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John
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Favorite Jazz Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

852 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 112 3.67
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 64 3.92
3 Post Bop 55 4.12
4 Hard Bop 54 3.84
5 Soul Jazz 45 3.42
6 Big Band 40 3.83
7 World Fusion 40 3.60
8 Eclectic Fusion 37 3.76
9 RnB 36 3.61
10 Jazz Related Rock 32 3.73
11 Bop 28 4.04
12 Progressive Big Band 27 4.02
13 Nu Jazz 27 3.44
14 Funk Jazz 26 3.60
15 Pop/Art Song/Folk 22 2.77
16 Funk 21 3.90
17 Third Stream 21 3.90
18 Exotica 18 3.42
19 Jazz Related Electronica/Hip-Hop 18 3.39
20 Post-Fusion Contemporary 13 3.46
21 Cool Jazz 13 3.69
22 Dub/Ska/Reggae 12 4.04
23 Latin Jazz 12 3.88
24 Jazz Related Soundtracks 11 3.91
25 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 10 3.40
26 Blues 10 3.80
27 Vocal Jazz 10 3.75
28 21st Century Modern 9 4.22
29 Swing 8 4.00
30 Latin Rock/Soul 6 3.75
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

CHET BAKER Blood, Chet And Tears

Album · 1970 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Does a cheezy album title mean that the music on said album will be cheezy too, in the case of Chet Baker’s, “Blood, Chet and Tears”, it certainly does. In case you don’t get the reference, the album’s title is based on the band name, Blood Sweat & Tears, only they snuck Chet’s name in there, ha ha ha, get it, yeah it’s a real downer. Anyway, with a title like that I assumed the whole album would be BS&T covers, and there are several of their songs on here, but they also felt the need to put some real corny classics on here like “Sugar Sugar:” by the pretend band, The Archies. Chet plays trumpet on all the songs and also sings on two of them. His backup band contains some top jazz and session musicians like Joe Pass, Tommy Tedesco and Hal Blaine, but nobody can save this album from being a rather bland outing. The arrangements are nothing special and most of Chet’s playing sounds like he is barely interested.

Of the bad entries, one of the worst is Chet’s vocal version of the Beatles’ “Something”. The original is a pop masterpiece but Baker seems very uncomfortable with the word flow and his usually distinctive vocal style never gets a chance with the overall plodding presentation. None of the BS&T songs do well, which is odd because there was a lot of jazz and big band arranging in that group, but the tunes don’t seem to inspire Chet too much. There are a few good ones on this album, “Evil Ways’ hit’s a groove and Baker almost sounds like Herb Alpert for a while. Chet’s lazy behind the beat phrasing on the trumpet is used to good effect on “Sugar”, making this one a good cut for one of those kitsch exotica CD compilations. The very best track by far though is Baker’s vocal version of “Come Saturday Morning”. It’s a well written song and Baker’s vocals floating over the string section is just sublime. Sometimes these kind of pop cover outings can be a lot of fun, such as Don Ellis’ “Connection”, but there just seems to be a lack of inspiration and energy on most of this Baker opus.

MATT GORDY Be With Me

Album · 2022 · Post Bop
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Some jazz albums impress us with their extreme heat and energy, while there are others that go a different route and impress with how carefully everything is placed and just how ‘right’ the album sounds. Miles’ “Birth of the Cool” and Herbie’s “Speak Like a Child” are two albums that come to mind where everything just seems to fit and nothing extra is needed. Matt Gordy’s new album, “Be With Me” is another one of those albums where the players practice good taste and interplay and present music that hits a perfect balance. “Be With Me” also bears a resemblance to the other two albums in that it features a three piece horn section that adds colors to arrangements, much like a miniature big band. Matt is a drummer, but he also has classical level skills on the piano which he uses in arranging his tunes. Gordy is an in demand session drummer on the west coast so he rarely records as a leader, in fact this is his first album as a leader in over 20 years.

One of the best cuts happens at the very beginning as the band digs into the bebop of “Topsy”. This number is from the Count Basie songbook and its slinky noire chord changes recall the whole Basie/Ellington era, only played with a modern sensibility. There are more tracks on here that carry that minor key classic urban jazz-noire vibe, one of the best is the band’s excellent arrangement of Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes”, which references and quotes from the McCoy Tyner version of this well known song. Another top track is the Gordy original, “Camouflage”, which has pianist Alan Pasqua spinning an interesting and economical solo while backed by the horn arrangements. Once again, I am reminded of the aforementioned Herbie Hancock album. All of the soloists on here are excellent, but I think its Pasqua who really gets the flavor of this album and never gives into needless flash or histrionics. Two tracks feature vocalist Sherry Williams, who does a great job on "Sunny" and the original, "Be With Me". This is a great album for jazz fans, but because of its careful focus, it is also one of those albums that could appeal to those who don’t normally dig the jazz scene.

EDDIE HARRIS Silver Cycles

Album · 1969 · Soul Jazz
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Eddie Harris built a solid reputation early in his career as someone who could turn out catchy soul jazz numbers that did well on Black radio stations. As he headed into the late 60s, Eddie, like so many others in the music world, felt a desire to branch out and experiment more. This desire to try new things came to fruition on Harris’s 1969 album, “Silver Cycles”. On this LP, Eddie established a new norm that would go on to mark much of the rest of his career as a tireless eclectic experimenter who was adept at many musical genres.

