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Artist: Frank Kohl Quartet Rising Tide
Label: Pony Bot Records
On the inside cover of the latest release from the Frank Kohl Quartet is the first line from a poem: “Jazz is the heart and soul of human kind.” So it begins for Kohl’s fourth release of a collection of both original music as well as two works by other artists. Kohl was born in the New York area and despite not coming from a musically inclined family, he developed a passion for the guitar. His early days were filled with a Jimi Hendrix style and upon hearing Wes Montgomery and George Benson, Kohl was forever cemented in the artistry of jazz. He portrays a particular talent for ballads a-la guitar and this is no less evidenced than on the cut “With Tears of Joy.” This is a straight ahead traditional jazz work that was finely crafted and quite enjoyable.
Overall: 8 Sonics: 8
Artist: Bravo Max Bullfighter Blues
Label: St. Cait Records
Bravo Max is a Dallas, TX based band that has been working on their latest release, “Bullfighter Blues” for some five years now. The wait has yielded a new sound for the band that is a mixture of blues / rock performed as is so commonly done by a host of Texas bands. Their intent was to release a work that had a heavier and more complex sound and was in no way a continuation of what had gone before. Part blues at times, part soft rock at times and at other times, the listener is treated to some heavy, hard charging rock and roll. Their goal was not being cast into one particular genre and I’d say they pretty much accomplished that goal. Anyone who like good ole’ Texas Blues / Rock should like this one.
Overall: 8 Sonics: 9
Artist: Jeff Richman Sizzle
Label: Nefer Records
Well, the review of this work started horribly. It was just before putting the CD in the player that I discovered the batteries on my remote were suddenly dead. Then I fought with the paper CD case trying to get the disc out to the point that I was so thoroughly enraged I was about ready to tear the thing up completely. Once those problems had been resolved, I was treated to a fine work of part traditional, part up-tempo jazz. With a career that now spans 35 years, Richman is degreed from the Berklee College of Music and even studied privately with Pat Metheny. It was living in New York that became his graduate school through attending performances by Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Ornette Coleman to name a few. Richman was joined by the ever-talented Jimmy Haslip on bass, who also was the producer. “Sizzle” is really more than strictly traditional jazz, it is somehow flavored with a more a rock type of jazz. And despite the difficulties of a not so friendly CD jacket, and the seemingly short life span of batteries, I thought this work did just as the title proclaims.
Overall: 8.5 Sonics: 8
Artist: The Fred Hughes Trio Matrix
Label: ShoreThing Records
Joined by Amy Shook on Bass and Frank Russo on drums, “Matrix” is a collection of covers from a wide and diverse collection of artists. Spanning fourteen tracks in all, covers might be found of George and Ira Gershwin (“I Got Rhythm”) to Bill Evans (“We Will Meet Again”) to Herbie Hancock (“Dolphin Dance”) to even a jazz take on Bach and Tchaikovsky. Hughes is quite masterful on the piano and along with the remainder of the trio delivers very listenable, very skilled arrangements of the covers recorded. I found “Matrix” to be something that was easy to listen to, tap my foot to and by all means, enjoy immensely.
Overall: 8.5 Sonics: 8
]]>Artist: Jake Schepps An Evening In The Village: The Music of Bela Bartok
Anyone who has even a remote idea who Bela Bartock was, and his music, knows he was a consummate Hungarian composer. Yet here are nineteen covers of Bartok’s more celebrated works done in a banjo centric, folk music style. Folk Music? Absolutely. It seems the Hungarian master was very fond of folk music. Schepps deftly handles the banjo duties and along with accompaniment by guitar, standup bass, violin and mandolin weaves rich harmonies and melodies all done in a Folk / Bluegrass style. Were Bartok alive to hear this work, and given his appreciation for Folk and Bluegrass music, I have every belief he would approve of “An Evening In The Village.” I know I sure did.
Overall: 8 Sonics: 8
Artist: Jessie Smith Like The Sun
Label: Jesse Smith Music
When track two, “Lighting Up The World” began, my first thought was a progressive version of a modern day incarnation of Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf. Nashville, TN Jessie Smith is a Blues woman and a quite a good one at that. She describes her music as having a sound that imitates crying, thus her music is somewhat dark in nature. But that doesn’t mean it is depressing because it is anything but that. While her music does tend to “feel the pain” in an Al Green sort of way, her music, deeply rooted in the Blues genre, is simply spectacular. Her route to the Blues came circuitously. She received a scholarship to study opera at Mercer University, finished her education at Belmont University in Nashville and immediately immersed herself in the Country & Western scene so prevalent in central Tennessee. All twelve tracks were either written or co-written by Smith on this, her debut release. If you like the Blues, performed by a woman with a fantastic voice and a parlance for delivering on musicality, take a listen to “Like The Sun.” It is worth the effort.
Overall: 9 Sonics: 8