Showing posts with label Jazz Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jazz Reviews. Show all posts


Contemporary Instrumental - Jazz Review: The Christopher James Project-Better Days

Release Date: September 17, 2021

Label: Val Gardena Music


Contemporary instrumental and jazz make for a great partnership on the first solo album for Christopher James. 

The Christopher James Project is titled for a good reason. Project-based recording usually entails many different artists, and Better Days is precisely that.

It makes for an excellent listen, featuring an All-Star lineup comprised of Ben Butler, Taylor Eigsti, John Patitucci, Nate Smith, David Torn, and Doug Yowell. Those listeners who enjoy instrumental works with a piano leading the way with plenty of rhythm and jazz flavors will find great joy in each track.

Some good examples of all the colors, textures, and melding of sounds are "Pear Blossom' and "Anna," which were consecutive tracks of absolute pleasure. The album's flow is perfect as one track introduces the next. The musicianship is exemplary, as one would expect with this lineup. I always notice an intrinsic rhythm in this type of music, and it is the core that everything else is built upon. This is from my listening perspective, and others will likely hear it differently.

That is the freedom and beauty of a great musical recording, and it allows your mind and spirit to take flight. In that context, "Bated Breath" is very progressive and goes through several changes over 4:03 minutes. I found it breathtaking and could feel the immense energy that went into that track. It provides the excitement and wonder of a great jazz improvisational number.

Christopher James is an accomplished classical pianist taking his skills to different and new heights with help from his friends. I have been listening to some tremendous smooth jazz lately from a station out of Istanbul, Turkey. That has engaged me and put me in the right mood and frame of mind for music like this.

Yes, indeed, let's all hang on to that though now, Better Days are ahead, and performing artists such as Christopher James are leading the way.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-New Age Music Reviews Founder
September 23, 2021

01. Beyond the Sunrise
02. The Dunes
03. Better Days
04. Blue Mountains
05. Pear Blossom
06. Anna
07. Don't Let It Slip Away
08. Bated Breath
09. A Previous Thought
10. Beyond the Sunrise (alternate)


Jazz Review: Charu Suri-The New American Songbook EP

Release Date: December 20, 2019

Label: Amala Records


If it has been a while since you heard some great jazz, specifically with piano as the main instrument, and a gorgeous female voice, then I have found one artist you simply need to hear now. Her name is Charu Suri and with her latest EP The New American Songbook, she makes quite a musical  statement.

Charu is the first female Indian American jazz composer to premiere work at Carnegie Hall. Charu has been playing the piano since the age of five and performing since the age of nine. She won an international piano competition at the age of 15. When you start in music that young, there is ample time to develop and certainly in this instance all those years have paid an enormous number of dividends.

Danielle Erin Rhodes’ voice is perfect and she can get so high and clear; is the vocal instrument on display with all the music, particularly Charu’s exceptional piano, accompanying her that puts the finishing touch on every track. Even though you may only get four tracks, it is very satisfying, and this could be the taste of what is to come. If that is the case, I look forward to an entire album of music and vocalizations like those on The New American Songbook.

The track “A Little Joy,” is made for the Holiday Season and was just released on YouTube, and will be on Spotify on January 30th. This is the kind of music people need to hear now and not because it is great music with a soothing beautiful voice getting you some comfort, it is all about having just a little joy, maybe for the length of the song or for Christmas. Whatever you are going through right now, this will offer a few moments in time to get into another space.

The New American Songbook and Charu Suri will take you back to a time when there were so many amazing jazz musicians and singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Speaking of the blues, Charu does get “Bluesy” on the ivory keys, and you can feel the emotion of Danielle’s vocals taking hold of you. It is the best track on the EP and one I will never forget.

The New American Songbook
is a recording that lovers of jazz, blues, and holiday music will want to hear.  

Keith “MuzikMan” Founder
December 16, 2020

Track List:
1. Seasons        
2. Bluesy        
3. It's the Simple Things
4. A Little Joy


Jazz Review: Rhy Dongju-Lions’den II: Arium

Release Date: May 15, 2020
Label: 2020 Dongju Lee

Rhy Dongju is a youth progressive jazz and classical musician who grew up in the Republic of Korea. As a multi-disciplined, growing young man, Dongju exited the military in 2017 and then began to watch his music career blossom. Having released five albums so far, his latest Lions’den II: Arium, is his newest venture, creating an explosion of big-band flavors fused with jazz stylings.

