February 2005

Each month we provide a series of CD reviews plus "Star Rated" items.

You can listen to clips of some of our picks. You'll need a RealAudio Player to do this, and you can download by clicking on the following icon:

Our reviewing staff members are:

John Sutherland: John has a keen interest in piano jazz and brings with him a wealth of knowledge in this area.

Robert Fogle: Rob is Director of Musical Services for Fogle Entertainment in Toronto, as well he hosts his own radio programme on CHRY-FM (105.5). His background as a fan, in jazz music is extensive, and he is a serious collector of all genres of the music.

Colin Smith: Colin began his interest in jazz in his native Jamaica, and since settling in Toronto has become more involved in the music he loves. He is the school programme director for the Markham Jazz Festival and hosts his own jazz show on CKLN-FM (88.1).

Bob Eckersley: Bob Eckersley emigrated from England in 1957 and settled in Owen Sound (Northern Ontario), where he worked as an inspector for the government on Highway construction. His interest in jazz started during the war years, and though he is not a trained musicologist, he listens from the heart and judges accordingly.

By way of identification, reviewer's initials are inserted at the end of each review.

Previous Picks

Paradidgm Shift - "Shifting Times

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The idea of working organ, bass and guitar trios are not new to jazz. Neither is the idea of adding featured musicians to achieve a quintet or sextet sound. Remember Jimmy smith and Grant Green? They were the architects of that formula, one that worked extremely well for them.

Rochester, New York based Paradigm Shift's first national release has not, in my opinion moved into any new framework, as their name implies. Instead, they have managed to produce an eleven-programme selection of mainly original compositions reminiscent of the soul-jazz era. With the exception of a few standards such as Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays" and Clifford Brown's "Sandu", Melvin Henderson (guitar) and Gerry Youngman (organ/flugelhorn), two of the group's core members wrote the majority of the music heard on this disc.

For this recording, the group has indulged the expertise of some of their headliner friends, trumpet star Marcus Printup lends his brilliance to "Sandu" while Wycliffe Gordon (trombone) and Joe Locke (vibes) can be heard making some funky strides on Stevie Wonder's "Big Brother". Youngman's "Sanibel Breeze" provides a nice melody for his organ and Wycliffe's trombone over the chords of Frank Foster's "Shiny Stockings". While Paradigm Shift may not establish any new directions, or change any musical trends, the music sure lends itself to fun listening and a good party atmosphere.

C. S.

Nagel Heyer 2053

The Toronto Jazz Orchestra - "Under a Tree"

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This Compact Disc was recorded live in concert at the Pilot Tavern in Toronto, Ontario, Canada featuring an ensemble of young and talented musicians specializing in playing challenging big band music ranging from the classics of the past to modern hits of today, under the expert leadership of Josh Grossman, who is also a very capable trumpet and flugelhorn player. They have made many appearances at other venues in Toronto including the Rex Hotel and Montreal Bistro, always to sold out audiences. This, their second release has the band paying homage to those who have influenced and inspired them, by offering a selection of music by some of the great Canadian composers, past and present. This is music that swings, exhilarates and is extremely satisfying. The title tune (written by jazz icon Phil Nimmons) is a very up-tempo arrangement that signals the exciting selection of music that awaits the listener. Trumpeter Will Loach takes this selection into another dimension.

The music on this CD has something for everyone, regardless of the fact you may be a big band music lover or not. One cannot help being amazed and thrilled by the talents of these young artists, the level of musicianship displayed by all involved is nothing short of breathtaking. One must also mention the imaginative colours captured by the arrangers; highlights include Josh Grossman's "Together at Last" (did I detect shades of "Night in Tunisia" in this) and also Erica Jensen's baritone work on "Return of the Shuffleupagus".

C. S.

Independent TJ 0002

Nancy Wilson - "R. S. V. P."

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My many years of experiencing the different facets of jazz have taught me, amongst other things, that there are two types of singers. Those who sing songs that are heard and soon forgotten and those who sing the unforgettable songs that speaks directly to your heart. More so, sometimes the least said or written about the former, the better.

Nancy Wilson happens to be a member of the latter celebrated and respected group of singers, with a career that spans ten decades and who has produced more than sixty albums. She has not only demonstrated her ability to make music that is exceptional and timeless, but gets better with every offering.

This latest release for the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild label is a collection of wonderful songs that are near and dear to her. The twelve-menu selection is presented in small combo and big band setting. Each track has special arrangements tailored to Wilson's distinctive style, and features guests such as R&B star Kenny Lattimore, "Why Did I Choose You" (one of the major highlights on the recording), George Shearing "Blame It On My Youth", Paquito D'Rivera "How About Me", Phil Woods/Toots Thielmans "An Older Man is Like An Elegant Wine", Bill Watrous "You'll See" and Gary Burton "That's All".

Wilson is an immensely talented artist who sings in a manner that is always melodious and spacious.

There is grace in the ballads and a magical bounce in the up-tempo tunes that immediately grabs the listener's attention and begs for more. After much repeated listening to this recording, I am fully convinced that when it comes to interpreting lyrics that tell stories in song, she has no equal. This is indeed a remarkable recording that makes reviewing a joyous adventure. If you are looking for the quintessential recording with songs that tell the stories you want to hear, then look no further; your search has just ended.

C. S.

Manchester Guild MCGJ 1013

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