, , , , , ,

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.”

Yosvany Terry Cabrera - Metamorphosis

Yosvany Terry Cabrera -//- Metamorphosis – [Kindred Rhythm, 2006]

Yosvany Terry Cabrera’s debut album, “Metamorphosis,” showcases his musical virtuosity and energy that he has pursued in his career with passion and dedication. Metamorphosis debuts Terry’s talents as a bandleader, composer, arranger, and powerful musician and features some of New York’s finest jazz musicians.

Metamorphosis” is the perfect word to describe Terry’s musical journey and this fresh collection of compositions. Each track musically expresses a different experience he has had along the way. Havana, New York City and beyond: all of his influences can be heard on this album. The compositions and improvisations flow from rhythmic, energetic avant-garde to mellifluous lyricism.

Terry has now given the world a collection of contemporary jazz tracks which will open many ears, fusing the richness of his Afro-Cuban roots with the brightest, new sounds and spirit in the world of jazz. —Amazon.com

Herbie Hancock - Head Hunters

Herbie Hancock -\\- Head Hunters – [Columbia, 1973]

Despite the fact that jazz purists and critics have labeled him a sell out, Herbie Hancock has proven himself to be a classic artist in the pantheon of jazz as well as funk with this stellar release. With a strong and steadfast opener called “Chameleon”, Bassist Paul Jackson sets the foundation with his famous and unrivaled chromatic bass line. Added is Herbie’s wah-induced keyboards, and then an all out funk jam is unleashed upon the listener’s ears. The highlight of this song in my opinion is the modal section where the bass line changes and you can here some moody improvisation. The most popular track however, would have to be a groovy new version of Hancock’s famous “Watermelon Man” with great percussion by Bill Summers. “Sly” follows with great pulsing rhythms, fabulous drum work by Harvey Mason, and a soaring Soprano sax by Maupin.

The funk turns to an ethereal, experimental jam later with my personal favorite “Vein Melter”. Sonic textures from Herbie’s keyboards are layered with Maupin’s subtle but sensual clarinet line. A great closing number that will leave you satisfied. Though some may not compare it to great works from Miles Davis or John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters will remain my favorite jazz album for years to come. It’s influence has penetrated deep within modern hip-hop as well as jazz itself. –Dylan/Amazon.com

Brad Mehldau - Highway Rider

Brad Mehldau -//- Highway Rider – [Nonesuch, 2010]

This album represents Brad Mehldau’s fine ability as a composer,player & orchestrater. Mehldau is joined once again with producer Jon Brion who’s first record with Melhdau 2001’s Largo in my opinion was a semi success. I believe this time around with Highway Rider the nine years of experience & several classical pieces Melhdau has written have given him the right tools to tackle a wide ranging project such as this. Highway Rider presents the listener with a wide variety of musical settings, solo piano, piano trio,trio with orchestra, & trio with orchestra with guest saxophonist Joshua Redman. Mehldau is working with familiar personal his regular working trio with Larry Grenadier on bass & Jeff Ballard on drums. Drummer Matt Chamberlin worked on the Largo album returns to add his touch to a few tracks & after a long hiatus Mehldau brought sax man Joshua Redman in on tenor & soprano. After several hearings I’v come to conclude that this album is a watershed for Mehldau a definite artistic peak. This music flows in a continuos suite sort of way, each tune picking up where the previous left off & building to the climax of the album which in my opinion is the first track on disc two which happens to be the albums longest piece clocking in at 12 minutes. My only problem with this album is I wish the tracks especially on disc 1 had been just a bit longer, I feel they could have been developed alittle more but that is just me.

