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#21

Johannes Linstead - Tales Of A Gypsy
(Earthscape Media ESM2326)

Johannes Linstead - Tales Of A Gypsy

I must admit to being a creature of habit and at this late state of middle age my musical tastes are pretty much set in stone. I generally know within a track or two or even several minutes whether I am going to enjoy the CD I am reviewing. In the case of Tales Of A Gypsy by guitarist Johannes Linstead it took but a few seconds of the opening track and then I knew I was going to love this album - and I wasn't disappointed. The album title should be a strong clue as to the music within - flamenco nuevo mixed with world rhythms and whisked up with some exotic instruments to back up the guitar. Points of reference: Django Reinhardt [obviously], the Gypsy Kings, Rodrigo & Gabriella, Ottmar Liebert and Russ Hewitt. But none of these have mixed the world music elements so vivaciously as Canadian-born Johannes Linstead. He composed all eleven tracks and there isn't a duff or boring track anywhere on this CD. This is a thoroughly upbeat and positive album that is going to get you feet and hands tapping away in time. While Mr Linstead plays most of the instruments: guitars, keyboards, udu drum, shakers and percussion, there is a group of superb musicians supporting him across the tracks, and these are: Anastacios Bigas - congas/bongos/drums, Geoff Hlibka - oud/guitar, Jalidan Ruiz - congas/bongos, Sina Kosravi - Doumbek, Alex Godinez - congas/timbales, Jordan Abraham - accordion, Nicholas Gunn - pan pipes, Gisele Fredette - operatic voice, Vasyl Popadiouk - violin. The eleven tracks are: Jungle Love, Noche De La Juerga, Swaying Palms, September Remembered, La Lunada, Vagabond Stomp, Bella! Bella!, Sosua Bay Sunset, Tales Of A Gypsy, Flows Like Water, Caravan Of Desire. Tales Of A Gypsy is hands down one of the best albums I've heard in 2012, the music and the performances are all exemplary, Mr Linstead has magic fingers and this album is highly recommended and an album of the year!

Available from Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes and other retailers for download or as a CD. For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.johanneslinstead.com

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The Mike Longo Trio - A Celebration of Diz And Miles
(CAP 1033)

The title is self-explanatory to most, but for non-jazz fans this is a live album celebrating the music of Miles Davis and Dizzie Gillespie - two of the leading alumni of Jazz's golden era. Mike Longo is no stranger to The Borderland with several albums reviewed on other MusicWatch pages. Performing as a piano-led trio, with Paul West on bass and Ray Mosca on drums, this is a live album recorded on one night in June 2012 at the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium in the Baha'i Center, New York. As live albums go it is a very clear recording, the interaction between the audience and the musicians very obvious - I am a little bewildered by the need to list the audience reaction to each track as separate tracks with timings as well. A quick glance at the track listing makes one think there are twenty-one tracks, but strip out the 'audience reaction' and there are in fact eleven musical tracks. That aside this is quality jazz trio territory, with a judicial selection of music made famous by Miles and Dizzie, plus a superlative version of George Gershwin's Summertime. The musicians are firing on all cylinders - the soloing is restrained but inventive and there are many exciting moments spread across the CD. The musical tracks are: All Blues, Con Alma, Milestones, Ow, Freddie Freeloader, Here Tiz, Summertime, Tour De Force, You Don't Know What Love Is, So What, A Night In Tunisia. A Celebration of Diz And Miles is a wonderfully inventive live album and a worthy addition to Mike Longo's discography. Recommended.

Available from Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes and other retailers for download or as a CD.

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Julian Shore - Filaments
(Tone Rogue Records)

Imagine, if you will, a chilled out version of Steely Dan with wispy female voices and you have a rough approximation of the sound of Filaments by pianist Julian Shore. Smooth jazz with a funky beat has never sounded better than on this album. The sly humour of the Dan may be missing but Mr Shore goes for the mood and the rhythm. All ten tracks are written by Julian Shore, with added lyrics on some tracks by vocalist Alexa Barchini. This is jazz that is easy on the ear and the mind - music to chill to and for driving at a leisurely pace, rather than Formula 1. Several of the ten tracks are fairly long, reaching six and seven minutes plus - enough space for the musicians to stretch out and really play. There are a dozen musicians involved on this album, not all playing on every track, and yet their cohesive performances and interaction make this album work like a charm. The musicians are: Julian Shore - piano, Alexa Barchini and Shelly Tzarafi - vocals, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Jeff Miles - guitars, Phil Donkin - bass, Tommy Crane - drums, Kurt Ozan - acoustic guitar/dobro, Noah Preminger - tenor sax, Godwin Louis - alto sax, Billy Buss - trumpet, Andrew Hadro - baritone sax. The ten tracks are: Grey Light Green Lily, Made Very Small, Big Bad World, Whisper, Give, I Will If You Will, Misdirection/Determined, Like A Shadow, Venus, Whisper (Reprise). I may be yanking your chain with the Steely Dan similarities, but Filaments does share a penchant for that insouciant funky back beat and a sophisticated sound that is very appealing.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.julianshore.com

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Jeff Holmes Quartet - Of One's Own
(Miles High Records MHR 8621)

Of One's Own is one of those old fashioned jazz albums where a group of musicians just go into the studio and see what happens when the creative juices start to flow. The Jeff Holmes Quartet play together as a tightly integrated unit, fluidly shifting the solos from one to the other and yet never outplaying each other or distorting the cohesiveness of each track. That is impressive stuff, yet the sound of the band remains smooth but avoids the potential blandness that may have occurred. The album's nine tracks are a mixture of originals by pianist Jeff Holmes and a selection of covers including tracks by Rodgers & Hammerstein and John Abbercrombie. Playing alongside Jeff Holmes on this album are: Adam Kolker - saxes/clarinet, James Cammack - electric and acoustic bass, Steve Johns - drums. The track titles are: Macaroons, Labour Day, Poinciana, The Senses Delight, One For C.J., Waltz #3, Of One's Own, Rose On Driftwood, So Long Farewell. The musicianship of everyone in the quartet is impressively high - I'm not sure how many takes were made of each track but I suspect the number is low, and I wouldn't be surprised if no more than two takes were made in some instances. Of One's Own is an impressive album and Jeff Holmes prowess on the piano and as a composer marks him as a talent to monitor in the future. Recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.mileshighrecords.com

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Paz Del Castillo - Eleven Drops
(Neuronium Records ONIRIA 6)

