by Jeff Becker
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
by Jeff Becker
Friday, November 2, 2012
Review by Jeff Becker
Tianna Hall - vocals
Miguel Villicaña - piano
Agustin Bernal - bass
Gabriel Puentes - drums
with special guest appearances from
David Caceres - saxophone/vocals
Mike Wheeler - guitar
Lisa Vosdoganes - cello
1) Til There Was You - 2:39
2) What Is This Thing Called Love? - 3:22
3) When October Goes - 4:38
4) They Can’t Take That Away From Me - 3:09
5) Creep - 3:25
6) You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To - 3:03
7) Black Hole Sun - 4:26
8) I’ve Never Been In Love Before - 3:06
9) Good Morning Heartache - 4:54
10) I’m Not In Love - 4:50
11) I’m Gonna Sit Right Down & Write Myself A Letter - 2:35
12) So In Love - 5:57
13) Moon River - 3:36
14) Two For The Road - 4:30
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Review By: Jeff Becker
Many times the music industry is dominated by the 20 year old musicians who pull together the latest thing with friends from school or in their local scene and take it on the road, hoping to hit the “big time.”
So what is the relevance of Two Guitars, Bending Time that features over 50 year-old musicians who have already paid their dues, already been on tour, already been on labels and played in some of the top groups of yesteryear like; The Turtles, The Tokens, Al Wilson, Lou Rawls, Chubby Checker, Leslie Gore, Bobby Day, Ray Charles, Eubie Blake, Snoop Dogg (believe it or not!) as well as jazz artists Jerry Mulligan, Jackie Paris, Sue Raney, Dizzie Gillespie? I am glad you asked; let me sum it up in one phrase “Musical Experience.” What does this add up to? An easy listen, an enjoyable musical experience paying homage to groups and songs they have actually been involved with over the years.
The eclecticism is actually the glue that showcases the mastery and wisdom of note choices from these two veteran musicians, Gus Wieland and Brian Conigliaro have put together a well blended jazz influenced offering that will also appeal to the adult contemporary, adult-rock and jazz listener, that prefers quality sounds, playing and execution as well as, well conceived originals that blend well against well known nuggets.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Review By: Jeff Becker
Herbie Hancock Records
The Imagine Project continues the ever evolving and creative ideas of Herbie Hancock. His experiences in jazz are now richly enhancing more pop cultured endeavors. This latest offering embraces the concept of love and world unity, and the diversities from around the world.
"Imagine" features India.Arie, Seal, Pink, and Jeff Beck (on guitar) and is augmented by African chanting and the delicate sensibilities of Hancock's delicate tinkling of the ivories. A texture change to a more rhythmic feel introduces India.Arie who places her own slice of heaven.
The moody "Don't Give Up," features John Legend and Pink, both equally soulful artists who enhance this cut with yearning exchanges and believable performances. The solid continuous backbeat drives the emotion even deeper.
"Tempo de amor" features Céu with a dreamy Latin feel, the loose translation of the lyric is; “Oh, it would be so much better to live in peace without having to suffer without having to cry, without having to want, without having to give yourself. But you have to suffer, and you have to cry and you have to want to be able to love. Oh, deceiving world peace doesn't mean "love" anymore. Oh, there is no sadder thing than to have peace and to regret and to submit and to protect yourself of a love, of loving.”
A bluesy rendition of "Space Captain" is perfectly matched by the talents of the soulful Susan Tedeschi and groovin’ Derek Trucks, almost reminiscent of the Bonnie and Delaney sound of the early 70’s.
"The Times, They Are a' Changing" features The Chieftains and Lisa Hannigan, a slow shuffle with sprinklings of horns and sitar, make this cut a motivic half-way mark. "La Tierra" features Juanes and is a beautiful Tango. "Tamitant Tilay/Exodus" is desert Blues with an Arabic touch featuring K'naan, Los Lobos and Tinariwen and a looped sample of Bob Marley's "Exodus".
"Tomorrow Never Knows," has a hybrid psychadelic Middle Eastern feel and features The Dave Mathews Band, "A Change is Gonna Come" is taken as a slowed pace and features James Morrison who is reminiscent to young Stevie Wonder. The closing takes us on an middle eastern journey with sitar-drenched lines running reverently throughout with driving drum crashes this cut is an epic presentation of "The Song Goes On," featuring luminaries such as; Chaka Khan, Anoushka Shankar and Wayne Shorter giving an Indian sounds and experience. This project is appropriately entitled; the listeners have the opportunity to Imagine and journey to every place in their mind and hear and experience every flavor of the musical rainbow.