“Ricasso” begins the album like the introduction of a theatrical performance as the curtain draws up, the number is exciting the listener for the start of the show. The tone almost makes the track sound as though it came from a spy movie. It’s a wonderful track to start with as there are no sudden or extreme changes, rather it is a simple, soothing piece.

As track two begins, and you glance over at this particular album artwork, you see a driver’s side car mirror. It's black and white, city street depiction is perfect for this album as it makes you feel like your right in the heart of a city That appears to be the theme of the record, along with a little throwback glance at the 1950’s scenery, painted in the listener’s mind. “Pp,” with a build-up of what might sound like a crescendo of tension, quickly dissipates back into a steady stream of uptempo, staccato strumming. What makes this track so appealing is that there are four different stages within the song; one which circled back to the crescendoing tension again to end out the song.

“Elvis Remember,” simply put, is pure fun. The song bursts with a cheery fanfare that becomes a toe-tapping two-minute tune. It’s appealing to the ear for as quick of a number as it is. Then, we fall into “Revenue” is the first track to have a bit of a somber note to it. The drumbeats offer up a variance of flavor to just having the guitar play through the entirety of the track. “Venue” starts as a dream sequence. It's light, piano keys offer beauty to the piece soon incorporating in the drums and as the guitar sets up to play, allowing it free reign. During the two to three-minute mark, the climax of the song has probably the most interesting exciting release of music throughout the whole album.

When “Syren” comes on it offers a cooler, mellow tone, and though it may be a little more melancholy than that of “Revenue;” it is still sleek with intervals of hill and valley moments particularly at the three-thirty to the four-minute mark. “Aroes Intro” is full-on spooky. It is a minute of elusiveness and piano pleasure. Getting into the main tune of “Aroes” is exciting and simplistic at the same time. There is a fair and even balance between the guitar and piano arrangements within “Aroes” which complement the track to have it be the standout track of the entire album.

Full of downbeats and dark tone “Rachmaninoff Rhapsody, Pt.1” is short but, a severe throw off course of what the listener has become accustomed to hearing through Lions’den II: Arium. As it’s follower, “Rachmaninoff Rhapsody, Pt. 2” comes to play, it offers a variance to its counterpart. While it sounds very dramatic, it gives off a vibe of a very high-speed chase or action-packed scene that might result in a grand finale. Coming to a close, “Arium” is the closing credit everyone can gather and stand and applaud to as victor has won or the hero is now enjoying a moment alone or with their love interest, after having accomplished whatever had needed to be done. It has a smooth and warm tone sure to leave you satisfied and just enough to want to know what the future might have in store for this rising, accomplished artist.

Key tracks include: “Venue,” “Arium,” “Ricasso,” and “Elvis Remember.”

Gregg Keniston- Staff
May 30, 2020

Track Listing:
01. Ricasso
02. Pp
03. Elvis Remember
04. Revenue
05. Venue
06. Syren
07. Aroes Intro
08. Aroes
09. Rachmaninoff Rhapsody, Pt. 1
10. Rachmaninoff Rhapsody, Pt. 2
11. Arium


Jazz Review: John Scofield, Steve Swallow, & Bill Stewart - Swallow Tales

Release Date: June 05, 2020
Label: ECM Records

According to his website bio, Scofield and his music lie “somewhere between post-bop, funk edged jazz, and R & B.” John Scofield has, over his 50 years within the industry, played with some of the biggest names in the music industry known to man. One of his biggest partnerships was with the late, great Miles Davis. This duo provided Scofield the capability to flourish from a springboard perspective into the spotlight of Jazz as both an instrumentalist and composer harmoniously. With his latest project Swallow Tales, the 68-year-old has not shown any signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Steve Swallow, one of two partners on this album, is a jazz bassist and composer hailing from my home state of New Jersey,(who knew?) Swallow was one of the first bassists to switch up entirely to utilize an electric bass. Like his teammate, for more than 50 years, Steve has been writing and even educating youth at the Berklee College of Music. At 79, Steve is still contributing to upcoming works including Swallow Tales.

