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John
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Favorite Jazz Artists

All Reviews/Ratings

750 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 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 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 - 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 99 3.70
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 59 3.99
3 Hard Bop 48 3.84
4 Post Bop 41 4.12
5 Soul Jazz 39 3.40
6 World Fusion 39 3.67
7 Big Band 36 3.85
8 Eclectic Fusion 34 3.75
9 Jazz Related RnB 31 3.60
10 Jazz Related Rock 29 3.78
11 Bop 26 4.04
12 Funk Jazz 24 3.60
13 Nu Jazz 23 3.39
14 Progressive Big Band 23 4.09
15 Funk 21 3.90
16 Jazz Related Pop/Art Song/Folk 20 2.75
17 Jazz Related DJs/Electronica/Rap 18 3.39
18 Exotica 18 3.44
19 Third Stream 15 3.87
20 Cool Jazz 12 3.75
21 Post-Fusion Contemporary 11 3.55
22 Vocal Jazz 10 3.75
23 Jazz Related Soundtracks 10 3.95
24 Dub/Ska/Reggae 10 4.05
25 Jazz Related Blues 9 3.72
26 Latin Jazz 8 3.94
27 Swing 8 4.00
28 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 7 3.43
29 Latin Rock/Soul 6 3.75
30 21st Century Modern 6 4.33
31 Acid Jazz 4 3.50
32 Classic (1920s) Jazz 2 4.50
33 Jazz Education 1 3.50
34 Afro-Cuban Jazz 1 4.50
35 Dixieland 1 3.50
36 Bossa Nova 1 3.50

Latest Albums Reviews

ERIC B. & RAKIM Follow The Leader

Album · 1988 · Jazz Related DJs/Electronica/Rap
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Eric B. & Rakim have long been recognized as one of the top innovators in hip-hop, but they never seem to get recognition for one of their more notable achievements, bringing the musical worlds of jazz and hip-hop together in ways that made sense. Early rap tended to either be ‘electric boogaloo’ oriented, or centered around rock beats like “We Will Rock You”. While there was a trend developing, from bands such as Stetsasonic, to bring in superficial jazz elements such as a trumpet solo or acoustic bass sample, it wasn’t until Eric and Rakim started releasing albums that a true fusion of jazz and hip-hop happened. Eric’s samples and DJ slices favored classic funk and soul jazz, while Rakim’s rhymes on the mic had a syncopated swing and non-stop flow that had him sounding like the Charlie Parker of rap. Although the pair’s first album contained much potential, it wasn’t until the sophomore follow up, “Follow the Leader”, that Eric and Rakim brought the jazz and funk elements much more into the mix.

“Follow the Leader” is the perfect title for this album because it went on to be imitated and followed by others for decades. Eric may not have been the first person to sample and loop a James Brown beat, but on this album he is one of first DJs to create a monster groove around such a technique. Needless to say, sampling Brown became an epidemic after a while, but it still sounds great on here. Sampling was still in its infant stage at this time, but Eric and crew have no problem creating mixes with soul jazz saxophone riffs, Middle Eastern melodies and funky bass lines. Most of the tracks are good, with possibly the best being “Musical Massacre”, which features a driving double time Afro-Latin riff reminiscent of Mandrill or Osibissa. There are a couple lackluster cuts, mostly a few instrumentals which sound dated and repetitious

BETTY BRYANT Project 88

Album · 2019 · Vocal Jazz
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As jazz history continues to grow, more than likely there will be those who will point to the emergence of college level jazz education as one of the more defining characteristics that has come to differentiate early jazz from modern jazz. Certainly the music has changed, but even more so, the atmosphere and attitude of jazz has changed considerably. Jazz used to be a music for outsiders who existed within, or very near, the criminal world. It was music for terminal hipsters who scoffed at the squares and their law abiding mundane existence. My how times have changed, these days squares are studying altered chards and metric modulation at Berklee while taking sax lessons from a major NYC star via skype along side their internet bros in Europe who are working on government grants to keep their free jazz quartet afloat. If all this collegiate endeavor leaves you a little thirsty for some soul, then you can take solace in knowing that there are still a few hep cats around who still have that ‘attitude’, that thing that Dizzy personified, that thing called cool.

“Project 88” is the title of Betty Bryant’s new CD, and the 88 refers not only to the 88 keys on her piano, but also to the fact that she just turned 88. Betty’s career in jazz goes back to the aforementioned ‘bad’ ole days, and it shows in very good ways. Its in her relaxed vocal delivery, her clever lyrics and her bluesy piano riffs, this is a woman who gets cool in every sense of the word, and she knows how to convey this attractive point of view to us squares who want just a bit of her hipness to rub off. “Project 88” sets off an atmosphere that can not be faked and is becoming rarer by the day.

Betty presents a mix of originals and standards on here. The prevalent style is bluesy swing, but there is a bit of soul jazz and a couple Latin numbers too. She sings on almost every one, but also includes a few instrumentals so as to showcase her signature piano skills that reflect her Kansas City background and Count Basie influence. The make-up of her band varies per track, but possibly the best treat is a couple of songs recorded with a mini big band ensemble.

