instrumental Archive

Hundred-word Reviews for August 2019, Part One

It’s that time again: reviews of new music that passes the rigorous “smash or trash” competition happening periodically at my CD changer. Diplomats of Solid Sound — A Higher Place First off, let’s give credit where it’s due and acknowledge that Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are owed a debt for reintroducing soul to today’s

Album Review: Eddie Senay — Step by Step

Clarence Avant was a Detroit entrepreneur, a figure who wanted to bring to the world Detroit music beyond that which Berry Gordy was doing. In the early ’70s his Sussex label did just that, releasing some astoundingly good albums by the likes of Dennis Coffey and Bill Withers. Instrumental funk was more or less Sussex’s

Reviews: Three New Classic Jazz Albums

Three new and notable jazz releases have gone on the market recently. Two are from long-established artists who demonstrate that after decades playing jazz, they still have plenty that’s fresh, new and exciting to offer. The third comes at things from the other direction: it’s a collection of soul jazz classics played with fire and

EP Review: Tub — UNCA Session

For some listeners, the very thought of improvisational music is an unappetizing prospect. The idea that a musician – or worse yet, the thinking goes, a group of musicians – might begin playing without a specific direction in mind conjures mental images of train wrecks. Not without reason, those sorts of listeners prefer instead music

EP Review: Versal

A vocal chorus pad introduces the EP, but that aural texture quickly subsides in favor of crystalline acoustic piano playing a simple yet appealing melody. As “Eternal” unfolds, those electronically generated vocals return along with synthetic strings. The whole effect is elegiac, contemplative. When a string synth lead enters around the two-minute mark, it’s a

Hundred-word Reviews for April 2019: Jazz

I’m sent a lot of music for potential review, and for that I’m grateful. Generally, I can winnow through the stack and narrow it down to a manageable pile; put another way, a lot of the stuff I hear is unremarkable (i.e. not worth remarking upon). But sometimes I’m awash in great music that I

Album Review: Dennis Coffey — Live at Baker’s

In the course of his career, Dennis Coffey has made a name for himself several times over. The Detroit guitarist was a key session player in that city’s music scene; as one of the famed Funk Brothers studio aggregation, he lent his skills to numerous funk and soul side of the 1960s and beyond. His

Aaron Price: “It’s all music, and it’s all spiritual.”

Aaron Price is one busy musician. He plays bass guitar and keyboards in the nationally-recognized tribute group Wham Bam Bowie Band; he plays barrelhouse piano in a duo with vocalist Peggy Ratusz; he collaborates with guitarist, singer and songwriter Jeff Thompson. But his latest project is an expression of his longest-held musical focus: an album

Herb Alpert: International Man of Music

It’s only a slight overstatement to call trumpeter Herb Alpert the king of 1960s easy listening music. Alpert, of course, led the staggeringly successful Tijuana Brass; if you’ve ever been in a thrift shop, you’ve seen Whipped Cream and Other Delights, the record with that famously racy cover photo. Alpert is the rare artist who

Album Review: STIG — Agreed Upon

Some artists play music that – if one wishes to label it – requires several words to describe. Formed by five students at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, STIG (the band spells its name in all caps) self-identifies as an “all-instrumental progressive jazz funk” band. In a hurry, some might be tempted to label the