About JMA (intro)

JAZZMUSICARCHIVES.COM (JMA) intends to be a complete and powerful Jazz music resource. You can find Jazz artists discographies from 7985 bands & artists, 82059 releases, ratings and reviews from members who also participate in our forum.

jazz music reviews (new releases)

AKIRA SAKATA Arashi : Semikujira

Album · 2016 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from JMA partners
snobb
70 years old veteran of Japanese avant-garde jazz reedist Akira Sakata leads furious acoustic trio with two young Scandinavians - Swedish bassist Johan Berthling and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. The name of the trio is Arashi("Storm"), and their second album,released two years after their self-tittled debut,recorded in Swedish studio and released in Austrian label, is titled "Semikujira"("North Pacific Whale").

Paal Nilssen-Love is extremely prolific artist and producer pushing all Nordic adventurous noisy jazz ahead, bassist Berthling is known as Swedish super bands Angles and Fire!/Fire! Orchestra member, so one can expect really muscular and quirky rhythm section work here - they fulfill expectations in full. Still main star of the show is Akira himself,who not only plays alto sax and clarinet, but adds lot of vocalize (which hardly can be called "singing").

Differently from many other Akira's more abstract works, Arashi is power trio which plays well framed muscular free jazz in New York of 80s tradition, but on very Japanese manner. Over the tight rhythm basis Akira blows some attacking if quite soulful sax soloing, but much more impressive is his absolutely shamanic vocalizes in Japanese,repetitive,hypnotizing and very organic.

From songs titles it's obvious that Japanese folklore, or better to say - ritualistic songs were taken as source of inspiration, and the result is not less than fascinating. Without loosing trad songs structure and some melodious component,power trio reworks them right to free jazz shamanic compositions which surprisingly enough don't lose their relation with shamanic nature of originals.For sure Sakata's voice is not for everyone taste, but those familiar with Japanese brutal avant-rock or experimental radical free jazz (which was a main source of inspiration for John Zorn series of early releases),or fans of Diamanda Gallas' singing will accept Akira's vocal pyrotechnics without big problems.

Arashi's debut two years ago received lot of positive critics, their second work is even better.

STICK MEN Stick Men + : Midori

Boxset / Compilation · 2016 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from JMA partners
js
Apparently the new CD by the Stick Men +, “Midori”, will not be sold in stores or through online outlets, instead, its only available through the MoonJune label and the band’s live shows. It only takes one listen to understand why, although the music from the two live concerts on here is mostly good, something went wrong with the recording levels, or the post-production, and the end result is music that is not mixed very well. It’s hard to tell where things got off, but overall, Markus Reuter’s guitar is mixed too low, and Pat Mastelotto’s drums and percussion are mixed too high, add to that a general murkiness with everything else and you end up with a spirited performance struggling to be heard.

The original Stick Men already have many ties to jazz-rock legends King Crimson, what with two band members having served time in KC, and many cover tunes from the KC catalog in their set list, but when you add ex-KC violinist David Cross to the band to become Stick Men +, its practically a KC band under a different name, which of course is not a bad thing. The music on here is quite good and encompasses many ambient and groove driven improvs, plus some original tunes, several KC cover tunes and in a big surprise, a brilliant re-orchestration of sections from Stravinsky’s “Firebird”. This track in particular deserves a much better recording, its hard to believe only four people are handling all of these interweaving parts.

Fans of the Stick Men, as well as various post-KC ‘Projekts’, may be able to overlook the sound issues and enjoy all the great music on here, but first time listeners should probably start with something else. In closing though, it should be pointed out that the biggest plus on here is a just return for David Cross to reap his share of the KC legacy to which he is an under-rated contributor. When KC re-invented their sound on “Larks Tongues in Aspic”, David Cross was a big part of that. Unfortunately his more intricate contributions were soon literally muscled out of the band by John Wetton’s massive bass sound and stadium rock sensibilities. Once Cross was out of the band, the resultant KC album, “Red”, featured a big powerful stadium type sound, but it was low on compositional ideas and was dull and repetitive compared to previous KC efforts. Needless to say, that album was a swan song for a dying band. So in short, its great to see David take his rightful place back on stage playing classic songs he helped create, plus some new things as well.

JOE POLICASTRO Pops!

