Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Silvano Monasterios - Unconditional

Silvano Monasterios - Unconditional

The Venezuelan-born pianist/composer has synthesized his classical and jazz training with the rich musical traditions of all of South America into a potent personal multifaceted musical vision. Over the years he has led his own impressive groups and performed with a host of jazz greats, such as Randy Brecker, Donald Byrd, Larry Coryell, Paquito D'Rivera, Mark Egan, Arturo Sandoval, Terumasa Hino, Marc Johnson, Dave Liebman, Claudio Roditi, Dave Valentin, Othello Molineaux, Melton Mustafa, Sammy Figueroa, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Paul Wertico, Lou Soloff and even pop & rock icons Shakira and David Lee Roth. Though the language of jazz is obvious within his music, his originality is both refreshing and a joyful. Whether delving into different traditions or moving beyond them, Monasterios demonstrates his longing and search for love, family and heritage which forever will be at the core of his artistic journey. The influence of his own culture is present in every cell of music he creates; in every phrase he executes; and most of all, in every piece he composes. While his music occasionally touches on Latin jazz expectations, his compositions don't always point South. Monasterios’ music lacks limitations or constraints, as he breaks free from the shackles of Latin jazz labeling to construct a compelling multifaceted musical statement that touches on a variety of styles and moods, ranging from serene to soaring with an emphasis on composition, attention to detail, craftsmanship, fine improvisation and coherence prominently integrated within a romantic atmosphere. But when Monasterios and his peers cut loose their delivery fiercely digs deep into the realms of jazz greatness. The contribution of Silvano Monasterios to the development of jazz is sure to garner recognition and persistence through his masterful playing and composing. Musicians are: Silvano Monaterios on piano, Gabriel Vivas and Jon Dadurka on bass, José Gregorio Hernández on percusión, Troy Roberts on saxophone and Rodolfo Zuñiga on drums.
Track Listing:
1. Farmacia del Angel
2. Monsieur Petit Noir
3. Song for Jacques, Pt. 1
4. Song for Jacques, Pt. 2
5. Sno' Peas
6. Forgotten Gods (sampled above)
7. Unconditional
8. Black Saint
Buy Unconditional at Amazon or Unconditional - Silvano Monasterios

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lou Rawls - Love All Your Blues Away

We have all heard the crooning voice of Lou Rawls (1935 - 2006) through his biggest hits such as "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine", “See You When I Git There” and “Lady Love”. From gospel, R&B to soul and jazz to blues and straight-up pop, Lou Rawls was a consummate master of African-American vocal music whose versatility helped him adapt to the changing musical times over and over again while always remaining unmistakably himself. Rawls' smooth, classy elegance permeated nearly everything he sang, yet the fire of his early gospel days was never too far from the surface. Rawls always remained a highly visible figure on the American cultural landscape, pursuing an acting and voice-over career in addition to his continued concert appearances, and doing extensive charity work on behalf of his consuming passion, the United Negro College Fund. “Love All Your Blues Away” is not his best album. Quite honestly I didn’t even know it existed until recently, but it’s an interesting find. Produced by the great Jay Graydon, with contributions by David Foster, it has become sort of an obscure “West Coast” classic. It embodies a mixture of typical 80’s synthesizer-pop and classic Rawls soul and jazz ballads, which seem to come from two different production camps, most likely in an effort to maintain Rawls current with pop music developments of the time and at the same time remain true to his fan base. I have not been able to locate any information on the musicians on this production and this classic has never been released on CD but there’s very decent rip to vinyl on the comments. Portions of this write-up were provided by Steve Huey from AMG.

Track listing:
1. Change Your Mind
2. Are You With Me
3. Love All Your Blues Away (2nd sample above)
4. Stop Me From Starting This Feeling
5. Learn To Love Again
6. Willow Weep For Me
7. We'll Be Together Again (1st sample above)
8. The Way You Look Tonight
9. It Never Entered My Mind

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mac McAnally - Nothin' But The Truth

