May 2004


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:

Sean Bray: Sean is a guitarist based in Toronto, Canada. He studied at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, leads his own group, and has four CD's released under his own name, and has performed at numerous concerts and club dates. You can visit Sean's site at

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).

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

Previous Picks

Priscilla Wright - "The Singer and The Song"

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Priscilla Wright is no stranger to the taste of the big time, and the sweet smell of success. As a young kid, she had an international hit with "Man in a Rain Coat", and as a result was privileged to perform with such artists as Elvis Presley, George Shearing and Ella Fitzgerald, who encouraged her to continue singing. This CD is a collection of popular songs from the Great American Songbook by composers such as George and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mandel, Irving Berlin and Michel Legrand.
She has a voice that is soft and warm and sings with a deep sense of conviction and imagination that seldom fails to capture the listener's attention.
This is a recording that has something for everyone, and it is easy to fall in love with the interpretation of such songs as "A Foggy Day" and "They All Laughed". Amongst these memorable tracks is Michel Legrand's "The Summer Knows", which is highlighted by some very remarkable and spirited trumpet playing by Jake Wilkinson.
Priscilla is accompanied by a stellar band of musicians which includes veteran drummer Archie Alleyne, bassist extraordinaire Don Thompson, pianist Bill King, bassist Kieran Overs (on some tracks), guitarist Rob Piltch and saxophonist Mike Murley.
After repeated sessions of listening, I am left with the feeling that this recording tells the story of someone who has traveled varied musical paths and winding roads, coming out on the brighter side to sing about it. C. S.

Independent PWCD-1000

Carla Bley - "Looking for America"

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The events of September 11th seem to have started a wave of patriotism from members of the jazz fraternity. First, it was Monty Alexander's "My America", then came D. D. Jackson's "Suite for New York", and now we have Carla Bley's "Looking for America". The commonality here is that all three composers are celebrants, and citizens of the world represented by America. Carla Bley is among the few first-rate composers of today, who possesses an unusual wide compositional range. On this particular recording she displays her acquaintance with the love of jazz, swing, military marches and Dixieland. These are all music that is American as Apple Pie.
"Looking for America" examines the art and soul of America, as seen through the eyes of Bley and her big band, featuring soloists Lew Soloff - trumpet, Andy Sheppard - tenor saxophone, Gary Valente - trombone and Wolfgang Pusching - alto saxophone/flute. Together they pay tribute to, extol the virtues of, and celebrate the history, humour and harmony of America. The epic "National Anthem", which is nearly 22 minutes in length, is a suite of short pieces with quirky titles like: "White Broad Stripes", "Keep It Spangled", and "Flags". On "Anthem" Bley demonstrates her ability to write music with drama and humour by including excerpts from the Canadian National Anthem.
There are four tracks with the word 'mother' in them, maybe as a tribute to America the motherland, or the mothers everywhere. Amongst the more interesting pieces are "Los Cocineros", and "Tijuana Traffic", both tempered with Cuban and Brazilian rhythms and harmonies. This leaves me to ponder as to which geographical location in America Bley really is looking for. C.S.

Freddy Cole - "In the Name of Love"

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Freddy Cole, the velvet voice Julliard trained singer and pianist, is no stranger to the business of recording music. In fact, he has been doing so for fifty-two years, and continues to produce music that is charming to the ear, and satisfying to the soul. "In the Name of Love" is a true example of what he does best. The eleven-song menu was carefully picked and treated with tender love and care. He knows the importance of inviting the audiences belief and trust in the songs he sings, and has the ability to choose the right material and a voice that makes it believable.
The magic of his rich baritone voice is very expressive, and reflects a perfect pitch for jazz standards. The much laid-back, but tasteful "The Harbour Lights", and the romantic "Just to See Her" are prime examples of his expertise.
His love of Brazilian music is well represented with "Anjo De Mim (I'm Not Alone)". The incredible acoustic guitar playing of Romero Lubambo adds an extra touch of Brazilian authenticity to the proceedings.
The highlight for this writer has to be Cole's duet with Jane Monhiet on "Remember Me", a performance that is nothing less than spectacular and inspiring, and surely adds that little extra touch of spice to what is already a remarkable recording. C.S.

Telarc CD-83545

Mal Waldron - "Soul Eyes"

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Mal Waldron, the New York-born pianist, will be remembered for, among other things, his great interpretation of the blues. He had a very flexible playing style that was well suited in hard bop or free-style settings.
Thelonious Monk heavily influenced Waldron, a fact that is evident by his always-present use of space.
This recording is a compilation offered as a tribute to this musician's musician, and the collection of eleven tracks were recorded between 1955 and 1962 and include a marathon version of the title tune "Soul Eyes" featuring John Coltrane, Webster Young and Paul Chambers.
Most of the tracks heard here have been previously released, although not always under Waldron's name. For example "Dakar" and "While My Lady Sleeps" were recorded under the leadership of John Coltrane. Billy Holiday's "God Bless the Child" is a worthy inclusion, considering Waldron was her accompanist for the last two years of her life.
Top-flight musicians play all the selections, and there are some stellar performances by Paul Quinichette, Pepper Adams and Waldron, whose playing serves as the glue that bonds the entire recording.
Stylistically, musically, this is an excellent compilation, one that should have a welcome spot in any jazz aficionado's collection. C.S.

Prestige PRCD-11024-2

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