.

The line-up and the style of the music follows very much the classical hard-bop bands from Horace Silver, Art Blakey or Lee Morgan.  All tunes on the album have been written by Ken Fowser, so this all original material, but it’s truly inspired by the masters.

I enjoy listening to the more bluesy tunes like “Blast Off”, “Blues for Mabes” or the title song “Now Hear This!”.

The band is able to swing hard like in “Ready the Mops” or to play light and easy as in “Her And Now” or “One And Done”.

While saxophone, trumpet/flugelhorn and piano play solos in most of the tunes, you hear a drums solo in “One And Done” and “The View from Below”.

Paul Gill on bass gets his chance to shine in “Fair to Middlin’” and “Ready The Mops”.

As said, I like the album very much because it has this rather straight-forward hard-bop approach. It is played brilliantly and very down-to-earth at the same time.

I haven’t found a video where the band plays one of the tunes from the album, but this version of “Black Orpheus” is also quite nice

The Ken Fowser Quintet - "Black Orpheus" - YouTube

Finally a playlist from iTunes to give you a chance to listen to the songs from the CD:

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Around a month ago trumpet player Wayne Tucker released his album “Wake Up And See The Sun”.

Wayne Tucker is a 30 year old trumpet player/composer/arranger based in New York City. He is a 2009 graduate of the Jazz Studies program at SUNY Purchase under the direction of Todd Coolman. Wayne has played with many of today’s current Jazz stars including Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Cyrille Aimee, and Pop stars like Taylor Swift, Elvis Costello, Matt Simons and Ne-Yo.

He just returned from a European tour with drummer Al Foster.

His new album is a mix of Jazz, Pop, Hip-Hop and some classical elements. All the material is very well arranged, excellently played and perfectly recorded and mixed. Each time you listen to the CD you will find new interesting elements, so this is an album that unfolds its class only after you have listened to it multiple times.

I asked Wayne about what inspires him when writing songs and his simple answer was “for each of the songs I was inspired by my life’s experiences”. Looks like he has a colorful life.

The first song on the CD is called “Bad Religion” and starts slowly with a poem from Dev Avidon, the sound engineer of the album, which he wrote “for the sense of imagery and imagination”.

The title song “Wake Up and See The Sun” comes with very nice horn arrangements and is in Wayne’s words  “about a girl that I used to date and takes us through the ups and downs of the relationship”.

Wayne has also the talent to write catchy pop songs and he proves it with the song “Little Buddy” where he sings together with Cyrille Aimée.  A very light and easy song which crawls into your ear and brain and you don’t want it to end. Lucky enough we get a reprise of this song in “Little Buddy Reprise”.  Wayne produced a video for this reprise and you find the link below.

Wayne became an actor in the short film “Hotel Bleu”. He also wrote the music for this film and you find the opening score called “Tears” on the album.

The song “Humans Groove Harder Than Robots” a Salsa-inspired funky groove tune is according to Wayne “about the wave of technology that we’re currently experiencing. In my perception the thing that separates humans from robots is emotion, which is what gives music character and emotion.” Absolutely right and the solos on this tune are the best evidence for this argument.

Wayne Tucker - Little Buddy - YouTube

The album is available on CD Baby (my favorite online CD store). Please use the link below to listen to the tracks and to order the CD:

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/waynetucker2

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Another brand new album (release date is October 6) comes from New York guitarist, composer and singer Joe Caro.

The really great thing about this CD is it’s mood, it has the perfect sound for those days where even a dog has his days, so if you have the blues but you need it funky and you want to shout it out loud then here is your album.

The Met Band features Paul Shaffer from the World’s Most Dangerous Band; Mark Egan on electric bass (Pat Metheny), Anton Fig on drums (Bob Dylan “Knocked Out Loaded”), Aaron Comess on drums, (Spin Doctors), Billy Peterson on upright bass (Bob Dylan “Blood On The Tracks”), Robbie Kondor on keys (Eric Clapton, Whitney Houston), Chris Palmaro on grand piano & rhodes (Yellowjackets), Tom “Bones” Malone on trombone & baritone sax (“The Blues Brothers”), Aaron Heick on sax (Sting “Symphonicities”), Etienne Stadwijk on piano (Pieces of a Dream, Richard Bona) & Mike Rodriguez on trumpet (David Bowie “Nothing Has Changed”). The album was produced and mixed by Grammy nominated and multi-platinum award winning Roman Klun and will be released on Innsbruck Records.

