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Live album · 2018 · Fusion
Cover art 4.00 | 2 ratings
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Its hard to know what to expect from a Dusan Jevtovic album, his music has veered from heavy noisy post rock to more fleet-fingered jazz fusion, depending on which album you are listening to. On his new live opus, “Live at Home”, Dusan brings all his different influences together and presents his strongest and most coherent musical statement yet. He is joined again by keyboardist Vasil Hadzimanov, who trades in the ivories on the last album for a funky Fender Rhodes which meshes better with Jevtovic’s distorted guitar sound. The rhythm section of bassist Pera Krstajic and drummer Pedja Milutinovic are first timers in the Dusan army, but they prove themselves up for the variety of fusion to rock rhythms. Vasil is also given more solo space this time around as he and Dusan share equally, and sometimes play duo solos.

“No Answer” from the previous album of the same name opens things and right off the bat you can hear this live version both rocks and swings better than the original, it really sounds like Jevtovik and his band are hitting their mark. The rest of the album doesn’t let up as there is plenty of free fusion with intense solos from both Dusan and Vasil, plus some rockin numbers too. Of the rockers, “Babe” sounds like an outtake from a mid-70s King Crimson album, and “New Pop” sounds like one of those good times 70s Jeff Beck numbers. Most of the rest of the album deals with freer jazz-fusion rhythms and solos, often with a Middle-Eastern or East-European influence. There is a short vocal love song that is kind of a surprise and no one is credited with vocals on the liner notes either.

This is Dusan Jevtovic’s best album yet. There are plenty of excellent jazz fusion solos backed by a very elastic and interesting rhythm section, plus there is also Dusan’s dark heavy psychedelic sounds too. Looks like he has found a way to balance his different interests.


Album · 2018 · Third Stream
Cover art 4.50 | 3 ratings
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In year 1971 Carla Bley's massive 6-sides eclectic jazz-rock opera "Escalator Over The Hill" became sensation of sort presenting bulky if way-too-long collection of musical genres and scenes' stars all mixed together. Where else dedicated listener had the possibility to hear Jack Bruce, Linda Ronstadt,Jeanne Lee,Don Cherry,Charlie Haden,Gato Barbieri,Roswell Rudd,John McLaughlin,Paul Motian,Enrico Rava and some others playing/singing together?

London-based RareNoise label for some last years trying hard mixing their basic prog/rock aesthetics with creative jazz and improvs elements, at their best the results are truly impressive. Last year they released unpredictable "Loneliness Road" where mainstream jazz rooted trio of organist Jamie Saft,bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bobby Previte is improved with Iggy Pop(!) singing on three songs ("Don't Lose Yourself" is a true killer, two others are just fillers though).

Now they continues with Bobby Previte's "Rhapsody" - second in line American drummer and composer's suite where (as almost half a century ago on Carla's "Escalator...") one can hear some leading modern creative scene's musicians playing together. Guitarist Nels Cline,harpist Zeena Parkins,pianist John Medeski are well known to everyone familiar with downtown scene, American (of SE Asian descent) vocalist Jen Shyu is one of the brightest new name among creative jazz vocalists of today. Only dark horse in a list is young Austrian sax player Fabian Rucker, but he does his job really well.

Most important is still music itself - Previte demonstrates here well-framed and tightly composed modern rock opera rooted in prog rock aesthetics of the past (there are few moments sounding as citation from Pink Floyd music of mid 70s),but deeply reworked according to new millennium requirements. Take on material is almost classical with attention to details and melodic lines importance. Combined with neo-classical/Far Eastern trad vocals of Jen (plus tasteful addition of Chinese traditional string instrument erhu sounds, played by her as well) it produces music, which could sound more comfortably in modern opera than on rock scene. Still guitar licks and explosive sax solos together with high energetic level in general make whole music quite accessible and possibly attractive for listeners,more familiar with rock music too.

Freshly sounding, diverse and modern (with respect to different traditions), "Rhapsody" is a really successful release which can attract listeners of very different background/interests.