Bill Stewart is the mastermind behind the rhythm and beat of the newest album creation. If not for him, the record might lose a sense of excitement and anticipation that several of the tracks offer. As the youngest of the trio in this group, the 53-year-old collaborates once again with Scofield to impress upon new, upcoming artists incorporating his “polyrhythmic, or layered character” with that of their own new and inventive styles that they might develop in a quest to become a new “great” musician or artist of tomorrow.

In just a basic glance of the album’s artwork, Swallow Tales comes across as something one might listen to on that of the dreariest, dampest of days. Turning on the intro track, “She Was Young” reveals quite the opposite of mindsets. It’s cool, simple, film-like beginning lays the groundwork for an enjoyable nine-and-a-half minute electric guitar getaway. The flicks and picks amid the track keep the listener wondering where he might go next as he eases back into solemn, quiet playing.

“Falling Grace” is more of a somber tune but appealing nonetheless. Its shuffle-like sound and the consistent rise and fall structure throughout the playtime is a fun way to incorporate different techniques through the tracks. “Portsmouth Figurations” brings about a more-defined drum beat to change up the sound-alike chain of the prior two tracks, even if you can spot the differences. Instrumental pieces, often make it difficult to capture what separates one track from another, however, it is very-much still possible to do so.

“Awful Coffee” is most certainly apparent in its more mellow style, especially as the track opens. The track aligns very closely with the design and setup of the album’s artwork, where it might be best listened to within the confines of a darker room or under the haze of a gray, cloudy sky. “Eiderdown” blends quite seamlessly with its predecessor up until about the 2-minute mark where it differentiates with a rumble-like tone and more staccato-type form. The seven-minute tune avails more zig-zag maze imagery than the others heard so far as there does not seem to be one set theme in this track.

“Hullo Bolinas” brings the listener back down from a high of excitement and pop-infused playtime. The more elongated, allegro formation of this track appeals to those who like tracks that are more at ease and with less of an intensity that jazz can often possess. That’s the thing with jazz, it can range from a calm, soothing notion, to a highly clashing, bombastic, and lively sound that surprises the listener at every turn.

Next on the record, “Away” begins its music with an apparent country-like sound, like someone who has lost a love or who has moved away from settings or people familiar and typical to the individual. With every note that is played, your heart feels for when the guitar tweaks and crescendos with each note. The song reminds me much of the Christmas song by The Carpenters, “Christmas Waltz” (“And this song of mine in three-quarter time. Wishes you and yours the same thing too.”)

Rounding out the album, “In F” is a funky, groovy track bound to put anyone who listens in a great mood and get some up off their feet to dance. Its rock-pop vibe carries a difference from the rest of the record which might go unnoticed if you are one who likes to skip tracks or select your favorites rather than listen to the record in its entirety for what it’s worth. Finally, “Radio” keeps with the appeal of “In F” succeeding to send off the listener with a smile and a feel of how each groove and divet of jazz can be peculiar in their own right. Just when you think the artist is going in one direction, he or she takes your trained ear and throws it reverse. And just like everything else, oftentimes it works, and sometimes it misses the mark. Here, Swallow Tales accomplishes the mission of entertainment and experience for the unexperienced musician or just plain music lover.

Gregg Keniston- Staff
May 17, 2020


Track Listing:
1. She Was Young
2. Falling Grace
3. Porsmouth Figurations
4. Awful Coffee
5. Eiderdown
6. Hullo Bolinas
7. Away
8. In F
9. Radio



Jazz Review: Pasquale Grasso - Solo Masterpieces

Release Date: March 6, 2020
Label: Sony Music Entertainment

At a crossroads where coffee shop meets professionalism, you are bound to run into Pasquale Grasso’s Solo Masterpieces. This album is the definition of tranquility and peace of mind. This artist goes to show that you don’t always need words to describe how you are feeling or to set a mood right.