Album · 2016 · (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from JMA partners
js
“Pops”, by the Joe Policastro Trio, is not only a new CD, but also represents a possible new movement in jazz. Musicians having been playing tunes from the well known ‘Fake Book’ for many decades, and for good reason too, the book’s combination of classic show tunes and bop originals provides interesting chord changes for musicians looking for a challenge, while providing at least vaguely familiar tunes for club patrons. Still, the idea of ‘new standards’ from the modern era is not particularly new. Songs by the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell and others have been working their way into the jazz repertoire for a while now, and sometimes even songs by more current artists, such as Radiohead, but an entire set of tunes from the 60s to the present is still rare. A quick glance at some of the tracks on “Pops”, featuring artists like The Bee Gees, Pink Floyd and The Cars, might make you think that Joe and his group are being sarcastic or ironically kitsch, but actually they play everything with conviction and sincerity as they try to bring out new qualities in this collection of well known pop and rock songs.

Bassist Joe, and his drummer Mikel Avery, provide interesting rhythms throughout, drawing on rock, funk, soul and Brazilian grooves to keep things lively, but the real star of the show is guitarist Dave Miller, whose playing is a natural bridge between the forthrightness of rock, and the subtleties of jazz. Dave’s playing shows a strong influence from the early 80s post-punk funksters like Blood Ulmer and Jean Paul Barreli, topped with rootsy jazz-blues voicings ala Hendrix and Robben Ford. Miller has a very deliberate behind-the-beat phrasing that recalls Monk, as well as the aforementioned Ulmer, and his solos are mesmerizing with plenty of off kilter surprises. Also surprising is that fact that Dave is replaced on two tracks by guitarist Andy Brown, and on two others by Andy Pratt. Of the three guitarists, Brown is probably the most technically nimble, and his post bop solos that recall George Benson and Jim Hall provide a good challenge to Miller, while Pratt seems to be coming more from a melodic Hank Marvin inspired roots rock approach.

As mentioned earlier, this CD could represent a new movement, something along the lines of dinner music for the post-punk generation, and the fact is, “Pops” was recorded while Joe and his crew were playing one of their three-nights-a-week gigs at Chicago nightclub, Pops for Champagne.

CHRIS ZIEMBA Manhattan Lullaby

Album · 2016 · Post Bop
Cover art 3.98 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from JMA partners
Carmel
The winner of the 2011 Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition, pianist and composer Chris Ziemba is becoming an active presence on the New York City jazz scene. He made his debut in the national jazz spotlight in March 2009 as a guest artist on Marian McPartland’s famed NPR radio broadcast, “Piano Jazz.” Since moving to NYC in 2011, he has been involved in a wide range of musical projects. He has performed and recorded with some of the leading voices on today’s jazz scene, including: Ted Nash, Ron Blake, Marcus Printup, Hans Glawischnig, and Ryan Truesdell’s Grammy-winning Gil Evans Project. Ziemba also leads his own trio and quartet to lend a voice to his own compositions.

The release of Manhattan Lullaby signifies a strong calling card for Ziemba, able to display sensitivity and harmonic depth and call upon ample dexterity when needed; Ziemba offers the listener a full-diapason listen. Opening the disc is a swinging original “Josie” this has all the making of monk-ish lines and driving be-bop rhythm to satisfy any bop aficionado. The decidedly modern “The Road Less Traveled” is harmonically rich and utilizes a flowing melody. Ziemba interacts with the ensemble in a strong conversational manner, each player has their distinctive role in creating the overall sound, and Ziemba’s solo cascades with notes that push and pull, all the while Glawischnig (bass), and Macbride (drums) create rhythmic complexities to elevate the tracks sound. This track was a highlight for me.

Another compelling cut is Ziemba’s original “Escher’s Loop,” the tune has a dark sound that stays with you long after the track is complete, the ensemble really shines on this cut in its interactive abilities. It is clearly evident each player takes great pride in listening and reacting. Ziemba creates a poignant piano interlude towards the end of the tune, before the entire ensemble joins in for a spacious improvisational ending.

Ziemba spins ample command and confident extensions of his creative ideas. His technical prowess is evident from the onset, and joined by an equally fearless ensemble, Manhattan Lullaby is beautifully reflective, not only of the beauty of New York’s Manhattan, but an enduring recording of a very special moment in time captured and documented for many years of enjoyment to come. In 2011 Ziemba was already an accomplished force to be reckoned with, now if 2016 – his maturity, and prescript is stunning. Highly recommended!

BILL FRISELL When You Wish Upon a Star

Album · 2016 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
Cover art 3.07 | 2 ratings
Buy this album from JMA partners
js
It seems that over the years Bill Frisell has drifted further from the world of new jazz and fusion, and more into a one man genre of his own making, something that might best be called “Nostalgic Americana”. In this new ‘genre’, Frisell has positioned himself alongside such classic ‘twangy’ guitarists like Tommy Tedesco, Duane Eddy and Chet Atkins. So it is more or less within this style that Frisell presents his new CD, “When You Wish Upon a Star”, a collection of music from classic movies and TV shows, a trip down memory lane so to speak.