MICA BETHEA Suite Theory

Album · 2018 · Progressive Big Band
Cover art 4.00 | 2 ratings
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For the modern big band enthusiast who wants to keep up with what’s new, there is a name you should know if you don’t already, and that is Mica Bethea. Mica released his first big band album back in 2011, but then nothing until last year’s “Stage n’ Studio”, followed quickly by this year’s “Suite Theory”. What a difference a year makes as Mica’s new one shows him starting to really evolve and develop as a writer and arranger. “Stage n’ Studio” is a good CD and it pulled positive reviews, but on this new one, for the first time, Bethea has written every composition himself, and his compositions have grown in complexity and ambition. “Suite Theory” is a four movement composition that attempts to illustrate Mica’s life starting from a carefree young man to a post-car accident (entirely not his fault) quadriplegic, through post-accident depression, and finally to a life reaffirming decision to press on with his work as a composer. Certainly these are all vividly personal events that would make one reach deep into one’s creativity.

Movement one, “Crystal Clear”, is a swingin number that seems to reference Ellington as Mica’s opening melody is passed around among the various band sections as they introduce endless variations on the opening theme. The many wide open solos that follow continue the melodic variance. Movement two, “Destiny’s Boat”, deals with waking up in a hospital bed with one’s life changed in ways that no one could possibly anticipate. This track is more mysterious and the odd colorful orchestrations recall Herbie Hancock’s Sextet, or his “Speak Like a Child” album. Todd Guidice delivers a killer sax solo on this one, which Bethea liked so much that he closes the CD with a second take of this movement so that Todd could take his solo even further out. Movement three, “Meniscus”, carries an Afro-Cuban influence with more grooving solos. The final movement, “Guardian of Forever”, features long complex rapid unison horn lines that fall in between neo-bebop and an over the top prog rock arrangement. The rockin element is pushed by James Hogan’s guitar solo that is part earthy blues rock and part soaring Allan Holdsworth style fusion.

Modern big band fans need to take note, Mica Bethea is one that you need to check out as he looks to be in this for the long haul. Its truly impressive how “Suite Theory” has shown such growth in the areas of composition and arrangement, but if there is anything I miss from his previous album, it’s the hardcore funk of his “Hang Up Your Hang Ups” cover, and the neo-classical melody of “Birth Rite”. Given the strength of these last two albums, it should be interesting to see what Micah comes up with next, hopefully he won’t keep us waiting too long.


Album · 2017 · Hard Bop
Cover art 5.00 | 1 rating
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On Andrea Morelli's new album, "Waves", three close-knit musicians explore the expressive possibilities offered by the sax trio. If the starting point of the Hard Up Trio is solid hard bop, then these nine tracks show us how Andrea Morelli, Massimo Spano and Alessandro Garau can move the barycentre towards different directions. First of all, there is the groove of opener, "Australopithecus", and the slightly Caribbean reflections of "Waves". Then a quick ex cursus in the radical seasons with the thoughtful "Calma Platta", and the articulated path of "Rithim no Change". There is also the pressing step of "Toledo", and the more metropolitan and nervous dimension on "Sync", plus the calm and intimate blues of "Internal Space". A ballad, "Solitude", is interpreted with fluid intensity and then the final and fast "Jungle Bells", on with which the trio gets closer to the atmosphere of bop.

The sound spectrum is widened by the choice of the three saxophones used by Morelli: above all tenor, and then soprano and sopranino: in this way, the songs take obviously different accents, while maintaining a background coherence that animates the whole album and comes from the aesthetic foundations chosen by the trio. The jazz of the fifties and early sixties, are Andrea's heroes and his logic, the vocabulary of sound and the substance of language: the references to Monk, Rollins, Ornette Coleman or Wayne Shorter - but also to Horace Silver and Dizzy Gillespie and, of course, to many other musicians of those seasons - is filtered through the agile formula of the sax trio and through the always convincing interplay between the three musicians."Waves" is part of the traditions of jazz: Morelli, Spano and Garau let us understand how they have listened and analyzed the records of the jazz greats and have deepened and developed their own way of interpreting from a comparison - fertile and not merely imitative - with the notes and the spirit of those works. - Fabio Ciminiera

