Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Dhafer Youssef - Malak (1999)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: world fusion
Original Release Date: 1999
Label: enja Records

By Josef Woodard

The jazz-Arabic axis, one well trod by Rabih Abou-Khalil and others, can be a compelling soil for cultural reinvention in the right hands. It’s at the core of oud player and vocalist Dhafer Youssef’s Malak, on which the leader is joined by bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons, electric guitarist Nguyên Lê and trumpeter Markus Stockhausen, among others. Whereas Khalil’s music tends toward intricate, fusionlike constructs, Youssef’s work leans toward a more reflective nature and improvisational openness that recalls ECM recordings. A probing introspection flows, in spite of his often-virtuosic musical gifts. On "A Kind of Love," his high, lithe voice interacts with Stockhausen’s plaintive trumpet, and Lê’s sustaining, violinlike electric guitar tones squirm beneath Khalil’s sad melodic grace on "Derballah." On "Jito and Tato," though, the palette opens up to include Indian elements of Deepak Ram’s bansuri and Jatinder Thakur’s tabla playing. This is music in no hurry to impress in explicit, pyrotechnical ways, but does so in spite of itself.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Benise - Spanish Nights (2001)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Flamenco, World Music, Guitar virtuoso
Original Release Date: 2001
Label: Rosanegra Music


Roni Benise (best known as Benise), is an American self-taught and self-described “Nouveau Spanish Flamenco Guitarist”. Benise left his family to move 1500 miles away to Los Angeles with a dream of pursuing a rock-type stardom. Then one day, when he was at a crossroads of his life, he had an epiphany after hearing flamenco on the radio. He tossed aside his electric guitar in favor of a classical nylon stringer....

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Dominic Miller - Third World 2004

Better known as Sting's guitarist, Dominic Miller has put out a few solo efforts over the years, with this, his fourth, following suit. This one shows a sensitive side, with tender compositions for solo guitar throughout (with the exception of a vocal number midway through), sometimes backed up by various musician friends on drums or bass for a song or two. The sound is primarily soft rock and the like, but Miller effectively handles a dose of jazz in "Partido Alto" as well. Miller's playing is perhaps too light and cautious to really manage a solo effort. He plays as though he's still in the rhythm section rather than letting his abilities come through fully. At the same time, he has a very tender touch, welcome in its own right. This album probably won't be making massive waves in the music community, but it's a nice addition for those in relevant circles.by Adam Greenberg

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Crossover Jazz
Original Release Date: 2004
Label: Q-Rious Music

Being an intimate kind of album I wanted to include a 'friend' and William Topley is one of my best friends. The lyrics for Denver Sun are his and the music mine. It deals with the life of a musician on the road meeting a particular girl whenever he is in that town. I find it very romantic. Sounds like a cliché idea but it's both sad and beautiful. The title 'Devil's Punch Bowl' signifies a particular area on the A3 road about 40 miles south of London. There is some mystique surrounding this region. Kipper lives near there and I recorded this tune at his place. On my way home I was trying to think of a title whereupon this one came to me. 'Always' is about relentless love for someone. There is one note that keeps repeating which is this feeling. The chords around it are like different ways of saying 'I love you'.

'Altea' is written after the Spanish town. I wrote it while I was there a few years ago. I love the place (or the region) because it's kind of mysterious or witchy in a positive sort of way. I love the language they speak there and it comes as no surprise to hear that many artists and poets go there for inspiration. The gap after it was intentional. I wanted the listener to get a surprise track fifteen minutes later. The reason for this is because I didn't think that tune (titles 'Apres le Beep') should be on the album because it wasn't musically related to the other tunes but at the same time I wanted to 'show' it. The woman speaking is my wife (who is French) and she is basically giving me shit on the answer phone (hence the title) because I was I didn't live up to her expectations on a certain incident. I found this amusing but still quite therapeutic putting it on my album plus the concept of having the last laugh. She thinks it's funny too now.

'Letter Unsent' was originally imagined as a song because I was originally singing the melody. Most of my tunes start out this way. But in the end I made it an instrumental. 'Forgotten Dream' is exactly what it says on the label. I woke up one morning with a unique feeling that I had had some amazing beautiful, but sad dream but couldn't for the life of me remember what it was or who was in it. So I documented this feeling or emotion in the only language I really knew how. Music.