Songwriter, guitarist, vocalist and producer Mac McAnally has assured his place in music history. McAnally draws from his Red Bay, Alabama birthplace, his Belmont, Mississippi hometown roots and from his Muscle Shoals musical foundation, and at the other end McAnally offers the best of his vocal abilities, songwriting, instrumental gifts and production talents. He signed his first record deal, with Ariola, at 20 and launched two singles to moderate success, "It's A Crazy World" and "Minimum Love". Kenny Chesney cut Mac's "Down The Road" and the song reached the No. 1 spot in the spring of 2009. Alabama took his "Old Flame" to No. 1 in 1981. Jimmy Buffett, Hank Williams, Jr., Reba McEntire, T.G. Sheppard, David Allan Coe, Shenandoah, Ricky Van Shelton, Charley Pride, Randy Travis and Steve Wariner are just some of the artists who have cut McAnally's songs over the years. McAnally also became an in-demand producer, along the way working with Ricky Skaggs, Restless Heart, Chris LeDoux, Jimmy Buffett, Little Feat and Sawyer Brown. Meanwhile, as a musician, his guitar and vocal skills continue to build an enviable registry of credits that include Roy Orbison, Hank Williams, Jr., Amy Grant, Jimmy Buffett, Travis Tritt, Linda Ronstadt, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dolly Parton and many more. In 2007, McAnally was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and in 2008 the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame followed suit. Even in the midst of creating a prodigious body of behind-the-scenes work, McAnally always continued to make his own music. He has recorded 10 albums. He was the first artist signed to David Geffen's legendary rock label Geffen Records, and that’s when he released “Nothing But The Truth” in 1983. There's just something special about this album from start to finish, the tight playing, the crisp production, the hair raising vocals and harmonies and the intelligent and poetic lyrics, which in all created a very good pop album with just a hint of country roots, where McAnally has headed ever since, culminating with McAnally's triumphant return to the airwaves with a recent No. 1 single (as a writer and an artist) and the release of his new self-penned album “Down By The River”, under a prominent Nashville label. These are all significant pieces of this breathtaking career canvas of a fully developed and self contained music maker who is confirmed as one of the most accomplished and revered creative forces in the music business. Musicians: Mac McAnally on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Duncan Cameron, Hugh McCracken, Kenny Mims and John Willis on guitars, David Hood and David Hungate (Toto) on bass, Brandon Barnes, Clayton Ivey and Steve Nathan on keyboards, Roger Hawkins and James Stroud on drums, Tom Roady on percussion, Randall Bramlett on saxophone and background vocals by Robert Byrne, Mike Cunningham, Lenny LeBlanc, Sarah McAnally & Terry Woodford. Produced by Clayton Ivey & Terry Woodford. This album came out briefly on CD and now is nowhere to be found but you can find a great rip from vinyl on the comments below.
Track Listing:
1. How Cool
2. Middle Man
3. On The Line
4. Minimum Love
5. Lookin' For The Good Life
6. Like Your Mother
7. The City
8. Nothin' But The Truth (sampled above)
9. Other People Say
10. Dark Ages

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Paul Hyde & The Payolas - Here's The World For Ya

Vocalists Paul Hyde and guitarist-vocalist Bob Rock formed the Payolas with drummer Chris Taylor and bassist Larry Wilkins. After "China Boys" was released on their own Slophouse Records, A&M signed the band and released four albums, “No Stranger to Danger” (1982), “Hammer on a Drum” (1983), “In a Place like This” (1984) and “Here's the World for Ya” (1985). With the release of “Here's the World for Ya”, the record label decided to put lead singer Paul Hyde's name out front in an effort to hang some fame onto a single recognizable person instead of a fairly anonymous group. The tactic didn't really do much for Paul Hyde's own career or the band, though this David Foster-produced album did net the group a few hit singles, including "Stuck in the Rain", the title track and the power ballad "You're the Only Love”. This is a great pop good sounding album featuring David Foster's slick keyboards and amazing production skills, which in this case failed to bring the band onto a truly compelling platform. At the time Foster had just produced albums for Chicago (16 & 17) and The Tubes (The Completion Backward Principle & Outside Inside), which did propel those bands into higher levels. In the case of the Payolas, the album was indeed a great album but maybe at the time, Foster’s production might have contributed to rob the band of a bit of their earlier identity. You can hear traces of Chicago’s sound prominent in Foster’s contributing songwriting, the vocal harmonies and a production sound similar to that of The Tubes on “Outside Inside”. Nonetheless, this is a superb album, full of great songs, an amazing production and craftsmanship as it truly stands the test of time. After breaking up in 1985, Rock and Hyde continued on, releasing a popular single in 1987 called "Dirty Water." Paul Hyde left for a solo career in 1989; Bob Rock later joined the band Rockhead and then became one of the most sought-after producers in the music business. Musicians: Paul Hyde on vocals, Bob Rock on guitars (he also recorded and mixed the album), Chris Taylor on drums and Larry Wilkins on bass with contributions from David Foster and Christopher Livingston on keyboards, Christopher Allen on harmonica, Mark Rousseau on saxophone, Richard Marx, Paul Janz, Henri Lorieau, Sugar Jones, Mark Lafrance, Todd Smallwood and David Foster on background vocals, Steve Porcaro (Toto) on synth programming and horn arrangements by Jerry Hey. "20th Century Masters: The Best of the Payolas" collects 4 of the 10 songs from this album, "Stuck in the Rain", “It Must Be Love”, “Here’s The World” and “You're the Only Love" and singles and album tracks, including "Eyes of a Stranger", "China Boys", "Never Said I Love You" and "Dirty Water (Rock and Hyde)”. This compilation focuses more on the smoother, poppier side of the band rather than the earlier, punkier work, making it a good overview of this somewhat overlooked band's career. The rest of the album can be found on a link within the comments from a great rip from vinyl.

