Herb Silverstein – “Looking Back: Play It Again” Silver Tunes
When the very talented Silverstein is not composing and playing jazz, traveling the world giving concerts, he is a renowned ear surgeon, inventor and philanthropist. This is actually my third review of Silverstein’s works – the two previous reviews dated June 6, 2014 and May 20, 2016. However, “looking Back” marks Silverstein’s fifteenth release and some sixty of his compositions have been used by other artists. Introduced by his son to Chick Corea in the early 1980’s, Silverstein fell in love with traditional jazz and thus began a lifelong affair with the genre. Twenty of the twenty-one tracks on “Looking Back” are covers of Silverstein’s own work, just previously released versions. Track twenty-one, “Zorro Remembered” is a new release about the death of his beloved Blue Heeler Australian Cattle Dog. As in the two previous works I reviewed, this is also traditional jazz more on the soft and mellow side. Only two musicians, Michael Ross on bass, Silverstein on piano. This is nice, soft mellow music. And as with all his compositions, expertly crafted and arranged.
Linda Purl – “Taking A Chance On Love” Reaching Records
Linda Purl? My first thought when I picked up the CD. Didn’t she used to play on the show staring Andy Griffith called Matlock? I would have sworn I had seen an actress named Linda Purl in other shows. Na, couldn’t be the same person. As I began listening to music, and reading the press release, I found out that yes, this is the same Linda Purl who played Andy’s daughter on the country attorney show. She also has a rather impressive theater resume and most recently appeared on the Amazon show, “Claire-ity.” So what about this particular release? Well, it is certainly traditional jazz. Absolutely laid back and reflective. Twelve tracks, all covers from the “Great American Songbook.” Her voice is exceptionally remarkable, she has an outstanding range and is very easy to listen to, throughout all tracks. Once I forgot about all the other minutia and just payed attention to the music for music’s sake, I realized how wonderful a work “Chance” really is. Memorable music performed memorably. Can’t go wrong there.
BK Trio – “Hit It” Self-Released
Born in Arlington, VA Brian Kooken was introduced to the guitar at age eleven by his Father. Formal studies followed, the culmination of which was the Prince Georges Community College in Largo, MD and finally receiving a BA in Jazz from Towson University. His latest release, “Hit IT,” features Kooken on guitar, Robert Shahid on drums, and one of my favorite instruments, the Hammond B3 organ played by Greg Hatza. This is a work of traditional jazz no doubt, but much of it is something I also enjoy, pretty much an upbeat tempo. Toe tapping is allowed. All three instruments work well together, and it actually sounds “larger” than a set of compositions with three musicians. Overall, Kooken’s guitar work is positively stellar. He is not, however, overbearing as each musician has the chance to display their individual talents throughout the entire work. This is a work by a trio no doubt, but it doesn’t sound like one. It sounds bigger, better, faster, and more enjoyable.
Troy Roberts – “Stuff I Heard” Self-Released
By the time he was about twenty years old, Roberts had already been through the West Australian Academy of the Performing Arts, received a Bachelor of Music and a master’s degree in music from the University of Miami. His awards include three Downbeat SM Jazz Soloist awards and two Grammy nominations. He has performed with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison and Christian McBride as well as contributing to about fifty works as a sideman. “Stuff I Heard” is his twelfth release of music under his own name. While his main instrument is the sax, he is not limited to it only. In fact, on this recording, he plays sax, acoustic and electric bass across all nine tracks. This is a traditional jazz release with complex melodies. With Roberts playing multiple instruments and the only other musician being Jimmy Macbride on drums, one might think this work might be a little thin. Not so. With the excellent arrangements, the overall presentation sounds like there are more than two performers. It ranges from very soft and reflective to upbeat and well-paced. Roberts wanted to push some boundaries with this release. How well he has done so is for him to decide. As for me, I thought it was outstanding.
David Bromberg Band – “Big Road” Red House Records
When I think of country music, the instruments that first come to mind are usually a guitar, fiddle, standup bass, and drums. Much of country music today, however, has evolved into what is comparable to rock and roll. Imagine my surprise when I first heard the new release by the David Bromberg Band. It was easy to tell that country was this work’s genre. What I did not expect was horns, strings, orchestration, intricate arrangements, and a really well done collection of songs. Without question, one would have to like country music to fully enjoy “Big Road.” And if I’m being accurate, a mix of blues as well. While there are many of the typical country instruments, fiddle, dobro and a pedal steel guitar, there is also a healthy mix of instruments not usually found in country music – tenor sax, trombone, trumpet, and perhaps most improbably, a tuba. All twelve tracks are finely crafted and really, I thought the pervasive horn section worked very well in a work so clearly in the country genre. I also thought it was very well recorded. The CD version I received also included a high definition DVD containing five videos and a mini documentary into the album’s creation. There is also a vinyl version of music only. This was a really interesting take on a genre where horns and orchestration are not typically used, or at least used to this degree. All in all, I was very impressed with “Big Road.” Country with horns, who’d-a-thought?