June 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

Katahdin's Edge - "Step Away"

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Recording under the unexplained title of "Katahdin's Edge", the trio of Willie Myette - piano/composer, John Funkhouser - bass, and Mike Connors - drums offer eight finely detailed originals ranging from the shifting time signature of the opening "Step Away", the unfolding rhythmic patterns of "Full Circle", to a compellingly introspective balladic "Wagons of the Night" and the lyrical beauty of "Traveler in the Dark". Though we may not, as a liner notation suggests, "..be reminded here of other great explorers of jazz….from Herbie Hancock to Keith Jarrett (sic)", the music provided by this unidentified threesome from a Massachusetts based studio is its own reward.


Incline 1010

Mike Mattison & Paul Olsen - "Scrapomatic"

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Both from Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minnesota, Mike Mattison and Paul Olsen have their beginnings firmly in jazz, funk and roots music. Working together since the mid 1990's, the Minnesota Music Awards nominated them for the best R&B group and best male vocalist. They have since settled in Brooklyn, New York and played in every local venue, including Carnegie Hall.

This interesting CD is pitted with blues/funk. All but one selection are originals, mainly by Olsen, with help on five by his partner.

Missippi John Hurt's "Let the Mermaids Flirt with Me" is given a playful feeling by the duo, and is the only blues standard.

The recording comes with a bonus DVD, taking us behind the scenes with the band.


Artists House Foundation AH 0003

Various - "Concord Super Audio Sampler"

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This is a compilation of some of Concord's best-recorded jazz between 1979 and 2001. Some highlights include guitarist Jim Hall's quartet performing "Beija-Flor", "Straighten Up and Fly Right" by the late Rosemary Clooney, Poncho Sanchez playing Herbie Hancock's hit "Watermelon Man", Carmen McRae, from a live session, singing "My Handy Man Ain't Handy No More", Stan Getz with his beautiful rendition of Billy Strayhorn's "Blood Count", Mel Torme with Rob McConnell and The Boss Brass "Love Walked In" (a nice feature on this for Guido Basso's mellow flugelhorn), also Tania Maria, Gene Harris, Tito Puente, Cal Tjader, Art Blakey, Charlie Byrd and Michael Feinstein. All in all, this makes a great introduction to the vast Concord library.


Concord SACD-1032-6

Jake Langley - "Non Fiction"

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Guitarist Langley was the winner of Canada's 2004 National Jazz Awards in the guitar category, and has become one of this countries premier players on his chosen instrument."Non Fiction" is his second recording and is made up of nine original compositions by Langley, featuring a mix of genres of music from Latin to R&B, and various styles of jazz.

Some of Toronto's first-call musicians lend their talents to this exemplary session, Dave Restivo - piano and keyboards, Rich Brown and George Koller split the bass duties, Davide Direnzo - drums and guest Lucito Orbegoso - percussion, Bryden Baird - trumpet, Perry White - sax and bass clarinet, Vern Dorge - flute, and as a major mentor of Jake's, Doug Riley plays Hammond B-3 on one track - "Modeswing".

Langley renews the traditions of the jazz guitar kings of a bygone era while bringing today's funky approach to and through his compositions.


Tone Poet Records TPR CD 001

Buyu Ambroise - "Blues In Red"

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Born in Haiti, Ambroise settled briefly in the Republic of Congo with his family, before a move to the USA over three decades ago.

Playing saxophone since his teens, he studied with Frank Foster, Jimmy Owens and John Lewis. He has performed usually Haitian Konpa music or jazz for over twenty years.

With "Blues in Red", he draws from folk elements and Afro Caribbean sounds of his native music, which are sustained by African music with modern harmonies.

The selections are mainly traditional with one American classic, Duke Ellington/ Juan Tizol's "Caravan".

The base group is Ambroise - tenor/soprano, Frederic LasFargeas - piano, Paul Beaudry - bass, Dion Tucker - trombone, Obed Calvaire - drums and guests Alix "Tit" Pascal - guitar on "Konviksyon", James "Tiga" Jean-Baptiste - Haitian drums, vocal on "Konbit Zaka", Khalil Kwame-Bell - Percussion, Fito Vivien - Kata drums, Emedin Rivera - Latin percussion on "Minouch".

