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The archives contain all of the material that was posted on JazzUSA prior to July 1, 2012, when we converted to our new community-based format.

Charles Earland In Concert(Prestige – 1972/74-2002) by John Barrett

Charles Earland rose to prominence in the late ‘Sixties as his instrument (the Hammond B-3) was falling from jazz favor. More dance-oriented than his peers, Earland’s music blended funk vamps, Stax horn riffs, and wicked, unstoppable grooves. Here he is at the Lighthouse in 1972, making them shout with Sly Stone’s “Smilin'”.

Earland shimmers with wispy chords, Maynard Parker drizzles some guitar, and the band (including a young Clifford Adams) swaggers in the background. Charles does his climbing-stairs routine, then a little wah-wah … basic yes, but it gets the… Continue reading

Moacir Santos Moacir Santos
Choros & Alegria
(Adventure Music – 2005)
by Narvy James

Moacir Santos is without a doubt, one of the most important Brazilian music personalities’ of the 20th century, so when I saw this on the stack it needed some immediate listening. Choros & Alegria covers Santos’ music prior to the 1965 album Coisas. The guitar playing on this CD is unbelievable, and taken together with the wind instruments one is reminded of a man in the park juggling six round balls… the instruments all holding their relative places while never sitting still like those circling, rotating balls.

The twenty-four major players on this CD include Moacir Santos, Andréa Ernest Dias, Cristóvão Bastos, Jessé Sadoc, Marcello Gonçalves, Marcos Nimrichter, Nailor Proveta, RIcardo Silveira, Teco Cardoso, Zé Paulo Becker, Mario Adnet and Zé Nogueira and very special guest Wynton Marsalis. The sax stylings on this CD reminded me a bit of Benny Goodman with a South American flavor. Wynton Marsalis shows up to play a strong solo, but Moacir’s voicings are always there, always present. The piccolo piece in “Flores” second verse was especially enticing. This album is relaxing and soothing… take me away, Moacir!

(Moacir Santos is also one of few Afro Brazilians to have received the medal of Rio Branco’s order from the Brazilian President – Ed)

Will DowningClassique Concord – 2009

Will Downing returns with his 14th tasteful & timeless offering, “Classique”. His 20th Anniversary recording features signature renditions of David Ruffin, Barry White and The Originals, plus 7 Self-Penned Songs.

Taking his inspiration from the French term Classique – an author, artist or work of art, of the highest excellence – Will Downing returns with his 14th collection of sensual grooves and true love primers. Classique the encore presentation to the great After Tonight (recorded while battling the muscle disorder Polymyositis). Back in top form, Downing’s sensitive touch is felt throughout the project –… Continue reading

Colors Ken Nordine(Asphodel – 2000) by Matthew S. Robinson

Originally intended as a nine-part series of commercials for a paint company, Ken Nordine’s 1967 classic is still a brilliant and, um- colorful trip through the big crayon box. Re-released with ten new 90 second shades, Colors (the American spelling, thank you!) gives form and flesh to a J. Crew catalog full of familiar but perhaps underappreciated tones. Though the usual suspects such as Yellow, Brown and Black are in revue, Nordine also reaches out to such colorfully entitled tints as Ecru, Chartreuse, Azure, Muddy, Russet, Sepia and Nutria.

From fat… Continue reading

Doc PowellDoc Powell
Cool Like That
(Heads Up – 2004)
by John Thompson

Kerry or Bush? Democrat or Republican? Classicism or Smooth Jazz? Guitarist Doc Powell produced and arranged this smooth jazz release that should be a hit with the contemporary crowd. The 46 minute release employs notables Kirk Whalum (ts) and Munyngo Jackson (perc), and all songs are written by Powell except the McCartney-Lennon classic Let it Be. Because every song belongs on play lists of smooth jazz radio stations, this is smooth jazz done right for the lovers of smooth jazz. Did I mention that this is smooth jazz?

Powell is Benson-like on the very fitting title, Cool Like That. Vocalist Gary Taylor lends his talents on You Mean More To Me. Hatujambo and To The East are slightly on the side of funky. Let it Be (reprise) features T.C. Bereal on vocals and the reprise of You Mean More… is performed as an instrumental.

Now for the debate: I want a drummer and a bass player on most, if not all, tracks.

I want a bass solo to consist of more than four notes (maybe he slipped one note past me).