The CD starts with the Bob Dylan song “Highway 61 Revisited” with great funky horns and the whole band in full speed.

The next two songs are originals from Joe Caro, “Hot Mess” with the guitar giving a steady pulse and “Information Junkie” which reminds me of Steely Dan.

The Jimi Hendrix song “Fire” comes next, followed by “That Old Black Magic” which is maybe the song with the most positive mood on the album. Since we all feel a little bit cheered up it’s time for the title song “Every dog has his day” where Joe Caro shows us the restricted and grey world of a dog “rolling over,  day after day, just for a treat,  I’d rather be astray”, but I guess what is valid for a dog is also valid for all of us as we have learned in the movie “Groundhog Day”:

Groundhog Day -that about sums it up.mp4 - YouTube

Another highlight of the CD is “Natural Woman” played instrumental only where Joe Caro shows all his artistry and experience with different sounds and effects on the guitar.

If you like the blues and you like it funky and if you like on top of that the sound of a guitar then this is the perfect album. As I said in the beginning, the album has also this unique mood, I would say this is urban blues at it’s best.

As soon as the album is available on iTunes I will add a playlist here. Until that you might just try to see Joe Caro & The Met Band live, unfortunately in New York only:

Pre-Release Event with CD Signing / Meet & Greet
Wednesday, Oct 4th The Cutting Room, NYC
44 East 32nd Street 7:30pm (Doors open 7pm)

Joe Caro & The Met Band CD Release Event
Sunday, Oct 8th Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2
196 Allen Street, NYC 9:00pm (Doors open 8:30pm)

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Another brand new CD (street date is September 15) for all guitarists comes from Carl Verheyen. It’s called “Essential Blues” and is obviously a Blues album.

Blues is especially for us guitar players a genre which we like to listen to and also include in our playing. I think the guitar is the blues instrument par excellence.

Carl Verheyen plays what I would call intelligent blues, like Robben Ford or Eric Clapton do. Carl is one of the big names in the LA studio scene, he is member of the rock group “Supertramp” since 1985 and he has basically played everything possible (TV shows, movies, recording and performing with rock and pop superstars in the last 30 years).

But he has this love with the blues and this album is like a kaleidoscope of contemporary blues. We find songs from Peter Green, Alvin Lee, Ray Charles, Willie Cobbs and also originals from Carl Verheyen plus one traditional, all arranged differently in style and sound.

There are songs very straight played like “I Take What I Want”  or “Stealing Gasoline”, some blues-rock in “Oh Well” or slow blues tunes like “Someday After A While”.

“Dodging The Blues” is a slow moll instrumental blues composed by Carl with an amazing guitar sound (reminds me a little bit of Pink Floyd).

My favorite song of the album is the Alvin Lee tune “I May Be Wrong” played with very jazzy intro.

The album closes with the Ray Charles song “Hard Times” with just guitar, bass, tambourine and vocals, also very beautiful.

The album was recorded live in three days in February 2017 and according to Carl, the “self inflicted parameters were: I would play just 2 guitars, 2 amps, do no overdubs and everything must be played and sung live in the room with bass, drums and keyboards. “. The result of these three days is a great spontaneous album, very compact but also very precise. A perfect example that it is all about the music itself, or as Carl said: I abandoned all the self doubt and just “went for it.”

Carl plays typically a Fender Stratocaster (this guitar is also the star on the CD cover) which has this sometimes a little bit thin but very distinctive sound.

As said, this is blues guitar album, it shows the different styles of blues that exist today all played in perfection. Obviously Carl Verheyen gets a chance to play great guitar solos but also Jim Cox on keyboards (piano and organ) shines as a soloist. This album gets a clear recommendation from me.

