Review: Brian Mitchell – Rhythm & Poetry

Another recording I came across, searching for information on current jazz recordings I’ve recently picked, on MySpace, is Brian Mitchell’s Rhythm & Poetry. I never heard of Mitchell, but he’s on a few of my recent acquisitions. This is one funky release. “The Duo” of Marco Benevento and Joe Russo, along with Mike Dillon, aids Mitchell. Mitchell, a sometime member of Carlos Washington’s Giant People and Antibalas (listen to the track “Lights Over Lagos”) serves up some tasty, searing guitar, and the Duo don’t disappoint with their jam grooves. Give this one a try.

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Review: Chris Geith – Timeless World

Wow! Until I received Timeless World to review, I’d never heard of Chris Geith. According to his biography, he’s an accomplished songwriter and musician who has had over 1.4 million of his songs downloaded. Here’s to the democracy that the web brings to the music industry! Bio aside, this much I know: Geith’s latest gem of a recording reminds me of early Dan Siegel (circa 1982), along with some of David Benoit’s finest. This is a very tasteful release, full of expert musicianship. Timeless World, unlike a lot of the saccharine-laden smooth jazz which programmers and consultants seem to push on us, is full of substance. This is the real deal – music in a contemporary vain, well written and performed by real live musicians. In addition to Geith on keyboards, the remainder of his band consists of Matt Marshak on guitars, Fred Scerbo on saxophones, Mark Mullers on bass, and Dean Kosh on drums. Supposedly Timeless World took Geith two years to complete, and it’s evident in the excellent quality of the production. Unlike the days of the LP (remember those), you don’t hear a lot about sequencing of tracks but the sequencing of the songs is what really stood out for me. The effortless flow of this recording created a very enjoyable and consistent listening experience. I’m certain that 1.4 million number will be increasing quite a bit!

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Review: Lunar Orbit from the Karl Denson Trio

I’ve been listening to Lunar Orbit, Karl Denson’s first studio release, outside of a few download-only tracks I stumbled upon last year, in quite sometime. I’ll admit I’ve been a fan of Denson’s since 2001 when I picked up his Blue Note release, Dance Lesson #2, so I’d been on the lookout for this release for a while. KD3 is a stripped down version of the Karl Denson Tiny Universe. The opening track, the title song “Lunar Orbit,” sonically brings me back visually to the former KDTU website, the one where Karl and his bandmates are depicted as space–based comic book action super-heroes, due to the spacey organ led funk and Denson’s superb flute work. This lays the groundwork for a very strong 10-track recording. Trio, Tiny Universe – who cares – it doesn’t matter; this is Karl, funking it up, the way he knows best – soulful, dreamy, hot and sexy jam-based jazzy funk. I can only imagine what these tunes will morph into in a live setting. Denson’s sax and flute are beautifully backed in this organ/key and drum outing. FYI, my favorite track – “Break Me Down.”

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Review: Josh Roseman – New Constellations (Live In Vienna)

Josh Roseman’s latest recording is horn-driven, funked out, spacey reggae with a dose of dub tossed in for good measure. Roseman’s trombone, whether it’s straight and buttery, muted, electrified, or chorused is front and center on all the tunes. Like his two earlier recordings, Cherry and the very excellent Treats For The Nightwalker, New Constellations is an ensemble recording, with many excellent musicians contributing to Roseman’s arrangements. Three particular musicians of note who help out on this one are Barney McCall (keys) and Jonathon Maron (bass), both of who are former bandmates of Roseman’s in Groove Collective, and young trumpeter extraordinaire, Ambrose Akinmusire (see Alan Pasqua’s latest release). Three tunes of note are “Theme Constellations,” “Thoroughfare,” which is my favorite song of this session, and “I Should Have Known Better,” which has this Pharoah Sanders The Creator Has A Master Plan feel to it. Josh Roseman is a member of a new group of young musicians who are not afraid to cross boundaries, and color outside the lines – while creating their brand of improvisational jazz. I applaud him.

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Review: Metro – Express

I’ve listened to Metro’s latest release a half dozen times over the last week – and I’ve probably read and re-read the ContemporaryJazz.com Forum thread regarding Express just as many times. I’m not sure if I get it or I’m missing something – yes, this release is not as rocking and balls to the wall as MetroLive was, but after all, that was probably their most rock like recording to date. Express is more melodic, employs some wordless and background vocals, and Chuck Loeb does mix it up guitar – but this release also wails. Just listen to “Tell Me A Thousand Times,” “Absynth Blues,” or “Express.” Looking back, I’m not sure that this disc is that far a departure from Grapevine or Metrocafe. It’s definitely smoother, in a polished, production kind of way, than Tree People, Metro, or Petite Blonde were, which is not a bad thing. In my mind, it’s more evolutionary than anything. Considering how busy and in demand Mitchel Forman and Chuck Loeb are, I’m grateful that this group of musicians has been able to find the time to come together and collaborate – as fans, we’re better off for it. Judging from the buzz on the ContemporaryJazz.com Forum, there are quite a few fans out there. Oh, by the way, for those of you who think Express is a smooth jazz sellout – put your headphones on and turn up the volume while listening to “Up Above The Stars.”

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