Greeting’s jazz enthusiasts, it’s a pleasure to be with as we delve deeper into the infinite treasures of music to expand the provocative and youthful voices as we encounter them on this wonderful musical exodus of tantalizing yet satisfying blend of original jazz that’s shaken and stirred to perfection from the shelves of “Flux Music Essentials.”
Kenny Garrett -\\- Simply Said – [Warner Jazz, 1999]
The widest range of stylistic and emotional expression of any recent jazz album – beautiful compositions, played masterfully by superb musicians – what’s not to love? Furthermore, this is one of those rare recordings that is a composition in itself; the order of the tunes is carefully chosen so that each complements the previous, and leads you to the next.
Lots of folks put down this CD for being too “smooth jazzy”. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As a contemporary musician, how can he not be aware of and influenced by R&B and funk? Kenny Garrett played with Miles Davis in a funk/jazz setting, and has appeared with Marcus Miller both live and on record. The history of jazz is intertwined with the history of popular music. Don’t forget that all of the so-called “standards” are just pop tunes from Broadway shows. It’s the performance that counts in jazz, and with Kenny Garrett, you will never hear anything but a superlative performance.
This is one of those few recordings that stand repeated (and repeated!) listening, each time revealing something new. I have owned 5 copies of this CD, I keep having to buy new ones because I give them away to my friends, “You have GOT to hear this!”
I own every one of Kenny Garrett’s CDs (and many more upon which he appears). This is his best recorded effort; and that is surely saying something. If I could give it 100 stars, I would. —Steve Keller /Amazon.com
Return to Forever -//- Romantic Warrior – [Columbia/Legacy, 1976]
Back in 1976, albums like Romantic Warrior were the norm in jazz. Bebop and hardbop jazz had “gone underground” as fusion ran its natural course. For older jazz fans, the connection between free form innovation and electronical pyrotechnics often spelled confusion and misunderstanding. For those of us who grew up with bands like Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis and E.L.P., the album was something of a find. It allowed us to develop “ears” for listening to older jazz. For me, it didn’t take long to backtrack to Herbie Hancock’s Empyrean Isle album or Wayne Shorter’s See No Evil after hearing this landmark release. All by way of saying that, even after close to twenty-five years, this album holds up remarkably well (when so many other fusion experiments now sound somewhat stilted and comical). There should be little doubt in readers minds that this is heady, trippy, mind-expanding stuff. Its use of electronics (especially synths) and the fire brought to the interplay of guitars, bass and drums, make it a tough listen for those who think jazz is all brush-stroke drums and soft, muted trumpets. Listening to it again, however, I heard elements of Coltrane and Monk, Mingus and Bitches’ Brew-era Davis…things I hadn’t the first time because I hadn’t experienced them. And hearing those elements here “for the first time” as it were, deeply enhanced my listening pleasure. Make no mistake, this was, is and always will be, a jazz album. It may be a highly idiosyncratic release, definitely a product of its time, but it still sounds soaring, inventive, playful, intense, winning. A perfect re-mastering job rounds out the experience. All told, it achieves what every good reissue should: it allows a reconceptualization of what made it important and reaffirmed what made it essential. Its intensity, wryness and bold strokes a great romp through diverse fields in search of 3-D windmills and Moog jesters. Exceptional.
Antonio Sanchez -\\- Migration – [Cam Jazz, 2007]
There’s no doubting Sanchez’ drumming abilities; his effortless changes of time signature, rhythm, synchopation & colour have been fully evident for some time (most notably on The Way Up tour). In his debut as leader he is joined throughout by Scott Colley on bass & the twin saxes of Chris Potter & David Sanchez (no relation). He also pays respect to his two most prominent past & present employers, Chick Corea & Pat Metheny who each contribute one track.
Corea’s “One for Antonio” leads off the set but strangely takes a while to give Sanchez room to shine. This said, it’s a truly great tune & about as “complete” a classic jazz trio piece as you could hope for with loads of space given to each of piano, drums & bass.
Metheny’s Arena (Sand) is similarly a great tune which invokes some great plaintive sax work from two of the current young tenor “lions” Chris Potter & David Sanchez as well as soulful solos from Pat himself.