The 30-year-old  Italian guitarist unveils an album that is a sure delight to any ear. He practiced under the direction of Agostino Di Giorgio then Barry Harris respectively. Pasquale and his brother quickly became a fixture within Harris’s workshops, soon after, in 2008 he studied at the Conservatory of Bologna under Professor Walter Zanetti. Then, in 2012, Grasso moved to New York City, where he cultivated his talent for Jazz. Rising to a certain level of stardom over the past five years, Pasquale Grasso developed a sound all his own. Pat Metheny, a jazz-guitar icon and NEA Jazz Master stated of Grasso, “This guy is doing something so amazingly musical and so difficult.”

The entirely instrumental album is made up of a collection of Standard-type pieces, each given their own, personal spin. Do you want to find something that brings you comfort? Here it is. Grasso finds ways to bring life to classic, contemporary works that highlight a timeline of musical genius. The simplicity of the album is its greatest asset. As the album progresses, the listener can see hear the intricate details of bringing every song to melodic, dream-sequenced works.

Tracks like “Over the Rainbow,” “Tea for Two,” and “Body and Soul” find a different groove. They stand apart from the rest of the album with an uptick in the tempo. Where the majority of the album streamlines a very mellow, soft undertone; these songs make the album pop with staccato and crescendo flare-ups that will appeal like a new sound to the listener. The opening track, “All the Things You Are” provides the listener with a sample of the ebb and flow of radio-friendly, pop-themed songs through the body of more classically-styled songs.

Grasso is a prime example of how you are never too young to push beyond expectations of your own and those around you. Jumping on a passion and cultivating his talent, Pasquale is a young heart with an old soul. He keeps the old sound of music blending through modern contemporary airwaves. The album represents how a mark in time can last throughout the ages and not everything fades off into the horizon. Rather, some tradition is emboldened with new meaning.

Key Tracks include: “’Round Midnight,” “Epistrophy,” “Body and Soul,” and “Over the Rainbow.”

Gregg Keniston- Staff
April 30, 2020

Track Listing:
01. All the Things You Are
02. Over the Rainbow
03. Just One of Those Things
04. ‘Round Midnight
05. Hallucinations
06. Sophisticated Lady
07. Tea for Two
08. Bouncing With Bud
09. These Foolish Things
10. Epistrophy
11. Parker’s Mood
12. Body and Soul

Reviews Provided By:


Jazz Review: Val Gardena-Across The Divide

Release Date: March 20, 2020
Label: Val Gardena Music

Val Gardena’s Across The Divide is just what the doctor ordered for these crazy times in which we are living. Out of control viruses, stock markets crashing, businesses closing, people in quarantine, there is so much stress and uncertainty that we all need something to take the edge off.
There is nothing like some good jazz to relax you and set your mind at ease.

The main people involved in this recording are Christopher James (composer) John Patitucci (bass), Gene Lake and Nate Smith (drums), Taylor Eigsti (piano) and the exquisite trumpet from Chris Botti on “Back in Time” and “Two of One.” (I have listed all the credits below)

This is a very satisfying recording from beginning to end and it starts with the gorgeous and picturesque title track. All the tracks are smooth and flowing except for “Why Not” which serves as their funky upbeat track with colorful keys and stinging guitar lines. To be honest, I could take an entire album of that even though I love the peace all the other tracks brought me. I still like to jump and jive just as much. That was good to hear that this talented group could flip a switch and take such a wide turn in the road to change direction. To me, that is pure talent and command, and greatly respected and appreciated by this listener.

I have a deep enduring reverence and love for jazz and I need to hear more. I drift off into other genres but can be easily pulled back after listening to superb outings such as Across The Divide. It all went by much too quick for me. I loved the way the curtain closed with “The Voice I Hear The Face I See,” which seamlessly allows you to flow right back to the opening track and hear it all again.

Music like this is timeless and I never tire of it or feel complacency, it is quite the opposite. I am captivated with the quality musicianship and production. It is like looking into a pond of crystal-clear water and watching all the fish or perhaps seeing your reflection in the placid coolness.

Jazz is movement, spirit and precision all wrapped into one amazing package and Across The Divide is an exceptional example of musical perfection that can be rare with all the technologies available to make it sound that way. This is the real deal with the latest in production methods I am sure, but you need the best of the best to make music like this, and with that I have no doubt.

