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Flux Music Essentials

Greeting’s fellow jazz enthusiasts, as usual thanks so much for dropping by The Urban Flux! As you see, today I’ve added four fabulous recordings from the shelves of “Flux Music Essentials” … peace and blessings, Rob

Kenny Garrett - Songbook

Kenny Garrett | Songbook – [Warner Jazz, 1997]

Although I am merely a 19-year-old, I have spent the last 9 years living, learning, and breathing jazz. About a year ago, I had known who Kenny Garrett was but had not heard any of his music. It was at this point that a friend of mine played me “Songbook”. About a week later, I had this album in my possession.

Ever since I have had this album, I have not been able to stop listening to it.

Each track provides a different ambiance, in such away that alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, along with fellow performers Nat Reeves on bass, Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums, and the late Kenny Kirkland on piano, is trying to tell a story or perhaps bring the listener on a journey.

Yellowjackets - Time Squared

Yellowjackets | Time Squared – [Heads Up, 2003]

Vintage Ferrante, Haslip & Company. Each recording, this being their first on the ‘Heads Up’ label, is something akin to running into an old friend and catching up on what they’ve been doing since you last saw them. In the Yellowjackets case, quite a bit. Liner notes on several other recordings contain session work by some or all of the band members. Mintzer and Haslip have even produced solo efforts. Yet they still find time to sequester themselves for a studio project like this. Those familiar with the band know every release has that one chart with the patented YJ’s groove (syncopated, odd time signatured, major/minor chord progressioned), ‘Sea Folk’ the case-in-point here. Like that really smart girl you dated in college – just kinda gets under your skin.

Complex, but subtle enough that repeated encounters rarely become tiresome. ‘Monk’s Habit’ also has this quality, but with a more straight-ahead vibe. And while all are worthy, some charts simply work better than others. This disc is not as accessible as some of the group’s other recordings (don’t know that I’d recommend this as a first Yellowjackets purchase), but once you’ve gotten ‘squared,’ you’ll appreciate what they’ve accomplished the more you listen.

Lizz Wright - Salt

Lizz Wright | Salt – [Verve, 2003]

Although Lizz Wright’s CD “Salt” is a few years old, it is a true work of art that remains as fresh, vibrant and relevant now as it was five years ago when it was first released. Her soulful voice is strong and beautiful. And thanks to producers Tommy LiPuma, Brian Blade & Jon Cowherd, the musical arrangements are well executed and the recording is pristine. The lead track, Chick Correa/Neville Potter’s “Open your eyes, you can fly” sets the tone for this vital record, and by the time you reach track three, Mongo Santamaria/Oscar Brown Jr.s, “Afro Blue” (Most notably performed by John Coltrane) you will be in love! Her read of Gordon Jenkins’ “Goodbye” is truly spine tingling and the final track “silence” which was written by Lizz will bring tears to your eyes and leave you wanting more. If you haven’t yet discovered this rare gem of a singer, now is the time! Also of note is her 2008 release called “The orchard” which is an equally wonderful “must have” Thank you Lizz, for the incredible gift of song you have presented to us, You are a true songbird! I highly recommend this CD & give it an A+++

Stefon Harris & Blackout - Urbanus

Stefon Harris & Blackout | Urbanus – [Concord Jazz, 2009]

If you like Stefon Harris, you’ll like this record. It’s not as straight-ahead as some of his earlier stuff, but that’s the point of playing with this particular band, Blackout. When he plays with these cats the songs take a modern turn and incorporate a lot of different influences and colors.

I love this band, and Harris has eased up on the composing tip (but produces the record in full). it’s got a few of my favorites players on the scene: Harris, Marc Cary on keys and Terreon Gully, who I am sure is the meanest-looking musician today that isn’t a rapper. Trying to get into my world is saxophonist/vocoder player Casey Benjamin, who brings a really sharp edge to this record and to their live show that wasn’t in the forefront as much on the first Blackout record. He plays vocoder old school style, like Herbie Hancock 70s-era “Trust Me” kickin’ it: rich, mad expressive…not even trying to amplify the human voice at all, so much as play the part of sad computer. It’s like the future singing to you. Amazing work.

There’s a little something for every kind of jazz head here, but at ten tracks it may be too little for some who lean heavily in one direction or another. Me? I appreciate Harris’s mission, so I just go along for the ride, in all the directions he wants to go as a leader. In his world, jazz is supposed to be fluid and pushing forward and this record is a genuine testimony to that.

My favorite track is “For You”, a beautiful ballad that really showcases the tone and range of this band. When I heard it live a while ago I knew I had to get this record. It also adds some nice string and wind work.

Get it. It’s what jazz should be doing now: tipping its hat at everyone it meets and incorporating them into its course.

** All the reviews above are by people who bought these recordings! In fact, I couldn’t resist posting their insightful reviews mainly because we’re in agreement about them. **

..:: Source: Amazon.com ::..