The music on here is a real mixed bag, tracks from “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Psycho”, “Once Upon a Time in the West”, “The Godfather” and “The Bad and the Beautiful” present sophisticated arrangements that Frisell’s small ensemble handles with sensitivity and modern creativity. Despite the small group, Bill’s cohorts do a great job with their orchestrations and manage to sound much fuller than five people. Special mention should go to the subtle wordless vocals of Petra Haden. On the negative side, there are other cuts that might seem trite or downright corny, for instance; “Bonanza”, "Moon River", “Happy Trails”, and a few others. After a while it becomes obvious that the real make or break for this CD is how attached one might be to movie themes and that whole attractive nostalgia that tends to surround classic movie culture. In short, those who might want to make a big bowl of popcorn and grab a box of Kleenexes for the inevitable misty eyes will find a lot to like here, “When You Wish Upon a Star” presents the perfect atmosphere for such rememberances, but if you are looking for some new jazz, you best mosy along pardner.

See more jazz music reviews (new releases)

jazz music reviews (older releases)

TORD GUSTAVSEN Extended Circle

Album · 2014 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
Buy this album from JMA partners
Amilisom
Extended Circle was my introduction to the Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen and his quartet.

As an ECM release, this album lives up to its name. It is spacious, contemplative, and has a slight trace of third-stream classical romanticism. The spacious quality is most present in "Entrance", a free track where the tenor sax quietly plays notes into the dark silence, joined occasionally with high and quiet chords in the piano.

Because I was given this album as a gift, I was disappointed to find a lack of virtuosity. Rarely throughout the album does anybody play a compelling lick that I would want to transcribe and work into my own playing. However, the value in this album comes not from the licks, but from the group as a whole. The quartet does a fantastic job communicating with each other. Everybody in the group contributes perfectly to what each track is expressing. For example, the drummer and bassist are always unified in establishing the light, delicate groove in a way that could be easily messed up by other rhythm sections. Nobody ever gets in the way of any of the others, either.

In spite of its excellent execution, I would personally say this falls within the 3-3.5 star range. It's a good one, but certainly not a masterpiece.

HAROLD LAND Choma (Burn)

Album · 1971 · Classic Fusion
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from JMA partners
Steve Wyzard
MAELSTROM: LITTLE BIG BAND

The listener, upon viewing this album's lineup of musicians, would be forgiven for assuming the two drummers and two keyboardists are performing on alternating tracks, except for one little intrusive fact: they aren't. That's right, the full septet plays on all four compositions, with the two drummers and the two keyboardists simultaneously pounding up a storm. Add on top the busy bass work of Reggie Johnson, the vicious vibes of Bobby Hutcherson, and the spikey tones of the one and only Harold Land, and you have a wall of sound that could occasionally be described as "cluttered".

Which is NOT to say this is a bad album. Oh no, far from it. But it needs to be said this is not a "starter" album, or even for the very faint of heart. And while I certainly haven't heard everything Harold ever recorded, a much closer comparison can be made with his performances as part of the big sounds of Gerald Wilson's larger ensembles in the 1960s.

So for the new listener, please be advised that Choma (Burn) is not a big-band album or an avant-garde album, but rather one of his more over-the-top performances of the 1970s. A much higher recommendation can be made for A New Shade of Blue (sadly STILL not available on CD), recorded and released the same year (1971). Also take into account that on the opening title track, Harold does not play the tenor sax, but one ferocious flute!

DUKE ELLINGTON Duke Ellington, Volume 1 - Mrs. Clinkscales To The Cotton Club (1926-1929)

Boxset / Compilation · 2005 · Classic (1920s) Jazz
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
Buy this album from JMA partners
js
The lengthy title to “Duke Ellington: Mrs Clinkscales to the Cotton Club Volume 1 1926-1929” pretty much tells you what you will find on here, or does it? Actually, despite the misleading title, this massive collection of music contains many tracks from 1924 and 1925, when Ellington was part of The Washingtonians. You would think the producers of this CD would be proud of this, as many Ellington collections don’t go back that far. Why they got part of the title wrong remains a mystery, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a great collection of music that often sells for a reasonable price. If you are wondering about the rest of the title, Mrs Clinkscales is the unlikely name of the piano teacher who set young Duke on his musical journey, and the Cotton Club is where Duke will find fame in the early 30s.

