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 Saturday, 30 May 2015
Anna Maria Flechero: Within the Fourteenth Hour PDF Print
Written by Carmel DeSoto   
Sunday, 29 June 2008

Within the Fourteenth Hour

Vocalist Anna Maria Flechero is the product of a culturally rich heritage and a vibrant musical environment. Born in San Francisco of African American and Filipino ancestry, she learned to play piano by ear as a youngster, writing tunes and lyrics that reflect the influences of the sounds of Motown and the Latin rhythms of her Mission District. Moving to Japan, Flechero honed her skills as a solo artist, accompanying herself on piano, composing and performing original songs and interpreting jazz standards. While in Japan, Anna Maria met legendary pianist Cedar Walton, who provided opportunities for her to perform with his trio. It was the beginning of a long-standing musical friendship.

Now in 2008, after hundreds of performances and years of creating her own personal style, Flechero once again had the opportunity to coordinate with Walton on her self-produced sophomore release, Within the Fourteenth Hour.  This soulful recording features 10 well-placed pop and jazz standards with a bonus track being an original Flechero cut entitled “Pretty Soon.”

The journey begins with the classic standard “Misty,” fashioned into a swinging up-beat track that is personified by Flechero’s distinctive voice and R&B inflections.  This track features the incomparable Cedar Walton, David Williams and Lewis Nash.  Their symbiosis is evident from the first notes, clearly articulating an atmosphere of interaction and chemistry.  The first “A” features Williams and Nash trading rhythmically active phrases, while Walton’ s solo lines dance atop, creating interest and bounce within the spaces of Flechero’s vocals.  This symbiosis allows Flechero to command the cut with playful passages and confident scat lines that clearly punctuate the setting as being a true jazz cut.

Anna Maria Flechero
“What A Difference a Day Makes” has a Smooth Jazz/Latin overtone, extremely cross-over in nature, that shines a new light on this Grever/Adams classic, transporting you to a sunny beach with cocktails, friends and good times.  Flechero’s breezy vocals and phrasing allude to Jamaican flavors, a playful summery cut that gets you ready for the weekend.  This track features Jeffrey Chin (piano), Ron Smith (guitar), Nelson Braxton (bass), Billy Johnson (drums), Melecio Magdaluyo (sax), and the bus-driver to this track’s instrumental flavor, Karl Perazzo (percussion).  The ensemble provides a relaxed samba feel over which Magdaluyo plays a melodic and thoughtful solo.  Flechero adds nice vocal ornamentations to the last statement of the melody and the vamp out.

The Cedar Walton Trio guests once again on “God Bless the Child,” creating a strong traditional jazz interpretation of this Billy Holiday standard.  This cut gives us the chance to see an intimate, more serious side of Anna Maria’s vocals as she conveys a storyline of honesty and sincerity with each passing phrase.  Walton’s trio creates a metric modulation within the solo section, creating a nice texture change within the cut.  Flechero sells the track to the final low note while Walton, Nash and Williams delicately punctuate the final outro.  

Anna Maria Flechero
Anna Maria’s incomparable voice creates a voyage from start to finish, each song having its own specialty and flavor to truly create a diverse passage from track, to track, but it is in the final cut, “Pretty Soon,” where we get a full view of Anna’s abilities as a lyricist and composer.  Her lyrics convey a story of one who has lived through many facets of life, including the death of a loved one.  It is a song of devotion, strength and endurance.  Musically, Anna Maria has created a beautiful composition that is texturally stunning and harmonically rich.  Within the Fourteenth Hour is a CD worth adding to any music aficionado’s CD collection. Whether your desire is jazz, island, smooth-jazz, Latin, nu-soul, old soul or to heal your soul, this is the CD for you.  Take the journey Within the Fourteenth Hour.

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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:

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

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"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:


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

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