Thursday, April 3, 2014

CD Review: Steve Kroon's 'On The #1'

Steve Kroon
On The #1
Kroonatune Records

Queens and Harlem-based music connoisseur, Steve Kroon, has been wowing crowds for a few decades and continues to do so on his latest and fifth recording, On The #1. The new nine-track release contains instrumental tunes with Latin and jazz percussion-themed compositions arranged by Oscar Hernandez, Igor Atalita, James Shipp, Donald Vega, Bryan Carrott, and Marty Sheller. The music is steeped in jazzy horns, congos, flutes, vibraphones, piano, and other assorted instruments. The melodies and rhythms are laid-back, danceable, and relaxing--all at the same time. Steve's inherent knowledge and performance of the music is unmatched in today's Latin jazz scene. Years of music-making and performing shine through on Steve's latest release. It is called On The #1 for a reason--since I cannot think of any other number it deserves. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Christos DC's 'Long Road'

Christos DC
Long Road
Honest Music

Washington DC-native, Christos DC, releases a new album steeped in Jamaican reggae, R&B, and urban grooves that are ready to excite listeners seeking for something more. The new fourteen-track release features some down-tempo grooves, jazzy bass-lines, and hip-hop inspired elements for a truly contemporary recording. Christos DC's varied instrumental accompaniment and laid-back vocals provides a rich musical product that should win over everyone that listens to it. The groove-induced hooks of "Lovely Lady," "Just Talk To Me," "Another Day," and many others, solidifies Christos DC's mark on the musical world in a very positive light. The vocals are akin to Jack Johnson and John Mayer with more of a reggae voice throughout. At any rate, Long Road is a great musical journey that begins and ends with Christos DC. ~ Matthew Forss

Sunday, March 30, 2014

CD Review: Charlie Dennard's 'From Brazil To New Orleans'

Charlie Dennard 
From Brazil To New Orleans

Charlie Dennard takes listeners on a jazz journey through lounge, boogaloo, fusion, and Brazilian music throughout the nine long tracks on the new album. As the title of the album implies, Charlie brings us a mix of jazz-inspired tunes with an homage to Brazilian composers and the multi-cultural powerhouse of southern Louisiana. The instrumental tunes are full of jazzy melodies and rhythms that contain punchy horns, folksy percussion, and contemporary jazz elements. The lounge jazz feel of some of the tracks is permeated with some Brazilian fusion and improvisational elements, which only adds to the enjoyment of the entire album. The piano offers some meditative influences on "Asa Branca" and "Senhorinha." The bluesy side of jazz rears its head on "Valsa Luisiana." The smooth jazz and Afro-funk fusion of "Africa Mae" is stellar. Overall, Charlie releases a great final product, which bridges the gap between Brazil and New Orleans from a musical standpoint. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Ernest Ranglin & Avila's 'Bless Up'

Ernest Ranglin & Avila
Bless Up
Avila Street Records

Jamaican-born guitarist and composer, Ernest Ranglin, has been wowing crowds and countries for decades with his signature style of ska, jazz, mento, reggae, and blues music. The instrumental tunes on Bless Up are very classy and rich with jazzy leanings, ska infusions, and island charisma. The rootsy jazz guitar stylings on "Bless Up" cement Ernest's reputation for indelible recordings and compositions. The rippling guitar and piano melody are backed by a beautiful, laid-back percussion section. The jazzy, reggae-tinged "Joan's Pen" is a heady mixture of classic vs. contemporary that finds an inner balance for everything to work just right. The swaying melody of "Follow On" showcases more diverse talent from Ernest's finger-tips. The sassy piano and horn section adds some pizzazz to the jazzy rhythm and guitar arrangements. There are sixteen tracks in all that span the gamut from jazz, lounge, tropical, roots, reggae, ska, and blues. Bless Up is a step up from other recordings that may be similar, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone comparable to the great Ernest Ranglin. He's 81 and still cranking out the tunes. ~ Matthew Forss

Saturday, March 29, 2014

CD Review: She'Koyokh's 'Wild Goats & Unmarried Women'

Wild Goats & Unmarried Women
Riverboat Records/World Music Network

Based in the U.K., She'Koyokh bring us rollicking good fun with brassy instruments, pulsating gypsy rhythms, and klezmer-inspired traditions on their latest release, Wild Goats & Unmarried Women. The album title is as fun as the music, which traverses the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. The jazzy horns, punchy rhythms, and unmistakable melodies are great for dancing and enjoying what the musical world has to offer. Interestingly, the album's title refers to male goats jumping up and down during mating season to attract female goats, which is similar to dancing movements inspired by the music contained herein. At any rate, She'Koyokh knows how to combine classic klezmer grooves with gypsy sounds and pan-European influences. The music is both vocal and instrumental throughout. Fans of klezmer, gypsy, brass, jazz, and world music should check out She'Koyokh today. Don't delay! ~ Matthew Forss

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

CD Review: Atse Tewodros Project's Self-Titled Release

Atse Tewodros Project
Atse Tewodros Project

Envisioned by singer, writer, and performer, Gabriella Ghermandi, the Atse Tewodros Project is a collaboration between Ethiopian and Italian musicians. The music is steeped in Ethiopian traditional modes and scales with a bit of European jazz. The project is named after a prominent Ethiopian emperor: Atse Tewodros. The jaunty music is jazzy, purely Ethiopian, and rich with great rhythms and melodies. Gabriella lends her vocal talent throughout, while others play the washint, masinqo, kirar, kebero, drums, bass, piano, and assorted percussion. Song lyrics are provided by Gabriella Ghermandi, Aklilu Zewdie, Berhanu Gizaw, and Inish Hailu. There are plenty of likable tracks here, including "Atse Tewodros," "Che Belew," "Be Kibir," and "Tew Belew." A few tracks contain some spoken words. However, the majority of the songs contain sung vocals. Anyone with an interest in innovative and traditional, Ethiopian music, will surely find the Atse Tewodros Project high on the list of must-haves. ~ Matthew Forss

Monday, March 24, 2014

CD Review: Antonio Adolfo's 'Rio, Choro, Jazz...'

Antonio Adolfo
Rio, Choro, Jazz...
AAM Music

The instrumental works of Brazilian pianist and composer, Ernesto Nazareth, are brilliantly showcased on nine of the ten tracks. One track is an original piece named after the album title and cleverly produced and arranged by Brazil's Antonio Adolfo. Antonio is a talented pianist, composer, arranger, and educator regarding everything related to Brazilian jazz and bossa nova. Antonio plays piano on this recording, but he is joined by Claudio Spiewak on guitars, Jorge Helder on double bass, Marcelo Martins on flute and soprano sax, and Rafael Barata/Marcos Suzano on drums/percussion. The compositions attributed to Ernesto were originally conceived in the late 1800's and early 1900's. The four to seven-minute tracks are full of Brazilian glory and exuberance with sweeping piano melodies, jingly percussion, and bossa nova/lounge jazz. The music is breezy and airy--much like a lazy afternoon on the beaches of Rio. At any rate, Antonio knows how to capture the essence of classic music in a contemporary setting. ~ Matthew Forss