Paz Del Castillo is one of Spain's premier pianists, playing both classical music and her own compositions. The title of this album of solo piano compositions , Eleven Drops, refers to parts of her personality and to the inspiration that nature and water give her. The album contains eleven tracks, all solo piano, all in a gently contemplative mood that doesn't hide the superior musicianship on display across the album. The track titles are: Latiendo, El Abrozo Del Mar, From The Beginning, Cafe Espana, Improvisacion Sobre Las Aguas Tranquilas, Lost In You, Por Encima De Los Acantilados, Nan Para Luis, Mientras Duermes, Life Goes On, Lo Que Siento. I assume that this album is being marketed as new age, though I think contemporary classical or solo piano is equally applicable. Ms Del Castillo has a deceptively simple style which unravels if you listen carefully to reveal complex melodies and harmonic structures that confirm she is a composer and performer of rare stature.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.pazdelcastillo.com

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Dan Block - Duality
(Miles High Records MHR8620)

As you know, Jazz comes in many forms and formats, performed solo and right up to orchestral sizes. On Duality sax and clarinettist Dan Block has recorded an album of duets and trios with a wide range of musicians, producing an album of wide-ranging tonalities and memorable moments. Of the eleven tracks, two are Dan Block originals and the remaining nine are covers of fine songs by Jerome Kern, Tadd Dameron, Duke Ellington, Bix Beiderbecke, George Gershwin amongst many other, including Dimitri Shostakovitch. Mr Block is a versatile soloist throughout, his saxophones and clarinets duelling merrily with many equally multifaceted opponents. But above all that is the sense of space on these recordings, space where each instrument or voice has plenty of leeway to shine brightly. The guest musicians on Duality are: Ted Rosenthall - piano, Lee Hudson - bass, Paul Meyers - guitar, Catherine Russell - vocals, Matt Munisteri - national steel guitar, Rosanno Sportiello - piano, Scott Robinson - Saxes/clarinets, Mark Sherman - vibraphone, Saul Rubin - guitar, Tim Horner - drums. The eleven tracks are: Long Ago And Far Away, I'm Bringing A Red Red Rose, Chorino For Dennis, If You Could See Me Now, Out Of Touch, Pitter Panther Pitter, Lyric Waltz, In The Dark, My Own Morning, The Jazz Samba, I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise. In many ways Duality and Dan Block's performances are a breath of fresh air, stripping away the ornamentation cladding many of these songs and exposing the original melodies for new inspection. Recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.mileshighrecords.com

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Danny Green - A Thousand Ways Home
(Tapestry 76018-2)

Pianist Danny Green is new to me, though I don't think A Thousand Ways Home is his debut album as band leader. Working essentially in a trio format but adding guest musicians on various tracks, Mr Green has recorded a baker's dozen [that's thirteen to you non-bakers] of his own compositions and they are very impressive - the opening, title, track is very upbeat and sparky and makes a compelling invitation to listen further. Thanks to the 'open house' policy of having guest musicians throughout the album it keeps the sound fresh and vibrant, and on the whole the album is upbeat throughout and full of good humour. I can imagine that the sessions in the studio were one long buzz. The musicians accompanying Danny Green and his piano are: Justin Grinnell - bass, Julian Cantelm - drums, Tripp Sprague - saxes, Eva Scow - mandolin, Claudia Villela - vocal, Chico Pinheiro/Peter Sprague/Dusty Brough - guitars. The track titles are: A Thousand Ways Home, Unwind, Under Night's Cover, Quintal Da Solidao, Nighttime Disturbances, Over Too Soon, Soggy Shoes, Flight Of The Stumble Bee, Tranquil Days, Back To Work, Dusty Road Pt 1, Dusty Road Pt2, Running Out Of Time. I've said that this is a good-humoured album, that goes for the different types of jazz on show - from latin to swing, to post bop, to ballads, the styles switch effortlessly. A Thousand Ways Home is an impressive album, Mr Green is a fluid and wickedly inventive pianist and deserves to be much better known. I hope this is the album to do that. Recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.dannygreen.net

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Uli Geissendoerfer - Colors
(Black Coffee Music)

I'm a little confused here, while Uli Geissendoerfer is the artist on the cover, Colors seems to be both the title of the album and the name of the band he is working with here. That aside what we have is a jazz/world music fusion with some added latin and funk infusions. The majority of the eleven tracks were written by Mr Geissendoerfer, and there are spirited covers of two songs by the Beatles. Colors [the album] is pretty upbeat affair, with some cool improvisation layered over the latin rhythms that reference Sergio Mendez. Colors [the band] are: Uli Geissendoerfer - piano/rhodes/synth/percussion, Pascale Elia - vocals, Charles McNeal - saxes, Derek Johns - basses, Ryan Rose - drums/percussion, plus guest musicians: Valeri Glava - violin, Michito Sanchez - percussion, and David Tawil - oud/doumbek/tamberine. Ms Elia's vocals are a highlight - commanding and sensual, full of intimate detail on the lyrics. The eleven tracks are: Intro, 3-41, Honey Pie, Tango, Intro To Soulful, Soulful, Lily (Have You Seen But A Bright Lily Grow, Norwegian Wood, Song (For Maya), Turkish, Where. Colors are an impressive band and Colors is an impressive album - Uli Geissendoerfer is an intriguing composer, utilising a rich palette of sounds and his arrangements bring out the best in the musicians around him. He isn't that shabby on the various keyboards, either. If you like your music with a world vibe and some musical depth to it I point you in the direction of Uli Geissendoerfer and Colors. This an album I will heartily recommend as being well worth seeking out.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.ulimusic.com

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The Verge - Introducing...

As you will appreciate from the album title, this is The Verge's debut album, and it's an impressive affair, offering punchy sounding prog-jazz with a world pop sensibility. I offer 'prog-jazz' as a definition of The Verge's sound as I was frequently reminded of the late lamented Weather Report during several of the instrumental breaks - crossed with a dash of Bobby Womack-style soulful vocals. The Verge are a trio: Jon Hanser - keyboards/vocals/trumpet and compositions, Kenny Shanker - sax/keyboards/vocals, Brian Fishler - drums/percussion/vocals, plus guests: Richard Bona - bass, Andrea Valentini - drums and Danny Conga - percussion. Half of the albums tracks are composed by Jon Hanser, the remainder are covers of songs by a variety of pop and jazz writers. The dozen tracks are: 3, Black Hole Sun, I Wanna Go, Ariel, Dead of Night, Above and Beyond, It's Over, Break Your Heart, Send Her To Me, Joshua, Back To The Beginning, Ants Marching. Introducing... is a very upbeat album and a dynamically exciting album - mixing pop sensibilities with jazz is a tricky proposition at best, but adding a layer of progressiveness on top of that is an added challenge. I think the Verge have pulled it off very well - the songs are both sparky and funky and yet they also have that jazzy swing to them. Some of the songs, with a club remix, could erupt big time. I think The Verge are going to find their audience from all sorts of listeners. Highly recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.theverge3.com

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Steve Lipman - Ridin' The Beat
(Locomotion Records)

