Carmel DeSoto
JMA Jazz Reviewer ·
Registered more than 2 years ago · Last visit 7 months ago

Favorite Jazz Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

20 reviews/ratings
SCOTT REEVES - Portraits & Places Progressive Big Band | review permalink
GENE ESS - Absurdist Theater Fusion | review permalink
COREY KENDRICK - Rootless Post Bop | review permalink
TROY ROBERTS - Tales & Tones Post Bop | review permalink
DANIEL DICKINSON - A Gathering Foretold Post Bop | review permalink
MARIA GRAND - TetraWind 21st Century Modern | 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
SIMON SAMMUT - Crossing - A Visual and Music Experience Post-Fusion Contemporary | review permalink

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Post Bop 7 4.64
2 Hard Bop 3 4.50
3 Vocal Jazz 3 4.17
4 21st Century Modern 2 4.75
5 Fusion 1 5.00
6 Latin Rock/Soul 1 4.00
7 Post-Fusion Contemporary 1 4.00
8 Progressive Big Band 1 5.00
9 Soul Jazz 1 4.50

Latest Albums Reviews


EP · 2017 · 21st Century Modern
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Maria Grand is certainly becoming a well-known name in the modern and Avant Garde circles, with her affiliation to Steve Coleman, affording her a strong calling card of recognition. But it is with the release of TetraWind, Grand decisively catapults her creativity to the forefront.

A socially conscious offering that mixes elements of poetry, and almost ala-hip-hop sound at times, with raw and raucous saxophone sounds that are masterfully articulated in the hands of this well-schooled saxophonist. TetraWind additionally has a feminine quality to it, an almost heroine feeling, as Grand is not afraid of her voice, muscularity, and prowess of sound. Tunes like “South (Quantum),” are an exceptional example of this quantitative quality.

Where “East (Land of the Living),” gives a more international sound, integrating a full register of comprehensive colors. Grand is not afraid to utilize the upper and lower registers of her saxophone, while digging into the tonal qualities that her instrument has to offer. What struck me most about this young saxophonist was her emotional competence on her instrument, this is a quality that cannot be learned in school alone, it is normally gained on the bandstand through the interpretive interaction between musicians. It is clearly apparent that Grand has this maturity within her wheelhouse.

On “North (Self. Real Power),” Grand evokes another instrument into the mix, her vocals – that convey a sense of mother nature. Which Grand attests to the inspiration of this creative release. Grand explains; “For this project, I also wanted to supplement the musical meaning with actual words, to allow the listener to hear another angle as well. Some of the lyrics are more abstract, and the last track is more political. Music cannot be divorced from the times and from whatever is happening socioeconomically at any given moment.” Speaking of the last track, “West, (Shut Shun)” is filled with tension notes, almost conveying the struggle of the times we are in as the age of Aquarius is once again upon us, which is the eleventh sign of the zodiac, which is now controlling the cosmos, which means we're entering a period of revolution fueled by invention, social media brazenness and free sexuality, say astrologers. Grand has her own take on the reasoning behind this track, she explains “It’s really important that conditions change and improve for everyone right now, we need to treat our Earth and each other a lot better. There’s a lot of greed going on, and a few people are holding on to most of the wealth; I’m not sure exactly why we’re letting this happen, but things have to change. Racism is a plague, sexism is a plague. I want my music to speak on those issues.”

Overall, TetraWind is a compelling listen, from a technically engaging journey, to a rebirth of creative ideas, Grand has captured a sentiment musically, and thematically that will leave a lasting telling piece in her creative catalog of continued depth.

DANIEL DICKINSON A Gathering Foretold

Album · 2015 · Post Bop
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A Gathering Foretold is an extremely melodious release from New York-based alto saxophonist Daniel Dickinson. Even though this is his debut outing, Dickinson plays with maturity and merges the historical language of jazz and all the right elements of modern jazz music. Dickinson has assembled a prodigious crew of musicians that play off each other, finding common ground between all the parts and creating an organic hybrid that plays to what sounds like a longtime working ensemble, yet is a well-organized session. A portfolio of Dickinson’s own compositions and arrangements, including original compositions by Christian Sands (Voyage to Somewhere) and Michael Dease (Cry of the Wolf).

