Music


JAZZ AND WORLD BEAT

Omar Sosa - Ayaguna - Ota Records OTA1010

AISN B000084TT4

A duo concert with Gustavo Ovalles on drums which was recorded live in Japan.

This is a CD Plus or E-CD that includes interview footage with the Grammy nominated artist Omar Sosa and a montage of footage in a style that shows a little Norman McLaren and other NFBC alumni influences against one of Sosa’s recordings.

We featured an extensive profile of tribal-jazz artist Omar Sosa in our September-October 2001 issue, with a review of his Sentir album from last year which was up for a Grammy this year.

Unlike those efforts which were very much about fusing many different tribal beats, chants and vocals with modernist jazz music, this album is far more simple and straightforward with just Sosa on piano and some light drum work. Sosa is concentrating more on jazz while still having a little Cuban, South American or African flavor from the various percussive offerings by collaborator Gustavo Ovalles.

Black Reflections, the first cut, is pure jazz while Una Tradicion Negra is a subtle mixture of jazz and tribal beats.

Iyawo, on the other hand, is a very out there on the edge experimental piece that displays both their creative and performing depths.

Dias de Iyawo is slow, simple, beautiful piece with gentle drum claves and expressive playing from Sosa on a hunting theme that breaks into a faster movement later in the song.

Africa Madre Viva starts off with some fast African style drumming but once Sosa comes in with piano Ovalles beings working counterpoint to his themes and you never know where they are going to take this tune next. This cut contains vocal utterances and audience applause.

Trip Into The White Scarf is another out there modern jazz piece right out of the late 1950’s and into the 1960’s feel of the genre.

Toridanzon begins a bit in the classical, Latin vein that brings Spanish music to mind, ending with a rousing audience response!

Eleggua in the Road is another very experimental piece against a strong clave. In this one some of Sosa’s direction reminds me of the work of Keith Emerson off the classic Carnevil Nine ELP rock album, except Sosa is a far better master of the piano with a much cleaner technique.

My Three Notes is a slow, moody piece that starts with solo piano and then a gentle clave comes into play. This is the last CD audio track.

Bonus track 10 is the video which requires a compatible player (Quick Time that is included in the package).

These were recorded on a DAT and the room ambiance is very nice. A gentle reverb slap from the walls can be heard and this compliments the music, bearing a nice warm tone. I also detected some electronic delay on some cuts which has a definite distortion sizzle to it (I prefer the real thing over the computer algorithm).

I had some problems with the ECD on my PC and had to use the plain vanilla, stock CD Player to get the audio tracks which did not show up in my Windows Media Player. Also the autorun file didn’t work right. These flaws are common to ECDs (see our piece on ECDs and how they are made).

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JAZZ AND BLUES

Keith Jarrett - Selected Recordings ECM Records :rarum series

AISN B0000646VA

Last year we reviewed the Jan Garbarek offering from the ECM :rarum series, which included several collaborative cuts with Keith Jarrett. Jarrett is also now up for a Grammy award in the realm of Jazz, except what he does is a lot more straight forward than Omar Sosa and also more towards the blues side of jazz with a bit of classical feel to it.

This is another two CD set of recordings hand selected by Jarrett representing his long career with ECM Records (which is a division of Universal-MCA) and includes some collaborations with Jan Garbarek on sax, Palle Danielsson or Gary Peacock on double bass, John Christensen or Jack DeJohnette on drums.

Jarrett is not as out there on a limb as is Garbarek nor is he into the world beat music scene to any extent. A consummate pianist his work is very slow and often quite dark. You can hear him sing to himself while he plays and his dynamics are so great you can even hear the foot pedals go down now and then. His songs are very reflective and low-keyed.

Disk one starts off with a Bach sounding piece played on a harpsichord and this is my favorite type of harpsichord song in the Baroque motif covering tracks 1 and 2.

He continues with this sound on the third track but in a more dissonant style.

Piano beings on track 4, following on track 5 with some reed and pan-pipe leads.

Drums enters the scene on track 8 with a very percussive beat.

Track 11 is very upbeat, cut-time number featuring some very hot piano playing with drums and bass and Jan Garbarek’s sax taking the lead. One of the best numbers on disk one.

Track 12 have a good vamp in moderate speed blues style that almost R & B, backed by bass, drums and featuring Garbarek on sax. A sweet number! They all really move with this one.

The next cut is a bit slower and mellow but still has a great theme with Jarrett doing almost (but not quite) a music box style of playing in the opening parts.

The last take on disk one starts off with a Garbarek solo, then the rest of the band joins in and after a few minutes we move into a very happy groove that offers a total change of pace. Jarrett then takes a over their solid vamp. At times this one gets very peppy sounds a little like something David Sandborn might do with a small group, but then it slows down in to a really slow jazz-blues which totally changes mood!

