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 Sunday, 26 April 2015
CD/DVD/Book Reviews
Talent Indestructible: Ashley Daneman ("Beauty Indestructible," 2014) PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Thursday, 05 March 2015

 

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Beauty Indestructible

"I believe in the indestructible beauty of people and of life. No matter what may happen, we are redeemable.  That is the message of this album." --Ashley Daneman

“…an uncompromising concoction of subtle and intimate jazz with a touch of hipster singer-songwriter.” --West Michigan Jazz Society

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Classic Reissue: Jeremy Steig's "Flute Fever" (IPO Recordings, 2013) PDF Print
Written by Ken Vermes   
Saturday, 11 October 2014

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Flute Fever
 

One of the most effective methods to get deep into the music called jazz is to follow instruments, not just players.  Pick one, pick any one, and learn as much about it as you possibly can. For this writer, besides the saxophone, my pick for favorite instrument is the flute.  It helps that I play the flute, have studied it with a classical teacher, and have seen hundreds of performances by flute players. 

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The World of Steven Hobert: Improvising Through "Ocean Eyes" PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Friday, 19 September 2014
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Ocean Eyes

"My vision is to create an authentic expression of my passion & play through music and let it sing out into the world." --Steven Hobert

Steven Hobert is one of those musicians that tends to stun you when you hear him because he typically flies under the radar. We hear him on piano with the Adam Meckler Orchestra, on accordion with Lulu's Playground, but rarely as leader or interpreter of his own creations. He played a solo set during the 2014 Twin Cities Jazz Festival, which provided a preview of some of the bold original works and spontaneous improvisations that form the bulk of the material on his new recording, Ocean Eyes. It's a release that should open eyes, and ears, to one of the more creative minds in the region. And the release will be celebrated this weekend, in Eau Claire (September 19) and St Paul (September 20).

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"Live and Natural" Over Twenty-Five Years With Bruce Henry PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Sunday, 14 September 2014

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Bruce Henry©Andrea Canter
 

"His voice is his horn, and he can swing like Goodman, spin and spiral like Parker, or levitate like Coltrane."  -- JazzINK

Perhaps the most easily identified male voice in Twin Cities Jazz, Bruce Henry relocated to his adopted home town of Chicago in 2008. But he left not only a raft of friends and fans, but some unfinished business, including an album's worth of live tracks recorded at the Dakota Jazz Club in 2005 as well as a couple tracks going back to Ruby's Cabaret in 1990 and a couple studio tracks recorded at McNally Smith College of Music shortly before his move to Chicago. Finally, this music is assembled into Bruce's third and arguably best album yet, Live and Natural.


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Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio (Concord, 2014): Raising, Hurdling Over the Bar PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Wednesday, 13 August 2014

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Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio
 

At the finals of the Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition at Kennedy Center last September, then 24-year-old Melissa Aldana not only won first prize, she became the first woman instrumentalist and first South American to win any of the Monk top honors in the 26-year history of the prestigious competition. Tenorist Aldana earned the $25,000 first-prize scholarship with the Monk Institute and a recording contract with Concord Music Group. The resulting album, Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio, was released in June, right before the trio's festival debuts at the Twin Cities and Iowa City Jazz Festivals. Anyone who had the opportunity to enjoy the trio live will find the album to be a pleasurable reminder of the energy and synergy of the live event; anyone who has not yet experienced Aldana and company (bassist Pablo Menares and drummer Francisco Mela) on stage will revel in the discovery of her talent as performer, composer and bandleader.

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Jane Ira Bloom's "Sixteen Sunsets" Sets New Standard for Soprano Sax PDF Print
Written by Ken Vermes   
Thursday, 24 July 2014

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On Steve Lacy’s birthday day (July 23), it seems fitting to write a tribute to someone playing today who has set a new standard for this, one of the loveliest and mysterious of the family of saxophones. As with many musical details, most listeners have no idea how technically challenging this particular sax is, or how musicians spend countless hours on just the mouthpiece problem--how one can find the right one to avoid the harsh grittiness that can infest a player's sound. The problem goes back and forth from plastic mouthpieces that can warm the instrument to metal ones that give it power and presence.

