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John
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Favorite Jazz Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

784 reviews/ratings
LOUIS ARMSTRONG - The Louis Armstrong Story, Volume I: Louis Armstrong And His Hot Five Classic (1920s) Jazz | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Agharta Fusion | review permalink
EARTH WIND & FIRE - Gratitude RnB | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Speak Like a Child Post Bop | review permalink
FRANK ZAPPA - One Size Fits All (as Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention) Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Crossings Fusion | review permalink
PARLIAMENT - Mothership Connection Funk | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Thrust Funk Jazz | review permalink
SUN RA - Angels and Demons at Play Progressive Big Band | review permalink
SUN RA - Sun Ra And His Astro Infinity Arkestra : Atlantis Avant-Garde Jazz | review permalink
SANTANA - Santana Latin Rock/Soul | review permalink
FUNKADELIC - America Eats Its Young Funk | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Live At The Fillmore East Fusion | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - V.S.O.P. Post Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Get Up With It Fusion | review permalink
JIMI HENDRIX - Electric Ladyland (Jimi Hendrix Experience) Jazz Related Rock
MILES DAVIS - Miles Davis Quintet : Miles Smiles Post Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Nefertiti Post Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Big Fun Fusion | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Fusion 102 3.69
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 60 3.98
3 Hard Bop 49 3.84
4 Post Bop 47 4.14
5 Soul Jazz 40 3.40
6 World Fusion 39 3.60
7 Big Band 37 3.84
8 Eclectic Fusion 35 3.76
9 RnB 33 3.62
10 Jazz Related Rock 30 3.77
11 Funk Jazz 26 3.60
12 Bop 26 4.04
13 Progressive Big Band 23 4.09
14 Nu Jazz 23 3.39
15 Pop/Art Song/Folk 21 2.81
16 Funk 21 3.90
17 Exotica 18 3.44
18 Jazz Related Electronica/Hip-Hop 18 3.39
19 Third Stream 18 3.89
20 Post-Fusion Contemporary 13 3.46
21 Cool Jazz 12 3.75
22 Dub/Ska/Reggae 11 4.00
23 Blues 10 3.80
24 Jazz Related Soundtracks 10 3.95
25 Vocal Jazz 10 3.75
26 Latin Jazz 9 3.89
27 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 8 3.38
28 Swing 8 4.00
29 Latin Rock/Soul 6 3.75
30 21st Century Modern 6 4.33
31 African Fusion 5 4.00
32 Acid Jazz 4 3.50
33 Classic (1920s) Jazz 2 4.50
34 Dixieland 1 3.50
35 Afro-Cuban Jazz 1 4.50
36 Bossa Nova 1 3.50
37 Jazz Education 1 3.50

Latest Albums Reviews

NICOLAS MEIER Nicolas Meier World Group : Peaceful

Album · 2019 · World Fusion
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Nicolas Meier’s new album may be titled “Peaceful”, but don’t expect music that is timid or dull, instead, the music on here is exciting, energetic and very rhythmic. More than likely the term peaceful alludes to the positive vibes and peace encouraging all inclusive international flavor of Meier’s latest opus. For this one Nicolas has assembled his all acoustic World Group Quartet, consisting of himself on fretted and fretless guitars, Kevin Glasgow on bass, Richard Jones on violin and Demi Garcia on percussion. Together they take on musical styles from all over the globe including Gypsy, Samba, Middle Eastern, Spanish, Turkish and more. Meier takes most of the solos, and much like fellow guitarist George Benson, Nicolas makes his fleet scale runs sound easy, as if he is never breaking a sweat as he pulls of runs that would fatigue most. Jones takes a few solos too, but often backs up Nicolas with harmonies and background pedal points.

“Peaceful” opens with, “Besiktas”, a very continental flavored waltz with a bit of gypsy to it before they head into the high energy “Manzanita Samba”. The CD title track is a floating middle-eastern flavored ambient track that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Bill Laswell album. Many of the following tracks continue the middle eastern theme, often with very pronounced percussion driven grooves. “Water Lillies” takes us to Spain complete with the requisite hand clapping rhythmic backing. The album closes with “Soho Square’, a bluesy number with a loping rhythm somewhere in between gospel and western swing. Quite simply, “Peaceful” is as pleasant as the title implies, but never placid.

