New Music For October 11th

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Itamar Erez - "Mi Alegria" - Isidore Records 

AR-ItmarErez.jpgRaised in Tel Aviv, Israeli born Erez was trained on both the guitar and piano. In fact, most of his life, he has been composing music for both. He and his family eventually left Israel and relocated to Vancouver, Canada. It was there that he found the "requinto," traditionally a Mexican style of guitar, and the genesis for "Mi Alegria" was born. Manifestly, this is a work as much a tribute to family as it is to music. One night, while living in Vancouver, Erez started improvising on the guitar. His son, Yahli, stopped playing with his toys and started listening. And the track, Yahli's Lullaby is featured on the release. Family doesn't stop there. The CD's name, "Mi Alegria" is not only a Spanish derivative for "my joy," it is also a wordplay on his daughter's name - Mia. Sometimes intense, sometimes ethereal, sometimes very moody, Erez's music is very well composed, orchestrated and performed. In fact, Erez does double duty playing both guitar and also piano. All in all, an outstanding work. 

Overall: 8

Sonics: 8

Carolyn Lee Jones - "Close Your Eyes" - Catn'round Sound

AR-CarolynLeeJones.jpgWith "Close Your Eyes," Jones has released her fourth work in the traditional jazz genre. Essentially, "Eyes" is a collection of covers from the American Songbook all reconstituted in a jazz format. She worked extensively with her musical partners to revamp the arrangements and make the songs she covers her own. Classics such as "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" and "I Only Have Eyes For You" are both done in a silky smooth style. In fact, the entire release is well crafted and can range from very melodic to quite raucous at times. Jones' voice is stellar, and the Dallas resident has won several awards in her home state of Texas. I would classify this mostly as traditional jazz in a cabaret style. Settle in for twelve luscious tracks, cause it ain't gonna be a bumpy ride, to the contrary, smooth and steady, that's the ticket. 

Overall: 8

Sonics: 8

The Phoenix Project - "Play It Twice" - Self Released

AR-thePhoenixProject.jpgWhen I first put this work in the CD player, I very quickly realized it only had four tracks. Why on Earth, I asked myself, would I review something with only four tracks? As it turns out, the title is quite apropos as the lead singer, Robin Lyn Treger had recently finished a long and arduous battle with cancer. Now in remission, and performing at a Connecticut jazz concert, someone filming her performance remarked that she was like a phoenix, she just keeps rising! And a project, albeit a limited project, was born. Musically, there is a lot to love about these four tracks. All are done in a country / rock and roll style. Her voice is very good, and she can easily handle the rock / country styled format. Would I go out and purchase a CD with only four tracks? Probably not. I include it here because now hopefully cancer free, Treger can embark on the musical career she deserves and interested listeners should keep an eye out for her new material. In any event, I thought the four tracks were exceptionally good. 

Overall: 8

Sonics: 8

Bob Bradshaw - "Queen Of The West" - Fluke Records

AR-BobBradshaw.jpgAnyone enjoying a themed collection of music should enjoy the new work from Bob Bradshaw. "Queen Of The West" is a collection of intertwined, call them stories, about a mother pleading with the saints to spare the life of her son. All of these tracks tell a story. Each track relates back to another, and all are in a western, like an old cowboy movie style. Musically, the format ranges from rock to country to a cross between them both. While there are typical country instruments such as a peddle steel guitar and a "twangy" fiddle (not a violin mind you), there is also excellent guitar work done, and I'm guessing here, with the amps cranked up, just as in good ole rock and roll. "West" is more than a collection of songs that individually tells a story. Rather, it is a movie, should the listener choose to see it that way, that is in the best tradition of a vintage cowboy movie. And if music is the only barometer, that measurement is pretty high as well. 

Overall: 8

Sonics: 8

Bill Scorzari - "Now I'm Free" - Self Released

AR-BillScorzari.jpgHis voice is raw, gritty, and there is an unmistakable sadness in his songs. Melodically, the fifteen compositions are very much on the slow side. Ah, but the stories, they are the exception. After a three-year hiatus, Scorzari explores the human condition, and does so in a very poetic way. His lyrics are captivating and draws in the listener. Some will criticize his voice, and no, he is not the next Pavarotti. However, his voice fits perfectly in the style of his music and the stories he tells. Those stories are to a great degree pretty introspective and it is easy to see he has spent considerable time thinking about the things about which he writes. I always enjoy a good story in a song. I see a captivating yarn as a bonus to stellar music. Liking the music is a must for me. When I can also be wowed by the story the song tells, that is a real bonus. With "Free," I was able to do both. 

Overall: 8.5

Sonics: 8

Ben Davis, Jr. - "Southernahia" - Self Released

AR-BenDavisJr.jpgBen Davis, Jr. was born and raised in the outlying areas of southern Ohio. His latest release of nine original tracks are well crafted and as good as his compositions are, his lyrics are even better. There are multiple genres intertwined on this release - genres such as country, punk, folk, and well, oddly enough, psychedelia. What I heard mostly, however, was plain ole, good ole, rock and roll done in a "crank it up" sort of presentation. Listening to this work I realized I had not heard a good story told in a hard charging rock style in a long time. His songs are about life, love, honest work and personal responsibility. He is a storyteller. And yes, he's a musician as well. I thought this was a magnificent work and one I will listen to again very soon. Rock and Roll. Great arrangements. Stellar lyrics. What's not to love? 

Overall: 9

Sonics: 8

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