Tre musicisti affiatati esplorano le possibilità espressive offerte dal sax trio. Se il punto di partenza dell'Hard Up Trio è un solido hard bop, le nove tracce ci mostrano come Andrea Morelli, Massimo Spano e Alessandro Garau spostino il baricentro verso direzioni diverse. Innanzitutto, il groove dell'apertura di Australopithecus e i riflessi lievemente caraibici di Waves, un veloce ex cursus nelle stagioni radicali con la riflessiva Calma Piatta e con il percorso articolato di Rhythm no Changes, il passo incalzante di Toledo e la dimensione più metropolitana e nervosa di Sync, il blues pacato e intimo di Internal Space, una ballata, Solitude, interpretata con disposizione fluida e intensa e la conclusiva e veloce Jungle Bells, con cui il trio si riavvicina alle atmosfere del bop.

Lo spettro sonoro viene ampliato dalla scelta dei tre sassofoni utilizzati da Morelli: tenore, soprattutto, e poi soprano e sopranino: in questo modo, i brani prendono accenti ovviamente diversi, pur mantenendo una coerenza di fondo che anima tutto il disco e proviene dal riferimento continuo alle fondamenta estetiche scelte dal trio. Il jazz degli anni Cinquanta e dell'inizio degli anni Sessanta, i suoi eroi e le sue logiche, il vocabolario sonoro e la sostanza del linguaggio: il riferimento ai vari Monk, Rollins, Ornette Coleman o Wayne Shorter - ma anche ad Horace Silver e Dizzy Gillespie e, naturalmente, a molti altri musicisti di quelle stagioni - viene filtrato attraverso la formula agile del sax trio e attraverso l'interplay sempre convincente tra i tre musicisti. Pur senza rinunciare al proprio punto di vista, Waves si colloca nell'alveo delle tradizioni del jazz: Morelli, Spano e Garau lasciano capire come abbiano ascoltato e sviscerato i dischi dei grandi del jazz e abbiano approfondito e sviluppato il loro modo di interpretare a partire da un confronto - fertile e non meramente imitativo - con le note e con lo spirito di quei lavori. - Fabio Ciminera


Album · 2017 · Jazz Related RnB
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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I am sure there are plenty of RnB fans who miss the golden age of the late 60s to mid 70s when artists like Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield wrote artistic music with deep challenging lyrics that tackled the issues of the day. There has been new hope recently as musicians such as Esperanza Spaulding, Robert Glasper and Thundercat have been bringing a much needed creativity and social consciousness to the world of RnB. Much of this new music comes from the LA scene, far from RnB’s roots in the deep south, but a new voice, Mike Burton, has come up from Jackson Mississiippi bringing that deep southern soul mixed with modern cosmopolitan elements and featuring profound and spiritual lyrics that take on many troubling issues. Mike is mostly known as a saxophonist who has worked with Jill Scott and others, but on this new album, “Say What”, he also takes control of the vocal mic so that he can bring his thoughtful lyrics to the table. The end result is one of the best RnB albums of recent times, as it features earthy tones from the past mixed with a modern sheen from the present amongst a spiritual background in southern gospel music.

That mix of hip-hop modern and funky traditional is a big part of the appeal on“Say What”. The vocoder enhanced vocals, and stuttering broken hip-hop beats carry the sound of today, while the gritty rhythm guitar and the New Orleans influence of the accompanying Good Times Brass Band are all very familiar to fans of the classic southern Staxx label sound. Jackson is just a short hop down the Mississippi River from Memphis, and this album is drenched in that Memphis/Mississippii Delta vibe.