All songs written by Christopher James
(1,4,5,7,9) written by Christopher James and Andy Snitzer

Drums - Graham Hawthorne (1,2,3,4,7,9); Nate Smith (6.8); Gene Lake (5)
Percussion - Graham Hawthorne
Bass - John Patitucci (5,6,8); Zev Katz (1,3,4,7,9); Tim Lefebvre (2)
Guitar - Bernd Schoenhart, Adam Rodgers (5)
Piano -  Mike Ricchiuti, Taylor Eigsti (6,8)
Keyboards / Synthesis - Andy Snitzer
Wurlitzer, B3 - Brian Charette (5)
Trumpet - Chris Botti (6,8); Tatum Greenblatt (1,4); Kent Smith (7)
Saxophone - Andy Snitzer (1,5)
Vocals - Andy Snitzer (4)
Vocals - Jo Lawry (1,2,4,9)

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
March 21, 2020

Review Provided By


1. Across The Divide
2. Take Me With You 2
3. What I Meant To Say
4. Do You Know The Way
5. Why Not
6. Two of One
7. Nazare
8. Back In Time
9. The Voice I Hear The Face I See


Instrumental Jazz Review: Pablo Embon-Nobody’s Land

Release Date: October 17th, 2018
Label: Independent

Now here is an artist I was anticipating a great new release from, Pablo Embon.  I had the very distinct pleasure of reviewing The World Within (2016) and The Funky Side of The Road (2017). And now the latest release Nobody’s Land is ready for all you jazz aficionados to consume. This keeps the string of fresh releases coming and my ears are paying attention.

I love jazz, and I do not listen to it enough. Somewhere along the line, I drifted apart from it. The music Pablo delivers reminds me of how wonderful this music is. It also makes me think of many of my favorites such as Al DiMeola, Jean-Luc Ponty and Caldera (with some of the keyboards), and many more. The influences of many different artists are present in Pablo’s music. Once you hear it you will pick up on it. If you are like me, you will love it. He cites Return To Forever as an influence. As you all know that was a group of superstars and each one had their own particular style and sound. That is a good thing in my estimation. 

Nobody’s Land tends to draw from those influences and the mix of sounds you will hear on the album is a tribute to the many talents of the artists. One the best examples of all the influences tied into one song are “Rubberneck.”  It is a combo of traditional and modern jazz. The guitar is smooth and fluid like traditional jazz should be then the shifting tempo introduces some piano, which adds another layer of texture to consider. It gives it some juice and jumps if you will. There is background jazz, the kind that blends into your surroundings, then there is thinking man’s jazz, which is more cerebral.  In that sense I mean, you are recognizing all the changes and the tremendous effort that must have gone into recording all this music, then putting it all together. That is an immense task to accomplish. If you don’t really appreciate the artistry that you are hearing then you really are not “listening.”

Pablo wrote and produced all of his music and he also performed it all with several different configurations of guitars and keyboards (listed below for you gear freaks). He is the ultimate D.I.Y. indie musician. I always thought of him as a guitar player, it looks that way on this cover. Do not let one picture persuade you in one direction. On Nobody’s Land, he is equally impressive on the various types of keyboards. At times you get that smoke-filled lounge feeling and others the get-up and dance nightclub feeling with his music, and others the kick back and just soak it all in mood hits you…all of it soothes the soul. This artist gets it all covered for my discerning tastes.

This may be Nobody’s Land but this is Pablo Embon’s world of music. With each album released he takes it to the next level. I look forward to what he comes up with next year! 

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
October 4, 2018

Note: The newly remastered version of Nobody's Land is now available exclusively on Pablo's website follow this link:

Founder of:

Review Provided By MuzikMan Reviews & News

01. Dragonfly
02. Absent Minded
03. The Days We’ve Lived
04. Wistful Smiles
05. Tell Your Story
06. Same Old, Same Old
07. End of Summer
08. Nobody’s Land
09. Unveiled
10. Rubberneck
11. Washed Out
12. Estela
13. Bonus Track: Morning T (Remix)

Ravenscroft 275 Acoustic Piano
Rhodes Electric Piano
Wurlitzer Electric Piano
Yamaha CP70 Electric Piano
Roland V-Piano
Synth Rack: Various