As you will surmise from the website URL below Steve Lipman is a dentist that sings. A rather unique combination I think you will agree and I can't help wonder if he regales his patients while immolating their molars... On the other hand, Mr Lipman has a rather nifty septet of musicians who back him as he sings classic songs from the 'Great American Songbook'. Taking his influences from the crooners and the Rat Pack of the 50's, Ridin' The Beat is both nostalgic and retro and yet still looks to the future of jazz. The musicians are: Dan Prindle - bass, Bryan Kelly - drums, Stephan Page - piano, Josh Evans - trumpet, Doug Lang - sax/clarinet/flute, Rene Gonzalez and Rod Warner - percussion. For this, his second album, Mr Lipman has chosen songs by: Harold Arlen, Geoerge Gershwin, Hohhny Mercer, Rogers & Hart and Cole Porter. The songs are: Oh Look At Me Now, The Song Is You, It's All right With Me, Summer Wind, Moonlight In Vermont, Old Devil Moon, Teach Me Tonight, That Old Black Magic, Come Rain or Come Shine, The Gal That Got Away, I Wish That I Were In Love Again, Birth of the Blues. It could be me but I find Mr Lipman's voice is a little higher pitched than most crooners that I can think of, a little more strident than you would expect - but that adds an energetic edge to the songs that wasn't there before, plus his voice rides over the instrumental backing with ease. If you like the old songs and are looking for a new voice to do them justice go to the website below and give Steve Lipman a try.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.thesingingdentist.com

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The Billie Davies Trio - All About Love
(Cobra Basement)

All About Love could equally have been called All About Improv as this album is all about the spontaneous moment that jazz is created. A trio of musicians set in a circle facing each other in a small recording studio and playing off each others creativity. With Billie Davies on drums, Tom Bones Ralls on trombone and Oliver Steinberg on bass, this is a trio that stretches the boundaries beyond the norm. The album contains a mix of original music by the trio and several covers by the likes of Miles Davis, Mongo Santamaria and John Coltrane. Ms Davies hails from Belgium but is veteran traveller around the world and has been long settled in the USA, where she has absorbed a lot of jazz and mastered the drums. I think this may be her first album as leader, but it has a confidence hewn from much playing of improv and avant-garde jazz. As you would imagine with such a line-up of instruments the sound is spare and sparse, rather raw but refined through the musical experience of the three players. All About Love contains ten tracks and their titles are: Stella By Starlight, Downtown in the Rain, Jean Pierre, Naima, Afro Blue, Green Cheese, Burst!, High Noon, Afro Blue Too, Stella By Starlight Too. I don't think this is an album that will appeal to the casual jazz listener - the strong improvisation and avant-garde nature of the music demands serious attention from a committed listener. But if they do commit their time and ears to this album they won't be disappointed by what they hear.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.billiedavies.com

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Kaylé Brecher - Spirals & Lines
(Penchant Four Records RBRO400P4)

The first thing you note on listening to the new album by vocalist and arranger Kaylé Brecher is that the band backing her is almost purely a brass band - no woodwinds and no bass providing the rhythm. This is replaced by a Sousaphone, offering fruity deep notes for the rest of the band to pin themselves to. Ms Brecher is a versatile arranger, the nine tracks on Spirals & Lines veer from Latin to Bop, Free Jazz to Experimental. The opening title track was certainly redolent of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. Kaylé Brecher has one of these voices that spans quite a range and it is also very dramatic, the songs here have a strong theatrical feeling to them. The fourteen piece band has a big punchy sound that ebbs and roars according to the song, but you are always aware that it is always under the complete control of Ms Brecher. Spirals & Lines contains nine tracks, several of which have been written by Ms Brecher while the rest are drawn from the songbooks of Bob Dylan and Charles Mingus. The track titles are: Spirals & Lines, High Flying Bird, When Johnny Comes Marching Home, Paths Of Victory, Will Of The Wind, Brother Can You Spare A Dime, The House I Live In, Noddin' Ya Head Blues, So It Goes. Kaylé Brecher is an individualist artist, a one of a kind and she manages to perform her art and make it very approachable for the listener. Recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.brecherjazz.com

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Tim Bedner - Of Light & Shadow

I can't think of a better title for this new album from guitarist/composer Tim Bedner than Of Light & Shadow. The music on the CD may be jazz but it is so cleverly arranged for the trio of musicians performing it that it shifts effortlessly from ambience to funky swing and to slow dreamy sections often within the same piece of music. The key to the musicality of this album is the small but telling selection of instruments used - none are strangers to the usual jazz form, but somehow here their use is much more telling and atmospheric. This isn't smooth jazz in the usual sense of the term, but the effect of the music is smoothly discerning in the way it effects the listener. Along with Tim Bedner on all acoustic and electric guitars, Normand Glaude plays contra bass, chromatic harmonica, percussion and synth string, and Jeff Asselin plays the drums and percussion. All the music has been written by Mr Bednor and while his inventiveness is impressive he leaves enough space for his colleagues to solo as they see fit. The album begins with the "Of Light And Shadow Suite", which consists of Umbra, Aurora, Lumen, Chiaroscuro - all of which are highly atmospheric; the remaining tracks are: Synergetic, Sometimes Sadness, A.M For P.M, Bluenote, and Waltz For Elise. Of Light & Shadow is a cut above your normal jazz album, while it IS jazz it is also warmly ambient, with a lush aura over it all, showcasing how inventive just a handful of instruments can be. Highly recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.timbedner.com

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Isadar - O Christmas
(Mainya Music MME 0250)

I know it may be heresy for some but when it comes to Christmas and the holiday season I am a bit of a Grinch and try to avoid the whole thing. Of course, every year I am reminded by all the festive-themed albums that musicians release in October-November. Here is the latest one, by pianist Isadar and called O Christmas. The album contains ten tracks of carols and Christmas songs now in the public domain, some more well known than the others. All performed in a polished and inventive way, all the tracks have been newly arranged by Isadar in a manner that attracts the listener's attention. There are new subtleties to discover in songs that you may be over familiar with from decades of fraternal relations every holiday season. The track titles are: Good Christian Men, Teddy Bear's Picnic/March Of The Toys, O Christmas Tree, Still, O Come O Come Emmanuel, Song Of The Wise men, O Come Little Children, Greensleeves 2012, Masters In This Hall, Merry Christmas... And A Happy New Year. As Christmas albums go O Christmas is quite a perky upbeat affair, eschewing the over-reverential smothering that some musicians think festive music needs. Isadar is one of those pianists who is a bit more muscular in performance than many new age pianists - his music isn't jazz but at times he seems about to get the left hand to start a boogie-woogie rhythm going but the restraint filter [sadly] kicks in too soon... While O Christmas isn't a party album it would make a good soundtrack for a festive dinner party, with some of the tune selections perhaps raising a quizzical eye here and there.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.isadar.com

