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Flux Music Essentials

Greeting’s fellow jazz aficionados, I’m back in the mix with another tantalizing yet satisfying blend of original jazz that’s shaken and stirred to perfection from the shelves of “Flux Music Essentials.”

Danilo Perez, Panamonk

Danilo Perez -//- Panamonk – [Impluse! Records, 1996]

If you have ever wondered what the music of Thelonious Monk would sound like if played with a Latin flair (you may have never wondered that before, but now that you have started to read this review, you may well be wondering just that already–kind of like the old psychological trick, telling someone “try not to think about an elephant”), young pianist Danilo Lopez has the answers you have been looking for.

Playing both Monk originals and some of his own compositions, accompanied by bass and drums, Perez spiritedly communicates a zest for music and life that resonates with Monk’s musical personality. This is one of the freshest, most energetic jazz recordings I have heard in some time, and I recommend it highly to all jazz fans, especially to those with a love for the music of Thelonious Sphere Monk. —Karl W. Nehring/Amazon.com

Aaron Choulai Trio, Ranu

Aaron Choulai Trio -//- Ranu – [Sunnyside Records, 2009]

Choulai’s new recording “Ranu” illustrates the depth of his talent and that of his Australia based trio that includes bassist Sam Anning and either drummer Ben Vanderwal or Rory Mcdugall. Originally from Papua New Guinea, Choulai has called Australia, New York City and Japan home. Only in his mid- twenties, he has performed and recorded with some of New York’s greatest musicians. “Ranu” finds Choulai in a pared down setting where the listener can truly appreciate his talent and artistic ambition. The recording includes four modern classics, among them, pieces by Neil Young and Radiohead.

Aaron Choulai is a one of Australia’s most acclaimed young musicians. His music and career are not easily defined by genre or category, but the 27 year old has proven himself as a pianist and composer who has the ability to work along side the worlds best in jazz and composition. —Amazon.com

Kurt Elling - Man In The Air

Kurt Elling -\\- Man in the Air – [Blue Note Records, 2003]

For a jazz horn snob like myself, it’s rare for me to rave about any singer, but Elling is the *stuff*. I heard him live last year and have been accumulating his CDs and turning friends onto them ever since.

It’s all there on Man in the Year — Kurt’s soaring voice, profound lyrics, clever Laurence Hobgood arrangements and pleasantly diverse material.

Kind of like Marvin Gaye, it’s funny that when Kurt isn’t singing about love/… (“Winelight”), he’s writing lyrics about God/theology (“Resolution”, “Higher Vibe”, title track). It’s some of these theology-based lyrics I find most meaningful. You can see the lyrics on Elling’s website.

Kurt’s lyrics to Coltrane’s “Resolution”, are in my opinion a masterpiece. Since this is the first US release of Elling’s “Resolution”, it should certainly open some eyes, although if you like this version you should try to track down the more intense but less “clean” live version of this song on Live from Chicago: The Out Takes (Australian Blue Note release). The version on Man in the Air seems to suffer from a lack of assertiveness from the drums (how can you remake an Elvin Jones/Trane duo if someone isn’t kicking the living #%@% out of the drums?)

Finally, “Time to Say Goodbye” is simply beautiful, and it’s not the first time an Elling song has made tears well in my eyes. (He also matches Wayne Shorter’s phrasing to a note.)

Elling’s appreciation of beauty is truly artistic, and wonderful for his listeners to behold. —Amazon.com

Bennie Maupin Quartet - Early Reflections

The Bennie Maupin Quartet -\\- Early Reflections – [Cryptogramophone, 2008]

Benny Maupin was there with Miles when Bitches Brew was born. His bass clarinet was the anchor that kept all that electricity hooked to the Earth. He was there when Herbie and the Headhunters blew our minds with Chameleon. He was there with Herbie’s Mwandishi band when they showed us that you didn’t have to be plugged in to be “electric“.

Benny’s been in so many places at so many times when great things happened, and that’s not a coincidence. Benny’s always been under-rated in my opinion.

This new album with a great young rhythm section showcases some great compositions by the master. And please note that the man has an incredible tone on all the instruments he plays. He’s the master of the bass clarinet. He blows the Tenor like no one else. His Soprano sound is so fat and beautiful it makes you wonder if that is a Soprano he’s playing, and his Flute sound is lovely.

This is not re-cycled Be-Bop. It’s original music by a man who was always great and has aged like a fine wine.

Get it. You’ll play it till you die. –-John Grimshaw /Amazon.com

Mike Moreno - Between the Lines

Mike Moreno -//- Between the Lines – [World Culture Music, 2007]

..or I should say artists; top of the food chain, that is all I can say! I’m not qualified for a review of this work, being new to Mike and his friends. But, I know music and art, and what I like, and is music that nudges/pushes the edges of it all. Mike has an insane sense of phrasing; it’s almost an insult to refer to it as phrasing because I feel he isn’t phrasing so much as just “being” or just “listening very very well”. I don’t know, but it is without question the real deal. Mike can play, no questions there; but as a composer he really should be acknowledged. Within the compositions, “space” is a natural component, and the entire gang seems to be on the same page. I hope this review encourages listening, because thats all it will take.

It’s not all that often that I gush like this, but I got lucky recently, and found these guys. Listen to the samples, and if anything seems worthy of exporing, buy it and be happy. There is enough here to keep you listening for a long long time. Mike is so free, I think you’ll just feel it, and you can let it take you wherever.

(Do these folks ever venture so far as the West Coast? L.A., or S.F., or S.D.? CA? I’ll get to the show, no matter where, but N.Y.C. shouldn’t get all the fun!

Kudos from me guys!