Track Listing:
1. Struck in the Rain
2. You're the Only Love
3. It Won't Be You
4. Cruel Hearted Lovers
5. It Must Be Love
6. Little Boys
7. All That I Want
8. Here's the World (sampled above)
9. Rhythm Slaves
10. Never Leave This Place

Buy 20th Century Masters: The Best of the Payolas at Amazo

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lodgic - Nomadic Sands

Lodgic was formed by childhood friends Michael Sherwood (keyboards, backing vocals) and Jimmy Haun (guitar) with Gary Starnes (drums) and Mike Hulsey (keyboards), Guy Allison (keyboards) and Michael's younger brother Billy Sherwood (bass and vocals). They recorded their debut and sole album "Nomadic Sands", released in 1985 on A&M Records. The album was co-produced by Steve Porcaro and David Paich (both members of Toto) and producer/recording engineer Tom Knox. “Nomadic Sands” is heavily influenced by progressive icons Yes and by pop craftsmen Toto with a dose of typical 80’s sounds, but the result is a fine debut for a short lived band with plenty of good songs and a great production. Although the album failed to chart in the U.S., the first single "Lonely Man" was featured in the movie Prince of Bel Air, starring Mark Harmon and Kirstie Alley. While Lodgic's output was limited, its legacy was in future collaborations. Lodgic later evolved into the band “World Trade”, which released two albums featuring Billy Sherwood and Guy Allison, “World Trade” and “Euphoria”. Both Sherwoods and Haun later worked with Yes, all three appearing on Yes’ album “Union”. Billy Sherwood and Haun later worked together in The Key, The Chris Squire Experiment and Circa and even performed live extensively with Yes. This album has been released on CD by a German company named YesterRock.
Track Listing:
1. Romance (sampled above)
2. Step Back
3. Lonely Man
4. Red Light
5. Rise and Fall
6. Push So Hard
7. In the Cards
8. Nomadic Sands
9. Linda Sue
10. Bringing Me Back

Buy it from YesterRock

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Novo Combo - The Animation Generation

Novo Combo was a rock group which enjoyed some popularity in the early 1980s. The initial lineup was Pete Hewlett on vocals and guitars, Stephen Dees on vocals and bass, Jack Griffith on guitar and drummer Michael Shrieve who played with Santana from the very beginning. Guitarist Carlos Rios replaced Jack Griffith on the band's second album. The band scored minor hits in 1981 with the songs "Up Periscope" and "City Bound" from their debut album “Novo Combo”. “Animation Generation” was their second and last album. Although the style was a product of the era and sort of influenced by The Police, Novo Combo really stood out from the rest, due to its true musicianship and the group interaction brought together by the long live-performing history and great writing skills of its members. Lead singer and bassist Stephen Dees also performed with many other acts such as Hall and Oates and he would later form his own independent pop/art rock band Bandees. Lead guitarist Jack Griffith jammed out with Mick Jagger, Carlos Santana, Gary Moore and now owns a recording studio. Novo Combo's singer and guitarist Pete Hewlett toured with Billy Joel, Carly Simon, Joe Jackson, Julian Lennon, Amy Grant, and Eric Carmen and he made international news while performing with Billy Joel who brought a fully-staged rock production to the Soviet Union in 1985 as part of the first live rock radio broadcast in Soviet history. Michael Shrieve was the original drummer for Santana and at age nineteen, was the youngest performer at Woodstock. He helped create Santana’s first eight albums. Shrieve has collaborated alongside Mick Jagger, George Harrison, Pete Townsend, Steve Winwood, and Andy Summers among others and he continues to produce music for film & TV and many other projects. “Animation Generation” has never been released on CD or downloads but there is a great rip from vinyl, which you can find in the comments below.

Track Listing:
1. Animation Generation
2. Too Long Gone
3. Slow Fade (sampled above)
4. Keep Your Love Alive
5. Anyone Can See
6. Welcome Innervision
7. Chained Man
8. Follow the Love
9. She Runs
10. No Wonder

