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All Reviews/Ratings

535 reviews/ratings
LOUIS ARMSTRONG - Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five Volume 1 Classic (1920s) Jazz | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Agharta Classic Fusion | review permalink
EARTH WIND & FIRE - Gratitude Jazz Related 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 Classic Fusion | review permalink
PARLIAMENT - Mothership Connection Funk | review permalink
COUNT BASIE - Count Basie and his Orchestra Big Band | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Thrust Funk Jazz | review permalink
SUN RA - Angels and Demons at Play Progressive Big Band | review permalink
SUN RA - 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 Classic Fusion | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - V.S.O.P. Post Bop | review permalink
DUKE ELLINGTON - Money Jungle Hard Bop | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Get Up With It Classic Fusion | review permalink
JIMI HENDRIX - Electric Ladyland (Jimi Hendrix Experience) Jazz Related Rock
MILES DAVIS - Miles Smiles Post Bop | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Classic Fusion 76 3.75
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 41 3.94
3 Hard Bop 29 3.93
4 Soul Jazz 28 3.30
5 Post Bop 27 4.28
6 Jazz Related Rock 26 3.79
7 (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 25 3.74
8 World Fusion 24 3.67
9 Funk Jazz 23 3.59
10 Jazz Related RnB 22 3.41
11 Big Band 19 4.08
12 Nu Jazz 19 3.34
13 Funk 18 3.92
14 Pop Jazz/Crossover 17 2.53
15 DJ/Electronica Jazz 16 3.28
16 Bop 16 3.94
17 Exotica 14 3.50
18 Third Stream 14 3.86
19 Progressive Big Band 12 3.96
20 Jazz Soundtracks 11 3.55
21 Cool Jazz 10 4.10
22 Dub Fusion 8 3.88
23 Jazz Related Blues 7 3.64
24 Post-Fusion Contemporary 7 3.50
25 Latin Rock/Soul 6 3.75
26 Swing 5 4.00
27 Acid Jazz 4 3.50
28 Jazz Related Improvisation 3 3.50
29 Latin Jazz 3 3.83
30 Vocal Jazz 1 4.50
31 Afro-Cuban Jazz 1 4.50
32 Dixieland 1 3.50
33 Bossa Nova 1 3.50
34 Classic (1920s) Jazz 1 5.00

Latest Albums Reviews

WILLARD MCDANIEL '88' A La Carte

Album · 1958 · Pop Jazz/Crossover
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Willard McDaniel was mostly known as a blues and RnB sideman who played boogie-woogie piano and worked with guys like Roy Milton, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, T Bone Walker and BB King. A highly accomplished pianist, McDaniel was also known to play stride in the style of Fats Waller. Later in his career you might find McDaniel playing background music in lounges and supper clubs around the Los Angelas area, and that is the style of McDaniel’s that you will find on “88 a la Carte”. No doubt McDaniel is a formidable pianist, but this is music meant to soothe and relax, as well as appeal to those who prefer pop to heavy jazz. McDaniel is backed by an un-credited stand up bassist and trap player, but they keep it cool and in the background, this is definitely Willard’s show.

The tunes on here favor well known jazz standards, as well as a few popular tunes of the day and a couple surprises, including “Sugar Blues’, a cut that allows McDaniel to show a little personality. The playing on here is highly skilled with an influence from the ultra-cool lounge stylist George Shearing, as well as some gimmicky crowd pleasing effects along the lines of Roger Williams, Floyd Cramer and Bent Fabric. The quality of the song interpretations vary from the very cheezy “You Always Hurt the One You Love”, to an up-tempo “I’ll Remember April”, that almost sounds like real jazz. “Along the Navaho Trail” also allows Willard to play in his more familiar blues style.

“88” was put out on the ultra budget Crown label, but the recording is fairly good for a label with such a bad reputation. This isn’t great jazz, but it wasn’t meant to be, this is what used to play in hotel lobbies and high end restaurants before the advent of customized muzak stations and personal internet radio. If you have any interest in this rapidly disappearing bit of lounge culture, “88 a la Carte” is a great example of a style that was once very prevalent. You can still find this LP on the internet, in thrift stores or anywhere else the flotsam and jetsam of the LP world goes to make its last stand.

