Contemporary Reviews

Contemporary Reviews2020-02-23T01:52:32+00:00

    Big Band Extravaganza

    April 2, 2023

    O's Notes: Guitarist, composer/arranger Doug MacDonald leads a 17-piece ensemble for Big Band Extravaganza. The focus is on individual melodies and the solos are strong in that regard. Kim Richmond (a-sax) on “Rashomon”, Ricky Woodard (t-sax) on “But Not For Me”, Bill Cunliffe (p) on “Luz De Amour”, Chuck Berghofer (b) on “Luces Azules”, and MacDonald (9 solos) stand out in a warm session of mostly original selections.


      April 2, 2023

      O's Notes: Guitarist Skip Grasso leads a band with keyboardist Anthony Pocetti, bassist Harvie S and drummer Billy Drummond. That’s a formidable lineup and they coalesce over eight original selections. Becoming is Grasso’s second album and it shows well for the DC/Baltimore artist, a University of North Texas alum. Skip engages his band and presents fresh ballads and burners in a set with appeal to both fusion and modern jazz enthusiasts. Our favorite is “Spring Forward”.

        The Great Mirage

        April 2, 2023

        O's Notes: Guitarists Joel Harrison and Anthony Pirog are the headliners on The Great Mirage, a collection of ten originals and a cover of Keith Jarrett’s “Mortgage On My Soul”. Stephan Cromp (b) and Allison Miller (d, synths) round out the band. Bruce Katz (B3) joins them on “Clarksdale”. In this sea of rock-fusion, we liked “Critical Conversation” and the Western mystery of “Desert Solitaire”.

          Shadow Music

          April 2, 2023

          O's Notes: Shadow Music is the sophomore release from this band of New England Conservatory graduates. They have shrunk from five to three members, now Phillip Golub (p), Laila Smith (vocals) and Mario Layne Fabrizio (percussion). Their music is dynamic and expressive in both what they play and what they don’t. They draw inspiration from Braxton, Coleman and Taylor but explore their own imaginations for five appreciably different compositions. It is too early to suggest it’s the best free jazz recordings of the year but this one is certainly up for consideration!


            April 2, 2023

            O's Notes: Jazz saxophonist, composer Lakecia Benjamin assembles a strong cast of musicians including Victor Gould (keyboards) and E.J. Strickland (d) with appearances from many special guests for her latest album, Phoenix produced by Terri Lyne Carrington. Most of the music is jazz-fusion with dabs of hard bop. Dianne Reeves sings “Mercy”, Patrice Rushen graces the keys on “Jubilation”, and Angela Davis adds spoken word on “Amerikkan Skin”. We also enjoyed “Trane” and “Moods, both leaning towards a straight-ahead groove. Benjamin explodes across the entire landscape asserting her prowess and engaging her noble accompaniment.