STEPHAN THELEN Fractal Guitar

Album · 2018 · Nu Jazz
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The MoonJune label has earned a reputation as a leader in international jazz fusion, but they also maintain several artists who work in experimental and psychedelic rock, albeit often with a modern fusion influence as well. Stephan Thelan is such an artist, and has been working somewhat under the radar for several decades releasing solo ambient albums, modern compositions and groove oriented psychedelic group efforts. His latest album, “Fractal Guitar”, is one such group oriented album that features a rotating cast of guitarists and drummers who composed and jammed with Stephan over the last three years. Stephan then picked out the best tracks from several recording sessions. On the surface, “Fractal Guitars” has that space rock meets trip hop groove we might associate with artists such as Ozric Tentacles or Bill Laswell, but this album is more than just jam sessions. Moments of composition help offset tedium and Stephan and his crew often build complex interlocking rhythms that would normally be beyond the grasp of your average ‘jam band’.

Stephan wanted to invite some of his favorite guitarists to participate on this CD, and there are too many to list, but some of the better known include David Torn, Henry Kaiser and Markus Reuter. All of the cosmic guitar solos on here are excellent, and no one gets too carried away. Fortunately this is not a guitar solo slugfest, instead, much of “Fractal” consists of those aforementioned interlocking rhythms riding on top of polyrhythmic odd-metered dub and drumnbass influenced drum patterns. When it comes to this kind of sound oriented music, production is so important and the production on here is outstanding and very much in line with some of Bill Laswell’s best work.

If you enjoy artists such as Pete Cosey, Terje Rypdal, early 70s Pink Floyd, Steve Hillage and Nicky Skopelitis, then you know what to expect here, plenty of electronically enhanced fret fireworks reaching for the infinite beyond mixed with hypnotic ritual rhythm riffs.

RANDY WALDMAN Superheroes

Album · 2018 · Fusion
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As the story goes, apparently veteran arranger/pianist Randy Waldman was seated at an event next to Adam West, the original TV Batman, and the two got to talking about music and it turned out that West is a big jazz fan. That got Randy to thinking about the idea of a ‘jazz superhero’, which led to the rather unusual idea of cutting an album of superhero themes while utilizing the talents of some of Waldman’s “jazz superheroes”, in other words some of today’s top jazz musicians. Well I am sure many around Randy figured this was a crazy idea that would soon pass, but no, he was serious and he actually did cut the album, “SuperHeros”. You might expect something kind of silly or campy would come from such an unexpected tribute, but Waldman takes this project seriously, and the professionalism of the arrangements and performances back this up. Randy combines fusion, post bop, Latin and contemporary big band style arrangements to create his re-makes, and enlists some top artists including George Benson, Joe Lavano, Wynton Marsalis, Eddie Daniels and many more. The melodies and harmonies of the original TV and movie themes are heavily altered to fit a modern jazz style, and there is plenty of room in each chart for hot solos.

The first half of the CD centers around the more well known themes, and these cuts also receive the most ambitious arrangements, with a couple tracks featuring a 13 piece horn section. As the CD nears the end we get into some themes that are less well known such as the long forgotten Underdog and Super Chicken. Alas, the one theme that is missing is the jazzy one from “The Green Hornet”. Possibly the top track on “SuperHeroes” is “Spiderman Theme”, which features the always amazing vocals of Take 6 actually singing the original words while also providing interesting backgrounds for the solos. You get the feeling that Take 6 really are Spiderman fans finally getting a chance to sing about something that matters to them. Some other highlights include Marsalis’ time fooling elastic trumpet solo on “Batman Theme (TV)” and Eddie Daniel’s bebop ride on the insanely fast “Super Chicken Theme”. For the musician in the house, you will enjoy pointing out to people where the band uses the changes for “Giant Steps” for solos, and the fact that the TV Batman theme has the same changes as “Mr PC”.

ROSE ROYCE Car Wash (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Album · 1976 · Jazz Related Soundtracks
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Those who seek obscure funk jazz tracks and rare groove know that soundtracks from 70s African-American movies can sometimes be plentiful in exotic jazzy instrumentals. The movie “Car Wash” was a huge hit in the 70s, and is still popular to this day, but it seems much of its brilliant soundtrack has been overlooked. The main hits from the movie, including the title track, are all well known, but what a lot of people are missing is that this double album is loaded with excellent instrumentals. The main players here are the then brand new RnB group Rose Royce, famous Motown producer Norman Whitfield and guest guitarist Wah Wah Watson, who some may know from his work with Herbie Hancock. As the story goes, Whitfield was working with Royce on their new album when he got the call to do the soundtrack to a new movie that was bound to be big as it boasted the huge drawing power of both Richard Pryor and George Carlin. Whitfield decided the best thing to do was just take the work he had started with Royse and make that the soundtrack to the movie.

The handful of RnB pop tunes that Whitfield crafted for the album are all good, and they reflect his work with The Temptations, but the jazz and rare groove fans will want to check out the plentiful instrumentals. The hard charging funk of “Mid Day DJ Theme” and “Righteous Rhythm” are tops, and you can hear all of Wah Wah Watson’s signature guitar riffs, the same ones he used to build Herbie’s “Hang Up Your Hang Ups”. “Crying” is laid back space groove and “Sunrise” sounds like a modern nu jazz cut with its repeating minimal riffs. Really, everything on here is gold and all of it has that classic mid-70s funk sound that can’t be faked.

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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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