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735 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 97 3.70
2 Avant-Garde Jazz 57 3.97
3 Hard Bop 47 3.85
4 Post Bop 40 4.13
5 Soul Jazz 38 3.38
6 World Fusion 38 3.66
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 22 3.39
14 Progressive Big Band 21 4.10
15 Funk 21 3.90
16 Jazz Related Pop/Art Song/Folk 20 2.75
17 Exotica 18 3.44
18 Jazz Related DJs/Electronica 16 3.25
19 Third Stream 15 3.87
20 Cool Jazz 12 3.75
21 Post-Fusion Contemporary 11 3.55
22 Dub/Ska 10 4.05
23 Vocal Jazz 9 3.78
24 Jazz Related Blues 9 3.72
25 Jazz Related Soundtracks 9 3.94
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


Album · 2016 · World Fusion
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The most difficult CDs to review are the ones that don’t fit into a convenient style or genre. I’m listening to all the influences and cultures that go into Alain Mallet’s “Mutt Slang”, and I am thinking how can I possibly define and explain this music to someone else. Alain Mallet is a veteran pianist who has been working with artists like Paul Simon, Phil Woods and others for over 25 years. Just a few short years ago, he finally decided to record his first album as a leader. Alain lists a diverse group of influences at work here, including Miles Davis, Peter Gabriel, Rachmaninov, Stevie Wonder, Salif Keita and others, and all that diversity shows through in his music. For example, opening track, “Till I Dance (In Your Arms Again)” opens with a Middle Eastern flavor, before there is a shift and the bands kicks into a Latin American rhythm in 5/4 time. Its this sort of mixing influences from all over the world that best describes the music on “Mutt Slang”, as different sections of tracks may take us to Africa, Israel, Latin America or some imaginative places that don’t quite exist outside the musical realm.

Alain works with a steady rhythm section on “Mutt Slang” that includes Jamey Haddad on percussion, Peter Slavov on bass and Abraham Rounds on drums. A very talented bunch as they are all expected to handle the wide variety of rhythms presented here. A large cast of rotating guests supply solos on a variety of instruments, as well as vocal leads too. There are plenty of good soloists on here, but the best rides belong to Alain, whose ability to build a dynamic piano solo may remind some of Herbie Hancock, but with a pronounced Afro-Cuban influence too. Another particularly remarkable solo comes from vocalist Song Yi Jeon, as she takes a Flora Purim type flight on “Spring”. Daniel Rotem also turns in some nice solos on tenor sax on a couple tunes. “Mutt Slang” is a multi-cultural smorgasbord, but none of this culture mixing sounds gratuitous or cheap, instead, Mallet has built a musical vision that carries the integrity and logic of all the cultures that gave this music birth.

SOFT MACHINE Hidden Details

Album · 2018 · Fusion
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Its nice to see the longest running act in the world of jazz-rock fusion is still at it, but its even nicer hearing them operating at a creative peak more similar to their early years. I don’t know if this is a live in the studio performance, but it sounds like one. The songs naturally segue way into each other, and there is no evidence of over dubs as every performer is quite clearly in the moment and interacting with their band mates. At this point in their career, Soft Machine are able to cover all the different phases of their past, particularly their jazzy horn driven music of the early 70s, and their more muscular guitar driven jazz-rock of the mid-70s. What’s particularly notable about the current lineup is that they often break things down so that only one or two people are carefully interacting and taking their time building unique sounds and melodies. These frequent changes in ensemble makeup and texture help make “Hidden Details” the interesting listen that it is.

As mentioned earlier, the many styles of Soft Machine are on display here. There are a couple of lengthy funky rock numbers for those who seek the guitar shredding of Chris Etheridge. Theo Travis shines on flute on some up tempo jazz, and on “Life on Bridges”, the whole band goes off on a noisy free improv. “Heart Off Guard” and “Broken Hill” contain moments of pure pastoral melody, and elsewhere they re-visit Soft Machine’s classic minimalist tributes to Terry Riley. There are a couple tracks from previous Soft albums, but this band clearly puts their own stamp on those cuts. The album closes on a good note with the floating looped sounds of Travis' flute. “Hidden Details” is one of the better Soft Machine albums to come out in a while, In particular, Theo Travis on woodwinds and keyboards seems to be in touch with those elements that constituted some of this band’s best music.

THE BAR-KAYS Coldblooded

Album · 1974 · Funk
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If you are not a fan of 70s funk music, or from Memphis, then you may not have heard of The Bar-Kays, but they are one of the longest running acts in the history of RnB/rock. Off the top of my head, the only bands that I can think of that have been around longer are The Isley Brothers and The Rolling Stones. “Cold Blooded” was The Bar-Kays recorded offering in 1974, and it featured them playing the pure funk of the times, as the disco thump that would alter the beat was still a few years away. The Bar-Kays had scored some hits in the late 60s as a Staxx sponsored RnB act, but their transition to rock, and later funk, did not bring any hits right away. They would eventually modernize and become a hit factory in the late 70s, but on “Cold Blooded’, they are still a few years away from all that.

“Cold Blooded” opens with the title track of the same name, and its probably the best cut on the album. Featuring a rampaging African-Latin rhythm section and building horn lines, this one sounds a lot like Mandrill or Osibissa in the early 70s. After this, The Bar-Kays settle into some solid funk tunes that often bare some similarities to 60s Sly and the Family Stone, and 70s Isley Brothers. The Bar-Kays are from the south, and it shows. Their tempos tend to be relaxed, their lyrics lack the irony of the p-funk mob, and their gospel influence is undeniable. Lyrical themes on the album are typical for the times and range from testaments to peace and love, warnings about the ways of the world, and musings on relationships gone bad. There are no insincere corny love songs on here, nor even a trace of disco vapidness. Overall “Cold-Blooded” is a good, but not remarkable, album in its genre. Any fan of classic 70s funk should probably check this out.