Disk Two:

Tracks 3 and 4 of disk two features Garbarek whose mood compliments Jarrett’s musical concepts quite nicely and on this cut Jarrett uses synthesizer or organ with him.

Track 5 is a happier cut that comes close to a little of Omar Sosa is doing in parts of his new album we reviewed above.

Track 6 is a very blues theme piece with a haunting lead sax line by Garbarek along with drums and bass that vamps out a ways into the song. This is one of my favorite cuts of disk two.

Track 7 has a nice vamp featuring Jarrett with bass and drums.

Track 8 is pure, straight cut time jazz like a hot number Duke Ellington might have played long ago with scat vocals way in the background.

Track 10 sounds almost like a Bach church organ piece.



COUNTRY


Melissa Gibson - Welcome To Stay - Java Joe’s Records - 8 07677 00022 3
AISN: B000083XI6

Mainstream Country with some pop cross over potential.

My first thoughts drove me to Shawn Colvin’s huge classic album, but with less twang and a slightly deeper voice. Melissa's approach to songwriting is also somewhat similar, but more upbeat.

A very well produced album (by Vaughn Lofstead) with some hot session players (including Chris Nole and Roger Morris who split duties on various sessions, Vaughn Lofstead on guitars, Steve Holland on drums), but the mix was a little too much in the mid-range level, lacking a major low end punch. Still it's very good, easy listening.

No Room For Blue has a very nice fiddle run by Jim Unger at the end that I could have heard more of in the song.

Table For Two features a nice sax line now and then (Bryan Cummings).

Smoke and Mirrors features some fine pedal steel guitar work (by Mike Daily) along with a real Hammond B3 with full Leslie (played by Denis Wage).

Her songs are really nice. Well written, thoughtful, methodical, poetic and even meaningful. I seem to get a hint she might be Christian influenced, but it’s not heavy handed, just a hint, in which case she could have a major career in the Christian music industry, which is a very large sub-culture industry in America. She doesn’t preach, but I get a subtle feeling that she’s singing about something bigger than a common man.

The package I received was superb. It came packaged in a nice blue box printed with the album name and her inside, white folder was custom printed in full color that included a full color business card placed into flap cuts on the inside pouch (that’s an ultra expensive presentation folder). It’s a commercially pressed CD with a product bar code, full color front and back V-style glossy that includes the lyrics and player names (it was packed inside a styro sleeve to keep it from getting cracked). She also included a hand-signed letter (another collector’s item), bio, interview excerpts and a very professionally made black and white promotional glossy. They didn’t, however, include her ASCAP listing on the CD (which you are supposed to do) nor list an ASCAP publisher (which you need to claim ASCAP publishing money).

Her image could stand with some of the same slickness that was used to produce the album. I liked the inside front cover picture (seen at right) the best. On the front and back covers she looks like your older sister at a holiday event and a performer should be a bit larger than that. I don’t mean plastic, I mean she should take her essence and turn it into something as magnificent as her music, instead it’s a little too plain wrap. She also needs to let go, she’s holding back and not using her voice to the fullest extent. Instead of singing like a Linda Ronstadt, Barbara Streisand, Faith Hill or Celine Dion, wide open and deep from within, she just shows us a little of what she really has to offer – and it’s good, as a whole. I’d like to really like to hear her kick out the jams and make my cry with her voice. Lofstead needed to say, that was great, now go back and do it even better!

“Turn Back Now” is an example, there are so many places where she could have really knocked our socks off, instead of just giving us a good, safe, conservative performance. Not mediocre, mind you, just plain vanilla good and it should have been much better. Had it been better Columbia Records would be looking at her even without hits, because they like to swallow up premium artists.

Overall this is a very listenable album. If you like artists like Shawn Colvin (as opposed to Faith Hill or Juice Newton) you will probably eat this album up. It’s got dandy tunes start to finish, hot playing, good singing and her messages are introspective yet positive. You can relate to her situations with ease. She’s a good story teller and is probably telling it to you from a first hand experience instead of weaving a fairy tale. There is, however, no “Sunny Came Home” on this CD which is why you aren’t hearing her on mainstream radio, but many country stations should be including her in at least light rotation as her material is worth introducing to the public.

This is a totally first rate job that really shouldn’t be in the underground section so I’m putting into our regular section. If you like women singers who do country-folk music, your $20 is well spent on Welcome to Stay. It’s an album I’ll put into my regular collection and listen to now and then. I’d play it for friends and strangers without a preface. With a little more image work, more gusto from the inside and good booking agent she will become a contender in the country music realm, if not a heavy hitter somewhere down the line when she finally creates a “Sunny Came Home” or “Constant Craving.”

