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Flux Music Essentials

Greeting’s fellow jazz enthusiasts, 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.”

Chick Corea & Friends - Remembering Bud Powell

Chick Corea & Friends -//- Remembering Bud Powell – [Stretch Records, 1997]

Playing is genuinely inspired throughout. No one sounds half-hearted, not one note sounds contrived, and the songs are wonderfully different from each other. The album didn’t immediately serve my ears, but met me halfway; leaving me ‘educated’, and better for having purchased it. It’s true what they say about loving the albums you aren’t initially fond of, because that was true with Remembering Bud Powell. It was above me, but I am growing to appreciate the maturity of the album. Except for Bud Powell (Corea’s invention), all of the songs come from Powell’s songbook. And yet despite their age, the arrangements sound youthful and new, due to the level of enthusiasm displayed by Corea and his friends.

Even Roy Haynes’ drumming sounds richly melodious; subtle changes in volume and rhythm indicate an involvement and ownership of the music which surpass usual expectations of a timekeeper. While listening to the album one becomes aware of the uniqueness of one particular musician, and that is Kenny Garrett. His playing is angular , extremely expressive, and always interesting. His playing on Mediocre is so intricate and unexpected that it must be dealt with-either by hating it or loving it. The unspoken connection made by this group of players is best exemplified during the transitions from solo to solo. I find that my favorite thing to look for in this album, besides the individual sounds of Garrett and Haynes, is the interaction between soloists, and the way each player expects and anticipates the other’s thoughts. This album is too deep to ever become irrelevant or boring. —Amazon.com

Sabrina Malherios - Equilibria

Sabrina Malherios -\\- Equilibria – [Far Out Recordings, 2005]

As already stated, Sabrina Malheiros is the daughter of Azymuth’s Alex Malheiros. Knowing this you can figure that she’s had a very diverse and unique musical up-bringing, from fusion to traditional. This is her debut album and it’s on the Far Out Records label, where Azymuth, Joyce, Marcos Valle, Troubleman, Seu Jorge and countless others have released stunning albums. Far Out Records to me is one of the best labels out there. I’ve never been disappointed with the works I’ve picked up from them and what’s better, they release loads of tremendous tunes on 12″ with great remixes and takes. Kudos Far-Out!

This CD starts out well with “Terra De Ninguem“, a nice little bossa nova influenced cut that dances and glides with a light flute and arrangement. “Love Sorte” kicks with a bit of bossa and percussion while giving a hint of Berimbau in it (as did a few others). “Vibrasom” is where you get a hint of the hip-hop/R&B influences that influenced her – cute song although I’ll wonder how time-less it’ll be; always the risk with random added grunts, etc. “Passa” is another one that’s similar but it’s got a good groove to it although I prefer the remixes on the 12″. Other cuts that I enjoyed were the original take to the cut given an explosive remix by Kenny Dope (available on 12″ too), “Estacao Verao“, and the VERY fitting remake to an old Ana Mazzotti classic, “Eu Sous Mais Eu”. That one shouldn’t be too surprising – Azymuth had a heavy hand in Ana Mazzotti’s album back in the mid seventies and with them working with Sabrina here, they managed to capture much of that same magic that existed then. Then there are other cuts here that I enjoyed but don’t want to mention them ALL. —Bordersj2/Amazon.com

Christian McBride - Sci-Fi

Christian McBride -//- Sci-Fi – [Verve Records, 2000]

With Sci-Fi, the bassist has scored his best album since his 1996 debut, Number Two Express. The eleven tracks here run the gamut from heartfelt ballads to serious fusion workouts, and all points in between. McBride, who is at home on both acoustic and electric bass, also doubles on keyboards. His core band–Ron Blake (saxes), Shedrick Mitchell (keyboards) and Rodney Green (drums)–and the assorted guest musicians on the CD dive headfirst into the mainly jazz-rock sounds with power and precision.

From the time you hit the play button, highlights abound on the Philadelphia natives latest album. His take on Steely Dan’s “Aja” is nothing short of electrifying. Blake and Mitchell turn in inspired solos on the song, and David Gilmore’s guitar solo absolutely smokes. “Uhura’s Moment Returned” is a combination of the Star Trek Theme & the Oliver Nelson standard, “Stolen Moments.” Mitchell shines once again on this tune, soloing effortlessly over McBride’s walking bass line. After an acoustic bass solo, McBride is rejoined by the rest of the band on the song’s theme.