Mike’s writing style is unique and often avoids cliché chord sequences. On tracks like ‘Pray” and “Walk”, modern harmonic progressions seem to spiral endlessly upwards reflecting the spiritual nature of the lyrics. On “Messin it Up” and “Sick and Tired” Burton presents hard funk rhythms powered with big brassy horn refrains. Songs such as “Come Back" and “Daddy’s Little Girl” deal with being a father, his lyrics are truly touching, but never cloy or overly sentimental. Mike does not shy away from the difficulties of being an African-American, but he does so in a way that should make any person feel included in his concerns. Do you miss that golden age of meaningful and artistic RnB, pick up “Say What” and you won’t have to anymore.

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Album · 1980 · Dub/Ska
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
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The Beat, or The English Beat, as they were known in the states, were a musical super nova that burned bright for about four years and then abruptly broke up while they were still successful. Sporting a mix of Caribbean rhythms and punk rock energy, they were a natural to ride the ska revival of the early 80s, but The Beat was always way more than ska imitator wannabes. With at least three band members with bona fide reggae/ska musical roots, The Beat had an authenticity and natural nimble grace to their music that was not matched by their counterparts in the two tone movement. All of this was on full display when they released their opening opus, "I Just Can't Stop It", one of the best dance-able art pop albums in the 80s or in any decade.

In a manner similar to other rhythmically kinetic groups such as The Meters or the JBs, everything great about The Beat starts at the drum set and works its way forward from there. Everett Morton is one of the most overlooked innovative drummers in contemporary music. His ability to play syncopated Caribbean rhythms at break neck tempos made The Beat an irresistible sonic force. Add to that beat foundation a driving dub style bass, two interlocking guitars and Saxa's melodic Jamaican horn lines and you have a rich sonic tapestry. The icing on the cake was the duo vocals of Englishman Dave Wakeling and the Jamaican toasting and harmonies from Ranking Roger which gave The Beat a broad pallet of vocal deliveries.

The icing on the icing is the fact that these guys could write great songs and lyrics that were often either politically clever or sardonically dismayed with relationships. On "I Just Can' Stop It", they also include some creative covers that blend well with their originals. THere are no bad cuts on here, but if you are looking for the high energy barn-burners, try "Click Click", "Noise in this World" or "Two Swords".

DINOSAUR Together, As one

Album · 2016 · Nu Jazz
Cover art 4.00 | 2 ratings
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Fresh wind from England - young London-based trumpeter Laura Jurd's new project Dinosaur just released their debut album, and the album sounds great!

On new album,four young guys play fun and full of positive energy jazz fusion, that kind Miles presented to the world in his music,coming from late 60s-early 70s, but with removed psychedelic component,so characteristic for "Bitches Brew" time. Instead Laura demonstrates attention to composition and as a result them all sound almost as pop (or rock) songs.

For sure it is not a level of innovation or experimentation what attracts in "Together, As One" - just there are already a few generations of listeners for whom "In A Silent Way" says close to nothing. Laura and Co. reinvent original jazz fusion (Miles Davis type) for Z-Generation using Miles legacy very carefully but at the same time making it sounding attractive for today's young listeners.

Mostly on every song Laura's trumpet flies over Hammond / Rhodes passages with tasteful and inventive support from rhythm section. Compositions are quite catchy and it is not strange first album reviews and massive live gigs program both already received very positive media around UK and in partially in continental Europe.

With no doubt one among most significant jazz releases coming from Britain in 2016.


Album · 1979 · Jazz Related RnB
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
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During the 60s, Quincy Jones was one of the more successful jazz composers and arrangers in the business, creating a unique style that became the sound of American movie and TV themes, as well as background incidental music too. As the 70s developed, Quincy’s concise and economical approach didn’t jibe as well with the more excessive hippiefied era, and although his soundtracks were still happening, he no longer had the same impact anymore. In 1976 Jones hooked up with brand new RnB phenoms, The Brothers Johnson, and helped them mold a new lean and clean funk sound that pointed towards the future. A few years after this, the already rising star of Michael Jackson was showing even greater potential when he teamed up with his brother Randy to create a striking new dance hit with the song, “Shake Your Body Down to the Ground”, that brought new life to a somewhat dismal late 70s RnB/dance scene. Late 70s RnB radio had become dominated by a decaying disco scene that pumped out one bland and predictable track after another. The stage was now set for Quincy and Michael to team up and turn the world of commercial dance music inside out in a fire burst of creativity in the form of the album, “Off the Wall”.