2002 - Believe
(Galactic Playground Music)

2002 - BelieveThe music of 2002 is a transportation system to another world, not necessarily in this solar system. The mere act of slipping the CD into your sound system initiates the launch sequence, and while the music is not electronic, it has an opulent exoticism and lyricism that gives it an otherworldly feel. 2002 are, on this album, the trio of: Randy Copus - guitar/bass/keyboards/percussion/vocals, Pamela Copus - flutes/harp/keyboards/vocals, and Sarah Copus - vocals/arrangements. The fact that three people can create such orchestral and lush sound is highly impressive. This is the third 2002 album I have reviewed and Believe matches its predecessors in every way imaginable. Mind you, this is the 14th album by 2002 in 20 years, which certainly means they know what they are doing. Listening to the ten tracks is certainly a calming experience, the neo-classicism of the arrangements offer depth and resonance. I would suggest that if you enjoy the music of Vangelis, Kitaro and Enya then Believe may find favour with you. The ten tracks are: Believe, A Dream Creation, Chain Of Life, We Meet Again, Dreams Of Peace, A Change Of Season, Ready To Fly, Yeshua, Oasis, Hold The Sky. This is a New Age album but I feel it deserves a wider audience than that - I think it is about time that instrumental music like this should be viewed as modern classical music and given more rigorous artistic weight. Believe is a wonderfully melodic album and highly recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.2002music.com

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Klezwoods - The 30th Meridian: From Cairo To St. Petersburg With Love

Klezwoods - The 30th Meridian: From Cairo To St. Petersburg With LoveI had the great pleasure of reviewing Klezwoods debut album Oy Yeah! last year [click here to read review] and now they are back with their new album, The 30th Meridian: From Cairo To St. Petersburg With Love. As before it is a sassy mixture of Romany and Yiddish dance music, and the Kletzmer influence is very strong again. I find this style of music insidiously infectious and great fun - with its roots deep in the Eastern European hinterland, it speaks volumes about the ethnic peoples who, it has to be said, haven't been well-treated by the majority there over the centuries. The album may have been recorded in New York and the band may be American but the sound would be familiar to anyone living in the Romania-Hungary-Macedonia triangle. The majority of the fourteen tracks are traditional and arranged by the band and there are three tracks written by various members of the band. The band are: Sam Dechenne - trumpet, Jim Gray - tuba, Joe Kessler - violin, Daniel Linden - trombone, Greg Loughman - bass, Michael Mclaughman - accordion, Brian O'Neill - percussion, Grant Smith - drums, Alec Spiegelman - alto sax, Tev Stevig - guitars, Becky Wexler - clarinet/vocals. The tracklisting is: The New Path, Egypt Trip, Harmonika, Hot Wheels, A Glass Of Wine, Shoes, Brass Belly, Play To Win, Pick Up And Go, Cherambe, Circus Wheel, Somerville Sirba, A Little Israel, January 7th Early In The Morning. The 30th Meridian: From Cairo To St. Petersburg With Love is certainly every bit as good as Oy Yeah!, if not better, this is music that lifts the spirits at the very least - and probably will add balm to troubled souls too. Highly recommended and one of my albums of the year.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.klezwoods.com

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Michaela Rabitsch & Robert Pawlik Quartet - Voyagers
(Extraplatte EX 631-2)

Michaela Rabitsch & Robert Pawlick Quartet - VoyagersThe new album by the Michaela Rabitsch & Robert Pawlik Quartet (henceforth MRRPQ) is a musical scrapbook reflecting all the countries the band have toured in recent years. It certainly makes for a very diverse and diverting listen. While being essentially a jazz album Voyagers has enough elements of pop, rock and world music to attract a much larger audience. Across the ten tracks there is a strong eastern European and Arabic feel to the music that lifts the performances to new highs. Thanks to their unique instrumentation the Austrian MRRPQ have a big punchy sound that always delivers and is commercial enough to appeal to new listeners over the radio. All of the music is written by the two bandleaders and they certainly know a good tune when they find one. The quartet are: Michaela Rabitsch - vocals/trumpet/flugelhorn, Robert Pawlik - guitars, Joe Abentung - double bass, Dusan Novakov - drums/percussion, plus the following guests: Robert Bachner - trombone, Raoul Herget - tuba, Erwin Bader - keyboards. Ms Rabitsch also has a lovely voice with a lightly affecting way with her vocals that draw you in - her horn playing is equally effortless and melodic. Robert Pawlik's guitar accompaniment and solos are discreet and have to be sought out in the mix but again are immaculate in their form and texture. One also has to mention the rhythm section who provide the sympathetic bedrock for their colleagues. All in all this is a damn good band who probably couldn't play a bum note if their life depended on it. The ten tracks are: Seven Ways To Fez, Varna, Unique, The Long Road, Serbian Rhapsody, Walk In The Sun, Malaga, Round Midnight, Money, Cienfuegos. Voyagers is a worthy sequel to their previous album Moods [see review here] and is even better in many ways. I've listened to it over half a dozen times and as much for pleasure as for reviewing purposes. Highly recommended and one of my albums of the year.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.michaelarabitsch.com

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Paul Avgerinos - Lovers
(Round Sky Music RSM1015)

Paul Avgerinos - Lovers The music of Paul Avgerinos is no stranger to The Borderland as we have reviewed several of his albums in recent years. Characterised by a strong spiritual theme, his previous albums were ideal for meditation and reflection. With his new album Lovers, these themes remain, but the intention of the music is to provide a soundtrack for human love, rather than spiritual love. Having said that, there is no intent of 'gittin' jiggy widit', or of a Barry White lovefest. No, The music here is lushly inventive, multi-textured and extremely ambient in places. If anything the music is reminiscent of the electronica of Tangerine Dream - it also reminds me a little of that excellent album The Orb made with David Gilmour of the Pink Floyd a few years ago. As before, Mr Avgerinos plays all the instruments and these include fretless bass, guitars, keyboards, percussion and vocals. There are eleven tracks, with several of them running into each other to make evocative and lengthy soundscapes. The track titles are: In My Arms, Mysteries of Love, Gentle Rain, Dreams of You, Slowly My Love, Like That, The Romance Of Peace, Heaven & Earth, Abide in Me, Floating in Bliss, We Are Heaven. Thanks to some gently funky rhythms the music flows [and floats] along seamlessly, the ideal soundtrack to an afternoon drifting along a sun-kissed river in a punt. I am not, in all honesty, sure how this music will enhance a pair of lovers as they embark on a relationship, I don't have the physical resources to test that out. However, Lovers matches and exceeds Paul Avgerinos' previous albums, and as an album of ambient electronica it is a classic. Highly recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.RoundSkyMusic.com

