Tuesday, April 14, 2015

CD Review: Ajoyo's Self-Titled Release


The heady grooves and rhythms of Ajoyo's West African, jazz, and afro-beat inspired music with roots in Cameroon, Tunisia, France, and beyond. Spearheaded by Yacine Boulares with lead vocals coming from Sarah Elizabeth Charles and other vocals by Linton Smith and Alon Albagli. The rhythms and textures are created with the piano, rhodes, organ, percussion, bass, drums, sax, clarinet, udu, and others. The Cameroonian-influenced release is highly-contemporary and driven with diverse sounds and hypnotic lines that will keep anyone enthralled for a long time. Whether it is world jazz, bikutsi pop, afro-beat, or jam music, Ajoyo knows how to entertain us in creative ways without succumbing to pitfalls. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Axel Krygier's 'Hombre De Piedra'

Axel Krygier
Hombre De Piedra

The contemporary recording, Hombre De Piedra, showcases an experimental vein of Axel Krygier's cross-cultural side. As a singer and composer, Axel brings together spaghetti Western, folk, Balkan, French cafe, blues, electronica, funk, and jazz influences for a truly exciting collection of songs that are never boring. The musical origins stem from Axel's Argentinian background, but this is not your typical tourist trap music. Instead, Axel combines edgy French, Russian, and Latin-American song styles for an enthralling release. A diverse instrumental repertoire helps the songs reach new heights and incredible appeal. Whether it is down-tempo or world music, Axel manages to create wonderful songs that are highly catchy and always memorable. If you are into new music with an ear-friendly beat; then try Axel's new release. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Le Vent Du Nord's 'Tetu'

Le Vent Du Nord
Borealis Records

Quebecois-origins aside, Le Vent Du Nord is a magnificient folk music group with hearty strings, thought-provoking vocals, intense melodies, raw hurdy-gurdy sounds, and other elements that are likable and timeless. There are instrumental and vocal medleys throughout. The instrumental and bouncy, "Cardeuse-Riopel," is an excellent example of piano, fiddle, accordion, and other instruments coming together in a harmonic fashion. The folksy roots and earthy feel to the album stems from the talented cast of musicians, including Nicolas Boulerice, Olivier Demers, Rejean Brunet, and Simon Beaudry. Fifteen tracks round out the album. Some of the songs are under two-minutes, but a majority of the songs are two to five-minutes long. There is a classical quality to the music, but there is a strong Quebecois element highlighting the best of French-Canadian folk music. Start off on the right foot with Le Vent Du Nord. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Florencia Gonzalez' 'Between Loves'

Florencia Gonzalez
Between Loves
ZOHO Music

Uruguayan-born and New York resident, Florencia Gonzalez, is a talented composer, performer, instrumentalist, and singer, but showcases her instrumental side on Between Loves. Florencia presents us with a thrilling selection of six original tunes and one cover by Hugo Fattoruso. Florencia plays tenor sax throughout the album, while other musicians play trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, piano, bass, and drums for s truly South American jazz experience. The musical notes waft between tango, candombe, big band, and Latin jazz styles that are rather laid-back, but full of life. As a Berklee College of Music graduate and New England Conservatory graduate with honors in jazz composition, Florencia knows a thing or two about engaging, historic, and cultural music. The entire album is around forty-minutes in length, but it seems to incorporate a variety of textures and melodies to keep everyone very satisfied. ~ Matthew Forss

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

CD Review: Michele McLaughlin's 'Undercurrent'

Michele McLaughlin

Undercurrent is the fifteenth album from prolific, Utah-based composer and solo pianist, Michele McLaughlin. There are a total of thirteen introspective works that are relatively graceful, emotive, and full of flowing piano melodies that seem to take on a life of their own. All of the instrumental compositions are between two and four-and-a-half-minutes long. There are several notable tracks that contain cinematic appeal, including "On My Own," "Stepping Stones," and "The Space Between." The songs are somewhat neo-classical with historical nods to the greats of the classical era--but only in spirit. There is a strong contemporary vein to the works that resemble the music of Danny Wright and another Michele--Michele de Wilton, These are original songs that represent two years of creative work. Fans of solo piano music will find a place in their heart and ears for Michele McLaughlin's Undercurrent. 5 Stars (out of 5) ~ Matthew Forss

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Digital Music Review: Road Man's 'Light At The Speed Of Life'

Road Man
Light At The Speed Of Life

Links: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram

Road Man is the name of Jon Petronzio's group, which spreads great grooves and hook-laden melodies in rock, reggae, down-tempo, and electronica formats. The New York-based band-leader creates funky, moving rhythms that rival the electronica leanings of Action Figure Party and a few reggae beats indicative of Bob Marley and Cas Haley. "The Meeting" is a funky, rock-laden tune with a Southern angst and contemporary appeal that incorporates a bluesy and roots feel. "Chosen" is a psychedelic fun-fest with glittering electronics and a funky beat with great vocals. "Dangerous Road" is a syncopated beat delight with reggae leanings and funk melodies that awaken everyone into a dance mood. "Lights Camera Action" brings together more of an urban dance feel with glistening electronica, swishy percussion, and fast vocals. "Run Away With Me" is another reggae beat gem with throbbing B3 organ sounds representing a roots-centric fixture. The diversity in tracks is exceptional and the melodies are well worth repeated listens. You can dance, relax, space out, and move your hips to the music of Road Man without having any guilt or apprehension. 5 Stars (out of 5). ~ Matthew Forss

Thursday, February 19, 2015

CD Review: Visual Music Circus' New Self-Titled Release

Visual Music Circus
Visual Music Circus

Petros Sakelliou, a native of Athens, Greece, is the brainchild behind the new album, Visual Music Circus. The circus theme is found in the carnival-esque melodies and moods represented throughout the eight tracks and several diverse musical instruments, including the piano, accordion, sax, vibraphone, clarinet, flute, piccolo, violin, upright bass, percussion, and drum-set. The multi-layered sounds conjure up images of Brazilian lounge bars, sultry beaches, and smoky nightclubs. There is a mix of jazz, classical, Latin, and nostalgic music akin to the 1960's and 70's era. The result is a playful and well-orchestrated album that is full of serene melodies, writhing rhythms, and unique sounds that bring a fresh perspective to the area of world fusion. ~ Matthew Forss