Friday, December 17, 2010
With a career that spans over 4 decades, it is with great anticipation audiences have waited for the release of Mediterranean Breeze from the virtuosic Bouzouki artist Alekas Galas. With four decades under his belt one would expect to hear true mastery, this expectation is not let down, as Galas has created a truly masterful weave of World, Pop and Smooth Jazz into his debut release as a leader. What makes this release even more intriguing is the innovation of adding Bouzouki, a widely recognized world instrument most commonly used in Greek music. The result is magnificent, and highly successful. Galas has created a landmark sound, melding for the first time a Bouzouki with the commercial sounds of Smooth Jazz and Pop along with cuts that are a hybrid of World fused with adult-contemporary influences.
Today we will examine the cut “The Road Home” which is augmented by legendary artists; Marc Russo (alto sax), Abraham Laboriel (bass) and Alex Acuna (congas, percussion). What is so delightful about this cut is the amount of musical prowess exhibited by each player and how is does not detract away from the musicality of the song. This cut has a contagious beat that highlighted even further by the musicians abilities on their instruments and the evident chemistry between the players. Strongly influenced by the Smooth Jazz genre but given the Greek spicing of the Bouzouki, the song is elevated to a new level of enjoyment, a grooving piece that each player clearly leaves their signature on. Galas have done a wonderful job connecting all the genre dots together for an extremely enjoyable listen no matter your setting. Highly Recommended!
Monday, October 4, 2010
Review By: Jeff Becker
Blue Bamboo Music
In a genre where the most recognizable sounds are usually piano, bass and drums; bassist Glen Ackerman has gathered an up and coming stable of predominately Houston musicians to create a uniquely cutting edge sound. To call this a fusion only album would be to overlook the complexities and harmonic richness of the compositions and arrangements. Though technically sound in all aspects from a player and compositional standpoint; the music has a lyrical theme throughout making this much deeper than just an album filled with technique pyrotechnics and dexterity (which it does offer), never allowing virtuosity to overpower the group message of the compositions.
This band of musical brothers features: saxophonist, Woody Witt, drummers, Joel Fulgham and J.D. Guzman, keyboardist, Ted Wenglinski, and guitarists, Chris Cortez and Paul Chester and all are equally adept at conveying Ackerman’s message. What was equally enjoyable was the artwork and space theme! Creating a fun theme, and an energetic musical experience and stellar musicianship, Glenious Inner Planet is a full rocket ride.
Today, we will examine the track “Blue Rondo a la Raad” in hopes you will be so intrigued you will go directly to the Blue Bamboo Music site or your favorite retailer and get your own copy immediately. We know our readers have their own opinions, and rather than dribble on and prolificate our opinions, we will introduce you to one track and you take it from there.
“Blue Rondo a la Raad” is a driving and pulsating cut that quickly conveys the dexterity of Cortez and Ackerman, signaling it is time to blast off. The selection is a contrafact based on the Dave Brubeck composition, “Blue Rondo a la Turk.” The original 9/8 time signature is retained for the first theme. However, Ackerman plays with the grouping of the 9 eight notes (the Brubeck pulse can be felt as 1-2,1-2,1-2,123) by placing the accent on different eight notes Ackerman delivers a fresh statement upon the 9/8 undercurrent. Beginning with bass and drums, the theme is built upon with layered orchestration of guitar and saxophone. The B section releases the driving eight pulse in the melodic line with a call and response section between the saxophone lines being answered by the bass and guitar. This builds to a tutti section with underlying hits from the bass and drums. Landing in the solo section and a new 7/4 sixteenth “funk” feel (1234-123), guitarists, Chris Cortez hits the overdrive pedal and delivers a fine energetic solo through the original harmonic structure. Back to the original 9/8 feel, the B sections is used as an interlude between solos; the ensemble navigates the transition with confidence and ease.
Saxophonist, Woody Witt, takes us on the next “Raad” ride through the funky 7/4 solo section. Witt’s tone is rich and full of drive, bending notes and developing his exotic colors and motifs to a steaming climax of notes and rhythms. Again the transition to 9/8 and the B section melody are used for the interlude to Ackerman’s bass solo. Ackerman effortlessly flows between the upper and lower register of his bass to develop his melodic statements over Cortez’s color arpeggiated chords.
The selection returns to the original melody for the closing statement. This is only one example of the exemplary offering within each Ackerman composition. A well produced – well conceived release that will be a welcome addition to any jazz or modern jazz listener’s collection, which likes their jazz to have a bite.