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Artist: Tribu – “El Matador”
Label: Mandala Records
Comprised mostly of musicians originally from the US and Cuba, Tribu is manifestly, and not surprisingly, a Latin flavored traditional jazz ensemble. I say traditional only in the sense that a jazz band influenced by that Caribbean sound can even be traditional in the jazz scene. Tribu in Spanish means “Tribe” and if these musicians are in any way a tribe, their work is pleasing and very listenable. Their compositions are not expressively complicated yet they seem to flow together very well. Possessing all the flavors of traditional jazz done in a Latin, Cuban flavor, El Matador is an outstanding work. If your listening pleasure extends to a Latin flavored jazz sound, you will not go wrong with the latest work from Tribu.
Overall: 8 Sonics: 8
Artist: Marshall Gilkes WDR Big Band – “Always Forward”
Label: Alternate Side Records
When I was a teenager had anyone told me I would someday like Big Band Music I would have thought him or her deranged. I mean, that’s what my parents liked, not me. Yet here I am, all grown up and finding that I do indeed, like Big Band Music. Such is the case with the new release from bandleader Marshall Gilkes. Consisting of fifteen musicians and ten original tracks all composed and arranged by Gilkes, what this release contains is about an hour, more or less, of music that not only would your parents probably like, but you will as well if big band is your thing. I found “Always Forward” to have tight orchestrations, great energy with somber moments and soaring ones following closely behind. All in all, this work is very well done and certainly pays homage to the magnificent groups of the 1940’s.
Overall: 8.5 Sonics 8
Artist: Rupert & Drexler – “R&D”
Label: Rupe Media
Jeff Rupert and Richard Drexler have quite the combined musical history. Having worked with performers like Diane Schuur, Mel Tormé and the Woody Herman Orchestra, Rupert & Drexler demonstrate their combined years of knowledge on “R&D.” With Rupert on sax and Drexler on piano, the eight original tracks were a portion of two live performances given in Orlando, FL in 2015. They were held in reserve until the 2018 release. This is straight up, traditional jazz, very soft and melodic and quite uncomplicated. With only the two instruments, sax and piano, the musical portrayal is wonderfully simple. Altering back and forth, each musician’s talents are showcased individually and then in combination with each other. Anyone looking for some nice relaxing music on a cold Sunday evening might try “R&D” on for size.
Overall: 8 Sonics :8
Artist: Aimee Allen – “Wings Uncaged”
Label: Azuline Music
I was only into the second track of eleven when I wrote in my review notes ‘stellar voice.” Pittsburg, PA native Aimee Allen grew up listening to legacy artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn. Her early beginnings were on piano but soon enough, discovered her love of singing. The eleven tracks are all vocal inspired and musically, are rather soft and melodic with only bass, piano and drums. Despite this, the presentation is very listenable and refreshing. I was swept along by Allen’s voice slipping in and out of the orchestration. This is a traditional vocal jazz work through and through – one that is skillfully performed and masterfully sung.
Overall: 8 Sonics: 8
Artist: Chad Elliott & The Redemptions – “Rest Heavy, The Sun Studio Sessions”
Label: Chad Elliott Music
Released in August 2018, Chad Elliott delivers on a collection of blues, soul, rock and folk music all recorded at the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, TN. As is a common theme in blues / folk music, Elliott writes about love and the absence of it, and also about forgiveness. Elliott wrote all of the tracks except the last, track eleven titled “St James Infirmary,” the original author of which is unknown. Elliott is credited as saying “I could, literally, feel the shift in music just by walking through the doors at Sun Studio.” One gets the feeling that time has hardly passed listening to this release. I almost got the feeling of being in Memphis in the 1950’s, right there in Sun Studios, watching recordings of all the legendary performers who passed through. Maybe this is the secret sauce in this work. I don’t know. What I am sure of is that “Rest Heavy was completely enjoyable and one I will listen to again.
Overall: 8.5 Sonics: 8
Artist: Young Guns Silver Fox – “AM Waves”
Label: Monte Music
When doing these music reviews, I am often greeted by a work completely unknown to me. Music style, genre, none of those things are even hinted at by looking at the CD cover. Such was the case when I picked up “AM Waves.” Recorded in London, “Waves” pays homage to the 70’s and 80’s pop / rock that so filled the airwaves on radio stations around the world. How many of us have listened to groups like The Eagles, The Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan so many times that we know every verse, every chorus and every note by heart? What would you say if I told you that there exists a work that in my opinion is as musically excellent as anything many of those groups ever did, with all the pop flavored musicality, with all the driving lyrics, with all of that and best of all, music that is brand new to the listener? Think you would like that? Look no further because here it is. I realize many people have moved on from the likes of “Take It Easy” and “Eyes Of Silver” and if so, that’s fine. But if like me, you have a certain reverence for that SoCal, pop influenced rock, then you really need to give a listen to a British duo doing that 80’s sound as well as anyone ever has. Period. This is a stellar work and one I will enjoy for a long time.
Overall: 10 Sonics: 8