As soon as the first track, “Don’t Stop till You get Enough”, opened, you could tell the days of boring thump thump thump disco music were on their way out. With this fresh new track we were given a melodic syncopated kick drum pattern surround by Latin and African percussion figures. Interlocking horn, string and guitar patterns sounded like a sophisticated big band, and over it all were Michael’s floating complex vocal arrangements. A new day had dawned indeed. The rest of side one is just one masterpiece after another with “Workin Day and Night” providing some of the hottest horn and guitar riffs since the heyday of James Brown, and “Rock with You” supplying something that hadn’t been heard of in dance music in a long while, an interesting melody and original chord changes. The quality drops a bit on side two, with the last two tracks not quite up to the rest of the album, but even those tracks could beat the competition of the day with the possible exception of Rick James and the occasional Funkadelic/Parliament track.

Almost forty years later, Quincy and Michael’s creation still stands as one of the top RnB, dance or pop albums of all time. Still, this album would not be the pinnacle of this duo’s efforts. That peak would come on the next album, “Thriller”, on which Jones and Jackson would take their creativity just one notch higher.

TIM BERNE Electric and Acoustic Hard Cell Live

Live album · 2004 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Six years ago sax player Tim Berne started recording for German ECM label and his music received much wider distribution (and some additional glance working with most prestigious jazz label ever). He already had a chance to be contracted by major label in States in mid-late 80s, but few albums released didn't satisfy Columbia people,so Tim returned back on half-underground scenes in New York, having cult following from fans of "New York new avant-gard jazz", whatever it was.

For those knowing Berne from most current ECM works he most probably associates with well-composed modern complex jazz, perfectly played but a bit too chamber (or not enough raw - you chose). Then a journey to Berne's 90s and 00s recordings (mostly on tiny labels or his own Screwgun) can offer plenty of pleasant surprises. "Electric And Acoustic Hard Cell Live" is a good example and there are some more with no doubt.

Hard Cell was a short-living super-trio of sort uniting Tim Berne with his regular keyboardist Craig Taborn and Californian drummer Tom Rainey. Just two albums have been recorded, both live (both released on Berne's own Screwgun label). Four tracks (lasting between 7 and 16 minutes each) are raw, muscular tuneful and surprisingly post-bop influenced. Recorded during two different gigs, material presented is of quite good sound quality and contains lot of audience emotional evidences, all for good.

Two track looks like just audience recording,but as on some better bootlegs this fact even adds more blood and adrenaline into music and common atmosphere. No even traces of Berne's later chamber sobriety can be found here and Craig's used electronics only adds effect of modernity. Being energetic, music here sounds far from some noisy free jazz chaos cliche's, is melodic and combines improvisations with well composed material.

One of Berne's better recordings which can be recommended for his more current fans - most probably you will find a lot of things you will like here.

JULES DAY Song for Rudy

Single · 2015 · Bossa Nova
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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A lovely Bossa Nova tune that Jules wrote for her deceased dog "Rudy". She does a great job on the song as always with a beautiful, smooth voice. She's been one of my favorite voices in music since her self-titled debut album came out. I look forward to all her new releases and will continue to do so. I asked her on facebook who her favorite singers were and she told me that she doesn't really listen to a lot of singers, but if she had to pick it would probably be Julie London and Nat "King" Cole. I told her that isn't surprising because her style is a little similar to Julie London's. She took that as a great compliment, but actually, I like Jules Day's voice better than Julie London's. She may never become as famous as Julie London, but I personally prefer her voice over Julie London's. You can hear this song on Spotify or YouTube if you are interested. I wish the lyrics didn't mention Jack Kerouac, but other than that I enjoy the song.

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