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Ferenc Nemeth - Triumph
(Dreamers Collective Records DCR 1002)

Ferenc Nemeth is an Hungarian born jazz drummer and percussionist who also works as an educator on the art of drumming. Triumph is his new album set in the jazz quartet format with added guest musicians. The music is post bop, funky and with a fractured soul throughout. There is nothing overly smooth about the music here, all composed by Mr Nemeth. This is music to sit up and take notice to, rather than for relaxing. The core quartet are all musicians of pedigree and experience, their commitment to the music is obvious even from a cursory listen - this hasn't been phoned in as just a job. The musicians playing with Mr Nemeth are: Kenny Werner - piano/Rhodes, Lionel Loueke - guitar/voice, plus these guests: Barbara Togander - voice, Juampi di Leone - flute, Carlos Michelini - clarinet, Martin Pantyer - bass clarinet/baritone sax, Richard Nant - trumpet/flugel horn, Maria Noel Luzardo - bassoon. Triumph contains a dozen tracks, some quite lengthy exploratory pieces - the titles are: Intro, Triumph, Interlude I, Purpose, Interlude II, Joy, Interlude III, Longing, Hope, Interlude IV, Sorrow And Wishful Thinking, Hope II. This is an album of musical exploration, intensely melodic on occasion and then jaggedly discursive on others. Those looking for easy listening won't find it with Triumph, but they will find these musicians at the top of their game and especially Ferenc Nemeth who is a dazzingly good composer and drummer.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.ferencnemeth.com

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Joey Stuckey - Mixture (Senate Records)

Guitarist Joey Stuckey is a prime example of how blindness doesn't hold back a persons artistic capabilities. An excellent musician, he owns a recording studio, online radio station and works across a variety of media outlets in his native Macon, Georgia. Macon itself is worth a mention, the birthplace [I think] of Little Richard and the Allman Brothers, for a short while it was the focal place for what became Southern Rock. Mr Stuckey describes his new album, Mixture, as a Jazz album, but to be honest with you it sounds quite 'Rocky' in places, Latin in others and there are even some hints of Blues and Prog-Rock throughout. I think Mr Stuckey is akin to Jeff Beck in that he takes his influences from wherever he hears them, and that is no bad thing as Mixture is an excitingly varied journey across many musical strands. All ten tracks are written by Joey Stuckey and Tom Rule, who also was co-producer, and together they have created a winningly approachable album of instrumentals that have wide appeal. The band are: Joey Stuckey - guitars/drum programming, Tom Rule - keyboards/drum programming, Miguel Castro - drums/percussion, Marcus Reddick - drums/percussion, Mark Williams - percussion, Monty Cole - flute, Pam Rule - vocals. The track titles are: We'll See, Fall, Windows Down, Too Pooped To Bop, Sunday Brunch, Give Five, Raining, Holly Tree Hopeful, Dot Dot Dot, Crooked. Mixture is an apt title for this album as it covers quite a bit of musical ground and styles, at the same time it is an amazingly welcoming album for any listener, whatever their musical preferences. Mr Stuckey and his colleagues are impressive musicians who have created an album of significant beauty. Highly recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.joeystuckey.com

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Fado em Si Bemol - QB (Vidisco 11.809402)

This is the third album by Portuguese band Fado em Si Bemol, and I'm annoyed that I haven't heard of them before now. Fado is a style of Portuguese traditional music that is becoming more popular across the world. Fado em Si Bemol have taken the traditional stylings and updated them to be easier on the ear for foreign audiences. The Fado I have heard before this album tended to be slow and sad music with emotional weight to it - the band's music on QB is brighter and upbeat, quite poppy but still using the original instrumentation and eschewing electric guitars and keyboards. The style is quite similar to the sounds you can hear emanating from Brazil and other parts of South America. Of the ten tracks on the album the songs are drawn from compositions by various band members along with Gilberto Gil, Chick Corea and several others. The band are: Miguel Silva - guitar, Paulo Gonçalves - guitar, Pedro Matos - vocal, Numo Campos - double bass, Manuel Santiesteban - percussion - plus there are several guest musicians on the album. The track titles are: Tango para Teresa, Casa da Mariquinhas, Pica-pau Amarelo, Matilde, Cantigas de Maio, Fado Loucura, Do Nada o Fim, Marcha Bairro Alto, Armando's Rumba, Folhetim. Fado em Si Bemol are an impressive band, their musicianship is extremely high and yet they retain quite an intimate sound that draws you into the songs with ease despite their non-English nature. The guitarists in particular are dazzling and if you like Rodrigo and Gabriella then you should enjoy this too. This is World Music at its best and is rapidly becoming one of my albums of the year and I can't recommend it highly enough!

Available from Amazon MP3, CD Baby, iTunes and other retailers for download or as a CD. For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.fadoemsibemol.com

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Nicholl & Farquharson - Della By Moonlight
(Big Empty Loo Records)

This is a somewhat strange album to review as it veers from jazz quartet to almost orchestral-sized classical tone poems. Nicholl & Farquharson are the composers and main instrumentalists on their new album Della By Moonlight, writing half the tracks each. The music balances on that cusp between orchestral jazz and contemporary classical music, with a little taste of Latin American here and there throughout the album. The music is very dramatic and would serve well as a soundtrack for a quality movie or TV show - or perhaps a ballet. It certainly has a dramatic feel when you listen to it the first time and beyond. There are a large number of musicians involved on this album, too many to list here but here are the core players on most tracks: Michael Farquharson - basses, Matthew Nicholl - keyboards, piano, percussion, Greg Badolato - tenor sax, Tim Miller - guitar, and Steve Langone - drums. The two composers' musical styles seem to compliment each other very well, the switch between their pieces seamless. Della By Moonlight has a dozen tracks, most of them programme music of the best type. The titles are: Nine Toes, Aytul's Waltz, Cleo and Joan, City Suite, Boston, Halifax, Istanbul, DC al Perugia, Choro Suite, Prelude, Praça Onze, Tres Lados, Roda Loca, Della By Moonlight. This is an intriguing album, very melodic with bursts of jazz pyrotechnics, and yet it enjoys a serenity throughout that allows the music to glow strongly. Highly recommended.