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tom Snow - Hungry Nights

Tom Snow - Hungry Nights

Tom Snow is one of the most respected and recorded songwriters of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. His work can be found in virtually every genre. Snow has worked and collaborated with the cream of Hollywood’s songwriting talent and with a wide variety of artists as he has spent a lifetime building an extensive and eclectic catalogue of beautifully crafted compositions adapting to any musical genre while honing his craft as a “tunesmith” with a Midas commercial touch. His songs are heard everywhere, such as “Let’s Hear It For the Boy” by Deniece Williams (from the film “Footloose”); “After All” by Cher & Peter Cetera (from the film, “Chances Are”); “He’s So Shy” by The Pointer Sisters; “Make A Move On Me” by Olivia Newton-John; “Somewhere Down the Road” by Barry Manilow; “You Should Hear How She Talks About You” by Melissa Manchester; “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again” by Peabo Bryson; “Don’t Call It Love” by Dolly Parton; “Don’t Know Much” by Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville and “Love Sneakin’ Up On You” by Bonnie Raitt. He has won and has been nominated for numerous awards including the Oscar, the Grammy, the Emmy, the Tony and numerous BMI awards, including BMI awards for songs receiving a million or more plays on radio. He also composed numerous songs and soundtracks for Film and TV and he was the composer for the Broadway Musical “Footloose”. Snow studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. After moving to California to pursue a solo and songwriting career, he signed with Capitol Records as a solo act in 1975 and he produced two albums, “Taking It All In Stride” and “Tom Snow”. In 1982 Snow departed briefly from his songwriting career and with the help of producer/guitarist Dean Parks they produced Snow’s last solo album “Hungry Nights” for Clive Davis’s Arista Records. This album has become one of the most sought after “West Coast Sound” productions as it finds Snow in top notch form as a songwriter. The songs are intimate, beautiful and a strong portrait of Snow delicate commercial touch, which hits you straight in the heart, just as the name of one of his songs. Musicians are: Tom Snow on keyboards & vocals; Dean Parks as producer on synthesizer, bass, saxophone & guitars; Jeff Porcaro, Jeremy Smith, Michael Baird, Ed Greene and Tris Imboden on drums; Lenny Castro on percussion; Leland Sklar, Hadley Hockensmith and Abraham Laboriel on bass, Richard Page, Carol Carmichael Parks and Tom Kelly on background vocals. This album has been released on CD twice, once a few years ago with a different cover and in 2013 as a Japanese Import available at Amazon (Tom Snow Hungry Nights) or at CDJapan. In the meantime here is a great rip from vynil.
Track Listing:
1. Hungry Nights
2. Straight For The Heart
3. Love Hangs By A Thread
4. Our Song
5. Somewhere Down The Road
6. Soon
7. Don’t Call It Love
8. I Almost Let You Go (sampled above)
9. I Think I Know Too Much
10. Time Of Our Lives

Buy Hungry Nights at Amazon or at  CDJapan

Friday, April 29, 2011

Helge Lien Trio - Natsukashii

Helge Lien - Natsukashii

The Japanese term “Natsukashii” describes how intense memories can suddenly be triggered by something trivial. Norwegian pianist Helge Lien has dedicated his Helge Lien - Natsukashii to these moments, when reality is replaced by reverie and a simple chord can reveal innermost secrets. Lien embraces the acoustic jazz piano trio format made famous and successful over the years by a wide variety of acoustic jazz pianists ranging from Erroll Garner and Oscar Peterson to Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett; and it also works well for Lien, who favors a clean-sounding post-bop pianism mixed with a crystalline melody approach. There are no standards at all on this recording thus Lien’s thoughtful original compositions offer an attractive blend of intellect and melodic lyricism while giving Lien's improvisations a more personal quality. This album is outstanding, relaxing, lyrical, dreamy and stimulating as well as rhythmically charged. This is a solid outing that showcases Lien's talents as a pianist and as a composer and at the same time it portrays the trio experience as a symbiosis of togetherness. Helge Lien - Natsukashii offers the same receptivity and appeal to a wide variety of music lovers enjoyed by the league of leading contemporary trios and Lien’s older peers. It truly offers exciting new soundscapes. The Trio: Helge Lien on piano, Frode Berg on upright bass and Knut Aalefjær on drums. This production was beautifully recorded, mixed and mastered by Jan Erik Kongshaug of ECM fame. Thanks to Alex Henderson and Gudrun Endress for their contribution to this write up.

Buy it from Ozella Records

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Randi Tytingvåg - Let Go

Randi Tytingvag - Let Go

Norwegian singer Randi Tytingvåg is simply a very special artist, with her own musical vision. She sneaks through her songs with irresistible charm and charisma, phrasing with extreme agility. Her intonation is remarkably confident and her voice commands the greatest of precision. She displays poise and confidence in an atmosphere of total suspense. Although far removed from Scandinavian seriousness, there is still a touch of melancholy that threads a canvas of Nordic delight, through the beautiful and poetic songs, which exude the charm of youth, the road to awareness, life’s illusions, the promises and disappointments of love and the memory of wonderful mild melodies of times gone by. Her songs flow between musical genres such as chamber-jazz, Nordic folk, Klezmer, Classical, Pop, Tango or Cabaret perfectly implemented through tasteful arrangements sustaining an atmosphere of warmth and melancholic intimacy paired with an untamed and constantly present “Joi de vivre” (zest for life). But in spite of her prominent solo artist portrayal, this is a group effort created by the multifaceted framework of the amazing musicians who contribute their talents to create such unique beautiful production. The mélange of elements makes this music sound as a tight ensemble of perfection. This is paired with the beautiful utilization of acoustic instruments enhanced by a beautiful and sophisticated recording. Treat yourself to a real time-out listening to this production; the music is just too beautiful to let it play in the background. Musicians: Randi Tytingvåg on vocals, Anders Aarum on piano, Espen Leite on accordion, Jens Fossum on bass, Ola Kvernberg on violin, Morten Michelsen on clarinet and Julie Dahle Aagård on background vocals. Originally released in 2006 it has been newly re-mastered and released worldwide by the German record label Ozella Music. Thanks to Tadjana Zilg, Christoph Giese, Norbert Neugebauer, Rocktimes März 2010, Heidi Eichenberg and MDR-Figaro for their contribution to this posting.