Ovation Acoustic Guitar Standard Elite 2778AX
Yamaha NTX900FM Nylon Guitar
Ibanez PM 120 NT Electric Guitar
12th String Acoustic Washburn WD10SCE12


Classical/Jazz Review: Alan Storeygard-Jazz Meets The Classics

Genre: Jazz/Classical
Release Date: April 21, 2017
Label: Church Jazz

Alan Storeygard is a pianist, composer, arranger, and family doctor. Some of the musicians that have been inspirational to him and have influenced his music are Ramsey Lewis, Dave Brubeck, and Oscar Peterson.  Is it unusual to find someone in the medical profession that doubles as professional musician? I would say it is not a common occurrence but certainly one that is not unusual in indie music. It is also very common in the indie world where an individual holds a steady day job and has a secondary passion that is pursued. I get it because I am one of those people that leads a double life.

A passion can drive you, commit you and enable you to accomplish things you never thought were possible. Anyone that is fortunate enough to be in that frame of mind and reaches their goals is blessed. Secondly those that share that passion with others understand they are very fortunate and remain humble. This is what Alan Storeygard does on his fifth release titled Jazz Meets The Classics.

The piano is the perfect instrument to present a classical piece and when it intersects with jazz it is reborn into a different musical universe. This does not dismiss the very foundation that allowed this all to happen though. I came to realize over the years taking a deep dive into several genres, that classical music is the progenitor of all music.  Everything has started with it and the influences are found in every genre one way or another. Jazz is a cousin that took that foundation of sound and redesigned it with different tempos and flavors. What Alan does in the nine tracks presented here is illustrate that with some superlative piano arrangements. By maintaining the classical building blocks then rearranging and cross pollinating it, a jazz flavor emerges. It works very well and to be honest I absolutely loved it.

I do not think you can look at a diverse individual like Alan Storeygard and paint him into a corner. Not only because of his eclectic approach to life but how he takes that journey into the music.  He creates a unique blend of sounds while incorporating musical traditions. He gives the due respect to his influences and the masters that have come and gone and injects new blood and a personal passion that is beyond reproach.

Jazz Meets The Classics was a refreshing look at time tested musical genius interpreted by a free spirited and creative individual not afraid to step beyond any boundaries. With that attitude he opens new doors to a listening audience that otherwise may pass on classical music. This was a well thought out project with some excellent musicianship to drive forward some new ideas. It all reached its fruition, providing a result that is very satisfying.

4/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 30, 2017
Founder of:

Review Provided By New Age Music Reviews

1. Prelude in C-Sharp Minor (feat. Eric Chesher)
2. The Moldau Symphony (feat. Danny Fletcher)
3. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony
4. Ballade 1 in G-Minor / Nocturne 2 in E-Flat / Waltz 6 in D-Flat
5. The Star-Spangled Banner with Italian Ending (From "Nessun Dorma")
6. Second Piano Concerto (feat. Eric Chesher)
7. Allessio's Song (From "The Tales of Hoffmann")
8. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
9. First Piano Concerto (feat. Eric Chesher)


Jazz Review: Pablo Embon-The World Within

Release Date: March 18, 2016
Label: Independent

Pablo Embon is a remarkably talented artist. He has released his 15th album titled The World Within. The album was performed, recorded, mixed and produced by Embon between June 2015 and February 2016 in Israel. Amongst the 13 tracks there is a multitude of jazz stylings.

As a listener this is sheer delight to hear such talent and diversity on display. As an individual with the role of reviewing said music it is quite an undertaking. I mean that as the sincerest form of flattery by the way.

The influences Pablo has are many and 99% of them are artists I love so it is no wonder I found it easy to fall into this music like it was an old friend. Jazz is very complex music, a true art form that deserves respect and the full attention of a listener. Lord knows if you have a lapse in your listening you are bound to miss something prolific or even a subtle nuance that changes the entire direction of a song.

It is hard to choose a place to start with this magnificent recording but as usual I like to focus on 3 or 4 tracks that stood out for my ears and musical palette. First let me say how much I have always loved jazz and although I hear elements of it in much of the music I have the opportunity to review, I rarely have the chance to take in so many different forms of the genre in one sitting as I have with The World Within.

