Carmel DeSoto
JMA Jazz Reviewer ·
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 1 day ago

Favorite Jazz Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

17 reviews/ratings
SCOTT REEVES - Portraits & Places Progressive Big Band | review permalink
GENE ESS - Absurdist Theater Classic Fusion | review permalink
COREY KENDRICK - Rootless Post Bop | review permalink
TROY ROBERTS - Tales & Tones Post Bop | review permalink
TONY LUSTIG - Taking Flight Hard Bop | review permalink
LARRY CORBAN - Corban Nation Hard Bop | review permalink
GREG HATZA - The Greg Hatza ORGANization : Diggin up My Roots Soul Jazz | review permalink
CAROL MORGAN - Post Cool Vol. 1: The Night Shift Post Bop | review permalink
BILLY CHILDS - Rebirth Post Bop | review permalink
LEIGH PILZER - Strunkin’ Hard Bop | review permalink
TAL COHEN - Tal Cohen & Danielle Wertz : Intertwined Vocal Jazz | review permalink
ALEX WEITZ - Luma Post Bop | review permalink
ANTONELLA CHIONNA - Antonella Chionna Meets Pat Battiston : Rylesonable 21st Century Modern | review permalink
MAC GOLLEHON - Mac Gollehon & The Hispanic Mechanics Latin Rock/Soul | review permalink
REBECCA KILGORE - Moonshadow Dance Vocal Jazz | review permalink
CHRIS ZIEMBA - Manhattan Lullaby Post Bop | review permalink
SHERRI ROBERTS - Anybody’s Spring Vocal Jazz | review permalink

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Post Bop 6 4.58
2 Vocal Jazz 3 4.17
3 Hard Bop 3 4.50
4 Latin Rock/Soul 1 4.00
5 21st Century Modern 1 4.50
6 Classic Fusion 1 5.00
7 Progressive Big Band 1 5.00
8 Soul Jazz 1 4.50

Latest Albums Reviews

ANTONELLA CHIONNA Antonella Chionna Meets Pat Battiston : Rylesonable

Album · 2017 · 21st Century Modern
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An international collaboration between Boston based pianist, composer and creative “improvator” Patrick Battstone and Italian based phenom Antonella Chionna who began her career at the young age of 12 as a performing professional musician brings to the table a delightful ringing of epic proportions for the creative modern and avant-garde purveyor.

Rylesonable contains twelve tracks, recorded live in the studio to create a highly improvised sound and to capitalize on each musician’s improvisational in the moment skills. The result is breathtaking. The rapport is immediately evident with a collection of nine improvised tunes and two standards, and an original Gabriele di Franco tune with lyrics by Chionna.

“Under a Persian Sky” conjures improvisational qualities of a finely tuned instrument in the two lead musicians, both interacting, listening, and creating. Chionna evokes elongated notes for a dramatic effect, while bassist Kit Demos and Battstone provide a stately underpinning for Richard Poole on vibraphone to colorize with just the right amount of panache.

Tunes like “Sophisticated Lady,” offer a more percussive approach vocally, this is what is most striking about Chionna, her ability to utilize her voice as a full-fledged instrument, not afraid of bends and sharp-edged sounds. Like a fine weathered horn, she truly exhibits her talent as one of the instrumentalists versus a standards vocalist in the mix.

I must say Fender Rhodes is one of my all-time favorite instruments and when used in a jazz setting it becomes an even sweeter experience. Inspired by Plutot La Vie, the Rhodes brings “Rather Life,” to animation. Chionna and Battstone are brilliant together, more than performances, this is genuine emotions in play.

In finality, the selection “Lover Man/Nature Boy,” is poignant, dark and at times evocative. Battstone lays down a silky yet delicate accompaniment, as Chionna conveys in a moody darkened horn-like vocal approach, with a relaxed ala Miles phrasing approach. If you were to imagine Chionna as a horn, you truly would connect with the true message she is laying down. Her vocal has a playful Billie Holiday vibe, but resonates in dark chocolatey colors. Demos, Battstone and Poole adorn with respectful interaction, not overpowering Chionna for an engaging result. It’s wonderful when a vocalist phrases like a horn player, and Chionna certainly connects to this ideal. Supported by seasoned veterans certainly helps the effort tremendously for a cohesion of result.

A wonderful cross-continental collaboration, one I hope to hear again very soon, and with anticipation.


Album · 2017 · Post Bop
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Though Arizona is not known as a mecca for jazz, in comparison to New York, Washington DC, or even the birthplace of jazz, the south. There still seems to be a thirst for jazz in the desert. Young tenor saxophonist Alex Weitz, cut his teeth on jazz in his home town of Tucson, as a member of the award-winning Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band. It was his trek to the southernmost region of Florida that rounded this young saxophonist, where he studied at the respected University of Miami Frost School of Music and completed his undergraduate studies in Jazz Saxophone Performance and graduate studies in Studio Jazz Writing.

