"NO WAY OUT"
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David Brandom may not be a familiar name to most jazz fans but he and his work have been part of the musical landscape for several years.
Brandom, heard here on tenor and soprano saxophones, has been an integral part of touring and performing groups led by Tony Bennett, Randy Brecker, Jon Faddis, Bill Charlap, Natalie Cole, James Taylor, The Temptations, The Spinners and the Four Tops.
All but three of the 10 tracks were written by Brandom. Right away, he signals his ability to swing with his first two tracks: "No Way Out' and "Spruce Goose." His lusty tenor solo on "No Way Out" follows a scintillating opening offering by trumpeter Scott Wendholt. On "Spruce Goose," he picks up his soprano and delivers a pleasing solo sound often unheard on other musicians' sopranos.
Brandom gets a little funky on "Clever Shoes," as former Portland pianist Gary Versace shifts from piano to Hammond B-3 organ. "Blues on The Corner" finds a cool groove after beginning with his soprano in close harmony with Wendholt's trumpet. Steve Cardenas' guitar adds a significant amount of blues seasoning to the effort.
MARTY SHELLER ENSEMBLE
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If you liked the music of the late Mongo Santamaria, chances are you will embrace this release by Marty Sheller, Santamaria's longtime musical director.
"Why Deny" is not an extension of Santamaria's music. This is a jazz record with a Latin rhythmic base. It uses trumpeters Chris Rogers and Joe Magnarelli : saxophonists Bobby Porcelli and Bob Francechini: pianist Oscar Hernandez: bassist Ruben Rodriguez: drummer Vince Cherico and percussionist Steve Berrios.
Please keep in mind there are no conga drums, no bongos. There is a wide range of compositions from Gus Arnheim's "Sweet and Lovely" to Wayne Shorter's "Mahjong" along with works by Sheller who is not heard on the release. One of Sheller's contributions is "Love in A Mist," a beautiful ballad with solos by Porcelli, Rogers and Hernandez.
"LOVE, PEACE AND JAZZ"
AL FOSTER QUARTET
Drummer Al Foster leads his quartet comprised of youngish but very talented players on a release I doubt you will hear on radio.
The reason "Love, Peace and Jazz" won't get much, if any, airplay is that the tracks are all quite long. The shortest, "Fungii Mama," is 8:27 and the longest, "Blue in Green" is 14:14. I did not care for the first two tracks: "The Chief," and Wayne Shorter's "ESP." I found saxophonist Eli Degibri's work grating and unsettling. However, he was key and beautiful on "Blue in Green." "Peter's Mood" gave pianist Kevin Hays space and he used it well in interpreting that ballad. Degibri was also in harmony with the mood cast.