MORAINE Groundswell

Album · 2014 · Jazz Related Rock
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“Groundswell” is the third album for instrumental art rockers Moraine, and it finds them back on a good track again. Moraine’s first album revealed a strong unit aided by two string players which gave them a unique ‘string quartet plus rock band’ type sound. Their second album traded off one of the string players for a saxophone that was run through sound processing that made it sound like a cheap synthesizer. James DeJoi returns on woodwinds for this third album, but thankfully the annoying effects are gone and he sounds like he is playing saxophone and flute, not a portable Casio. Overall, the remaining violin and newcomer saxophone blend is much better now, in fact the whole band has achieved a very congruous orchestral type sound. They definitely make use of all the instrumental colors at their disposal.

Moraine plays instrumental art rock, but not of the overly busy pseudo-complicated variety that can be both annoying and cliché, there is at times a simple directness to Moraine’s music that can recall classic instrumental rock groups such as The Shadows, or some of the more experimental psychedelic surf bands. As for their progressive rock influences, Phil Manzenera’s Quiet Sun is a good reference, as well as Robert Fripp and King Crimson from the late 60s to the early 80s. Sounds from Asia and the Middle East also find their way into the Moraine mix. The compositions and performances on here are quite good, but the recording can be a little murky, sometimes the rhythm section lacks strength. Still, if you are interested in modern instrumental art rock, “Groundswell” is one of the better albums in this genre for 2014.

MARBIN The Third Set

Live album · 2014 · Classic Fusion
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Marbin’s first three studio albums reveled a diverse band that mixed art rock, jazz fusion, blues rock and middle eastern music into interesting CDs that balanced melodic sensitivity with high energy jazzy rock. There was always a feeling that guitarist DanI Rabin wouldn’t mind pushing aside some of the more sensitive material and show the world what he was really capable of on the guitar, and on the new live CD, “Third Set”, that is what we get. Gone are most of the melodic ballads, while the amount of high octane rock fusion numbers increase, the end result; a new guitar hero is born. It always seemed like Dani Rabin had this sort of performance inside him, and on “Third Set” his inner guitar-hero is finally set free. This is jazz rock guitar playing on the rock side of things with a very heavy distorted and saturated sound somewhere in-between Jeff Beck, Steve Vai, Oz Noy and Jimi Hendrix. Sometimes when Dani unleashes a steady stream of notes on the high end of the neck, he almost recalls the late Pete Cosey on Miles’ “Agharta” album. Dani’s strong melodic sense can also recall Mike Stern, another famous Miles sideman.

Although this live CD leans more towards Rabin and the rockier side of things, saxophonist and fellow band co-leader, Danny Markovitch, definitely adds some fire of his own. Danny’s playing on here adjusts to the heavy feel by playing a lot of guitar-like fast repeating riffs, rather than the flowing lines of a jazz approach. His choice of high end saxophone sounds, such as the soprano sax, may seem at odds with the heavy guitar, but he makes it work. Once again the album “Agharta” comes to mind on which saxophonist Sonny Fortune would play rock like riffs on the soprano sax over Miles’ heavy psychedelic band. Not everything on “Third Set” is heavy, on the song “Culture”, Markovitch opens with an unaccompanied solo that shows his interest in middle-eastern music. Also, the tracks “Crystal Bells” and “Northern Odyssey” act as instrumental power ballads among the more high octane numbers.

For those who were hoping that Marbin might head in a more energetic and guitar based direction, your dreams have come true. As far as heavy guitar oriented fusion goes, this is one of the best CDs so far for 2014. DanI Rabin’s solos are fast, extravagant and laser accurate, but more importantly, they are fun to listen to, lots of life affirming good vibes going on here.

RAY CHARLES Spotlight On Ray Charles

Boxset / Compilation · 1962 · Jazz Related RnB
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“Spotlight on Ray Charles” is a Pickwick label compilation from 1962 that shows up a lot in thrift stores and used record shops, yet no one seems to know much about it. Pickwick is one of the most notorious cheap labels ever. The unwitting buyer of this album should be glad that the songs are actually performed by Charles, because Pickwick was known for putting out albums on which a famous artist’s songs would be played by Pickwick staff musicians, without a trace of the artist featured on the album cover, a fact often hidden with tiny print.