Available from Amazon MP3, CD Baby, iTunes and other retailers for download or as a CD. For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.michaelfarquharson.com and http://matthewnicholl.com

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Vincent Lyn - Wing Sing
(Wing Sing Productions Ltd WSVL-007)

This is the first album by jazz pianist Vincent Lyn that has been received here but I think he has released other albums before Wing Sing. For those of you who like Bob James, The Crusaders and Spyra Gyra then I think you will enjoy this album, it shares a strong bond with the smooth pop/jazz that these artists used to create. The music also has a soulful element, especially when vocalist Michelle Bradshaw takes the microphone on a couple of the songs. Vincent Lyn has an easy way with a tune, and as eleven of the dozen tracks are written by him that is most impressive - the exception is a classic Bacharach and David song. His band is small but they make a big sound, and they are: Curtis Long - bass, Gil Hawkins Jr - drums, Urbano Sanchez Jr - percussion, John Gerardi - guitar, Michelle Bradshaw - vocals, Vincent Lyn - piano/keyboards. The songs are: Red Sun, Walk On By, Don't Say Goodbye, Cote D'Azur, See You In Rio, That's What You Do To Me, Be Mine Tonight, Wake Me Up, Take Flight, The 4 Crazies?, Cantowood, That's What You Do To Me (reprise). There is a nice easy listening feel to the music on this album, it would make undemanding listening on a lengthy car journey. That may be slightly damning praise, but I don't mean it to be - there is a place in ones' lifestyle for music like this, even if it simply keeps you calm in that traffic jam. I actually really enjoyed Wing Sing and have played it several times for pleasure. Recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.wingsing.com

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Gerard Hagen Trio - Song For Leslie
(Surf Cove jazz SCJ103)

Pianist Gerard Hagen is no stranger to MusicWatch - this may be his first solo album received here but his albums with his wife, jazz vocalist Leslie Lewis, have always been rated highly. The album title is obviously a tribute to his wife, but this album is a showcase for him and his trio - Song For Leslie is purely instrumental throughout. While I wouldn't describe this album as 'smooth jazz', Mr Hagen's style is very smooth and assured - there are no jagged edges to the performances. The interaction between the piano, drums and bass are deftly interwoven and sound remarkably confident - you can tell these musicians have been working together for a long time. The other musicians are: Dominic Genova - bass, and Jerry Kalaf - drums. Song For Leslie contains seven tracks, two tracks written by Gerard Hagen, two by Jerry Kalaf and the remainder covers of songs by Rodgers and Hart and Cole Porter. The titles are: My Romance, A Weaver Of Dreams, What Is This Thing Called Love?, Song For Leslie, Where Gerard?, Looking At The Despair Calendar, 464 Blues. I wouldn't call the music on this CD laid-back but it is reflective and the romance within is inferred, of course. The style and sound here harks back to the classic albums of pianists such as Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner - very easy on the ear and great for relaxing to. Recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.surfcovejazz.com

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Louis Durra - Rocket Science (LOT50 CD1201)

Louis Durra is an accomplished Jazz pianist with a knack for taking Pop and Rock songs and giving them a radical makeover in an approachable Jazz style. On Rocket Science he has reworked songs by Bob Marley, KT Tunstall, Michael Bublé, Stevie Wonder, Neil Diamond, Lennon & McCartney, plus several other composers, along with a track written by himself. Performing in the trio format, each song offers a lot of potential to all members of the trio, and yet there isn't much showboating by the musicians - for much of the time the trio sounds like one cohesive instrument. That is quite impressive. The musicians are: Louis Durra - piano, Jerry Kalaf - drums, Ryan McGillicuddy or Larry Steen - bass. The twelve tracks are: The Hardest Button To Button, One Love, Black Horse And The Cherry Tree, Home, El Mango, Nine Eleven, According To You, Living For The City, Back In The USSR, Un Canadien Errant, In My Life, La Puerta Negra. For most of the album the tempo is slow to medium, ideal for relaxing to or soundtracking a dinner party - I don't see Rocket Science getting the feet dancing, it is a more cerebral album. And yet it cherishes the best elements of the songs on the album, the musicality is retained throughout while exploring some of the different direction the music can go.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.louisdurra.com

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The Neil C. Young Trio - El Camino
(Canadian American Records)

I suppose we had better get it out of the way immediately - this isn't THAT Neil Young, but a British Jazz guitarist sharing the same name. However, Neil C Young is every bit adept with an electric guitar as his counterpart, only instead of Rock music he is a Jazz musician of impressive skill and dexterity. The trio are: Neil C Young - guitar, Alan Whitham - bass, Richard Young - drums. El Camino contains eight tracks, seven written by Neil C Young and the final one was written by Richard Young. The sound on the album is crystal clear, so much so that you can hear the fingers sliding up and down the fretboard - it is like sitting in the studio with the trio. The immediacy of the sound ties in with the music very well, as the musicians interact very tightly [as a well toured band will do]. The eight track titles are: Nutter Strut, The Wagon (It Left Without Me), Slashville, Anonaggen, Ballaed, Bear Claw, Scooter, Slaphead. There are times across the album where the trio go a little funky and even get a groove going, which livens things up. Apparently Neil C Young has been making inroads into the American Jazz network, which is quite splendid for British Jazz musicians - a route only seldom travelled by British musicians. El Camino is an impressive album, full on sound, exciting performances, and well worth seeking out.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.neilcyoungtrio.com

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Masha Campagne - Like Water, Like Air
(Impetus Records IMP 712CD)

Masha Campagne is a Moscow born vocalist with an affinity for Latin-flavoured Jazz. Like Water, Like Air is her second album, and continues her journey with Latin rhythms. The album is a collection of original material written by Ms Campagne or members of her band, along with a couple of covers. The album has a late night atmosphere thanks to Ms Campagne's sensual voice and the magical ambience created by her band. The musicians certainly have the feel for the music and it comes through the speakers. The musicians are: Guinga - acoustic guitar/spoken word, Hendrik Meurkens - vibes/harmonica, Weber Iago - piano/fender rhodes, Harvey Wainapel - sax/clarinet, Jeff Buenz - guitars, Dan Robbins - basses, Jason Lewis - drums, Michael Spiro - percussion, Guello - percussion. Like Water, Like Air contains eleven tracks and they are: It Could Happen To You, Outra Vez, Broke But Rich, No Fundo Do Rio, Invitation, My Heart Was Lost And Found For You, Exasperada, Like Water Like Air, Se E Tarde Me Perdoa, Mystery Unwrapped, I Can See You Now. Ms Campagne has the type of vocal delivery that suites Brazilian-style Jazz - a slight delay of voice against the beat that seems to enhance the exotic nature of the sound. It is quite entrancing and the album has a built-in swing element that propels it very nicely. Like Water, Like Air is an album that rewards continued exploration and has become a regular on my playlist.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.mashacampagne.com

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Shingo Yuji - Introducing Shingo Yuji