For more information visit: www.melissagibson.com

You will find this CD at www.cdbaby.com or www.amazon.com .

ALTERNATIVE AND PUNK


G-Spot - Experience The Pleasure Part 2 - Revolutionary Records

AISN B000069ILB

Includes tracks from their first CD and two new preview tracks.

Alternative rock with a heavy punk female vocals. Musically they start to remind me a little of what No Doubt gave us on "Tragic Kingdom” but these guys aren't emulating them or anyone else. What they are doing is playing some distinctive cliche styles and doing a switch up, which is why I make the “Tragic Kingdom” reference. Too bad No Doubt stopped showing how creative they could be musically in past albums, but it’s very nice to see G-Spot carrying on this tradition of multiple musical textures or themes in a given song.

Revolutionary – Radio Mix. Power chord with pure-punk attitude. Think of Linda Ronstadt’s “How Do I Make You” except with vocals that sometimes go out of key (what the hell, it is supposed to be punk). Half way through the song they break into a pop-SKA sound before going back to power chord noise. Then they go into a 60’s rock piano segue, before going out with power chords.

Nut In Your World comes in with a punk-SKA sound then goes into power chord metal

Reach For Me starts off sounding like a sweet love song but breaks into a more screaming segue before going back to that nylon string acoustic pluck guitar. There are also real strings or it is a guitar synthesizer doing a very good viola impression. This song has three textures.

Buried another acoustical song with Gail Silverman doing a pop-folk vocal style with some occasionally excellent counterpoint harmonies. It also features a hot jazz piano solo.

Sweet Lies sounded a little like Heart’s “Kick It Out” right down to the lead guitar licks at times. Not quite a clone, mind you, however parts of the solo do remind me of something I’ve heard before on another record, but can’t quite place and that part seems cloned.

I sensed a little borrowing in parts of “Nut In Your World” and “Sweet Lies” but the rest of the cuts are refreshingly original.

Their package came in a very large bubble envelope. Packed inside was a bright red folder containing the CD, a colorful 3 x 5” peel and stick label (one was already on the front cover), their business card inserted into cuts of the folder, an 8 x 10 black and white glossy band photo, a cover letter made out to me personally and signed by Gail Silverman (potential for a collectors item here), a list of stations playing their songs, along with several sheets of past reviews.

The CD-R was a home pressing with an excellent color “V” style cover that could have been trimmed a little cleaner. The CD-R label had a copyright notice but no “circle P” sound recording. There was no performance rights affiliations listed on the label or song titles and with this band getting loads of airplay on ASCAP or BMI media I hope they are affiliated with someone as I’m sure they are getting some rotation work on a song or two. The CD came in one of the modern slimline cases that is half the thickness or normal CD jewel boxes but sports the same size front label, with no back label required.

The musicianship is top flight. They are an excellent band with strong musical influences and diverse tastes that show up in every song! The songs are very nice with good lyrics, well structured, played to perfection and as a whole produced real slick.. Sonically and musically the performances hold up to “Tragic Kingdom” and I don’t want to make a strong comparison, because their musical styles are vastly different.

G-Spot is a punk alternative band that puts a little SKA, jazz, pop and other textures into every song. Gail Silverman’s voice could develop over the years into something very powerful. Right now she’s a bit weak in spots and doesn’t exhibit a distinct “style all her own.” I’m sure, her voice will gel at some future date as she gets full command of what she is doing. She comes very close in some songs and then misses the mark the little at other times. A good producer can help her solidify what she’s doing into a strong signature vocal. Her going off key here and there left me unsettled, but as I said it is punk.

The album is overall very hot and I listened to parts of it twice. I’m not a super fan of punk but I certainly can appreciate what they are doing and how her vocals work with the tunes. These cuts do remind me a little of Blondie prior to “Parallel Lines” – think of songs like “Talking on the Telephone” – except Debbie Harry was a little more in control of her voice, range and texture. Silverman’s vocal work needs to age a little more through stage work and maturity. Musically they are quite creative and know how to keep a song interesting by shifting into a new gear at just the right point.

This is definitely a group you should check out as they might become a major force one or two years down the line. They know what they are doing, as a whole they do it quite well, they are by and large fresh, somewhat unique and very first rate at playing their licks. Gail’s voice works well in the punk genre and when she eventually “let’s her hair down” more in the future and gains real control, she has the potential to be a contender in the scheme of things. This CD is definitely better than what most major label acts have to offer the listener, far better than the other three No Doubt offerings. The songs come close to hitting the mass market mark, but they don’t really have a break out song yet, so you won’t be seeing them in mainstream until at least next year!