Fragile - Handle with Care 1997

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Fusion
Original Release Date: 1997
Label: Compozila

Fragile is one of those bands that go unnoticed, is more to find information on the band, this was referring to the guitarist Koichi Yabori which apparently is a reference in the Japanese stage and that no doubt because in this second album released in 1997 shows a versatility that many would like for your discs alternating electric and acoustic guitars sound compositions and very clean in execution. But not alone, Mizuno and Sagasuma fall short, soft passages recreating together, violent, kind and playful. Handle with care (how ironic) is an album of easy listening and is willing, in short, a more than recommended ... required.

Kozo Suganuma - Kozo 2001

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Fusion
Original Release Date: 2001
Label: Jewel Sound

In the early '90s, drummer Kozo Suganuma formed half of the rhythm section of the legendary Japanese fusion trio Fragile. His eponymous solo CD on the Jewel Sound label features eight tracks of modern and traditional fusion, including one Coltrane standard and four tracks written by Fragile guitarist Koichi Yabori.

Kozo opens with the snappy fusion jam "Double Black Feather." The pace slows with the drum solo track "Brush Fire," although this exposition is kept tastefully short at under two minutes. The record picks back up with "Tales of the Temple" and the half-time groove of "Mistic Island." After the ballad "Cloudiness" and the Coltrane standard "Moment's Notice," the record closes with the snappy, Caribbean-influenced "Beat Kids."

Fragile was often compared to '90s fusion giants Tribal Tech, and that similarity is also prominent in the sound and the songwriting on Kozo. Part of the sonic likeness may be due to Scott Kinsey, Tribal Tech's keyboardist, handling keyboard duties on the record. In addition, several of the songs composed by Fragile guitarist Yabori clone the Tribal Tech style of light guitar-based fusion almost exactly. "Tales of the Temple" has the grooving bass guitar melody that characterizes classic Gary Willis tunes. "Coriander" sounds like it's right out of the Tribal Tech live set, and it even includes Yabori playing several Scott Henderson guitar licks note for note.

One major sonic element sets Kozo aside from the Tribal Tech guitar-based fusion style—the saxophone work of Bob Malach and Hiroyuki Yagi. The timbre of the sax adds a mellowness and a traditional jazz flavor that gives the music depth, particularly on the ballad "Cloudiness" and the Caribbean jam "Beat Kids." Suganuma was wise to include a saxophonist on the majority of the tracks on his record.

The playing by all musicians is excellent. Yabori knows when to lead the band with his skilled guitar work and when to sit back. Bassist Lincoln Goines holds down the bottom, providing snappy lead work on "Tales of the Temple" and "Moment's Notice." Kinsey lays down solid background chording and only steps into the forefront when warranted, as he does with Tribal Tech. Suganuma's drumming occasionally sounds excessively bombastic or heavy-handed, but the one place a little over-reaching play by a drummer can be excused is on his own solo record.

Fans of electric fusion and fans of Fragile should check out Kozo. This solo record offers plenty of solid fusion composing and snappy playing, with a standard and a ballad thrown in for variety.


A native of Osaka, Japan, Kozo Suganuma, began playing drums at the age of eight and remarkably, became a professional session player at the age of 15. He is now a major feature of the Japanese pop scene performing with such groups as Chage and Aska, as well as also working with famous Japanese Jazz icons Hidehiko Matumoto, Makoto Ozone, and Kazumi Watanabe. Kozo has also worked with American artists such as Larry Graham and Louis Johnson. Kozo is an extremely active player and can be found performing in small jazz venues one day and 20,000 seat auditoriums the next. He is also an in-demand session player as well, having released 6 albums with his band "Fragile." Because of his amazing technique, Kozo has been given the name "The King of Many Strokes." This title has been incorporated in several teaching videos: TE KAZ OH ("The King of Many Strokes"); ASHI KAZ OH ("The King of Many Footworks"); Kaettekita TE KAZ OH ("Return of the King of Many Strokes"); and TE KAZ OH Live Jissenhen ("Live Applications of Many Strokes"), released by Rittor Music. A very much in demand clinician, he has been featured in many National and International percussion events.


Kozo Suganuma -- drums;
Koichi Yabori -- guitar;
Lincoln Goines -- bass (credited as "Licoln Goines");
Scott Kinsey -- keyboards;
Bob Malach -- sax;
Hiroyuki Yagi -- sax.