Late 20s jazz is a style you rarely hear from anymore. Other early jazz styles such as Dixieland, swing and New Orleans have so many revivals and re-constitutions that they have never really left us, but the high octane exuberant nature of 20s jazz makes it hard to incorporate into other styles. The late 20s was also a time of experimentation, with arrangers staying on top of the latest developments in concert hall compositions, as well as developing some tricks of their own. Although as his career will develop, Ellington will become a master of cool and sophisticated music, in the late 20s, his compositions matched the high speed tempos and bright major key tonalities of his contemporaries. In fact, as you listen to this collection chronologically, you can hear Ellington begin to introduce his slinky minor key noire sounds when songs like “East St Louis Toodle Oo” and “Black and Tan Fantasy” start to show up. As jazz began to change in the 30s, those relaxed minor key melodies stayed in the Ellington set, while the more ‘20s’ sounding fare got left behind.

Lots of good tracks on here, if you looking for the numbers with imaginative arrangements; CD 1 has “I’m Gonna Hang Around My Sugar” and CD 2 has “Hop Head”, “Washington Wobble” and Jubilee Stomp”. CD3 has “Hot and Bothered”and CD 4 has “Tiger Rag”. If you have any curiosity about late 20s jazz, this is a great place to start. For Ellington fans, this is a chance to hear the Duke in a style that he (or anyone else) never returned to.

YES Big Generator

Album · 1987 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art 3.00 | 5 ratings
Buy this album from JMA partners
siLLy puPPy
BIG GENERATOR is definitely the point where YES jumped the shark. I can honestly say i love 90125 as much as many of YES' catalogue beginning with the first album to that very one, but on this one it is clear that the great decline has begun. Not saying there weren't some good albums after this but it was never quite the same. Having said all that, i actually like BIG GENERATOR and despite it being a substandard album for one of the best bands ever to grace the planet, it is nevertheless a decent listen. Part of the decline stems from the fact that the progressive pop era of YES which was supposed to be a new supergroup called Cinema had dropped some of the progressiveness that 90125 had. The sound went a little bit more towards the new wave and pop sound and despite the huge hit they had with 90125 they decided it was a good idea to distance themselves from it. Were they convinced at this point that ANYTHING progressive was lethal? Who knows but it probably is more a result of a group of talented individuals just going through the motions having displayed their utmost chemistry together and now just having to fulfill a contract.

Still though this is YES and even though this is not in the top ranking of their output they are quite talented in crafting clever, catchy and interesting pop songs. Upon my first experience i found a few tracks on here very good such as the total pop sellouts "Love Will Find Away" and "Rhythm Of Love" as well as the title track and the excellent "Shoot High Aim Low" which takes a political stance regarding the horrific illegal wars of the US in Nicaragua. It is a fairly lengthy song for this phase of YES and it has a very subdued melancholic sound.

Many tracks on BIG GENERATOR sound rather new wave but nothing on this one sounds as original and unique as 90125. Despite the pop sounds reigning on this one, there are some moments of past glory. "Final Eyes" has some hippy dippy "And You And I" acoustic guitars going and "I'm Running" has some cool proggy time sigs and instrumental prowess despite its calypso type of island feel at the beginning.

This is a decent album despite being a major step down from anything YES had previously done. I actually don't mind listening to this on occasion. Yeah, i know. This is not what anybody wanted to hear from their favorite supergroup in prog history but this isn't really a YES album. Maybe there should be a human rights law at the UN that mandates anytime a band loses a certain percentage of its members it should be required by law to change its name. Couldn't they have called this era of their career MAYBE? Ugh. It is what it is. Not their best but certainly not their worst.