JASON HARNELL Total Harnage

Album · 2019 · Jazz Related Improv/Composition
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Jason Harnell is a top notch jazz session drummer who has worked with big names such as Dave Douglas, Maynard Ferguson, Larry Goldings, Alan Pasqua and many more. “Total Harnage” is his first and only solo release and finds him playing selections from the drum solo show he performs at the Oyster House Saloon in Studio City Ca. Jason doesn’t just play the drums, but instead acts as a one man band by singing and utilizing electronics, loops, samples and apps to accompany his compositions. Essentially what we have here are oddly orchestrated drum solos, each with a totally different sound and approach. When I mention ‘drum solos”, don’t picture the thunder and flash of the Billy Cobham and Neil Peart crowd, instead, Jason is a subtle “thinking man’s” drummer and is more similar to masters of abstraction such as Eddie Blackwell, Paul Motian, Chico Hamilton and Max Roach. There is also a lot of Africa and India in Jason’s percussive excursions. Although there are many different tracks on here, they all seem to flow together, connected by Jason’s rambling rhythms.

It does not matter how much avant-garde music you have listened to, you have never heard anything like “Total Harnage”, not because it is particularly difficult or dissonant, in fact when Jason sings “When Your Smiling” to sparse drum accompaniment, it just sounds like an old radio broadcast, only a little off kilter when it ends with the sound of a Pac Man session closing down. Jason isn’t just off the beaten path on here, this album is it’s own path by itself. This LP should have special appeal to fellow drummers, in fact much of this reminds me of drummer comedian, Fred Armisen, who has entire comedy routines best appreciated by other drummers and pro musicians who have to deal with that one guy in the band ‘who really isn’t a musician’. Some highlights on here include Jason drumming along with Glenn Gould performing a Bach prelude, and another cut that has him adding percussion to Quint the Shark Hunter’s ‘bad fish’ speech from the movie “Jaws”. Harnell also performs George Crumb’s “The Magic Circle of Infinity”, as well as some ambient trance compositions of his own.

“Total Harnage” is a very non-cliché listen that has grown on me as I hear more, and many of these tracks would work great as change ups in a radio show or mix tape of unique music.

PIGBAG Dr Heckle And Mr Jive

Album · 1982 · World Fusion
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If you have been keeping up with current sounds from England, then possibly you are familiar with today’s youthful streetwise high energy music that features a charged up punky approach to Afrobeat, often with some hip hop, spiritual jazz and other urban flavors thrown into the mix as well. Likewise, if you have followed UK’s popular music for many decades then possibly your initial introduction to today’s sound might have carried some reminders from the past, if so, then its possible you are recalling a short lived early 80s outfit known as Pigbag. Its hard to believe that Pigbag happened almost 40 years ago, but back then they turned a lot of heads with their hyperactive and free wheeling approach to current African dance music. There are some big differences between today’s scene and Pigbag. The scene today is driven by those of African descent who are bound together in political and cultural struggle and their music reflects that. Pigbag, on the other hand, was predominantly (if not entirely) Caucasian and not particularly political. Another difference is that today's players are more sophisticated and technically developed than Pigbag. At this point it should be pointed out that the originator of street level politically charged African dance music is of course Fela Kuti and his Afrobeat bands. Pigbag was merely an approximation of what Fela was all about.

The band was started by Chris Hamlin and Roger Freeman, but when Chris Lee and James Johnston joined, the ability to move beyond just jamming with friends to more professional level aspirations became possible. In the early 80s they were the right thing at the right time. The English youth had burned out on punk rock and a more biracial music scene was building around the 2-tone ska movement. It was during this initial heady success that Pigbag released their first long player, “Dr Heckle and Mr Jive”. Within these grooves you can hear their recipe for success as they play hyper African dance beats topped with electronic sounds and screeching horns. Pigbag was not a particularly technical band, their rhythms were solid and the horn charts were tight, but no one in the band could really build a solo, no big deal, this was dance music, not jazz. To this day this is still a fun album, not great for deep listening, but perfect for a party, and given what is happening today, it still sounds somewhat contemporary.