Album · 2018 · Post Bop
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It seems like only yesterday when I was reviewing the previous Michika Fukumori album, “Quality Time”. Apparently Michika does not like to sit still for long because her new one is already here, “Piano Images”. Whereas “Quality Time” was a piano trio date, “Piano Images” is just Fukumori on the piano by herself, and to hear it you can tell she creates a full sound on her own, and in many ways really excels in this sort of solo setting. The music on her new one is slightly different too, while “Quality Time” dealt with a refined and elegant approach to jazz blues, on “Piano Images” we still hear some of that, but we also hear more of her classical background and more of the contemporary lyrical influence of her mentor, Steve Kuhn.

“Piano Images opens with a couple of Michika’s trademark sophisticated blues numbers, with “Colors of Blues’ being particularly striking as the blues alternate with drifting abstract passages reminiscent of French impressionism. Its on the following four Michika originals, grouped together as “The Seasons”, that we hear more of the classical influence in her writing. Much like Gershwin and Ellington before her, Michika seamlessly fuses jazz and classical elements so that they speak together. This classical and jazz blending will also show up on later tracks such as “Palco” and “My Muse”. On the Steve Kuhn original, “Oceans in the Sky”, Steve joins her on piano for some four handed dense, but lyrical tone colors.

Other highlights on here include two A.C. Jobim numbers, which impart a feeling of longing, and a couple of standards. “Every Time We Say Goodbye” is given an original arrangement as Michika provides a flowing counter melody to the original tune. Very much in the style of pianists such as Keith Jarret, Brad Mehldau, and the aforementioned Steve Kuhn, Michika tends to keep the melody in mind as the focus of her solos. Most of her improvisations are concise and to the point, and she is not one to give into pointless flash or excess. The appeal of this album goes beyond jazz and could probably appeal to fans of 20th century classical, as well those who enjoy instrumental art song as well.


Album · 1970 · Avant-Garde Jazz
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“Round Trip” is an album that is quite a bit different from the music Sadao Watanabe is usually known for. Although not exactly a household name in the West, Sadao has been one of the top jazz saxophonists of the last six decades, putting out many albums as a leader while working as a sideman with almost every top name in the business. Watanabe is usually known for his sweet Charlie Parker influenced tone on the alto sax which he has used to cut many top notch post bop albums, as well as more commercial type fare too. “Round Trip” is a whole nother trip altogether, on here Sadao plays the soprano sax with a biting and harsh sound as he and his band mates play high octane avant-garde fusion. The band mates, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette and Miroslav Vitous had all been playing similar over the top free fusion at this time, with DeJohnette and Corea fresh from some insane gigs with Miles at the Fillmore.

The album opens with the title track, which is an out and out free jazz barn burner with unbelievably high speed drumming from Jack, plus Sadao’s piercing soprano that seems to be mimicking traditional Asian reed instruments. This track covers most of side one and also features a top notch solo from Corea, who at this time was still playing at his youthfully intense best. His solos during this time revealed an interest in Afro-Cuban jazz, as well as the avant-garde, with the end result sounding like a cross between Eddie Palmieri and Cecil Taylor. In a short time after this recording, he will loose some of his early fire. The only drawback to this track is some occasional hyper attacks from someone on a vibraslap, not really sure who is responsible for this bothersome sound.

Side two opens with Jack pounding out an energetic fractured jazz rock beat while the rest join in for a very 70s jam. Whereas as side side one was atonal, on this new track the band settles into a D Mixolydian modal jam, a scale with a Celtic/Indian sound that was very popular with the hippie generation. Sadao continues with his odd soprano sound that now sometimes seems to mimic a bagpipe. Chick’s piano solo takes the music way outside the modal scale for some crazy adventures and Jack follows him every step of the way before Sadao leads the way back to the original groove. The final track, “Sao Paulo”, is some sort of Brazilian jazz gone berserk. Ulpio Minucci joins the band on piano for this one and he and Chick pound out intense interlocking rhythmic patterns while Sadao joins Jack in the percussion section.

This is an okay avant-garde jazz record circa 1970, you can find worse, but you can also find better. As far as Jack and Chick playing music like this, I would check out Miles live at the Fillmore. For Miroslav, check out his first album, or the first Weather Report album. If you are looking for a first Sadao Watanabe album, I would not go with this, find one where he is playing alto sax, his playing on that instrument is sublime. As for those who appreciate the experimental excesses of the late 60s to early 70s, "Round Trip" has enough good moments to overcome the lesser moments. In accordance with the time period, they get fairly crazy on here at times, and often in a good way.

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 15 hours ago in What are You Listening II
    [QUOTE=Matt][QUOTE=js][TUBE]OBmM79YadYM[/TUBE][/QUOTE] That's a bit different. My son used to play it all the time when he was a teenager living here. I checked the release date John and can't believe that it has been 27 years. [/QUOTE] Love how they sync the smooth jazz version with the video, its seems quite believable.As for the original version, I teach guitar to young teenagers, this one is a classic and still requested by teens all the time, I'm sure I could play it in my sleep by now.
  • Posted 1 day ago in What are You Listening II
  • Posted 1 day ago in Chords for Grand Street by Sonny Rollins
    Thats good news.


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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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