The other good news is that he will be in Europe in October and November this year, he visits Poland, Germany and the Netherlands. Details can be found on Carl’s website:

https://www.carlverheyen.com/tour-dates/

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I haven’t presented a lot of fresh music in my blog, but since we are already heading into the second half of the year it’s time to look at this year’s harvest.

There is a great new album to be released officially on September 14 from one of the finest Swing singers and crooners in the UK, from Gary Williams.  Very well known for his role of Frank Sinatra in ‘The Rat Pack Live From Las Vegas’ from London’s West End, he has put together an album of outstanding excellence: some of the finest arrangers in the UK and some of the best Jazz musicians in the UK have been called up to breathe new life into fifteen songs from Hollywood classics like The Aristocats, Saturday Night Fever, Toy Story 2, The Jungle Book and The Lady and The Tramp.

The CD began with a surprise: The first song called ‘Spooky’, which I know from the late 70′s from the Atlanta Rhythm Section was used in the 1998 movie ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ and became a Hollywood classic. The version I remembered was a great piece of US-southern rock music but Phil Steel arranged it very cool with nice horn arrangements featuring Graeme Blevins on flute and Gary’s voice floating above the band. It’s a very elegant opener for the CD.

The next song was an unknown for me. ‘Almost in Love’ is a beautiful Bossa Nova written by Luiz Bonfá and recorded originally by Elvis Presley in 1968. This is my favorite song on the CD, pretty cool and relaxed sung with a piano and saxophone solo and millions of times better than the Elvis version.

The CD continues with a classic pop song. ‘Both Sides Now’ from Joni Mitchell, which is usually presented very openly and softly. The arrangement from Phil Steel and the way Gary sings it however, avoids that it becomes greasy. Gary has produced a nice video for that tune which I do not want to keep from you:

Gary Williams sings Both Sides Now - YouTube

The fourth song ‘Ev’rybody Wants To Be A Cat’ from the movie ‘The Aristocats’ has been pre-released to the public as a free sample track and Gary returns here to his jazzy side with an old-fashioned swinging band and the great Nigel Price playing a slick guitar solo.

The ballad ‘Puppet On A String’ comes next and this song gives Gary the opportunity to show his clean and precise voice and his perfect pronunciation. You may say now, here is a ballad and you talk about pronunciation but for me this is what came to mind hearing this song. A ballad is often used to present the voice with some great dynamics, but this ballad stays soft,  gentle and … precise.

Now we need a little bit more power and it comes with ‘He’s A Tramp’ from ‘The Lady and The Tramp’.  A very danceable Cha-Cha-Cha version with an excellent wind-section, that sounds like a mix of a big-band and a salsa band. Very nice.

Back to pop music with the next song –  ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ from ‘Saturday Night Fever’. I think everybody knows and remembers it. The latin groove with a string arrangement plus saxophone fills and solo give the song a different but pleasant touch.

The CD continues with a Gary as Baloo, the bear from ‘The Jungle Book’ in ‘Bare Necessities’. The comedian in this song however is the band especially Chris Traves who wrote the trombone arrangement and plays the trombone.

The 9th song on the CD is another Elvis Presley song. ‘I Need Somebody To Lean On’ is from the 1964 movie ‘Viva Las Vegas’. Another very soft song with an organ background and guitar and vibraphone playing the kicks and fill-ins.

The next tune ‘Baby Mine’ from the 1941 Disney movie ‘Dumbo’ is again a latin groove. Similar in style and sound like ‘Almost in Love’ –  a Fender Rhodes piano, an acoustic guitar and a saxophone – but another perfect scenery for Gary. For me this kind of music is really ideal for his soft and clear voice.

‘When She Loved Me’ from ‘Toy Story 2′ shows Gary and the excellent piano playing of Clive Dunstall in a beautiful duet ballade, comparable to the original version in the movie.