BIG BEAT Sounds Good. Feels Good

Album · 2019 · Big Band
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Big Beat is a new big band originating from William Patterson University in New Jersey that also doubles as a hot horn driven RnB outfit with Allison McKenzie on vocals, plus when they break it down to the rhythm section, they are also an intense fusion combo that is not afraid to take things on an ‘outside’ trip. There is a lot of versatility at work here as each song on “Sounds Good Feels Good” displays a different side of the group. Although this is very much a modern ensemble, there is a healthy 70s style looseness to the group, as well as a similar open-minded approach to eclectic material.. It’s no surprise then that their playing often recalls other 70s big band leaders such as Thad Jones, Don Ellis and Gil Evans who embraced, fusion, RnB and experimentalism in wide open anything goes arrangements.

Allison McKenzie sings lead on seven of the nine tracks and she has the sort of range and versatility that should make her well known with or without her fellow band members. Her style easily shifts from jazz to RnB, making her the perfect vocal front person for this versatile group. Her solo voice is good enough, but occasionally she double tracks her voice into some very interesting harmonies and vocal arrangements. The two instrumental numbers give the band a chance to get crazy. On “Just Too Much”, Will Dougherty’s electric piano solo pushes drummer Joe Spinelli into some free form mayhem, and on “A Penny for Your Thoughts”, the band peaks with an aggressive hard rock drive topped with an equally intense electric trombone solo.

Four of the vocal numbers are McKenzie originals, and they hold up well against some classic covers composed by Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott and the Jackson 5. This band is just getting started, and if they can keep this together the future looks very bright as they hit a good balance between bring the party energy and complicated and challenging arrangements. I would imagine that this is a band best enjoyed in a live situation.

HENDRIK MEURKENS Cobb's Pocket

Album · 2019 · Hard Bop
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For those not hip to pro musician lingo, the word pocket refers to keeping a steady groove, and if a drummer has ‘pocket’, then the rest of the band can solo with confidence knowing their man is not going to drop the beat or lose the momentum. One of the kings of pocket for several decades now has been Jimmy Cobb, the drummer for Miles Davis’ famous groove fest known as “Kind of Blue”, as well as countless other well known jazz recordings on up to the present. It should come as no surprise then that when Hendrik Meurkens wanted to record his new album of hard bop and soul jazz numbers he reached out to his old friend Jimmy to man the drum chair one more time, hence his new CD title, “Cobb’s Pocket”. Joining Hendrik and Cobb on here are two other veterans who have jammed often with Meurkens in the past, Mike LeDonne on B3 and Peter Bernstein on guitar.

Hendrik is somewhat of an odd one in the jazz world in that he is a virtuoso harmonica player. He started out on vibraphone, which he still teaches, but switched to harmonica early on and remains one of the few jazz performers on the instrument. Don’t expect too much of the bluesy and country sounding clichés we often associate with the harmonica, instead, Meurken’s playing is infused with rapid bebop runs that recall saxophonists like Charlie Parker and Eric Dolphy. Some of the wide interval leaps he takes almost sound like vibraphone licks, possibly he pictures the vibe keyboard while choosing his notes. LeDonne and Bernstein fill out the sound with a mix of blues and bop sourced soulful solos.

Three of the tunes are Henrik originals. Meurken’s tunes remind me of 60s Quincy Jones in that they would make for great TV theme songs. Other tunes include a Latin flavored Mancini “Slow Hot Wind” and Sam Jones’ hard driving “Unit Seven”. Possibly the top track is the high speed title tune, “Cobb’s Pocket”.

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    Bria Skonberg     "Nothing Never Happens"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_dziv3UTkw&list=OLAK5uy_lhDlbpQoy8KSXK7AxX1uvrRA0RpHA6aEI snobb2019-11-05 22:48:25
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