More September 23rd Releases – McCoy Tyner, Charlie Haden

McCoy Tyner – Guitars CD and DVD with John Scofield, Derek Trucks, Bela Fleck, Marc Ribot, and Bill Frisell. Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette comprise the rhythm section.
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Charlie Haden Family & Friends’ Rambling Boy with Pat Metheny, Bruce Hornsby, Elvis Costello, Bela Fleck, Vince Gill, Rosanne Cash, Ricky Skaggs, and his son-in-law, Jack Black. The 19-song recording fulfilling Haden’s dream to play Haden Family songs with his wife, son, triplet daughters, and close friends in the music world. As you can tell from the roster of musicians, it covers a number of styles, from traditional country to contemporary Americana.
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Reviews: Paradise Swamp from Catherine Delgadillo; Transformation from Tal Wilkenfeld

I recently downloaded two new releases, both by ax–wielding women, Catherine Delgadillo, a guitarist, and bassist Tal Wilkenfeld, who started out on guitar before switching instruments. Both of these young women show promise, poise and maturity on these, their debut releases.

Delgadillo’s Paradise Swamp is a fusion offering that treads very heavily in progressive instrumental rock territory. She possesses a sound that owes a bit of gratitude to both Frank Gambale and Alan Holdsworth; nice and raw, edgy and melodic – she’s a shredder but it never gets monotonous. She has a lot of good ideas, as evidenced by her compositions, which are very interesting and well developed. Paradise Swamp has a big sound, which had me continuously cranking up the volume on my iPod, thanks in no small part to her husband, Kevin, on drums. Besides electric and acoustic guitar, Catherine also handles the keyboards as well. The other musicians are Bill Hare and Mark Hokenson who split duties on bass. Stand out tracks are “Paradise Swamp” and “Catch Me.”
**Note – in the late eighties, there was a monster of a progressive fusion band out of Buffalo, NY named Gamalon, which released five recordings; Catherine Delgadillo conjures up memories of this incredible, but under recognized band.

While Delgadillo plays on the rock side of the pool (or is it swamp?), Tal Wilkenfeld jumps in the jazz waters headfirst. From the first few bars of Transformation, it’s apparent where this woman is headed – and she never looks back. This is a debut full of heady, well-composed jazz fusion with a healthy dose of straight ahead styling, courtesy of Geoff Keezer on keys and Seamus Blake on tenor sax. Wilkenfeld’s compositions, arrangements and overall production sensibilities remind me of gems I’ve heard from the likes of John Patitucci, John Scofield, the Yellowjackets and the late Michael Brecker – not such bad company to keep. This Australian’s talents have attracted the attention of Jeff Beck, where she is a member of his touring band, and Chick Corea, whom she toured her home country with in a band along with Frank Gambale and Antonio Sanchez. The other musicians on Transformation are Keith Carlock on drums and the highly accomplished, yet underrated Wayne Krantz on guitar. Both of these recordings were a pleasant discovery and I hope we will be hearing more from these ax–wielding ladies in the not too distant future.

On the Web:
Catherine Delgadillo | Catherine on MySpace

Tal Wilkenfeld Official Site | Tal on MySpace

Buy the Paradise Swamp CD from!
Buy the Paradise Swamp download from iTunes!

Buy the Transformation CD from!
Buy the Transformation download from iTunes!

Review: The Meeting Place from Ken Navarro

The Meeting Place from Ken NavarroKen Navarro has written and played some of the sweetest melodies I’ve heard in my years of listening to contemporary jazz. So what happens when he steps away from the “smooth jazz radio” sound? You still get sweet sounding guitar and memorable songs! The Meeting Place is the 17th, and latest, recording from the reliable guitarist. It’s hard not to feel the joy he puts into compositions like the peppy “My Beautiful Girls” and sitar-enhanced “Lucky.” All of the songs are originals written or co-written by Ken with the exception of a nice rendition of Pat Metheny’s “Lakes.” I smiled upon hearing “Just Like That” as it reminded me again that Navarro can really write a hook. There’s a lot of energy in that track but he really stokes the fire on “The Challenge.” It’s another uptempo track with solos from saxman Rob Holmes then Jay Rowe, building to a minute-long, fiery electric guitar outburst. To me, it’s a case of saving the best for last as it’s my favorite on the disc. That’s saying something when the entire recording is full of good songs and enthusiastic playing. The Meeting Place is out now on Navarro’s Positive Music label.

After hearing a dozen recordings by an artist, you tend to have an impression of a person based on their playing or compositions. With Navarro, though, you won’t have to guess. He keeps a regularly updated blog (several posts each month), a podcast series, and wrote a diary about the making of The Meeting Place. In his blog, he writes about his life from composing to touring to stories about his family (including a funny story about when his son didn’t listen to Ken about playing the bass). It’s a personal aspect that, as far as I know, no other contemporary jazz musician has dared before. For musicians, the details about the entire production of the new release are very informative. The diary has over a dozen entries that are complemented by eight podcasts. Non-musicians, like myself, will also find it revealing. The podcast on distribution gave me a solid education on what an independent musician needs to do to get their music out to the public. Thanks, Ken, for sharing.

Smoke N’ Mirrors from Lee Ritenour

He’s been a presence in contemporary jazz for more than two decades and nominated for seventeen Grammy awards. Guitarist Lee Ritenour still has stories to tell. The concept for his new release, Smoke N’ Mirrors, came from different sources, notably his first trip to South Africa last year. The new recording has a definite world influence. Ritenour brought in a number of musicians to help him achieve his vision: eight percussionists, South African singer Zamajobe, Daniel Jobim (grandson of Brazilian legend Antonio Carlos Jobim), his thirteen year old son, Wesley, and old friends like Dave Grusin, John Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta, Abraham Laboriel, Richard Bona, and Patrice Rushen. He also plays twelve different guitars. As you would expect from the personnel, the performances are top-notch and Rit’s playing is fluid. If you haven’t checked out Captain Fingers in a while, Smoke N’ Mirrors is a good one to pick up.