Dease’s composition and the opening "Cry of the Wolf " takes its time building and then rises to the five horns playing the melody to create a beautiful sound. Dease stands out with a solid improvisation that utilizes the upper register of the trombone. The interplay between Bowlus’ piano comping figures and Ulysses Owens, Jr.’s drum pattern is a fine example of groups listening and melding to form a musical motif while Dease shapes his lines to a simmering boil.

The title track is composed by Dickinson and is an impactful track that displays both his compositional skills and his able improvisational skills. Dickinson finds inspiration during his solo in Owens’ drum rhythms, making him more than just support here, but the two work together to build and shape the solo statement and that communication is integral to the integrity of this fine album.

Even though everyone in the ensemble is a talented soloist, the emphasis is on listening to each other. “Voyage to Somewhere” features Christian Sands at the piano and as the composer. A relaxed likeable mid-tempo selection with a haunting piano figure is enhanced by Owen's drums and Dickinson’s nimble alto solo. Dickinson’s lines match Sands chordal colors and his creative rhythmic palate serves as a durable launching pad for creative explorations as a soloist.

“Darn That Dream” is the standard on the date and features Dickinson on clarinet. His tasteful clarinet playing has subtle elements of the blues and bop, all conveyed with unbridled swing. His relaxed soloing style is sure in melodic motion, strong in time and impressive in overall flow.

Although Dickinson is the leader and composed most of the material, A Gathering Foretold is by any measure a group effort, with each member given ample room to extemporize and the group works together to accentuate the various melodies and soloists. The respect and friendship between the players is indispensable, resulting in a splendid date with much to offer even the most demanding jazz aficionado and sensitive audiophile.

SIMON SAMMUT Crossing - A Visual and Music Experience

Album · 2017 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
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As humans, we have been enamored with acts of crossing, be it literally of figuratively, since the beginning of time. There is always a point where a person crosses into something, into a field or mindset of adventure, leaving the known limits of the world of point “A” and venturing into an unknown and dangerous realm or mindset where the rules and limits are unknown to get to point “B.” Bassist and composer Simon Sammut uses the crossing as a point of inspiration, to bring meaning to the act through music. Using specific events in history and mythology, Sammut focuses his musical mind by using visual art by Anthony Catania that depicts the events related to crossing, to form the mechanics of his compositions. His new project is entitled, Crossing and it marks the combining of music and visual art, forming beauty and color. Both music and paintings expressing emotions and ideas, and in this project work together to create something truly striking and unique.

Sammut’s artistic pallet is vast on both the upright and electric bass. On the electric bass especially, his use of chords possesses a color pallet that far exceeds the usual spectrum of a bassist. He cites Jaco Pastorius as an influence, and like Jaco, Sammut’s ability to convey complex harmonies using chordal movement on the bass, is dynamic and adds a great deal to the music. Sammut additionally uses orchestral colors of voice, guitar, melodica, keyboards, percussion, electronics, brass and woodwinds. “The Tin Soldier’s Last Dance” displays this ability perfectly. Sammut’s chordal work on the bass is wonderful. The tune has a strong melody and a form that keeps the music marching forward.

On “Promethean Man,” Sammut’s inspiration is that we are not alone in our journey, but ultimately guided by a higher intelligence that is involved in our Crossing and change, the process brought to us through the world. Sammut’s upper register melody on the bass starts the melodic journey. Developing into programmed drums with keyboard swells and backing, Sammut continues to take the lead melodic role. Sammut’s bass solo is tuneful, with lines the build a story and again he uses chords in his solo in a inimitable way.

Sammut’s compositions are focused and provide a sonic delight for Crossing, taking the listener on a journey into the magical world music. The bassist’s impressionistic soundscapes contribute to the album’s success as well. Crossing is a consistently musical and entertaining listen from beginning to end. Highly Recommended, and an enlightened melding of art and sound.

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.

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