Shingo Yuji - Introducing Shingo Yuji Shingo Yuji is a young Japanese-born guitarist now based in Los Angeles. Introducing Shingo Yuji is his debut album and it is a marker showing that this is a young musician to watch for in the future. Playing in a post-bop style in a trio format, this album combines original music by Mr Yuji along with cover versions of music by Charles Mingus and Lennon and McCartney. The rest of the trio are Dave Robaire - bass and Dan Schnelle - drums, along with a guest performance on several tracks Walter Smith III on sax. All four musicians make their mark with thoughtful and inventive solos. The overall sound is quite sparse, no overdub or multi-layering to fill out the sound - you can hear every note performed by the musicians. Indeed I salute the sound engineer, Paul Tavenner, for the quality of the sound - this is an album to test out your new hi-fi. The album contains eight tracks and they are: Laputa, Shadows on the Sun, The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines, A Song For The One, Improvisation and Variations on Itsuki Lullaby, Ame (Rain) - Interlude, Help, Rashoman. What impressed me most about Mr Yuji along with his undoubted musicality was the lightness of touch - the notes seem to literally float off of his guitar with a mellowness that belies the thought processes behind created them. Introducing Shingo Yuji is an astonishingly mature debut for a young musician. Highly recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.shingoyuji.com

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Tianna Hall & the Mexico City Jazz Trio - Two For The Road

The first thought that struck me when I started playing this album by jazz vocalist Tianna Hall is that she sounds remarkably like a young Cleo Laine - the same husky voiced sensuality pervades the lyrics. Obviously Ms Hall isn't Cleo Laine, for a start her voice is more intense and she inhabits the lyric with her strong personality. Ms Hall also isn't afraid to mix it a bit by taking songs from the pop canon as well as the perennial jazz songbook. So along with songs from Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and Barry Manilow, Henry Mancini, and Frank Loesser, there are also songs by 10cc, Radiohead and Soundgarden. The ability to cover such a wide spread of sources is thanks to the Mexico City Jazz Trio and a few extra guest musicians. They bring a luminous virtuosity to the recording, condensing the soundstage to a bubble just around you. The trio are: Miguel Villicaña - piano, Agustin Bernal - bass, Gabriel Puentes - drums and the guests are David Caceres - vocals/sax, Mike Wheeler - guitar, Lisa Vosdoganes - cello. The songs are: Til There Was You, What Is This Thing Called Love, When October Goes, They Can't Take That Away From Me, Creep, You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To, Black Hole Sun, I've Never Been In Love Before, Good Morning Heartache, I'm Not In Love, I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter, So In Love, Moon River, Two For The Road. Two For The Road is an emotionally packed trip through the art of the song and of the way they are interpreted. Tianna Hall has a maturity way beyond her tender years and this album is an impressive marker for the future. Highly recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.tiannahall.com

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Jacqui Sutton - Notes From The Frontier: A Musical Journey
(TBTP002)

Jacqui Sutton - Notes From The Frontier: A Musical JourneyThe frontier in this instance is Jazz, and vocalist Jacqui Sutton and her Frontier Jazz Orchestra have taken the usual jazz framework and turned it inside out, bringing in rootsy bluegrass, country and blues elements along with a healthy bit of theatrical trickery to make Notes From The Frontier a unique listening experience. I think it fair to say that this album doesn't sound like anything else you may find out there. Based in Texas and using Houston-based musicians, there is a sort of antique dustiness to these sounds - as if the music has been taken directly from old 78 rpm discs and re-performed 'as is'. This is strongly aided by Ms Sutton having a unique voice stretching several octaves and using it at times like a horn player for soloing and scatting. The twelve songs on the album are a mixture of little-known bluegrass tunes and classic jazz songs, sometimes mashed-up together to create something very different to their original sounds. The Frontier Jazz Orchestra is a pocket-sized one but with most musicians being multi-instrumentalists the sound is big and rich in variety. The musician are: Paul Chester - banjo/guitars, Anthony Sapp - basses, Ilya Janos - percussion, Eddie Lewis - trumpet/flugelhorn/piccolo trumpet, Henry Darragh - keyboards/trombone/melodion, Lyndon Hughes - drums/background vocals, Cindy Scott - backing vocals, Aralee Dorough - flute, Bob Chadwick - Irish flute. The songs are: Summertime, Lady of the Harbour, Humming Bird/Blue Rondo a la Turk, Jenny Rebecca, Freed, Nature Boy, Dear Friend, Where The Music Comes From, Weary Angel, Blue Mountain, Better Than Anything. Notes From The Frontier is an exceptionally inventive album, spreading its wings over several musical genres, but always rooted firmly in Jazz. Ms Sutton and her musicians offer a vision of jazz with deep roots in Americana. Highly recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.jacquisutton.com

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Jill Haley - Zion & Bryce Canyon Soundscapes

Jill Haley - Zion & Bryce Canyon SoundscapesAs the album title may suggest, Zion & Bryce Canyon Soundscapes is the soundtrack for a booklet of stunning photographs that accompanies the CD in this package. The music is composed and performed by Jill Haley, who plays piano, oboe, English horn and whistle on the dozen tracks. The lady is also a mean photographer - her photos of the Zion & Bryce Canyon national parks and the music they inspired need to be seen and heard to be appreciated. In some ways it is a shame this isn't a DVD and that this wasn't a movie showcasing these parks. The music is all acoustic, with Ms Haley's instruments being supported by David Cullen on guitar and bass, Dana Cullen on French horn, and Graham Cullen on cello. The Zion & Bryce Canyon national parks are in the state of Utah, in the USA of course, and looking at these photographs one gets a sense of the stark grandeur of the deep cut canyons and the fast flowing rivers, alongside the mountains and desert-like scrub. The music matches these images in a sympathetic way. It's all very different from the Dartmoor national park that I live near to here in Great Britain. I guess the music falls into the new age category, though it also fits into contemporary classical as well. The track titles are: Floating In The Narrows, Hoodoo Silhouettes, Watchman Trek, Sunflower Cantilena, Cerulean Sky, Queen's Garden, Tumbling Desert Waters, Spilled Sunshine On Red Rocks, Paria Point, Navajo Loop, Emerald Pools Mist, Waves Of Wind. Zion & Bryce Canyon Soundscapes is an impressive package marrying music and photography together, a rarity, I can't think offhand of a similar project as this. Recommended.