“Peeling Off” caught my attention first with the title itself. This was like peeling off the layers of something to find something underneath, then doing it again and again. For instance the peeling of the musical onion can be a wonderful thing for a musician to experience and even more so for the music fan to hear it. This track was all about the grandeur and elegance of the piano. Embon certainly pays due respect to the ivory keys with the wonderfully rhythmic and pleasant journey.

“The Real Thing” for me was the expression of jazz from beginning to end. It reminded me so much how I came to love this music in the first place. The all-important percussion, the gentle tapping of the symbols, the guitar accentuating the tinkling of the piano as the bass and drums fall into sync. This is traditional jazz that changes over to a more modern sound nearly half way through. It was like listening to Dave Brubeck morphing into Chick Corea (worthy of note are the electric keyboards). I loved the back and forth transitions, and how in one track a listener gets to experience how jazz music has progressed into what it is today. Not only is it “The Real Thing,” it is a tribute to the art.

“What I've Heard” is one of the more interesting tracks and the one that steps away from the others. One cannot help but notice how different it sounds even though the entire album offered a good helping of different jazz styles throughout. This track while having a foundation of jazz to work with, takes everything one step further with the steady and proud pounding of military drums that echo the past and usher in the future once the keyboards come rolling in. The orchestral maneuvers bring a cinematic theme to your mind’s eye easily, like the very beginning or end of a favorite movie soundtrack. It made me think of John Wayne riding a horse across a vast expanse in the Wild West. All the changing emotions and atmospheres are packaged ever so tidily in this track.

You are bound to find The World Within the music after one listen. I listened three times and kept finding more. Welcome to the incredibly entertaining world of Mr. Pablo Embon!

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Peeling Off, The Real Thing, What I’ve Heard


01. The World Within
02. Last Falling Angel
03. Amor Latino
04. Coming Back
05. More For Less
06. The Ride Home
07. Leave the Lights on
08. The Moon For You
09. The Real Thing
10. Distinctive
11. Fly Away
12. What I've Heard
13. Peeling Off

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck- Write A Music Review Founder

March 16, 2016

Review Provided By Write A Music Review


Jazz Review: Sasha’s Bloc (Featuring Jane Monheit)-Heart On Fire

Release Date: March 17, 2015
Label: Indie

When was the last time you heard an album by a current artist that brought back the heyday of jazz and big bands? I suggest you look no further than Sasha’s Bloc and their bevy of guest performers on their excellent new release Heart On Fire.

The recording features the poignant vocals of one Ms. Jane Monheit (who covers 4 tracks by Alex Gershman). There are 10 people pictured on the inner sleeve of this CD, which are the main players in this band. It is no wonder the sound is so full and original while being true to the roots of great jazz music.

“Lonely Day In Paris” is the way the album starts and it’s as picturesque as the title suggests. From that point the stage is set and in place to fall into jazz heaven. Turn it up, sit back and listen to real music with a long history and culture that needs more appreciation than it currently gets.

The album takes you on a journey that brings the legacy of Jazz back to life like a full blooming flower in spring. It jumps, jives, and makes your soul dance. If it’s a warm and romantic slow burner you yearn for then “Heart On Fire” will do the trick. It is an appropriate title track in every sense of what that stands for and or implies. If your heart is not literally on fire in some fashion after hearing this track you need to be examined to see if you still have blood flowing through those veins!

For a complete change of pace “Angel” sounds like a soundtrack to an old gangster flick…picture the scene during prohibition as you walk through the secret passageway, give the password through the peep hole then you enter the smoky booze filled hall where all the action is. Patrick Tuzzolino has the perfect vocal style and pitch to deliver the song with some snap and feeling to put you right there as the scene unfolds and the joint gets jumpin’.

Then if you want to cut away from all the vocals, the instrumental “Duke” lets you just float away and create your own scenery. This is a nice change and an opportunity to focus in on all the talented musicians that contribute to this album. It's smooth jazz baby with an old time flair and sophistication that will certainly be appreciated by any jazz connoisseur.

“Manhattan” closes the curtain and ushers in complete joy while throwing you back to a time when the Andrews Sisters were entertaining the troops during WW2. The New Orleans style horns create that party in the streets atmosphere and the vocals are spot on for that timeframe. It is a nod to those famous sisters that shaped an era in time that will never be duplicated again. This is as close as it gets folks.