Buy it at Ozella Music or Amazon Let Go

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Contante & Sonante - Highlights and Rarities

“Highlights and Rarities” is Contante & Sonante's long-awaited comeback release after the critically acclaimed triumph of 2009's “Fly Away: The Songs of David Foster”, which definitely marked a turning point for the indie label. “Highlights and Rarities” is a special compilation of songs from the label, comprised of the previously mentioned David Foster tribute, Steve Dorff's magical release of “Original Demos” and two releases by Swiss music-maker Urs Wiesendanger, “Somebody New” and “A Christmas Eve in LA”. But this isn't your typical compilation album. The real treat comes with the eight unreleased songs such as the enchanting ballad "My Angel's Voice” by Steve Dorff, beautifully performed by the late Warren Wiebe; the previously unreleased gems by Urs Wiesendanger, "Luckiest Man", a smooth, sultry R&B number featuring great vocals courtesy of the talented Skyler Jett and "When I Think of You" featuring great Swiss singer Rey Thomas. Additionally you’ll find three previously unreleased numbers from the same Fly Away sessions, which remained uncompleted at the time and have been produced and re-arranged by the very talented Tomi Malm for this special compilation. Among these new songs, the haunting cover of "Forever" (a ballad originally sung by Kenny Loggins, who co-wrote it with David Foster for Loggins’ Vox Humana album, featuring a fantastic new name from Korea, SunHo Lim; a stunning rendition of The Tubes' rocking classic "She's a Beauty" with amazing vocals by Bjarne Langhoff and last but not least is a new outstanding bossa nova flavoured version of the David Foster and Boz Scaggs’ hit "Look What You've Done To Me" with wonderful vocals by singer Cecily Gardner. What is amazing about this release is that just as “Fly Away: The Songs of David Foster”, the real beauty of this album rests in the fact that these are great beautiful songs brought to life by a cast of superior musicians and singers and the appeal of these covers and originals is undeniably attractive and you cannot help but to feel the labor of love minced into this release, which compels you to continue listening to this wonderful production again and again.

Track Listing:
1. A Little Thing Called Life
2. Kindred Spirits
3. Somewhere In Time
4. My Angel's Voice*
5. The Final Reason Why
6. If Only For A Day
7. Luckiest Man*
8. When I Think Of You*
9. The Christmas Song
10. This Christmas
11. Silent Night*
12. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas*
13. In The Stone
14. Jojo
15. Through The Fire
16. Forever*
17. She's A Beauty*
18. Look What You've Done To Me* (sampled above)

Tracks 4, 7,8,11,12,16,17 & 18 Previously Unreleased
Tracks 1, 2 & 3 from Steve Dorff “Original Demos”
Tracks 5 & 6 from Urs “Somebody New”
Tracks 9 & 10 from “A Christmas Eve in L.A.”
Tracks 13, 14 & 15 from “Fly Away: The Songs of David Foster”

Buy it at Contante & Sonante or at CD Baby

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Idan Raichel Project - Within My Walls

Idan Raichel - Within My Walls
Led by Israeli keyboardist/producer Idan Raichel, The Idan Raichel Project seeks to give voice to the amazingly diverse blend of world cultures that comprise Israel's colorful musical landscape. Raichel was conscripted into the Israeli army where he joined the Army rock band and after completing his military service, Raichel started working as a counselor at a boarding school for immigrants and troubled youth. Notably, the school was filled with young people from Ethiopia who were part of Israel's growing community of Ethiopian Jews. Raichel began to fall in love and identify with Ethiopian music and culture. He also found that most of the immigrant boys he worked with were forced to shun the culture of their homeland in desperate hopes of assimilating into mainstream Israeli society. Inspired by this realization, Raichel began investing time in learning more about the many immigrant cultures that made up Israel. Raichel hoped to encourage his students and friends to embrace and live out their native cultural heritage. Meanwhile, Idan had become a successful backup musician and recording session player for some of Israel's most popular musicians. He decided it was time to pursue a project that reflected his richly multicultural musical ideals, and began working on demo recordings and The Idan Raichel Project was born, featuring the songwriting and production skills of Raichel, and the musical contributions from an amazingly diverse cast of players. The Idan Raichel Project burst onto Israel's music scene in 2002, changing the face of Israeli popular music and offering a message of love and tolerance that resonated strongly in a region of the world where headlines are too often dominated by conflict. After much success of the first two albums, in November 2008, The Idan Raichel Project released the album “Within My Walls” (Bein Kirot Beiti); an enchanting blend of Raichel’s poetic lyrics sung in Hebrew, Moroccan Arabic, Spanish, Cape Verdean Creole and Swahili with African, Latin American, Caribbean and Middle Eastern sounds coupled with beautiful arrangements and sophisticated production techniques. Contributions come from Colombian singer Marta Gómez, Cape Verdean luminary Mayra Andrade and the silken-voiced Somi of Rwandan and Ugandan heritage, a 24-piece arranged by Israeli arranger Assaf Dar who transposed this engaging melodies into an orchestral format, Middle Eastern percussionist Zohar Fresco, traditional flute and woodwinds specialist Eyal Sela, Mark Eliyahu on kamancheh (a traditional Persion fiddle) and legendary bassist Alon Nadel. The result is a deeply moving beautiful recording, overflowing with rich melodies, engaging poetry, stunning vocal performances and intricate arrangements based on songs which address the struggle for personal fulfillment and the true meaning of love in a conflicted and complex world.