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Michael LeVan Trio, A Different Shade of Blue (Shade of Blue Records, 2015)
Written by Glenn A. Mitchell, LA Jazz Scene   
ImagePianist Michael Le Van has produced a new CD, A Different Shade of Blue, which is an expression of his life experiences and challenges. Le Van is both classically and jazz oriented. His unique pieces show connections to both. His choosing of musical partners is excellent: David Enos (bass) and John Ferraro (drums). They provide impressive balance of sound, fulfilling all of Le Van’s music skillfully.

 

LeVan includes ten originals on the recording. There are two numbers reflecting well-designed blues: “Fantasia in G Minor” and “Remember That.” Le Van uses some well-thought out chordal arrangements that drive these tunes in good fashion. Both Enos and Ferraro display their virtuosity in making all their solos quite meaningful.

After listening to the CD, I find that Mike Le Van’s work is a lot like telling a story with each number his trio plays. There are two nice ballads: “A Different Shade of Blue,” and “A Beautiful Moment.” “A Time to Remember” starts slowly, but picks up into a moderate Latin tempo. “Blue Nocturne” is probably my favorite. It is done in 6/8 time and has an unforgettable melody as well.

James Linahon at LMP Studios, who recorded, mixed and mastered this CD, gave a very high compliment to the LeVan’s music as being truly unique and one of the best he had heard in his many years doing CD engineering. For some relaxed and accessible listening, this CD will be a good investment of time. See Michael Le Van’s website for information re purchasing the CD:

http://www.michaellevan.com

Reprinted with permission from L.A. Jazz Scene, April 2015 issue

 
"Slant Signature": Benny Sharoni Featuring Jim Rotondi
Written by Glenn A. Mitchell, LA Jazz Scene   

ImageWith his second CD, Slant Signature (2015, Papaya Records), saxophonist Benny Sharoni has moved the bar up a notch from his previously released Eternal Elixir (2010, Papaya), which garnered rave reviews.  Sharoni’s longtime quartet appears on the new release, with pianist Joe Barbato, bassist Todd Baker, and drummer Steve Langone, plus special guests, trumpeter Jim Rotondi and guitarist Mike Mele.  Mele also played on Sharoni’s Eternal Elixir.  Although this was Rotondi’s first time performing with the Sharoni ensemble, he sounded as if he'd been with the band for a long time.  Sharoni mentions that the bottom line is that the music moves and inspires people.  He says, “This record is 99% heart.  The band is full of heart and joy and intensity and everybody’s mission was to make the most beautiful music they could.”  

Sharoni’s home for many years has been Boston, MA, where he has spent time not only performing but also composing. Five of his original tunes are on his new CD, along with three famous classy jazz tunes -- Freddie Hubbard’s “Down Under,” Lee Morgan’s “Ceora,” and Ray Bryant’s “Tonk.”  They are all done with lots of favorable flavor. The musicians support each other to the max and everyone plays an important part in every tune. The front line, Sharoni, Rotondi, and Mele, are perfect and backed 1000% by the rhythm team of Barbato, Baker, and Langone.  


One of several jazz influences for Sharoni has always been Sonny Rollins.  His powerful tone is reminiscent of Rollins on his original "Minor City Blues." You can hear just how tight this band is by listening to Sharoni’s compositions “Subterranean Samba” and “The Bodega."  Another Sharoni original, “Bitter Drops,” has relaxed blues lines and gives way to outstanding solos from Sharoni, Mele, and Barbato.  On the title track, Sharoni's “Slant Signature,” the group performs immaculately.  It is an up-tempo and hard-driving piece.  


Slant Signature will be released on March 17, 2015. This CD will be wonderful to play and play many more times.  See Benny Sharoni’s website: http://www.bennysharoni.com

                                                                       

Reprinted with permission from L.A. Jazz Scene, March 2015       

 
 

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