Label: Ivory Horns
With Pittman serving as trumpeter and Daniels on piano, the quartet is completed with Mike Richmond on bass and Jonathan Peretz on drums. This is a work stylistically of very straight up, traditional jazz, displaying at times up tempo funk, reggae and calypso – all done in a manner that would lead one to think the music was improvised. Such would hardly be the case as Pittman has a Masters in music at NY University and Daniels earned his Bachelor’s degree from Berklee College of Music and a Masters from NYU. Each member of the quartet takes his hand at showcasing his particular talent instrumentally. All eleven tracks are originals and this release rings as a one of real enjoyment, particularly if straight up jazz is your preferred genre. Because if it is, this is one work that should be heard.
Overall: 8 Sonics: 8
Artist: Bob Mundy – “Love To Me”
Label: Kitolioscious Music
Like so many traditional jazz artists, Bob Mundy was born and raised in Queens, NY and, oddly enough, is completely self trained as a jazz vocalist. He began playing piano at age five and did, in fact, earn a BS in music. He is backed up on this release by a ten-piece orchestra and I have to admit, I really found his voice and the style of music very easy to enjoy. In addition to his music career, Mundy is also an accomplished actor having appeared in theater, TV and film, and is a member of the Actors Equity Union. He sites as his early inspirations singers such as Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams, which at least partially explains his style of music on “Love To Me.” All thirteen tracks are covers with the title track, originally written by Richard Rogers, coming in as track #2. This song is quite soulful, very soft and melodic with strings and orchestration shining through. All in all, “Love To Me” is a very enjoyable work from start to end from a very accomplished singer.
Overall: 8.5 Sonics: 8
Artist: Jesse Terry – “Stargazer”
Title: Jackson Beach Records
All eleven tracks on this highly enjoyable work were written or co-written by Terry and each one displays lush orchestration bounded by complex melodies. From track to track the listener is moved from a rock / pop type presentation to melodic orchestration with seamless ease. This brings to bear the difficulty in actually classifying “Stargazer” in only one genre. Sometimes the presentation is more rock and roll as on “Dance In Our Old Shoes,” to a soft almost lullaby-like presentation as in “Dear Amsterdam,” to a 60’s Beatles-esque ballad as evidenced in “Kaleidoscope.” Terry mans the helm of vocals on each track and his voice is never strained nor does he ever sound as if he is forcing things. Personally, I found the mix-mash of styles a refreshing change to a work being pigeonholed into one type of genre. As I went through each track I kept asking myself the question “what’s next?” Each time, I was not disappointed as I found “Stargazer” something I will certainly play again. Very enjoyable and definitely recommended.
Overall: 8.5 Sonics: 8
Phil DeGreg is a graduate of the University of North Texas, the prestigious Yale University and is currently Professor Emeritus of Jazz Studies at CCM in the University of Cincinnati. He has traveled throughout the US and the world in both performing and teaching duties all associated with jazz, and more specifically, traditional jazz. His latest self-released work is a combination of originals and covers of music by artists such as Gershwin and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Make no mistake, this is a work of very traditional jazz and despite being performed by a trio of musicians, is still very musical and listenable. What is obvious on both his original compositions as well as the covers is the quality of DeGreg’s interpretative skills. I found all twelve tracks perfectly suited for a trio and quite honestly, on most I would have sworn there were more than three instruments playing the song. If your favorite music is traditional jazz, this is one that will be liked and enjoyed.
Overall: 8 Sonics: 8
]]>Artist: Scott Ramminger – “Alive & Ornery”
Label: Arbor Lane Music
Washington, DC based artist Scott Ramminger has been quoted as saying, “I love to write, but I also like to get out there and perform…” On his latest release, Ramminger gives every impression of living up to the title because this entire two disc track just sounds like the guy is having a heck of a good time. Track two on Disc 2 starts off with the lyrics “Rebecca get your big fat legs off me.” I’d say this is a performer having a good time. Looking inside the CD jacket, there is nothing but pictures of Ramminger and his band in live venues and even then, it looks like they are having lots of fun. Stylistically, “Alive & Ornery” is a blend of rock and blues and the fifteen total tracks are a combination of originals as well as covers. One song, “This Town’s Seen The Last Of Me” details Ramminger’s dissatisfaction with northern towns not having good southern barbecue and grits. Full of great guitar, sax and piano licks, it, like the rest of the work is just plain fun. As good of a time as I had jumping around in my listening chair doing this review, I have to believe hearing Ramminger live would be a blast. If you want to snap your fingers and tap your toes, maybe you need to get a little more alive, and a lot more ornery.
Overall: 9 Sonics: 8
Artist: RK Dawkins – “Journey”
Label: B.O.T. Records
Given the name of this release, and with a picture of the pyramids on the cover, I was really curious what might be in store when track one, “The Strut” began to play. More interesting still is when looking at the list of musicians on this release, only one name is found – RK Dawkins. Same goes for writing and composing. Dawkins a singular performer but please, don’t envision a one-man band standing on a street corner playing things with his arms, legs and mouth because this is a very highly evolved work. Originally from Saginaw, MI, Dawkins found early inspiration from Ronnie Laws, Herbie Hancock, and one of my favorites, Earth Wind and Fire, not to mention many of the 70″s funk bands so prevalent at the time. All are heard at some point in “Journey” and again, most amazing is the fact that never, not once, does any one of the ten tracks not sound like an entire band is playing. Dawkins masterfully gives the listener the impression they are hearing a full ensemble that is feeding off each other musically. Stylistically, “Journey” is a throwback to 1970’s R&B / Funk and is full of wah wah pedals, keyboards, synthesizers, and all the rest. I also found the recording to be first rate with very precise imaging. I’ve always had a fondness for R&B in a funk style so it is no surprise this work would appeal to me. I just didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. And lets face it; the world needs more wah wah pedals.
Overall: 9.5 Sonics: 9