Heart On Fire is a wonderful album that once again reminded me why I loved jazz and big band music. I used to listen to all that music my parents had when I was a little boy and that is where it all started for me. Thank you Sasha’s Bloc for all the entertainment, great music and sweet memories you brought back with your music!

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Lonely Day In Paris, Angel, Manhattan

01. Lonely Day in Paris (feat. Patrick Tuzzolino)
02. Feels Like Jazz (feat. Jane Monheit)
03. Anything Is Possible (feat. Nora Rothman & Patrick Tuzzolino)
04. Black and Blue (feat. Glynis Leflore, Alvin Chea, Octavia Pace & Princess Fortier)
05. Breakfast (feat. Jane Monheit, Princess Fortier, Glynis Leflore & Octavia Pace)
06. Take a Chance (feat. Nora Rothman)
07. Heart On Fire (feat. Jane Monheit)  
08. Angel (feat. Patrick Tuzzolino, Octavia Pace, Glynis Leflore & Princess Fortier)
09. The Duke
10. Sunday Blues (feat. Jane Monheit)
11. Manhattan (feat. Octavia Pace, Glynis Leflore & Prin
cess Fortier)

Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-Write A Music Review Founder
March 16, 2015
Review Provided By Write A Music Review


Jazz Review: Carmen Lundy-Soul To Soul

Release Date: September 23, 2014
Label: Afrasia Productions

Carmen Lundy's 14th album Soul To Soul album features 11 of 13 songs written, co-written or arranged by Lundy. It also features the many stellar talents of guest artists such as Patrice Rushen, Geri Allen, Randy Brecker, Mayra Casales, South African vocalist Simphiwe Dana, Bennie Maupin, Carol Robbins, Ada Rovatti and Warren Wolf along with core rhythm section members Darryl Hall and Jamison Ross.

Besides providing excellent vocals Lundy plays guitar, piano and Rhodes as well as drums on 2 tracks. The title Soul To Soul is very appropriate once you hear the music and lyrics. Lundy’s vocal style ebbs and flows like the waves of the ocean. I do not listen to traditional jazz like I used to and have to say I really miss it and this album reminded me of that joy. Her phrasing is spot on and she hits all the highs and lows that any good jazz vocalist should.

“Kindred Spirits” moves right along at a brisk pace serving as a fantastic opener that sets the stage for what is to come. The track is the full embodiment of jazz and the musicianship is superb. Her vocal style reminded me of the great Ella Fitzgerald in her prime. It is more of a traditional jazz vocal track with a modern twist. The following track “Life Is a Song in Me” has a funkier backbeat and a totally different atmosphere than its predecessor. This is an indication of the versatility of the artist and I appreciated it. Then coming again from entirely different place, the title track “Soul to Soul,” slows down the pace and Lundy brings the vocals home from the bottom of her heart delivered right to you, just like the track says, from “Soul to Soul.”    
When you first hear this album you are thinking that a lot of the tracks sound like jazz classics only to find out that 11 of the tracks are originals. This is a credit to the ladies craft. Most certainly this album is a triumph and critics and fans alike will likely agree. I can say in all honesty that I think this recording is a classic of the genre. Just like Lundy sings in “Daybreak,” – “hurry up sunrise don’t make me wait.” Her sunshine is just around the corner waiting to bring all the success that this wonderful album can initiate. The track is another one of my favorites because it reminds me of more traditional jazz and big band music from the 1940’s era. 

Thanks to Soul to Soul my love for jazz has returned and will have me reaching for some of the classic albums in my collection.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Kindred Spirits, Daybreak, Soul to Soul

01. Kindred Spirits   
02. Life Is a Song in Me   
03. Soul to Soul   
04. When Will They Learn   
05. Daybreak       
06. Between Darkness and Dawn       
07. Grace
08. Grateful, Pt. 1
09. Grateful, Pt. 2   
10. Everything I Need       
11. Don't You Know How I Feel       
12. Sardegna
13. What's Your Story, Morning Glory

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-Write A Music Review Founder

September 23, 2014

Review Provided By Write A Music