Written by 6:00 am Audiophile, Audiophile Music

New Music

Paul Wilson explores six new jazz works…


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Yola Nash – “Touched By Love” YoStar Publishing

AR-YolaNash225.jpgIn her second release of all original music, jazz singer Yola Nash saw five years elapse before “Touched By Love was ready for release. Containing six tracks, and I would have really liked to have seen a few more, “Touched” is a work of vocal jazz treats. I found all six tracks to be rather soft, melodic and refreshingly easy on the ears. Her voice can encompass a presentation ranging from warm, effusive, soft, mellow, and oftentimes, an amalgam of them all. I got the feeling it was the 1950’s and I was in a café on the Champs Elysees in Paris enjoying a café au lait while listening to a great singer. The orchestration on each track shines and fits well with the musical style presented. Nash has stated she finally found the signature sound for which she has been looking her entire life. If “Touched By Love” is an indication of what is to come, I will happily and readily wait for her next release. 

Overall: 8

Sonics: 8

Zen Zadravec – Human Revolution Marmite Records

AR-ZenZadravec225.jpgBorn in Winnipeg, Canada, Zadravec, in a decidedly short amount of time, has grasped jazz, R&B, funk, rock and pop and plays each with considerable passion. He feels all music is a revelation of the human experience. Jazz, however, seems to be his real passion, and he holds a Graduate Degree from Rutgers University in Jazz Presentation. “Revolution” is a work of traditional jazz. His orchestrations encompass his main instrument, the piano, but also mixed in is a strong horn section, bass and drums. He has stated he was inspired by Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Joe Henderson, all towering giants in traditional jazz. “Revolution” basically follows the same path. There are nine tracks totaling just over an hour of music, so each track is fairly lengthy, each one seven to ten minutes long. What I really enjoyed, as is so commonly the case, most of the tracks are upbeat, reasonably fast paced, and give the listener a toe tapping experience. Combining traditional jazz with excellent melodies and rhythm is no easy accomplishment. Zadravec pulls it off effortlessly. 

Overall: 8

Sonics: 8

Adam Glasser Trio – “Wide Awake” Self-Released

AR-AdamGlasser225.jpgI am normally suspect when I see the word “Trio.” I usually assume, and very often incorrectly, the work will be thin and lifeless – not enough instrumentation to keep me interested. This is certainly one of those incorrect assumptions because in his latest release, Glasser makes the piano, drums and bass sound much larger than they really are. “Awake” is very much a work of traditional jazz and one in which most tracks are more on the softer, more melodic side. Track number three, “I Got A Name,” is a cover of the Jim Croce hit song from 1973. Track number four was inspired by Schumann’s Symphony #3 in E-Flat Major so musically, Glasser is drawing from a variety of sources. There are also original compositions as well. I found I really enjoyed this work, diverse in its musical heritage as it may be, and setting aside my occasional indifference towards trio’s, “Wide Awake” is a very entertaining work of traditional jazz. 

Overall: 8

Sonics: 8

David Boswell – “The Story Behind The Story” My Quiet Moon Records

AR-DavidBoswell225.jpgOn his sixth and latest jazz release, guitarist David Boswell is surrounded by some very notable jazz artists in what is a collection of highly melodic jazz. My first thought, and about the first notation I made, was “traditional jazz.” As I listened more, I realized that assessment was not especially accurate. There are also superb passages of a more upbeat, seemingly funk embellished smooth jazz also at work. Jimmy Haslip of the Yellowjackets fame plays bass and even wrote one of the tracks. Andy Snitzer, a smooth jazz saxophonist, also lends a hand in the horn section. Boswell is a skilled guitarist and he displays those skills in abundance. I got the feeling I was listening to music that would be well suited to a Sunday morning on the back porch. In “Story,” Boswell slips back and forth between traditional and smooth jazz, melodic and sometimes upbeat, and does so with impunity. 

Overall: 8

Sonics: 8

Alexander Zonjic – “Playing It Forward” Hi-Falutin Music

AR-AlexanderZonjic225.jpgI have long been a big fan of smooth jazz flutist Alexander Zonjic. I did not realize, however, such a long time had passed between his last release, 2009’s “Doin’ The D” and his latest, 2020’s “Playing It Forward.” This work contains quite a few of my very favorite smooth jazz artists which explains why I liked it so well. Jeff Lorber has his hands all over the eleven tracks. Lorber’s personal works are more on the funky side of smooth jazz and as producer, and a contributing musician, a funky groove is a very apt description. Also contributing are Chuck Loeb, before his untimely death, James Lloyd, the keyboardist for Pieces Of A Dream and Paul Jackson, Jr. All of these artists easily know how to sizzle up a tune and with Lorber writing or co-writing five of the eleven tracks, things cannot help but heat up. There is one lone exception, however. Track number seven, “Musaic” was written and performed by Loeb shortly before his 2017 death. Zonjic also handles himself with considerable aplomb with his flute and more than easily holds his own with such accomplished musicians. Frankly, I instantly knew I would like this work. I’ve been listening to Zonjic for years – happily so. Add to that some “barn burnin” contributions from several smooth jazz greats and I don’t know how I could not immensely enjoy this release. If you like a high-octane smooth jazz work, this is a great one to try. 

Overall: 10

Sonics: 9

Note: This work will be released on October 16. No samples were available at time of writing. 

Blake Aaron – “Color And Passion” Innervision Records

AR-BlakeAaron225.jpgIn his latest release, smooth jazz guitarist Blake Aaron started with a single song devoted to the problems caused by Covid 19. What starts with one song, and is typical for Aaron, evolved into a release of jazz chart topping hits. Track one, “Fall For You,” receives considerable airtime on Sirius XM channel 66, the smooth jazz station known as “Watercolors.” Another one of my very favorite jazz saxophonists, Darren Rahn, is also a contributor and co-wrote track number two – “Groovers And Shakers.” Another Billboard Jazz sensation, guitarist Adam Hawley, along with Najee, co-wrote and performed on track number three – “Sunday Strut.” Much of the finishing work on “Passion” was accomplished due to the Covid 19 lockdown earlier in the year. If there is anything positive about coronavirus it may well be that Aaron used the time wisely. This work hits all of my hot spots – smooth jazz, upbeat and most of the time on fire, well-constructed compositions with amazing hooks, highly musical and absolutely enjoyable. Once again, and at the risk of repeating myself, if you like a high-octane smooth jazz work, this is another great one to try. 

Overall: 10

Sonics: 9

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