Xerxes” is a freeform/fusion workout, featuring Herbie Hancock on piano, and a brilliant acoustic solo by McBride. One of the best tracks on the CD is “Science Fiction.” Inspired by the film, The Matrix, the song sounds a lot like Return to Forever, with exceptional musicianship from everyone involved. Bass clarinetist James Carter turns in a particularly sensitive performance on The Police’s “Walking on the Moon.” McBride carries the melody, with Carter filling in all the spaces, as they turn Sting’s reggae classic into a moody, introspective ballad. —Steve Marshall/Amazon.com

Poncho Sanchez, Psychedelic Blues

Poncho Sanchez -\\- Psychedelic Blues – [Concord Picante, 2009]

It was just luck I tuned into our local jazz station while they were playing the knockout tune and finding out it was Poncho’s rendition of Herby Hancock’s Cantaloupe Island. Lucky in the surprise in learning that conguero Poncho Sanchez just had a new release.

Hearing the rest of Psychedelic Blues, I’ve got to say it IS already one of my best. Amongst Poncho’s many excellent albums, this one ranks up there with Latin Soul as a favorite.

You won’t get as much of the vocals we’re grown to love on his recent albums. Gotta love his guest vocalists doing R & B flavored tracks lately.

But in this album we do get treated to Poncho’s own spunky and energetic vocals on Willie Bobo Medley and Con Sabor Latino. The rest is just Latin Jazz at its very very best. With arrangements by trombonist Fransisco Torres and pianist David Torres, every tune is a thing of beauty. There’s great trumpet by Ron Blake and saxophonist Javier Vergara throughout, particularly on Grand Central. Piano is not so prominent but really nice in Silver’s Serenade. I sure like the trombone soloing in Delifonse. Guest musician Arturo Sandoval treats us with his amazing trumpet in Freddy Hubbard’s Crisis. All throughout you get that unforgettable interplay of percussion with Joey De Léon on bongos, George Ortiz on timbales and of course bandleader Poncho on congas.

Most notable to me however is the jazz guitar work of guest musician Andrew Synowiec and his bluesy-jazzy riffs in Cantaloupe Island and the “Fried Neckbones” segment of Willie Bobo Medley. You know, one doesn’t hear jazz guitar often in Latin Jazz genre. But with these refreshing arrangements his sound fits quite well and perhaps we ought to hear it more often. Bravo to Poncho for another great album!! —Robert T. McKenna/Amazon.com

Maria Schneider JO - Allegresse

Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra -//- Allegresse – [ArtistShare, 2000]

There have been very few orchestral composers in jazz who achieved creative success, if only because such a combination of talents–from logistics to force of will to the openness to input from the players–is wildly rare. Maria Schneider, once a protégée of Gil Evans, has been demonstrating those talents since her orchestra’s debut in 1994, Evanescence. The vagaries of big bands make working relationships particularly important, and Schneider is attuned to every nuance and timbre of her musicians. It shows in the superb sectional play, the sensitivity to dynamics, and the gorgeous combinations of alto flutes, English horn, clarinets, and piccolo trumpet. Each of Schneider’s pieces here is a full-fledged composition, a rich tapestry filled with subtle shifts in voicing, airy highs or welling depths, and frequent surprise. Her expressive range is vast, from the opening “Hang Gliding,” air-borne on a Brazilian beat, to the unfolding mysteries of the 21-minute “Dissolution,” including reed writing that creates the illusion of strings.

At the same time, she’s developed a distinctive tonal language that suggests a suite of linked pieces. Each work features just one or two soloists, and there’s an uncanny relationship between the writing and improvising, including Frank Kimbrough’s crystalline piano on “Nocturne,” a piece that suggests Evans’s writing for Sketches of Spain, and Ben Monder’s acutely focused, energetic guitar on “Journey Home.” The piquant “Allegresse” is a continuous evolution of relations between the orchestra, Ingrid Jensen on flügelhorn and harmon-muted trumpet, and Rich Perry on tenor saxophone. —Stuart Broomer /Amazon.com

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