At such a young age, what is it that makes this young saxophonist stand out? I have to say it is his tone, first and foremost, and the relaxed delivery, not usually indicative of such a young saxophonist. It is further quite surprising to see this is not Weitz first album, but indeed his sophomore effort. Like Chroma, his previous recording, Weitz exhibits a maturity in his playing. Particularly what is stunning about Luma his latest release, which ironically means the brightness in an image, as opposed to the saturation or chroma, is the introspective growth of Weitz’ playing.

Standout tracks for me are the darkly hued “Outer Noise,” that offers a prophetic journey through colorizations, by pianist Tal Cohen, and restless jabs and swing that add to the energy of the track by drummer Michael Piolet and the interactive swinging bass line by bassist, Ben Tiberio. Weitz is up to the task, with riveting lines and a huge warm sound that is centrically focused and cleanly unaffected. It was one of the things I most appreciated about Sonny Stitt was his tone, and Weitz is certainly squarely in this realm.

The title track is delicately approached a gorgeous ballad, and Weitz offers up a restrained beauty that is emotive and his use of controlled dynamics adds to the illumination of the track. Cohen and Weitz bend and curve together in an interactive conversational way, all the while Weitz uses the full range of his horn. Bottom notes are dug into with warmth and top notes gently touched with soft flourishes by both Cohen and Weitz that create a crystalline beauty all around.

“Equilibrium” is aptly titled, Tiberio creates a loping bass line, while Piolet and Cohen create sweet chaos under Weitz, flowing and building in intensity with his lines to a climatic solo section, where we are treated to the sheer muscularity that Weitz has to offer in his playing style. He is well versed in his stylistic palette, it is nice to hear him really stretch to the edge on this tune.

For me, Weitz has a lot of surprises to offer in his arsenal of skills. His ideas are fluid, his abilities top-notch and he is joined by an equally fervent cast that create a lasting recording in the evolution of Alex Weitz, who I hope to see build as prolific of a discography as the aforementioned Stitt.

TAL COHEN Tal Cohen & Danielle Wertz : Intertwined

Album · 2017 · Vocal Jazz
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The voice of an angel, supported by an able and crafty pianist is what you will get when listening to Intertwined, joined on tracks “Beautiful Love,” and “Autumn Leaves,” by saxophonist Jamie Oehlers, the trio, which is mostly a duo, have created a deliciously engaging offering.

Why is it special you ask? This answer is found in Wertz voice, she has a pure and crystalline tone, each word is given meaning. As a listener, I found myself constantly being entranced by her voice. Unlike many of her contemporaries there is truth in her voice, it’s not prattled with theatrics, or acrobatics, hers is a voice that just speaks through beauty, as if each word is like honey dripping from her lips. Many of the vocalists that are so long lasting in our minds, exhibit these same qualities, it is their ability to honestly convey the lyric that is so appealing. Though young in age, Wertz is matured in her delivery, rounded in her ideas, and savory in her lines.

Fine examples of this are exhibited on tunes like “Beautiful Love,” opened by saxophonist Jamie Oehlers, whose tone is refined and unaffected. Augmented by pianist Tal Cohen, the three work through the nuances of the tune, with hits and accents that embellish the lyric with interest. Wertz uses her voice as a vehicle that conveys the lyric, but also as a unified instrument contributing to the overall success of the track.

The title track “Intertwined,” is a wordless melody that Wertz works with the dynamics of her voice, just as a horn in a duo setting. She opens and closes her voice and uses swells to create useful texture changes, passages and solo lines with pianist Tal Cohen, which I might add are very effective. The two meld as a perfect instrument of song. Many times, with duo recordings, you find yourself noticing the spaces a bit too much. Cohen’s colorizations support and add interest and Wertz interacts with seamless resolve.

A bit father into the program we stop at “Manhattan in the Rain,” a moody reflective piece written by Duncan Lamont. Wertz’ delicate treatment is convincing, while Cohen creates a canvas of beautiful flowing lines, almost like a windy day with raining streams. You can hear the smile and joy in Wertz voice as the blossom of love, is in the air.

Overall, Intertwined is a delightful intertwining of what is best about young artists. Untarnished by the politics of music, what is brought forth is pure, innocent and simply beautiful. The promise of the moment, and being able to be free enough to live it, in the moment. This is a lasting work for a debut offering, and certainly it makes sense why Wertz was semi-finalists in the 2015 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition. She certainly has won me over.