YES 90125

Album · 1983 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art 3.60 | 6 ratings
Buy this album from JMA partners
siLLy puPPy
After the experiment of "Drama," the first YES album that replaced Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman with members of The Buggles, the band did a whole tour but unfortunately Trevor Horn was unable to perform to the band's likings as far as sustaining the passable vocal abilities in the vein of Jon Anderson as heard on the album. The band decided perhaps the 70s meets 80s experiment had run out of steam and reluctantly called it day. The band known as YES officially ceased to exist after the end of the "Drama" tour. The plans of the members were to create new supergroups that would take elements of the YES era and incorporate them into the contemporary sounds of the early 80s. For progressive rocks lovers this was a tragedy. Commercially speaking, the then former members of YES would soon see some of their most economically beneficial music surpassing anything they had ever experienced. While Steve Howe and Geoff Downes would go on to form Asia, Trevor Horn would go on to be a successful producer (starting with this one), Chris Squire and Alan White decided to create something new altogether. Originally they hooked up with Jimmy Page which didn't work out but the fruits of which ended up on Page's band The Firm's albums. Despite a lofty idea it was a no go and they had to recruit some new blood to the mix. They settled on Trevor Rabin who was somewhat successful in his native South Africa with a band called Rabbit and after a chance meeting with YES' original keyboardist Tony Kaye, Chris Squire rekindled musical ideas and invited him to play keyboards on the new project. This new super group was supposed to be called Cinema and was never intended to be a YES project at all. The final ingredient in the new group was unfilled: the vocalist. The disbanding of YES was totally amicable so when Squire played some of the new material to Jon Anderson, he really liked it and decided to sing on the new album. Someone thought it was a great idea to be under the YES moniker and thus the 11th YES album was born. Like it or not, YES released their most successful album with 90125 and even had a #1 single in "Owner Of A Lonely Heart." The title simply comes from the original Atco Records serial number of the original LP: 7-90215-1.

I would say that the success of this album is due to a mix of circumstances. First of all, the progressive pop tracks are all extremely catchy and well written as well as impeccably performed, but as we all know there is no reason any brilliant album should catch on to a larger audience without some sort of delivery to the larger public. Like many 70s bands of the day, YES was prescient enough to see the power of the video and when "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" caught on with a new generation of fans totally oblivious to the previous incarnations of YES, the video became a HUGE hit propelling the album to sell mass quantities to the chagrin of progressive rock snobs who only found the war of complexities to scratch their itch.

I absolutely adore this album. Not only was this the very first YES album i encountered, but it is one that stays with me over time. It was indeed my gateway drug to the affirmative one's unique style but was so well crafted and beautifully delivered that it holds a strong place in my musical world. While some early albums in my world are respected for their introductions to a band's discography, 90125 remains high on my personal list of albums simply because i enjoy the hell out of it. Not progressive enough? Gimme a break! This album may not take you to Saturn's rings like "Relayer" or "Tales From Topographic Oceans" but it is not meant to. This is an Earthly concoction of extremely well played progressively constructed ideas that find a more accessible rhythmic structure that fits nicely into the day and time but still sounds totally unique and is really unlike anything else not only released under the YES moniker but stands out from any other album ever released as well.

Personally i find the biggest hit "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" to be the weakest track on here and even so i still don't dislike it. This album is just filled to the brim with catchy progressive new wave and pop tracks. "Hold On," "It Can Happen," "Changes," "Leave It" and "Our Song" are simply just beautifully well crafted pop songs stuffed with progressiveness that doesn't feel forced or over contrived. The odd time signatures of "Changes" are particularly noteworthy of showing just how well this incarnation of the YES lineup could easily meld two seemingly opposite spectrums of the musical world together so brilliantly. I just cannot understand any negativity behind this one. Only the last couple of songs keep me from giving this a full five star rating. The difference between this and the most progressive of YES' albums is that like the previous couple albums, the melodies are the focus with the progressiveness being the icing instead of the cake, but on 90215 they really succeed in balancing these elements like a fifty foot stack of rocks on a river bed. Great music doesn't have to be based on a "complexer- than-thou" principle and 90125 is a wonderful example of just how satisfying well constructed songs that have recurring melodic themes can be.

See all jazz music reviews (old + new)

JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
Kind of Blue Cool Jazz
MILES DAVIS
Buy this album from our partners
A Love Supreme Post Bop
JOHN COLTRANE
Buy this album from our partners
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Post Bop
CHARLES MINGUS
Buy this album from our partners
Miles Smiles Post Bop
MILES DAVIS
Buy this album from our partners

New Jazz Artists

New Jazz Releases

Francisco Pais Lotus Project : Verde Pop Jazz/Crossover
FRANCISCO PAIS
Buy this album from MMA partners
Yesterday Once More - Carpenters Song Book Pop Jazz/Crossover
NICKI PARROTT
Buy this album from MMA partners
Clarice & Sergio Assad: Reliquia Latin Jazz
CLARICE ASSAD
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Free Jazz MP3 download/stream

New Jazz Online Videos

RANDOM ABSTRACT/XADU cover
XADU
js· 1 year ago
Iguazu - Cataract
IGUAZU
js· 1 year ago
Laurent Coq - Coco de Mer | Big In
LAURENT COQ
js· 1 year ago
More videos

New JMA Jazz Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions

More...

Latest Jazz News

members-submitted

More in the forums

Social Media

Share this site
Follow us