The CD continues with a Burt Bacharach song. ‘Close To You’ from ‘Mirror Mask’ but the arrangement from Paul Campbell does not follow the version from the movie. This song is another of my personal favorites, because there is this killer sound of piano and vibraphone playing unisono, which makes me to get goosebumps.
If you would like to listen to the version from ‘MirrorMask’ (I think this is a quite interesting interpretation) here is the link for you

"Close to You" from "MirrorMask" - YouTube

The Irving Berlin tune  ‘Isn’t This A Lovely Day’ from the 1935 movie ‘Top Hat’, originally sung by Fred Astaire comes next and Gary’s version is a classic swing tune with a rhythm section (guitar, bass and drums) plus again a brillant Clive Dunstall on piano. I found a quite similar arrangement from Diana Krall in my collection, but Gary’s version is much more straight and less pompous than Diana Krall’s arrangement. Very tasty.

The last two songs on the CD are reserved for songs sung originally by Elvis Presley:
‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ from the movie ‘Kid Galahad’ is a piano-dominated ballad;
‘Pocketful of Rainbows’ from ‘G.I.Blues’ is arranged as pop-song, with a straight piano beat plus an excellent horn section, a really happy song to end this CD.

Well, that was a long list of tunes to present. 15 songs in total with a total playtime of 49 minutes makes this CD quite entertaining. The selection is a good mix of famous and lesser know songs, but each song received the full attention from the arranger, from Gary and from all musicians, so the the result is a CD Gary can be extremely proud of and which is comparable to productions from big names like Diana Krall, Michael Bublé or Nora Jones.

I also have to say ‘Thank You’ to Gary for taking me to this journey of songs from movies from the last 50 years. I listened to the original versions, discovered interesting material and I guess there are still many treasures to be dug up.

The official launch party takes place on September 14 at London’s Crazy Coqs. Another chance to see Gary live in London is on October 15 at Ronnie Scott’s. I will be there and I’m looking forward to hearing all these songs live.

You can pre-order the CD on Gary’s website. Here is the link for you:
http://www.garywilliams.co.uk/at-the-movies

As soon as the CD is released and available on iTunes, I will add a playlist.

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I spent the last three nights in Estavayer-le-Lac to attend the 10th edition of the Swing-in the-Wind Jazz festival. Estavayer is in the same region where I live (State of Fribourg)  so I know where to go and where to find a parking spot. Estavayer is little medieval town and it has the perfect scenery to spend a summer night outside and listen to Jazz music.

I have attended this festival last year, so it was on my focus again and the line-up convinced me to buy a festival pass for all three nights for the main stage (most of the concerts are free, but there are some headliners for whom you have to pay).

The line-up was:

  • Thursday, July 20: Thierry Lang (he is the “local” piano hero, since he is also from the region)
  • Friday, July 21: Bireli Lagrene
  • Saturday, July 22: Champian Fulton, Rhoda Scott Lady Quartet

The first night started with Thierry Lang and his band with Darry Hall on bass and Mario Gonzi on drums plus Olivier Ker Ourio on harmonica. Their choice of tunes was a set of standards played very elegantly and confidently. Thierry Lang has huge fan base in the area and you don’t see him live very often. He was well prepared and it was great fun. At the end of their show they invited Diane Tell for two chansons (Diane Tell played the second show on that evening) and it was a nice surprise and a perfect encore for this concert.

The headliner for the second night was Bireli Lagrene and his Acoustic Quartet with Franck Wolf on saxophone, Hono Winterstein  on rhythm guitar and William Brunard on bass.

Bireli and his musicians showed their excellence and especially Bireli Lagrene is a guitar player who has no limits and who invents new techniques and sounds on his instruments. It was absolutely incredible what he is able to do. I saw him earlier this year at the Jazz festival in Bern, so I knew what to expect, but again I found some of his playing freshly and surprisingly.

The third night had two unknowns for me: Champian Fulton with her trio and Rhoda Scott with her Lady Quartet.