This music falls in line with stuff like Bill Evan’s album Symbiosis or Danilo Perez’s Across The Crystal Sea but I think this album surpasses those as far as continuity & I like the way Mehldau uses Joshua Redman out in front of the orchestra as a soloist, it’s not a sound that is featured very often. Redman rises to the challenge and his playing for me is a highlight of the album. I also hear some elements of Chick Corea’s writing especially his use of hand claps & voices & foot stomping, this percussive element really enhances the music for me giving it a earthy funky feel which is such a cool contrast alongside the strings. I highly recommend this album to anyone with a open mind & a appetite for fresh good music. Enjoy! —Anthony R. Guarriello/Amazon.com

Wynton Marsalis - Black Codes (From The Underground)

Wynton Marsalis -\\- Black Codes – [Atlantic, 1985]

Wynton Marsalis is so heavily documented and so heavily opinionated these days that it’s difficult to assess his work fairly. For everyone who thinks he single-handedly saved acoustic jazz in the 80s, another will say he is killing its creativity and radical spirit in the 2000s. Certainly I’ve wavered on this issue over time. Whatever your opinion on Wynton, Black Codes is the strongest of his early albums, before he took to preserving the jazz tradition. More than any of the other albums Black Codes strives to advance it.

The band on here is great. This was before Branford left to join Sting and the heads to the tunes are tight. Jeff Watts is a phenomenal drummer and Wynton shares the spotlight by using “Chambers of Tain” as a drum feature. Kenny Kirkland drives many of the vamps on this album and comps assertively and the bass player strongly anchors these tunes as well.

This album plays well start to finish and has some of Wynton’s strongest writing. “Black Codes” with its low end piano as part of the head, “For Wee Folks” with its out of tempo opening and “Delfeayo’s Dilemma”, a tune that has been covered by artists like Kenny Garrett, are highlights in the set. Wynton nods to the tradiiton by concluding with a blues as well.

The innovations on this album are subtle. It’s more a summary of two splendid jazz ensembles: the tight ensembles of the Jazz Messengers that Branford and Wynton played with early in their careers and the thorny modal improvisations of the Miles Davis Quintet. Some people focus only on Miles when assessing this album, but if you listen to Jazz Messengers albums like Mosaic and Free For All you hear how the discipline of this music and the vigor of Tain’s playing are more assertive than the cool effortlessness of Miles’ group.

I don’t listen to all of Wynton’s stuff so much now but I’ve enjoyed this album and I strongly recommend it as a high point of jazz in the decade of the ’80s. —SD/Amazon.com

Weather Report - Black Market

Weather Report -//- Black Market – [Columbia Records, 1976]

In their 15-year career, Weather Report managed to release over a dozen albums, and not one of them is bad. However, the most interesting ones to the listen are the “transitional” albums that capture the band in the midst of a change. Not only is Black Market one of these albums, it is also among their best. It was recorded using two drummers and two bassists, and marks the first Weather Report recording with Mr. Jaco Pastorius (although Jaco only appears on two out of seven cuts. The other five feature ex-bassist Alphonso Johnson). Alex Acuna, the man behind the kit for WR’s breakthrough album, Heavy Weather, also debuts as a memeber of the fusion band here. Track by track this record is phenomenal.

Black Market“- Alphonso lays down an ultra-funky groove to give the album one hip start.

Cannon Ball“- A great song for two reasons. One, it is a Joe Zawinul ballad, and that is reason enough to label it a masterpiece (think of “Orange Lady” or “A Remark You Made”). It is dedicated to the late alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley. This is also Jaco’s first appearance on the record.

Gibraltar”- An amazingly exsquisite piece by Zawinul. It starts out as a breathtaking journey, then switches to a pure fusion ditty.

Elegant People“- Wayne Shorter’s shining moment on this record. His tenors and altos have never sounded so sweet. I’ve had the good fortune to snag a videotape performance of the band circa 1976, and the song is beautifully preformed on it.

Three Clowns“- Another Shorter piece, and although it is good, it’s just not terribly exciting.

Barbary Coast“- This brief, bass-driven piece is almost specifically a way to introduce the amazing talents of Jaco Pastorius. His singing fretless bass goes from funk to jazz to rock to everything inbetween.

Hernandu“- Written by the departing bassist Alphonso Johnson, “Hernandu” is actually the album’s high point. It is beautifully written, and is a wonderful goodbye to an incredible bass player.

Of the whole ‘Jaco Period’ (Black Market to the 2nd self-titled album), most argue that the band’s greatest work is 1977’s Heavy Weather. However, if you want to listen to some less structured and more funky songs, and if you want to say goodbye and hello to two fantastic bassists, Black Market is the album for you. —The Bass Ninja/Amazon.com

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