Sunday, 13 May 2012

Marcus Miller - Suddenly 1983

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Contemporary Jazz, jazz - funk
Original Release Date: 1983
Label: Warner Jazz

by Ed Hogan
Multi-talented Marcus Miller's debut Suddenly was issued in the spring of 1983 on Patrick Rains' PRA Records label through Warner Bros. Miller shared production chores with Ray Bardani and Michael Colina, whom he'd worked with before on sides for David Sanborn. It's a tasty showcase for the bassist/songwriter/vocalist/producer who went from New York session stardom to mega-stardom with his frequent collaborator Luther Vandross. Vandross does vocals on "Lovin' You," "Just for You," and the squishy "Be My Love." The cornerstone cut is the gentle steppers favorite/quiet storm precursor "Much Too Much." The artist better realized his R&B/funk/jazz fusion on his 1984 Warner Bros. LP, Marcus Miller.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Nigel Kennedy and the Kroke Band - East Meets East (2003)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Free jazz, Fusion, Jazz
Original Release Date: 2003
Label: EMI

Jon Lusk, BBC Review
Nigel Kennedy has carved out a reputation as a loudmouth and a fantastic violin maestro, which even those with no knowledge of classical music will be familiar with. His decision to work with Polish klezmer trio Kroke might seem surprising until you learn that his wife is Polish and he spends a lot of time in Kraków, where they have a house. He's also the Artistic Director of the Polish Chamber Orchestra. Even so, Kroke already have their own virtuoso violinist, Tomasz Kukurba, so the idea of them collaborating with Kennedy might seem like over-egging the pudding. Fortunately Kukurba also plays a mean viola, and it's this and his flutes that he sticks to for most of the album's duration. Accordionist Jerzy Bawol and double bass player provide inspired though unshowy support and Kukurba often gracefully shadows Kennedy in harmony or counterpoint, as on the exquisitely refined version of the well known Roma anthem "Ederlezi", which was featured in the film The Time Of The Gypsies. The effect is bittersweet as opposed to saccharine, which it might have become in the hands of lesser players. Kennedy's performance as lead violinist is in no way overcooked, even on his one solo piece "Lost In Time", although the three that feature his electric instrument may prove a little testing for some. Nevertheless, he seems to have got under the skin of the tunes, several of which long-term Kroke fans will recognise. For starters, there's the Balkan-style piece "Ajde Jano", which appeared in instrumental form on Kroke's debut. Here it's sung in Serbo-Croat by Natasha Atlas and makes for an unexpected intro. The only other vocals (which bring to mind those of French maverick Magic Malik) are Kukurba's non-verbal falsetto wails on another number recycled from the extensive Kroke songbook, "Time 4 Time". Another key track is "One Voice", a showcase for the three widely varying violin styles of Kennedy, Kukurba and guest violinist Aboud Abdoul Aal. The balance of upbeat and reflective material is well judged and sequenced. It's also nice to hear Kroke once again playing to their strengths - that is to say the adaptation of traditional material or compositions strongly based in a tradition something they seemed to have all but abandoned on their previous and rather lacklustre outing, Ten Pieces To Save The World. Needless to say, Kennedy has already released his next project -another raid on Vivaldi's archives....

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Grover Washington Jr. - A Secret Place 1976 & All The King's Horses 1972

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz, Fusion, Soul Jazz
Original Release Date: 1972 - 1976
Label: Motown

These two Grover Washington, Jr. albums, All the King's Horses (1972) and A Secret Place (1976), originally released on the Kudu label, were combined by Motown onto a single compact disc, which is now out of print.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Zawinul Syindicate - Lost Tribes (1992)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz; Jazz Fusion; Jazz-Rock
Original Release Date: 1992
Label: Columbia

Review by Richard S. Ginell ( Now reduced in size to a quintet (dropping the extra percussionist), Zawinul's Syndicate delivers its most overtly political album or shall we say, its most anti-political album with its forget-our-differences, one-world tone poems. If Lost Tribes sounds more like a Weather Report album than its Syndicate predecessors, it may be because the CD is loaded with Zawinul's uncanny impersonations of Wayne Shorter on his Pepe synthesizer. Yet the album also cuts down on the pop and straight jazz strains of yore as it explores the sounds and grooves of world music, and Zawinul also resumes using introductory sound collages that produce effects not unlike twisting a short-wave radio dial. The record begins powerfully with the circulating, tense "Patriots" depicting, oddly enough, the role of black soldiers in the Persian Gulf War and segues into the relaxed, swinging "South Africa," a celebratory sequel to "Black Water" with vocals by Perri. Bass player Gerald Veasley contributes a track called "San Sebastian" which comes very close to pure flamenco. This CD ranks above the other Syndicate Columbias because it is emotionally deeper; Zawinul allows himself to brood and ponder as well as party.

Chickenfoot - Chickenfoot (2009)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Hard Rock
Original Release Date: 2009
Label: Redline Records

Supergroups are often motley groups seemingly formed at the end of an after-concert party but few are quite as strange as Chickenfoot, an endeavor featuring Van Halen's Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, guitar legend Joe Satriani, and drummer Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. These four musicians are tied together by their many years playing in the arena rock trenches, a circuit that doesn't necessarily yield common musical ground although it does lend its veterans a certain knack for pleasing crowds. This eagerness is evident on the band's eponymous 2009 debut, which should come as no surprise seeing that Sammy Hagar has never seen a party he couldn't rock, but this mentality doesn't quite jibe with Satriani's immaculate, tightly controlled playing. Satch always seems to want to burst out but can't help leaning on precision, a problem that's the polar opposite to Hagar's let-it-all-hang-out philosophy, and this dichotomy is mirrored in the rhythm section, where Anthony's chugging bass doesn't quite fill the gaps Smith leaves....

Friday, 4 May 2012

VA - Songs Of Led Zeppelin - All Blues'd Up! (2003)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Blues Rock, Classic Rock
Original Release Date: 2003
Label: Smith & Co Sound & Vision B.V.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

John McLaughlin - Que Alegria (1992)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz, Jazz-Fusion
Original Release Date: 1992
Label: Universal I.S.

Recorded in 1991, Que Alegria features the reinvented John McLaughlin Trio with a new bassist, Dominique DiPiazza. And what a bassist he is! His playing sounds facile and energetic, yet subtle and melodic. DiPiazza's two-minute solo "Marie" is beautifully inspiring and represents one of the highlights of this album. McLaughlin revisits his classic "Belo Horizonte" and conjures up some more evocative memories with a new acoustic rendition of "Reincarnation". Que Alegria offers some of the strongest music McLaughlin has put out, and its melodies are quite infectious. This is especially true of the lengthy title cut. (Unfortunately, McLaughlin will never get much airplay in America with a ten-minute piece.) DiPiazza also excels on the title cut, an unusual piece where the main theme and melody are assigned solely to the bass. It is an impressive tour de force for DiPiazza, who not long after this record would leave the music business to join a monastery. Recently he has returned to play with Dennis Chambers and Birelli LeGrene.....