Available from CD Baby and Amazon.com as a CD. For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.jillhaley.com

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Christopher Boscole - Floating on a Melody

Composer/pianist Christopher Boscole is one of those musicians whose music tends to fall into more than one musical category - in this instance New Age and Contemporary Classical and of course, Solo Piano. His new album, Floating on a Melody, is a collection of twelve instrumentals which seem to have a strong marine influence. From the track titles one can guess that the musician spends some time staring out across the ocean depths and up at the galaxy-lit heavens. Mr Boscole has a sweeping, all-embracing style to his music and its performance - it is 'wide horizon' music, epic in grandeur and yet still intimate enough to have personal meaning for the listener. I am no musician or pianist so I can't write about technique, but this album tells you enough that Mr Boscole has the talents and skills to bring the best out of any piano he is playing. In this case it is a 9' Steinway D Concert Grand with a golden tone that any musician would die for. The track titles are: Floating on a Melody, A Country Dawn, Solo Per Vivere, Once Upon A Possibility, Waves Of Twilight, To Travel The Multiverse, Ballade Of Adagio, The Knight Returns, A Distant Universe, Peace Of Imagination, Collage In Dreams, Vous Revoir. Floating on a Melody is a lovely album, the music has a restful quality and will help when you need to recharge the batteries.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.christopherboscole.com

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Mirabai Ceiba - Between The Shores Of Our Souls
(Spirit Voyage Records)

Subtitled "Featuring the poetry of Rumi and Kahlil Gibran", this is a resolutely 'New Age' genre album of lusciously implemented music and sung poetry. Mirabai Ceiba are duo Angelika Baumbach and Markus Sieber along with a band of very empathic musicians who provide just the right musical settings for these romantic poems. I think Between The Shores Of Our Souls is an album that will resonate more with women listeners who will thrill at the lushly presented performances - this isn't really going to appeal to the average 58 year old bloke with a pot belly and more concerned about where his football team are in the league... Having said that there is much to enjoy in the musicianship that flesh out the ten melodies softly wrapped around the lyrics. The musicians are: Angelika Baumbach - vocals/piano/harp/harmonium/singing bowls, Markus Sieber - vocals/guitars, Benjamin Wittman - drums/percussion, Megan Gould - violin/viola, Karen Waltuch - viola, Noah Hoffeld - cello, Yoed Nir - electric cello, Nils Petter Molvœr - trumpet, Jamshied Sharifi - keyboards/bass/el. Guitar/ukulele/tambour/background vocals. The track titles are: Between The Shores Of Your Souls, Ocean Of My Dreams, Become My Life, Inside The Majesty, La Luna, El Instante Eterno, Love Writes, Tells The Clouds To Weep, Breeze At Dawn, Burn Of The Heart. Between The Shores Of Our Souls is a very romantic album but set at a spiritual level that requires an equally romantic listener, which unfortunately isn't me. However, for those who love their new age music then I think you will find this a most pleasurable album.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.spiritvoyage.com

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Sophisticated Ladies - A True Story

Sophisticated Ladies - A True StoryShoot me down in flames if I am wrong but I don't think there are many all women jazz quartets, let alone French-based ones. So I guess there is a novelty value to Sophisticated Ladies before you even get to the music. And there you come up with a winner - the four ladies are all very talented and superb musicians, they also bring a special magic when performing together. There is a flirtatious vivaciousness to the way they present their music, the jazz is sophisticated and yet playful. The quartet are: Emilie Calme - flute/bansuri/vocals, Rachael Magidson - vocals/flugelhorn/percussion, Nolwenn Leizour - acoustic bass/vocals, Valerie Chane-Tef - piano/vocals. Ms Magidson takes the most lead vocals and I have to admit her rather nasal tone takes a little getting used to, but in truth it acts as another instrument floating over the instrumental bed and compliments Emilie Calme's feathery flute playing. A True Story is, I think, their debut album and it is an impressive one, their selection of music by Rogers & Hart, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Charlie Parker, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Neil Hefti is impressive and diverse. With influences as varied as Samba, Chanson and Swing, the album is huge fun. The eight tracks are: The Lady Is A Tramp, Sophisticated Lady, Autumn Leaves, You Go To My Head, Segment, Gone With The Wind, Insensatez, Dansez Sur Moi. A True Story is an impressive debut album and the ladies will find many admirers when they tour.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.sophisticatedladies.fr

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Reggie Quinerly - Music Inspired By Freedman Town
(Redefinition Music)

Reggie Quinerly - Music Inspired By Freedman TownFreedman Town was a section of Houston, Texas, that after the American civil war was a neighbourhood for the recently emancipated black slaves. The history of this now umpteen times redeveloped area of the city wasn't recorded too well, and its historical importance as a centre of black American society has been largely forgotten. Drummer Reggie Quinerly found out about that history and dug into local records, the results being this album of music he has written, which relates to the story of Freedman Town. The music isn't literally a tale of Mr Quinerly's discoveries but more impressions drawn from the place and people of the time. The ten piece band on this album are impressive, playing tightly yet there is plenty of space for improvisation and solos. The musicians on this album are: Reggie Quinerly - drums/perc, Tim Warfield - tenor sax, Mike Moreno - guitar, Gerald Clayton - piano, Vicente Archer - bass, Antoine Drye - trumpet, Matt Parker - tenor sax, Corey King - trombone, Enoch Smith Jr - vocals/piano/organ/arranger/lyricist, Sarah Elizabeth Charles - vocals. Of the album's eleven tracks nine have been written by Mr Quinerly and the remnainder by Jerome Kern & Johhny Mercer and Les Brown. The titles are: #13 A Corner View From Robin Street, Live From The Last Row, Freedmantown, Fenster, Freedmantown Interlude, #2 Xylent Letters, A Portrait Of A Southern Frame, The Virginia Gentleman, Victoria, I'm Old Fashioned, Sentimental Journey. Music Inspired By Freedman Town is impressive in its scope and intention, and the musicianship is high calibre, and for those reasons I recommend it to you wholeheartedly.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.reggiequinerly.com

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Justin Horn - Hornology
(Rotato Records RR001)

Justin Horn - HornologyHornology is an album that stands in many camps - it is jazzy, it is funky, it is soulful and it has a strong pop nous going for it. It has a very rich sound throughout and with a little remixing on a few tracks there could be hit singles... But as it is Hornology is a potent showcase for vocalist and songwriter Justin Horn. If this is his debut album it is a very assured debut, it sounds like an album by an artist who has been around for quite some time. Part of this is due to the band playing on the album - hot doesn't describe them adequately, this lot of musos are smoking on many of these tracks. Think a mix of Boz Scaggs and the Average White Band and that may give you some idea of the style and sound achieved here. The band are: Mike DeRose - guitar, Jim Sodke - keyboards, Eric Hervey - bass, Ryan Schiedermayer - drums/percussion, Thomas Barber/Jeff Pietrangelo - trumpets, Warren Wiegratz - alto sax, Andrew Spadafora - tenor/baritone sax. Mr Horn is a very able songwriter, his songs have snap and verve and are groovy in the proper sense of the word. The eleven tracks are: Open The Door, By Your Side, You Can't Get My Love, That Way, Same Thing'll Happen, Zig Zag, I Don't Wanna Know, Makin' Bacon, Short Stack At The No Money Table, Lovely Love, Footprints. Hornology is a damn impressive album full of good songs, good vibes, and it is currently on replay on my audio system. Justin Horn is a vocalist and songwriter to watch out for in the future. Recommended.

For more information about this artist, album and availability visit: www.justinhorn.com

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