This album comes with very little information, except some false information about a George Brown Orchestra that apparently does not appear on any tracks. Instead, about half of the songs on here feature Charles from very early in his career (approx 1949) playing and crooning in a laid back jazz/blues trio in a style very similar to Nat King Cole. If you are mostly familiar with Ray’s later revved up RnB hits such as “What I’d Say”, these songs show a whole nother side to brother Ray. The other half of the songs on “Spotlight” are totally different and feature rough early rock n roll/jump blues instrumentals with a very loud honkin saxophone in the style of Arnett Cobb or Jay McNeely. Since the album cover is no help, a little research reveals that several of these rockin tunes come from a session in 1952, but no credits were given for that session. Ray was working with a variety of tenor players at that time, so its hard to tell who the lead sax man is. All of these songs are quite good and this could have been a decent compilation if they had put one style on one side of the album, and the other on the other side, but instead they mixed them together in strict alternation for irrational reasons unknown.

Even with the obtuse mixture of styles, this still isn’t too bad of a compilation, and since its Pickwick, it sells for cheap. Anyone interested in hearing what Ray Charles was doing before he became a well known RnB singer should pick this up. The early jazz/blues tunes are nice, and the honkin RnR should liven up any social occasion. Its interesting hearing some of this old ‘honkin’ rockin sax style, listening to the horn used in such a loud forceful and almost primitive way makes you realize where early 60s avant-garde guys like Albert Alyer and Archie Shepp were coming from, in many ways, they were just bringing back the prevalent jump blues style of the 40s and taking it for an extended ride.

DIZZY GILLESPIE Diz 'N Bird At Carnegie Hall (with Charlie Parker)

Live album · 1997 · Big Band
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A short review of “Diz n’ Bird at Carnegie Hall” could sum things up nicely by providing that this is a one star recording of a five star performance. The performance in question took place on Sept 29, 1947 at Carnegie Hall and featured an opening set by Diz and Bird as a quintet, which was followed by Dizzy’s big band. Ella Fitzgerald also performed that night, but she does not appear on the album. The Parker/Gillespie set presented on here consists of five tunes, followed by another ten for Dizzy’s big band. Those five opening tunes by the quintet are the highlight, Parker’s playing is absolutely phenomenal, some of his best ever captured on a recording. Also, the bad sound issues are not nearly as bothersome with the smaller group than with the full orchestra that will follow.

The ten big band tunes that follow are all great, but the recording issues make them hard to listen to. It sounds like there were no special recording mics set up, instead it seems everything is being recorded possibly by one PA mic which was probably set in front of the whole band with the intent of amplifying whoever is the soloist. Needless to say, whenever a soloist leans to heavily into the mic, much of the rest of the band fades to the background. Even without a loud soloist, the balance between band sections is awful with the trumpet section blowing every one off of the recording. Its unfortunate these tunes weren’t recorded better, because many are great. Some highlights include George Russell’s modern pointillist arrangement of “Relaxin at Camarillo”, John Lewis’ early 3rd stream experiment , “Toccata for Trumpet”, and the high speed scatter of “Things to Come”. Overall Gillespie’s band is not about the subtle tone colors of Ellington, or the relentless groove of Basie, but instead is all about hot fiery energy, Latin rhythms and a screaming trumpet section.

This CD isn’t for everyone, but Parker fans may want to get this for the first five cuts which really capture the special sparks that would fly whenever Bird n’ Diz hit the stage together. The rest of the album could be interesting to Dizzy and big band fans who want to hear what Dizzy’s innovative orchestra was up to during this time period. As a good example of the sound issues on this recording, the great John Lewis plays piano in both groups, but I doubt you will be able to hear much of what he plays.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 18 hours ago in What Are You Listening To
    Thats because its an Alan Douglas production, he tends to leave a trail of dubious confusion. He's responsible for many of the contested post-humous Hendrix 'last albums'. Many speculate that "Marbles" was supposed to be a Hendrix recording set up by Douglas, and McLaughlin was a fill-in for the recently deceased Hendrix. I know that earlier McLaughlin had attended a jam session with Hendrix and Buddy Miles and had dropped in because he wanted to see who was playing those beats he liked, so the Mclaughlin-Buddy Miles connection was already there.
  • Posted 3 days ago in What Are You Listening To
    ^ Great record, never seen that cover before though.
  • Posted 3 days ago in Improv - Keyboard
    Nice improv, Thats an interesting sounding keyboard too, what is it?

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Warthur wrote:
811 days ago
Hey dude,

You've banned me from the forums but I can still access the review submission system and site interactions.

If that is intentional then fair enough but if not I thought it'd only be honest to give you a heads up.

Warthur wrote:
858 days ago
js - please clear some space in your PM inbox, I'm trying to send you something.

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