The rest of the album (ex “Ballade” & Miles’ “Solar” a great Metheny/Sanchez duet) is mainly taken up with Sanchez supporting, coaxing & propelling the two tenor saxes in generally uptempo & occasionally fiery exchanges on the leader’s own compositions (the latin-tinged “Challenge Within” being the pick). Whilst I can appeciate the writing, the artistry, the chemistry & the cohesiveness of these tracks they do become a little tedious for me personally so I can’t in all honesty assign an overall 5* rating.
However, despite these misgivings the album truly contains some great music firmly in the best jazz tradition(s), is a thoroughly worthwhile debut from probably the most exciting drummer on the planet & in that respect probably essential for all drum players & enthusiasts. —David J. Ohanlon/Amazon.com
Gerald Clayton -//- Two-Shade – [Emarcy, 2010]
Gerald Clayton is the piano playing son of veteran bassist John Clayton, and this is his debut recording as a leader with a trio. For such a young man, Clayton is not afraid to dive into the jazz waters with an original concept of where his music lies in the contemporary world. At times he adapts standards, but mostly this is a program of new music that bears similar allegiances to peers like Robert Glasper, Aaron Parks, and Danny Grissett. There’s a lyrical and ethereal approach to all of the selections — elusive, lithe, quicksilver, Zen-like, very articulate, and always intriguing to the point where it tempts, pull you in, and envelops your soul. While varying time changes and melodic strains, it’s clear Clayton — far from a neophyte — has learned well from his mentors Kenny Barron, Billy Childs, Mulgrew Miller, Monty Alexander, Benny Green, and Shelly Berg. He’s a synthesis of them all while mastering similar musical grammar that resonates from within, instead of externally via image or flashpoint theatrics. A current-day jazz player and composer in the main, Clayton embraces fun and upbeat, heavily accented funk on “Boogablues,” reflecting the styles of Ahmad Jamal, Ramsey Lewis, and Ray Bryant. Tumbling phrases settle into a compact area during “One Two You,” there’s playful energized stop-and-start segments strewn over the bop-oriented “Scrimmage,” and that same technique identifies a reworked version of the Cole Porter standard “All of You.” Where Clayton’s heart lies is in the spirit song that makes Glasper’s pulse similarly beat. —Michael G. Nastos/AllMusic.com
Sean Jones -\\- Roots – [Mack Avenue Records, 2006]
We’re deep in Church here, right from the opening track, a solo trumpet rendition of that old children’s chestnut, “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.” Quite effective, actually, and even touching for its heartfelt yet unsentimental straightforwardness. All told, nine of the thirteen selections have a Gospel theme. It’s clear where Sean Jones comes from.
Of course, it’s not that uncommon for jazzers, bluesmen, and soul singers to have gotten their start in Church. And there is no shortage of Gospel-tinged jazz discs out there. One thinks, recently, of Ramsey Lewis’s With One Voice, Cyrus Chestnut’s You Are My Sunshine, and Larry Willis’s wonderful Sanctuary, all worth picking up.
I believe Roots, Sean Jones’s third disc as leader, marks a big advance for him. He seems absolutely at home playing this music, which he does with sincerity and sans irony. This is a jazzman perfectly at home with his religious upbringing, without the slightest bit of alienation or resentment. His basic band–Orrin Evans, piano; Luques Curtis, acoustic bass; and Jerome Jennings, drums–cooks up a quiet storm, expertly locking into the sanctified vibe and providing plenty of support for the leader’s increasingly accomplished soloing.
My only misgiving is Tia Fuller, who plays alto sax on several numbers with a tonal conception probably never heard before in the history of jazz, making her horn sound like a soprano with a bad cold. Not entirely unpleasant, and, despite the odd sound, her intonation is spot on, and her doubling and ensemble playing is very accomplished. Nevertheless, I suggest she seek a less grating timbre. Her flute playing, on the other hand, cannot be gainsaid. Perhaps she should seriously consider concentrating on that instrument.
All in all, this is a very strong outing, and easily recommended to anyone who, like me, has a soft spot in their heart for this kind of thing. —JP Dennis/Amazon.com
..:: Source: Amazon.com | AllMusic.com ::..