Why they haven’t been picked up by a minor label is unknown to me, they certainly qualify and in a few years could get that label swallowed up by a major company if they strike gold with big hit. They play the major venues in New York. Their CDs are available at Amazon.com (I received a limited edition EP which you can only obtain at their shows) and cdbaby.com. You can find out more about them at: www.gspotband.com.

G-Spot has what it takes to eventually merit a Grammy and I hope they keep at it long enough for me to see that happen!

Overall quality of the package excellent. Presentation is superb. Workmanship is top notch. Creativity is excellent. Listenability is very good. Originality is really, really good.

Don’t miss two of NYC’s hottest Rock Divas, Emiko & G-spot., performing on one bill, its certain to be an unbelievable & bewitching evening, Friday March 21, 2003 at Downtime at 8:00pm, 251 W. 30th St (bet 7th & 8th Aves.), NYC.

FUNK - JAZZ



Chronophonic - Chronophonic

Horn based funk, hip-hop and jazz.

Think of Steely Dan thrown together with Tower of Power and you come close to this group. In fact the lead guitar on their opening anthem sounds a little like Larry Carlton off one of the Royal Scam or Aja cuts. Don’t think of P-Funk, because these guys aren't quite George Clinton! They are, however, really good, hot players and the recording is clean and crisp.

Sound Off is a little bit hip-hop and a little bit Latin. Nice touch of the lead electric guitar on one side matching the horns which are on the other side. The rap singer needs to use a double layer on the pop-screen as I can hear a bit of wind pop against the mic, but so far nothing serious bad.

Shake Yo’ Ass is a nice face-paced aggressive funk song complete with percussive D-6 clavinet slap solo (that’s something you don’t hear much today) - that D-6 clavichord, by the way, is the instrument Stevie Wonder used for "Superstition."

Daystar comes on as one of those slow jazz raps then a beat comes in.

Inspiration Part Mie features a lot of guest artists including vocalist Kate Shoup who has nice dynamics and knows how to kick it out, Ron Miles, on a trumpet solo over which the rhythm section slides the beat around a bit with very good, tight results. Mike Purcell also adds vibes to this cut, along with Mary Ellen Stringer on alto flute.

Sounds of Liberation is very funky featuring Chronophonic regular vocalist Jacob Sanders along with support from Kate Shoup on harmonies then she takes over for the more mellow Steely Dan sounding segue.

We Could Be starts off like an old, scratchy vinyl LP for days long gone (you know, like 1989).

Don’t Stop begins with a Tom Scott lift (the theme song from “Barney Miller”).

Norman Conners is a slow, jazz song that’s like a slight cross between Sade with members of the Steely Dan sessions playing with her band.

Deep Puddin’ Pt. II nice starting vamp, followed by a little rap and then singing. Just when you think it's over, it isn't. Long song.

While there are no mainstream cuts on this CD (maybe Wave or NPR will play a few cuts, as might an occasional R & B station) they’re playing is hot, the vocals mostly on the mark, their songs are pretty good (although some get kind of long at 11 minutes) and their originality is fairly good (I’m not that much into funk so if anyone finds anything ultra derivative about them drop me a line so I can learn more).

If you like funky jazz, that sounds a little like some of the Steely Dan Aja material, mixed with a little rap, backed by lots of horns this is your cup of tea!

They are excellent players, do their job very well and have turned in a first rate album with a lot of nice B sides that you can listen to easily. No great hits. Nothing to totally knock your socks off in the unique department, I’ve heard some of this before and will hear it again, but what they do sounds quite nice!

Their package, by the way, was very nice and came in a protective, clear plastic envelope. The CD is a commercial pressing with bar code, full color V-style cover, excellent full color business card, pictures and bio of the band.

For more information, go to their website:

www.chronophonic.com



Our Music Special Issues Continues With These Other Offerings:

Our Regular Music Reviews:
Featuring: Omar Sosa - Keith Jarrett - Melissa Gibson - G-Spot - Chronophonic

Articles and Information from the 2003 Music Special:
Grass Roots Music | US Copyright Extension | The Promo Pack | The ECD | The Music Video
The Birth of the Recording Industry | California Arts & Music Expo | Peformance Rights Organizations

Ecelectic and Underground CD Reviews:
Jon Denzene/The Torrent | Distilled | Hook The Captain | Jesse Morgan
Tesknota | Living Space | JM Cruiz

Indiana Area Local Club Bands:
Sonus | The Mumble | Northern Kind | Archies Address

Articles and Information from the 2002 Music Special:
Learning Music | Promo Pictures | Booking Agents| Managers | Producers | Pressing CDs
Record Companies | Copyrights | Recording Software | Sound Cards | Guitar and Bass
Multi-Track Recorders | Live Sound Gear | Microphones | Recording Engineer | Bands in Texas
Teen Band: Y@nK | Gigs and Clubs | Music Theory | Radio Airplay

 






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