The leader has a fluid tone and the recording, while appearing to be of an African nature, really swings throughout with some exceptional choice rhythms.


Justin Time JTR 8506-2

Chris Robinson - "Pleased to Meet You"

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Chris Robinson is one of those "new musicians" who has been around for about twenty years. Originally from a musical family in London, Ontario (his father plays tenor), he has made Toronto his home for a number of years.

A stint with vibraphonist Peter Appleyard and studies with saxman Pat LaBarbera, introduced Chris to the jazz scene.

He has since performed in every possible setting, from Dixieland to Latin and straight-ahead jazz.

This recording is a wonderful debut for him, accompanied by Louis Simao - bass, Mark Mickelthwaite - drums, Brian O'Kane - trumpet and flugelhorn, with Gordon Webster and Jack McCaffrey sharing the piano duties.

The title tune "Pleased to Meet You" is a Robinson original and is strong romper with the rest of the tracks set much in the same frame of toe tapping music.

O'Kane shines on "I Thought About You", and Johnny Griffin's "Chicago Calling" spotlights Webster on piano.

The pianist and trumpet player sit out on "My Shining Hour" and the leader with only bass and drums provides an exceptional performance. Recommended.


Independent CR 001-2

Victor Feldman - "Latinsville"

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In 1941 England's Melody Maker magazine boasted of a sensational discovery in a banner headline - "We Discover a Krupa aged 7". The youthful Gene Krupa was Victor Feldman. One of four musical brothers, Victor became the most famous. At age nine he took up the piano and then at fourteen the vibraphone. Immigrating to the USA in 1955, he toured with Woody Herman, played with Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse band in the later 1950's and later with various name groups/leaders.

This particular recording features him on piano and vibes and covers a period between December 1958 and May 1959. The bands have some of the West Coast's best young players of the time, among who were Conte Candoli, Frank Rosolino, Walter Benton, Vince Guaraldi and Stan Levy. Add an assortment of great Afro-Cuban musicians such as Willie Bobo, Mongo Santamaria, Armando Peraza and a young bassist, who would shortly after become a major part of jazz history working with Bill Evans - Scott LaFaro.

The selections are well chosen for this release, some original Latin-American classics composed as early as the 1920's and 30's including "South of the Border", "Flying Down to Rio", "The Gypsy", "Lady of Spain", "Spain" (no, not the Chick Corea tune), "Cuban Love Song", "In a Little Spanish Town" and nine other well crafted arrangements. Five tracks are bonus, previously unreleased.


Contemporary CCD-9005-2

Astrud Gilberto - "Astrud for Lovers"

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Another in the series of Verve's "Lovers" collection following in the steps of Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Johnny Hartman, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Stan Getz, this compilation of Astrud Gilberto covers the scope of her recorded output. It features the vocalist with both large and small ensembles with Bud Shank, Walter Wanderley, Gil Evans, Kai Winding and the man who was most responsible for bringing Astrud to North America, Stan Getz (in whose group was a young newcomer to the jazz scene, Gary Burton). Getz is heard on most of the twelve tracks on this CD.

Gilberto's cute, little, untrained voice, while not a powerhouse, shines in both Portugese and English.

Her ex-husband, Joao (guitar/vocals), joins her with Getz on Jobim's "Corcovado".

There are two previously unreleased selections, "World Stop Turning" and "Love is Stronger By Far Than We", lyrically and melodically equals with other better-known songs she has recorded.


Verve B000136302

Monika Stadler - "Everything Will Be All Right"

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Austrian born Monika Stadler was a member of theVienna Symphony and the Vienna National Opera Orchestra. She studied with jazz harpist Deborah Henson-Conant and also at Berklee College in Boston.

This compact disc contains a collection of Stadler's own compositions. With her are Jon Sass - tuba, Daniel Tschida - Indian Flute, Reinhard Zeigerhofer - bass and Franz Schmuck - percussion.

The key word is improvisation combining a mix of world, classical and a smattering of jazz. Mellow, moody, meditation, spiritual and yoga are some of the words that might be used in conjunction with this album. Stadler shows her many skills on her instrument of choice and also lends her vocals to four of the fourteen compositions, blending it with warmth.


Extraplatte EX 537-2

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