Written by 5:00 am Audiophile Music

New Music For April 2015

Paul Wilson checks out a half-dozen of the latest jazz releases.

Beat Funktion: Mandy’s Secret

MandySecret.jpgThere’s just something about this six-man jazz group from Sweden that appeals to me. I have liked their music since I first reviewed their third album, Voodooland. At the heart of their musical style and creative force is Daniel Lantz, who serves as the keyboardist, but also writes most of the music. In Mandy’s Secret, their fourth album, Lantz and company portray their stylistic jazz / funk sound in a retro 1970s soul / jazz / disco / Afrobeat musical presentation. With the first track, “I Am the Summer,”  listeners might well think they are in a Philadelphia nightclub in 1972 listening to an upbeat, jazz-oriented rendition of a funky groove. Or maybe something being played in a car chase scene from a Shaft movie, take your choice. The remaining nine tracks are equally upbeat, and if you like a funky style of jazz with a hint of disco from a group of six highly talented musicians, it would be a worthwhile thing to check out Beat Function’s latest release.

Sonics: 8
Overall: 8.5

Andre Previn & The London Symphony Orchestra: Ravel: Bolero

Bolero.jpgBy the time this recording was originally released, André Previn had been the principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra for 10 years. Recorded on June 26, 1979 at Kingsway Hall in London, Previn’s interpretation of Ravel’s original composition for a piece for a ballet is widely considered as one of the better presentations. This release, remastered by Hi-Q Records using the original analog EMI Master Tapes, and the sonically impressive JVC XRCD 24 Mastering System is highly impressive for all Ravel and Previn fans.

Sonics: 9
Overall: 8

Eric Johnson & Mike Stern: Eclectic

Eclectic.jpgIt is not all so common that jazz and hard-driving rock meet in the same place, and even more rare that two acclaimed guitarists in such dissimilar musical styles should collaborate, but that is the exact result of Eclectic, the new release from Concord Music Group. Johnson is a 30-year rock and roll guitarist hailing from Austin, Texas and no less than a Grammy award-winning musician to boot. Jazz guitarist Mike Stern has played with the likes of Blood Sweat & Tears, Miles Davis and Jaco Pastorius. These two accomplished musicians team up for an interesting collaboration of several styles. Part jazz, part rock, part blues, part even rockabilly sometimes, Eclectic is a diverse work that will easily appeal to not only multiple listeners, but to one listener in different moods.

Sonics: 8
Overall: 8

The Terry Marshall Experience: Arrival

Arrival.jpgTerry Marshall is a composer and pianist from the Metro Washington DC area and has played as far north as Toronto and as far south as Rio de Janeiro. He has performed at Blues Alley in the DC area as well as the Kennedy Center and the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing arts. This 11-track disc has five original compositions and six covers of classical traditional jazz selections. This is a very enjoyable release that is a highly listenable, immanently enjoyable traditional jazz composition.   

Sonics:  8
Overall: 8

Novox: Over The Honeymoon

Over-The-Honeymoon.jpgWhen your bandleader draws inspiration from George Clinton and Jimi Hendrix, hails from Lyon, France, plays predominately progressive jazz, and the band employs a Fender Rhodes, a double bass, and the improbability of the scratching sound of a live DJ, you must guess that something unique is happening. Yes, you read that correctly, this band uses, as part of their instrumentation, a live DJ spinning records and making scratching sounds that seamlessly weave their way into the record. Their style is part jazz, part hip-hop, part funk and part high-energy dance music. All of their recordings are done with analog equipment in an effort to replicate that 1970s sound. Once I got past trying to identify where exactly the scratching from the DJ was taking place and just started listening to the music, I found this to be a very enjoyable work by seven talented individuals with a penchant for making the musically improbable, probable. 

Sonics:  8
Overall:  8.5

Ed Stone: King Of Hearts

King-Of-Hearts.jpgNot only is he a virtuoso jazz guitarist, Ed Stone is a songwriter, a vocalist, a producer and a medical doctor. Stone balances his time between his medical practice in Rochester Hills, MI and composing and playing jazz. His latest work, King Of Hearts on the Sapphire Music label, comprises both original compositions and covers of popular music. I found this work so enjoyable, I stopped the review so I could copy it to the server. This is a highly listenable work from a guitarist that has an uncanny resemblance to George Benson, in both style and talent. If your preference for jazz leans, as does mine, towards smooth jazz, then this is a CD you will play often.

Sonics:  8
Overall:  9.5

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