1. Todas las Palabras (All the Words) feat. Marta Gómez
2. Bein Kirot Beiti (Within My Walls) (sampled above)
3. She'eriot Shel Ha'Chaim (Scraps of Life) feat. Amir Dadon
4. Mai Nahar (River Waters) feat. Anat Ben Hamo
5. Chalomot Shel Acherim (Other People's Dreams)
6. Ôdjus Fitxadu (With My Eyes Shut) feat. Mayra Andrade
7. Shev (Stay) feat. Maya Avraham
8. Rov Ha'Sha'ot (Most of the Hours) feat. Ilan Damti
9. Min Nhar Li Mshiti (From the Day You Left) feat. Shimon Buskila
10. Cada Día (Every Day) feat. Marta Gómez
11. Hakol Over (This Too Shall Pass)
12. Nin'al Be'Mabato (Locked in His Gaze)
13. Maisha
Buy it at Amazon Within My Walls or

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Silvano Monasterios - Fostered

Silvano Monasterios - Fostered

Venezuelan pianist-composer Silvano Monasterios unfulfilled academic aspirations led to a return to the University of Miami to earn a Master’s Degree in Jazz Piano and Pedagogy in 2004. While there his legacy was defined through study, practice, patience, feel, mood, harmonic concepts, improvisation, execution, articulation, heart, soul and the influence of his own culture, present in every cell of music that he created; in every phrase he executed and most of all, in every piece he composed. His Master culminated with a live performance beautifully recorded, which bears the name “Fostered”. It features the composition “Avila”, awarded “College Original Song Outstanding Performance” by DownBeat Magazine in 2005. Musicians are: Silvano Monasterios on piano and keyboards, John Dadurka, Sam Howard and Aaron Mitter on acoustic bass, Noah Penn on drums, Brandon Wright and Erik Elligers on saxophones and Seth Merlin and Pete Clagget on trumpet and fluegelhorn.

Track Listing:
1. Jerusalem
2. Avila
3. Simplicity
4. Bittersweet (bass solo)
5. Bittersweet
6. Welcome Back
7. Visionary (Sampled above)
8. Blue Heart
9. Caravan of Dreams
Buy it at CD Baby or

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Silvano Monasterios - Roads Not Taken