SHERRI ROBERTS Anybody’s Spring

Album · 2017 · Vocal Jazz
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Can Spring be an eternal feeling, it can when its sung by vocalist Sherri Roberts. Her latest offering in a string of well-conceived albums is entitled Anbody’s Spring, and it does Spring eternal, with a bounce and a swing that will put an extra step in your day. Bouncy, full of lilt and firmly rooted in the jazz idiom, Roberts performs tunes that are a delightful foray of time-tested standards and Broadway classics.

A little background on Sherri’s discography. She has four recordings as a leader and her fifth, Anybody’s Spring, is accompanied by a bi-coastal ensemble, of Harvie S on bass, David Udolf on piano, Akira Tana on drums and Sheryl Bailey on guitar. Released in March of 2017 at the equinox, this newest recording is among a collection of standout recordings as follows: 2013’s Lovely Days, a duo session showcasing pianist Bliss Rodriguez and three collaborations with renowned bassist Harvie S: The Sky Could Send You (2006), Dreamsville (1998), Twilight World (1996).

So, let’s get into the blossom. The title track “Anybody’s Spring,” begins the journey, the nostalgic sound of Roberts voice has a certain authenticity that transports you to a time when jazz was aplenty. Her voice is unaffected and clean, delivering a ringing truth of the lyrics. Udolf and S create a mid-tempo, deep swinging feel, with Tana laying down a soft, yet effective swing that allows vocalist Roberts to float atop.

Continuing through the program, I found myself stopping at “They Say Its Spring,” Roberts shines on this tune in particular, her relaxed matter of fact vocal style fits nicely, like a pair of your best Sunday gloves, her voice sparkles and shimmers. The supportive ensemble is sensitive and not overpowering, while creating a solid solo section that is both engaging and finely tuned.

A ballad closes out the offering with “Spring Isn’t Everything,” a witty twist on the season, the lyric is brought to an effervescence with Roberts loveliness. Her voice is round and she laments Spring with purity and truly captures the merit of the lyric, written by Ralph Blane and Harry Warren, and made famous by Margaret Whiting who recorded the tune in February of 1947 with Frank DeVol and his Orchestra, Roberts gives this tune a proper reading with sincere reverence.

A delight from start to finish, Anybody’s Spring is an evergreen beauty, meant to be savored no matter the season. An album I intend to visit often myself.


Live album · 2016 · Hard Bop
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Robust tonality, and clearly articulated lines are what you can expect from this baritone horn player. Though this is Pilzer’s debut offering, it is a long awaited one. A regular member of the DIVA Jazz Orchestra and a member of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, and Shannon Gunn and the Bullettes. Pilzer has already enjoyed countless performances and touring opportunities with SJMO, DIVA, and the National Symphony Orchestra, she has toured across the United States and in Austria, Canada, Croatia, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Holland, and Russia. She also freelances with a variety of ensembles in the mid-Atlantic region.

Her debut album Strunkin’ is a wonderful collection of straight-ahead originals that swing with a deep rooted historical understanding of the tradition. Each player is a centered and focused player in their own right, but together, they exhibit and unit prowess that locks very tightly.

The title track begins with a harmonized melody between bari, trombone and arco bass, creating an immediate signal to the listener they are in for a be-bop journey. Pilzer uses her entire horn range with ease and digs deep into the low notes as Sherrie Maricle swings hard, and Jackie Warren comps with well-placed ideas to create a fabric that weaves nicely with bassist Amy Shook. If you are sitting still at this point, please check your pulse, you might need to be revived. Krupa weighs in with an inspired solo, dipping and loping with curvatures and command, then weighing in with quick witted lines, searing and soaring.

“Brag Time,” offers a slinky ala Fever type groove – it is sensuous and seductive and the group sells it nicely. On this tune, Maricle’s drumming is in full display; and you are quickly treated to why she is such a lauded drummer. Warren is front and center on this one, and her fingers glide across the keys not only with nimble agility, but with soul for miles. Trombonist, Jen Krupa offers up a saucy muted solo, honestly equal, if not better than many of her male counterparts in the industry.

Another highlight is “Duel at Dawn.” A contrafact of Donna Lee, which begins with Maricle swinging the brushes and joined by Krupa, eloquently improvising, then joined by the solid bass playing of Shook, who swings like a timeclock with soulfulness. Pilzer creates counterpoint lines to Krupa, then an answer and call type approach, landing into a harmonized melody. Pilzer is a generous leader, each tune is about the tune itself, she gives each musician their highlight depending on the tune. Truly it’s about the group sound and the overall success of the tune that is at stake here. This tune features an almost Nawlins vibe as the it progresses; joyful, fun and filled with many wild adventures.

One point I kept forgetting was, this is a live recording, the sound was outstanding and it reminded me how amazing these players really are. Can I say it - basically this album is a live clam-less recording, these ladies are tight and on the mark. The chemistry is unmatched and the audience response shows it. Hot damn, well done ladies this offering is smoking.

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