“Silver Cycles” opens with two excellent funky soul jazz workouts that I would imagine his record company insisted on placing first so that his long time fans would find what they were expecting. On third track, “Smoke Signals”, Eddie signals a definite left hand turn as this mysterious number paints an exotic atmosphere with wordless vocals and echoed saxophone lines. All through out this album Harris makes use of an Echoplex and also sometimes replaces his acoustic sax with the odd sounding electric sax. Side one closes out with, “Coltrane’s View”, which resembles “Naima”, and a sublime big band power ballade called “I’m Gonna Leave You by Yourself”. This last track is worth the cost of the entire album and one of the best songs of Harris’ lengthy career.

Side two is the more experimental side and features a lot of Eddie playing the saxophone by himself and building overlapping lines with his echo machine. His various rhythm sections (there are many guests on here) provide psychedelic fusion over drive on “Little Bit”, and insanely up tempo avant-garde bebop on “Infrapolations”, which bears some resemblance to “Giant Steps”. Musically “Silver Cycles” compares well to other experimental fusion records of the era from folks like Miles and Herbie, so why isn’t this album a well-known fusion classic? A couple things work against this album, the two colors only album cover looks cheap like a bargain bin album, and yes, Eddie’s albums tended to hit the bargain bin often and he seems to always have a cheap looking album cover. Another problem is the production, this album just sounds kind of flat in a way, but from a purely musical perspective, “Silver Cycles” is a gem in the late 60s world of psychedelic fusion.

GAETANO LETIZIA Chartreuse

Album · 2021 · Fusion
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Next up in the ongoing series on jazz musicians who should be better known is guitarist Gaetano Letizia, or Tom as his friends and musical cohorts know him. Letizia is an excellent guitarist who combines jazz, funk, reggae, RnB, blues and Latin jazz in his playing. He sites Wes Montgomery as an influence, as well as two famous cats he’s had lessons with, George Benson and Pat Martino. You can hear all that in his playing, plus bluesy boppers like Joe Pass and Barney Kessel, as well as modern funkateer, John Scofield. Tom has performed with top name artists and has released albums regularly over the years, but perhaps he is not better known because he works out of Cleveland and performs a lot in the mid-west. Not only is Leticia a guitarist, but also a composer who has studied advanced composition techniques under Joseph Schillinger. Tom’s latest album, “Chartreuse” is a suite of sorts that covers eclectic music genres including hard bop, RnB, Latin jazz, impressionistic ballads and more. Joining Letizia on this album is a great quartet, with honorable mention going to saxophonist Bob Esterle, whose hard RnB tone can recall Maceo Parker and Bennie Maupin, while his solos carry a bebop flow complete with occasional Charlie Parker quotes. Another interesting band member is keyboardist Theron Brown, who was chosen to play the young Herbie Hancock in the recent movie about Miles Davis.

As mentioned earlier, this is a very eclectic album covering many musical genres. Some top cuts include the energetic hard bop groove of “Back and Blue”, and the very funky “Punch Drunk”. Letizia puts his composition chops to work on the ballads, “Paradise Found” and “Wandering”. On these two we hear interesting chord progressions that defy cliché and expectations. Two Latin numbers sans saxophone and a couple more RnB cuts round out the album. The playing on here is loose and relaxed and it sounds very much like a one take live album. I suppose maybe it was live in the studio. Recommended for fans of music that strikes a middle ground between jazz and RnB.

DON ELLIS Soaring

Album · 1973 · Progressive Big Band
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Don Ellis’ “Soaring” is another one of those albums that is a tale of two sides, with one side being quite different from the other. Side one of this album is classic Don Ellis high energy modern big band music with ambitious arrangements, lots of odd-metered rhythms, electronic effects and screaming solos. Side two, instead, centers more around ballads and pop type material. The whole album is worth a listen, but I bet most Ellis fans are going to gravitate to side one. A big plus on this album is Bulgarian keyboardist Milcho Leviev who shares Don’s enthusiasm for complex arrangements, odd metered rhythms and wild solos enhanced with electronics. Milcho was always Don’s most valuable sideman.

Some highlights on side one include Milcho’s “Sladka Pitka” which features Bulgarian rhythms and Leviev’s crazed solo on an electric piano enhanced with wah wah effects. Ellis’ “The Devil Made Me Write this Piece” features African rhythms and Don himself taking a drum solo. Side one closes with “Go Back Home”, a foot stomping soul jazz rave up that was a crowd favorite. Throughout this side Don delivers many hair raising solos on the trumpet showing he ranked with the best of the day. In fact, this album may be the one album of his that best showcases his soloing abilities.

“Invincible” opens side two and is probably the best track on this side. It starts as a ballad but then builds, guided by Vince Denham’s powerful sax solo, as it goes through constant modulations and then a classic Don Ellis false ending. The rest of this side is taken by two ballads that are quite sentimental by Ellis standards. I think this album was intended to include all the fan favorites, so that might explain the more pop oriented material. One other track on this side, “Sidonie”, brings back the Bulgarian rhythms and energy, but it lacks the luster of the tracks on the first side. Its kind of convenient the way they split the music on this album, I will probably spin side one now and again, but its possible I may never give side two another listen. Not that it is so bad, but its not what I would normally be drawn to in a Don Ellis recording.

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Warthur wrote:
more than 2 years 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:
more than 2 years ago
js - please clear some space in your PM inbox, I'm trying to send you something.

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