Silvano Monasterios - Roads Not Taken

A bona fide piano prodigy born in Venezuela, pianist-composer Silvano Monasterios began his professional career at the age of 18 by performing and recording with some of the most prominent artists from his native land thus becoming experienced in a wide variety of musical genres. In 1989, he participated at the Miami Jazz Festival, where he received a “Best Soloist Award”. In 1990, he moved to and after obtaining an “Outstanding Soloist Award” at the University of Colorado in 1991, Monasterios received a music scholarship from the prestigious music program at the University of Miami, from which he earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1995. In 1998, Silvano was voted “New Artist of the Year” at the “Hennessey Cognac Jazz Search” in New York City and he released his first solo CD, “Roads Not Taken”, which remains as fresh now as it did then. Unfulfilled academic aspirations led Monasterios to return to the University of Miami where he earned his Master’s Degree in Jazz Piano and Pedagogy in 2004. During the years 2002-2004, Monasterios was the pianist in the award winning ensemble and most revered group "Bop Brothers" at the University of Miami under Vince Maggio. In 2005 DownBeat Magazine honored Silvano as the winner of its “Best Jazz Instrumental Soloist Award” in the 28th Annual Student Music Awards. A particularly gifted composer, he also won in the category of “College Original Song Outstanding Performance” for his composition “Avila”. Since then Monasterios has performed with a number of important artists including Ira Sullivan, Terumasa Hino & the World Jazz All-Stars, Othello Molineaux, Dave Liebman, Larry Coryell, Melton Mustafa, Marc Johnson, Donald Byrd, Alan Harris, Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Nathen Page, Randy Brecker, Sammy Figueroa, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Paul Wertico, Mark Egan, Claudio Roditi, Dave Valentin, Shakira, David Lee Roth, Lou Soloff and Nestor Torres. But Monasterios’ style is best described in the words of Jeff Laibson: “It is not surprising that as I was listening to the music of Silvano Monasterios I began to smile. With all great piano playing in the jazz genre, we can recognize the usual suspects of influence, whether it is Bud, Monk, Bill Evans, Herbie, McCoy, Keith, Chick, or anyone for that matter. That fact is simple, and undisputed. Great jazz playing on any instrument has always been a synthesis through osmosis of sorts, and a ton of study, practice and most of all, patience. Through its entire history, every great player has listened to the records of their inspirators, transcribed their feel, their mood, their harmonic concepts and language, their developed ideas and improvisation, and most of all, their wonderful idiosyncrasies of execution. The articulation, if you will. All of that is mixed into the heart and soul of the wishing individual creating a new kind of artistry. We hear this influence in every piano player, including the masters, so to have smiled when I first heard Silvano's music made perfect sense to me. I smiled also because his music makes one smile and happy, but equally important is that I smiled because I heard his voice and felt his vision and the influence that he too will have on others over the years as well. From the shortest phrase to the longest, though the language of jazz is obvious, his own sound and style has, and will ever be refreshing to me, and the first thing I think about, and feel as I listen to him, is the influence of his own culture, present in every cell of music that he creates; in every phrase he executes; and most of all; in every piece he composes. When I first met and had the privilege of meeting Silvano was at the University of Miami. He was a student of mine for a brief period of time, and my favorite part about teaching him was actually what he taught me. I have always learned more from my students than I have taught them. Most honest teachers would/should admit that. Coming to America from Venezuela with nothing but a dream was inspirational to me and still is. He had a powerful hope and desire, and through many years of hard work on his part, has envisaged his dream many times over and will continue to do so. The greatest part of his presence and present, is still his longing and search for matters of the heart. His love of home, family and heritage will forever be at the core of his artistic journey. They are what drives him to and into maturity, and always will be. Silvano's originality will always be a source of joy to me. What I learned from Silvano is that when one listens, one learns. When one learns, one might just smile as well.”
Roads Not Taken” has been re-mastered and reissued by the artist himself and it is finally commercially available in digital format. Musicians are: Silvano Monasterios on piano and keyboards, Marc Johnson on acoustic bass, Alexis Peña on drums and percussion, Ira Sullivan and Tom McCormick on saxophones, John Bailey on trumpet and fluegelhorn, Oscar Salas on percussion, Lazaro Alfonso on bata drums, Pepe Vera on clarinet and flute, David Alsina on bandoneon and Randy Bernsen on electric guitar. The links on this player are for Europe but below you will also find the link for the US iTunes store.

Track Listing:
1. San Ruperto
2. Mira La Luna
3. La Gaita y la Luna
4. Flor de Fuego
5. Lawrence
6. Roads Not Taken
7. I Hope
8. Carmen
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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fly Away - The Songs Of David Foster