Champian Fulton came all the way from New York for this single concert to Switzerland and she was in a high spirits, she enjoyed playing very much and she and her band with Giorgos Antoniou ­on bass and Steve Brown on drums produced the perfect swing sound, sometimes very “vintage” but perfectly played. Champian is a great singer with a real bluesy voice and her piano playing has it’s best moments when she plays chord melodies. She presented some of the tunes of her latest album, which she did for posi-tone records (I follow this label for some years now and try to get each year all new releases). The songs on this latest CD called “Speechless” are instrumental-only, so if you search for an album where she sings, be careful. In total, a great show from her, impressive also the band enjoying to play real fast up-tempo tunes.

The last concert of the festival was the Rhoda Scott Lady Quartet with Rhoda Scott on the Hammond organ, Sophie Alour on tenor sax, Julie Saury on drums and a young excellent clarinet player whose name I unfortunately forgot. Again a band that sometimes sounded and played very “vintage”,  like the great combos did play in the 50′s or 60′s. Those bands with a Hammond organ play all very bluesy, old-fashioned funky and the Rhoda Scott Lady Quartet was no exception here. There approach is traditional but their playing wasn’t, especially Sophie Alour plays a contemporary style. Also striking was Julie Saury on drums, very driving and pushy. The band played some tunes of her latest CD “We Free Queens” which one could buy after the concert. I got one copy and it has very nice and well played material on it.

Finally a great thank you to the committee  that organized this festival so perfectly. There were some thunderstorms during the concerts but they caused no interruption to the concerts, unfortunately it was not always possible to sit outside and enjoy a balmy summer evening.

I will keep this festival on my list and watch out again next year what happens. If the line-up is interesting I will come again. I like the atmosphere in this little medieval town very much and I also like the whole concept of this festival with free and paid concerts, so aficionados come and pay for the headliners and those who want to sit outside, eat and drink and want to get entertained enjoy the free concerts all over Estavayer-le-Lac.

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The CD of the month (which means it’s the CD that is running all the time in my car) is at the moment from Canadian guitar player Ed Bickert. Pretty unknown to me until I accidentally stumbled over a video of him on Youtube.  I found the following  video when I looked for Jazz guitarists playing a Telecaster.

Ed Bickert Trio - "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me" - YouTube

I thought this is real cool stuff and so I started to listen and to read about Ed Bickert. His style and approach to play is quite unique but very melodious and harmonic and I think there is never any wrong or strange note in his playing.

I found the album “Out of the Past” and since several weeks this music is my inspiration and companion. The CD has never dropped out of the CD player in my car. The sound of the guitar is soft and mellow but the harmonic ideas are immense. The album was originally released in 1976 (at a time where e.g. Pat Martino released his album Joyous Lake, an album that really captures the spirit of that period) and it feels like it is fallen from a total different era into the 70′s.

The music is cool and relaxed, very soft and full of harmony, but the band has a grip, you just don’t feel it right away.  Bassist Don Thompson and drummer Terry Clarke are like a perfect match for Ed and it feels like they know each other very well. I’ve read that “this group had worked together extensively backing visiting American jazz soloists in Toronto clubs”.

Personal favorites of the CD are
- Soft Winds: With a great 4×4 part with guitar and drums
- Deep in a Dream: A great and beautiful ballad
- Skating in Central Park: Another perfect ballad

If you like the CD and Ed’s style of playing then please look around on the internet. Even if he never became famous like Pat Martino or Jim Hall, he has a great and loyal fan base especially in Canada where he is really admired, and he found another fan in Switzerland.

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HUK’s Eleven is a band from the Interlaken area here in Switzerland that has been put together to play and record arrangements written by trumpet player Hansueli Krähenbühl. Some years ago he started to arrange Jazz standards for a wind section of 5-6 players (trumpets, trombones and saxophones) plus a rhythm section for workshop sessions. Since those arrangements spend most of their time in the drawer the idea came up to rescue them from the drawer and make a record. Finally in January 2017 a recording studio has been organized and a band (four saxophonists, two trumpet players, one trombone player plus a rhythm section with piano, guitar, bass and drums) was compiled to produce this record.

Some of the finest Swiss jazz musicians are lining up on this CD including Rolf and Sandro Häsler,  Vincent Lachat and Jérôme De Carli.