And as for honesty, the perceived 11 tracks are actually 9, with vocals added to two tracks with little or no change made to the music. So, smooth jazz done right, or left? 1 ½ or 4 stars. It Depends.

Danilo PerezThe Art of the Diplomat:A Conversation with Danilo Perez by Paula Edelstein

Although much of the music on MOTHERLAND, Danilo Perez’s debut release for the Verve label, is rooted in his Panamanian homeland, this exciting tribute is his homage to the music for all of The Americas. North, Central and South. The recently appointed Cultural Ambassador of Panama has composed and arranged 13 true representations of his essence, and presents some of the most profound musical symbolism and metaphors to ever elicit the legacy of his native Panama. From classic jazz and post-bop to folk and world music, Danilo Perez… Continue reading

Going Home: A Tribute to Duke EllingtonA Tribute to Duke Ellington Going Home (Platinum Distrib. – 2000) by John Barrett

An expected tribute, from an unexpected source. Ellington’s music is not simply “jazz” (a term he detested) and its influence spread to many genres. Here R & B greats from past and present show their gratitude; some do Duke’s songs, and some write their own. George Duke did “Going Home”, and it is an epic: train noises, big brass, lyrics from Jon Hendricks, and a cameo by Take 6. “Please don’t leave ?cause I gotta go home/ So hurry on; I’m late but I gotta get… Continue reading

Jim CifelliJim Cifelli Groove Station (Short Notice – 2005) by Paula Edelstein Trumpeter Jim Cifelli tunes you in to his GROOVE STATION and you’d be very wise to not touch that dial. Cifelli gets down with his sextet on eight in-the-pocket eclectic blues, jazz and funk performances that will have you out on the dance floor or in your seat with heads bobbing and feet patting. Cifelli’s Clifford Brown-styled trumpet chops are definitely what makes this set a keeper, but it’s the group’s interplay and daring improvisations that keeps it interesting. Opening with “Groove Station,” this song gets its funky tone… Continue reading

Harry Connick, Jr.Harry Connick, Jr. Live
Click to visit the Tanglewood Jazz web site@ The Tanglewood Jazz Festival

(September 4, 2004)
by Matthew Robinson

After a reminiscent introduction by Festival founder and local Jazz legend Fred Taylor, Mr. Connick the Younger prepared to finish up his “Only You” tour with one last party. Unfortunately, it took some time to get it going. After an extended period of one-fingered fiddling with his piano, Harry led his trio and then the large and looming orchestra into a a booming rendition of “People Will Say Were in Love.” When the vocals finally revealed where Harry had been heading all this time, they were cracked and road-worn, especially when he tried to emphasize or get the crowd going with random lyric shouts.

Ironically, he would later reveal his “pre-show ritual” in which he and trombonist Lucien Barbarin each eat Hall’s cough drops in an effort to stave off the tortures of touring. Though “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans” was a bit rushed (especially considering its source material) and “Smile” a bit crooked and cracked, Harry was eventually able to settle into a gentler, firmer groove. Among the resultant high points were a colorful trio rendition of “All of Me,” an appropriately dirgy stroll through “St. James Infirmary,” and an even more lamenting Gospel sway through “Old Rugged Cross.” The show stealer, however, was when Mr. Connick, SR. surprised his son with a chorus of “Up a Lazy River.” The resultant ovation caught even “June” (as in “Junior”) off guard, but he relished in the opportunity to thank his father for all they had done together while actually doing more of it.

Catching his breath in a plodding “For Once in My Life,” Connick wound up the night by asking his adoring fans to “Save the Last Dance for Me” before swinging them out into the cool, clear Berkshire night with a New Orleans romp on “Come by Me.” Though uneven and at times meandering, Connick did not fail to please the Festival crowd. And, to hear Taylor tell it, he has come a long way indeed!

© 2004, M. S. Robinson, ARR

Annie KozuchHere With You 2010 – Kozuch Productions

Annie Kozuch [pronounced Ko’ zuk] was raised in Mexico City, Mexico. After seeing her first professional show at the age of six, she knew she wanted to perform. She sat in on her siblings’ guitar lessons and although she was too young to hold the guitar, she learned to sing all the boleros and mariachis. Encouraged by her parents to “do what makes you happy” she furthered her passion for acting and singing by training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (R.A.D.A.), London, and graduated from Mills College, CA, with… Continue reading