Once in a while comes along one of those tribute albums, which catches your ear. “Fly Away” is certainly one of those. It celebrates the songwriting art of one of the most talented musicians/writers/producers ever to appear on the music scene, David Foster. But while a lot of people think that Mr. Foster had everything to do with this album, the fact remains that the man behind this tribute is Tomi Malm, from Finland, who as an arranger and producer has reinvented a number of classics from Foster’s amazing songbook. Furthermore, Malm’s inventive and original covers are brought to life by a cast of superior musicians and singers, some of whom have collaborated with Foster in the past in one way or another. Mr. Foster himself collaborates on a few tracks playing piano. But the real beauty of this album is the fact that even for someone who doesn’t know who David Foster is or who these musicians are, it doesn’t matter. These are great songs and great performances and the appeal of these covers is undeniably attractive. To say that these renditions sound better than the originals by Earth, Wind & Fire, Peter Cetera, Boz Scaggs, Kenny Loggins, Peter Allen, Chaka Khan, James Ingram and Chicago would be sacrilege, but even if you are familiar with the originals you cannot help but to feel compelled to continue listening to this wonderful production and end up loving it. Mr. Malm has achieved a true tribute album, which sounds fresh, inventive and gives new meaning to “The Songs of David Foster”, or should we say David Foster, Maurice White, Bill LaBounty, Boz Scaggs, Kenny Loggings, Michael McDonald, Carole Bayer Sager, Peter Allen, Cynthia Weil, Richard Marx, Jeremy Lubbock, Jay Graydon, Robert Lamm, just to name a few. After all, none of the songs in this tribute (and throughout most of his career) were written by Foster alone but in collaboration with some of the best writers in the music business. Mr. Foster just has a star-like persona and is a better businessman. His all around talent as a writer, producer, musician and entrepreneur propels him into stardom. The album closes with an extraordinary contribution directly from Foster’s vaults, the unreleased song “Live Each Day”, which features a vocal performance by the late Warren Wiebe, which has never been heard before. Musicians are: Vocals by Bill Champlin, Bill LaBounty, Arnold McCuller, Frank Adahl, Jeff Pescetto, Robbie Dupree, Cecily Gardner, Ole Borud, Lisa Lovbrand, Bill Cantos and Warren Wiebe, Tomi Malm as producer, arranger on keyboards, bass and guitars, Jeremy Lubbock, Lenni-Kalle Taipale, Aidan Zammit on Rhodes, David Foster on piano, John Robinson and Jarmo Valmari on drums, Nathan East, Rick Chudacoff, Neil Stubenhaus, Alberto Hernandez and Abraham Laboriel on bass, Ramon Stagnaro on nylon guitar, Brandon Fields and Fabrizio Mandolini on sax, Paul Jackson Jr., Janne Lehikoinen, Peter Friestedt, Dan Warner, Michael Landau, Soren Reiff, Jay Graydon, Porty, Jyrki Manninen, Jaakko Pesola and Juan Carlos Jimenez on electric guitar, Michito Sanchez on percussion, Tollak Ollestad on harmonica, Frank Adahl, Bill Champlin, Lisa Lavie, Tomi Malm, Gabriel Raya, Rafa Hernandez, Eli Hernandez, Arnold McCuller, Bill Cantos, Joaquin Gonzalez, Jeff Pescetto, Bjarne Langhoff, Bjarne Langhoff, Aidan Zammit and Joe Pizzulo on background vocals, Horns arranged by Tomi Malm, Jan Glaesel and performed by the Danish All Star Horns, Jan Glaesel on flugelhorn solo, string arrangement by Tomi Malm and Jeremy Lubbock, strings conducted by Dan Bornemark and performed by the Värmland Opera Sinfonietta.

Track Listing: (Composers)
1. Prelude (Tomi Malm)
Featuring David Foster on piano
2. In the Stone (David Foster, Maurice White & Allee Willis)
Performed by Bill Champlin
3. No Explanation (David Foster, Linda Thompson, Bill LaBaounty & Beckie Foster)
Performed by Bill LaBounty
4. Jojo (David Foster, David Lasley & Boz Scaggs)
Performed by Arnold McCuller
5. The Colour of My Love (David Foster & Arthur Janov)
Performed by Frank Adahl
6. Heart to Heart (David Foster, Kenny Loggings & Michael McDonald)
Performed by Jeff Pescetto
7. Fly Away (David Foster, Peter Allen & Carole Bayer Sager)
Performed by Robbie Dupree
8. Look What You've Done to Me (David Foster & Boz Scaggs)
Performed by Cecily Gardner
9. Through the Fire (David Foster, Tom Keane & Cynthia Weil)
Performed by Ole Borud
10. The Best of Me (David Foster, Jeremy Lubbock & Richard Marx)
Performed by Lisa Lovbrand
11. Nothin' You Can Do About It (David Foster, Jay Graydon & Steve Kipner)
Performed by Frank Adahl
12. Whatever We Imagine (David Foster, Jeremy Lubbock & Paul Gordon)
Performed by Bill Cantos
13. When Will the World Be Like Lovers (David Foster, Tom Keane & Robert Lamm)
Performed by Jeff Pescetto, Robbie Dupree, Frank Adahl, Bill Cantos, Arnold McCuller and Joe Pizzulo
14. Live Each Day (David Foster and Linda Thompson)
Performed by Warren Wiebe

Buy Fly Away at Amazon, CD Baby

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ketil Bjørnstad - Remembrance

Ketyl Bjornstad - Rememberance

Norwegian pianist Ketil Bjørnstad always paints a serene Scandinavian landscape through his beautiful compositions, unique style matched by the distinctive performances of his long-time musician colleagues. This is felt throughout all his recordings, especially those under ECM Records, which are perfect examples of how some music can appeal to anybody regardless of the style. “Remembrance” is no exception. Tenor saxophonist Tore Brunborg reminds us of other great Scandinavian talents such as Jan Garbarek by adding palettes of melodies tinged with Scandinavian folklore while veteran drummer Jon Christensen remains always inventive as his usually ultra-sensitive drumming might seem like disorderly free drumming at will to the non-connoisseur just as it is a legendary performance to those familiar with his great style. This mixture makes “Remembrance” a reflective, introspective recording, well suited for those times when peace, relaxation, concern and a look at one's inner self are necessary. Recorded and mixed by Jan Erik Kongshaug.
Track Listing:
1. Remembrance I
2. Remembrance Ii
3. Remembrance Iii
4. Remembrance Iv
5. Remembrance V
6. Remembrance Vi
7. Remembrance Vii
8. Remembrance Viii
9 Remembrance Ix
10. Remembrance X
11. Remembrance Xi
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