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Greeting’s jazz connoisseurs, I’m back to showcase another tasty review of who’s who in the world of jazz from the shelves of “Flux Music Essentials.”

Flux Music Essentials

Roy Hargrove - Nothing Serious (Verve, 2006)

Roy Hargrove -][- Nothing Serious – [Verve, 2006]

… releases by Hargrove out now is another stellar turn at just how remarkable and inventive and vibrant a band leader he is. DISTRACTIONS is a great fun record, this is a powerhouse of intricate turns on jazz standard style music, with a subtlety and a dynamism that often gets buried by those attempting to preserve the “purity of jazz.” Whatever that is.

In Hargrove’s case, the point is shut up and play. And does he ever! In so doing he has assembled a group of colleagues who still have something to prove within a given context – i.e. that this context can still matter vitally to how you consider your life. And while it is ironically titled, his irony underscores the accomplishments he has effected with this terrific release. You’ll like everything about this: it was recorded nearly perfectly – the definition among the players is clear. The music reaches over and pulls you into its confidence, and you will find yourself coming away from the experience beaming with ideas. This is a truly inspirational effort and without making any more of it, let’s just say that God help us all if Roy gets real serious. —o dubhthaigh | Amazon.com

Joshua Redman - Timeless Tales (Warner Bros. 1998)

Joshua Redman -][- Timeless Tales – [Warner Bros. 1998]

Joshua Redman’s openness to pop forms and his gifts for expressing its open emotions in language uncompromisingly that of Jazz’s highest aspirations makes him a unique figure in contemporary improvising.On the tenor saxophone he projects elements of the whole tradition of his instrument in Jazz– Jump band, Soul, Bebop, Romantic Tenor Ballad, Free; his sound is his own, and his style is getting there.He understands how to construct drama in musical language.He has a centered tone,swings unerringly,creates elegant melodies within complex structures.Redman has expanded his horizons with each release, and his 1998 offering “Timeless Tales” is no exception.

Joined by a brilliantly interactive peer group rhythm section (pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Brian Blade), the saxophonist interprets five songbook classics and five “new standards” blending a sophisticated understanding of Pop codes with a comprehensive command of the Jazz vocabulary. Give it a listen. —Unknown | Amazon.com

Larry Goldings - Quartet (Palmetto Records, 2006)

Larry Goldings -][- Quartet – [Palmetto Records, 2006]

Although “Hesitation Blues” is probably the most accessible track on this album, it’s also notable for the ensemble work that permeates all the tracks. In addition to Goldings who plays a whole gamut of keyboards (including an accordion) the support from Ben Allison on Bass, Matt Wilson on drums and percussion and especially John Sneider on trumpet and cornet plays a crucial part in making this such a satisfactory project. It’s perhaps unfortunate that they chose one of the improvisations to open the album, as casual listeners might find this a ‘difficult’ start, however it’s worth persevering even if some of the composers names might suggest that this is the essential undercurrent throughout the album. It isn’t! My own favorites are the group take on Abdullah Ibrahim’s “The Wedding”(some great interplay between trumpet and organ), the groups take on Bjork’s “Cocoon” and especially Gabriel Faure’s “Au Bord de l’eau”.

It’s a radical departure from what Goldings has done in a group setting before, and a far cry from some of the session work he’s been involved in during 2006. Nonetheless after prolonged and intense listening over a fairly long period of time I’d have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it to anyone. It’ll also feature somewhere in my top 10 CD’s of 2006, whatever the genre that you might try to place it in. —Dr. D. Treharne (U.K.) | Amazon.com

Crusaders - Street Life (MCA, 1979)

Crusaders -][- Street Life – [MCA, 1979]

Another great album in my collection has just made it from vinyl to CD. These dudes have a vast catalogue of great albums but this one is not just about the brilliant “Street Life” featuring Randy Crawford on vocals, (though in my opinion it would be worth buying for that song alone). No, this is possibly Crusaders at their funky, soulful, jazzy best. The other five songs here – two written by keyboardist Joe Sample, two by saxophonist Wilton Felder and one by drummer Stix Hooper, are all gems in their own right and classic Crusaders. Watch out also, for some exciting guitar solos from Barry Finnerty. With no bonus tracks and no fancy remixes, this is the album as the band originally intended. 39mins and 22sec might sound short in today’s money but believe me, they make every second count. I love it. I believe this album is a must-have for any jazz fusion fan.

But even if you’re not into jazz or are thinking of getting into it for the first time, this is a nice album to start you off. You may also want to consider another of their masterpieces: “Rhapsody and Blues”. It has the classic song, “Soul Shadows” featuring the legendary Bill Withers on vocals. —Olukayode Balogun | Amazon.com

Dave Valentin - Tropic Heat (GRP, 1992)

Dave Valentin -][- Tropic Heat – [GRP, 1992]

Flutist Dave Valentin’s 16th album for GRP is one of his best. His regular group (a quartet with pianist Bill O’Connell, bassist Lincoln Goines, and drummer Robbie Ameen) is augmented by two percussionists and an excellent seven-member horn section that consists of the reeds of Dick Oatts, Mario Rivera, and David Sanchez; trombonist Angel “Papo” Vasquez; and three trumpeters, including Charlie Sepulveda. All of the horns get their opportunities to solo and the result is a particularly strong Latin jazz session.

Valentin continues to grow as a player and he cuts loose on several of these tracks. —Scott Yanow | AllMusic.com