The selected tunes are all well known Jazz standards. The CD contains Cole Porter songs like “Love for Sale” or “You’d Be so Nice to Come Home To”,  George Gershwin’s “Soon”,  “It Might as Well Be Spring” from Richard Rogers and “Days of Wine and Roses” from Henry Mancini.

These great melodies make it rather easy to listen and to focus on the details of the arrangements and the solos. The band produces a full and complete sound almost like a big band, but it gives also space and freedom for each and everyone to shine as a soloist. The first song “Lady Bird” shows the direction:  a very well arranged melody, followed by solos including accompaniment of the band. That is basically the pattern on this album, the melody is arranged for the whole band and is followed by two or three solo choruses where each musician gets a chance to play a solo.

My favorite songs  on the CD are “Lady Bird”, “Tanga” and “It Might as Well Be Spring”. “Tanga” comes with a nice Latin groove and “It Might as Well Be Spring” has a very nice even a little bit greasy saxophone section, but I like that.

The rhythm section is playing very well together, piano and guitar give each other the necessary space and Stephan Urwyler on guitar is given extra room to improvise multiple times. Not bad for a band with so many horns.

So overall, I like the CD, the arrangements are nice and easy, very well played, the sound of the CD is also very well mixed and balanced, so a clear recommendation from me.

The band plans to play in public, but I have no dates yet, but I guess the Jazz summer will have a spot for this band.

You will find some of the songs on YouTube. Here is a link to “Lady Bird”:

Lady Bird - HUK's ELEVEN - YouTube

Here is the complete line-up:

  • Hansueli Krähenbühl – trumpet, fluegelhorn
  • Sandro Häsler – trumpet, fluegelhorn
  • Rolf Häsler – soprano saxophone, alto saxophone
  • Fredi Krähenbühl – tenor saxophone, flute
  • Ivo Prato - tenor saxophone
  • Cornel Studach - baritone saxophone
  • Vincent Lachat - trombone
  • Stephan Urwyler - guitar
  • Jérôme De Carli - piano
  • Hans Ermel - bass
  • Roland Bürki – drums

And finally a playlist if you want to listen to or order the CD:

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Michael's Jazz Blog by Mferber63 - 11M ago

Last month I spent 3 nights in Prague and I thought I share my impressions from this trip with you.

It was my first time in this city, so I did the regular sight-seeing stuff like the Charles Bridge or the Castle, ate the famous Trdelník and enjoyed the perfect scenery in this exceptional city.

The evenings were reserved for visits to local Jazz clubs and I had the chance to see 3 different clubs:

1. Jazz Club Reduta: A very nice and cozy Jazz club. The band we saw was called “Tarapaca Jazz” and is formed around the pianist Jaroslav Bárta. The band played mainly their own compositions. The sound was pleasant, not too loud and not to soft,  the drinks were not too expensive and the program of the club is rather traditional, so if you search for a relaxing atmosphere with good Czech jazz musicians this is the perfect choice.

http://www.redutajazzclub.cz/en

2. Jazz and Blues Club Ungelt: We spent the second night in this club and we heard the “Luboš Andršt Blues Band”. They played very traditional Chicago-Blues, but Luboš is a great and very intelligent Blues guitar player. The club is rather small so expect it to be a little bit louder. The program of this club is more Blues-oriented and Luboš Andršt plays regularly here.

http://www.jazzungelt.cz/

3. AghaRTA Jazz Club: This is the club with the more modern jazz oriented program. When we were there we saw Ondřej Kabrna & Flying Power. Ondřej is a excellent piano and organ player. He was accompanied by a cool guitar and bass player named Kryštof Tomeček.  The club is very popular and right next to the old-town square, so it might be difficult to find a seat when you arrive later in the evening.

http://www.agharta.cz/

All clubs have live music every night and they present local musicians. Prices for admission and drinks are reasonable. The musicians were all excellent and they find a mixed audience of local people and tourists every night.

Prague seems to have a very active and lively Jazz scene and if you want to escape from the beer-drinking crowds and selfie-stick equipped tourists then visit one of these clubs.

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