Phenomenal Guitarist Dan Baraszu and multi-talented bassist/producer Joseph Patrick Moore offer fresh inspiration to twelve Christmas classics on the latest Blue Canoe Records release "Christmas Time is Here". The duo strikes a touching balance between the complex reharmonization of these standards and the simplistic, stripped down interplay between guitar and bass. This musical conversation is especially notable in the sweet, lullaby-infused melodic bass part of "Silent Night". The trading of melody between Mr. Baraszu and Mr. Moore strikes images of a mother gently singing the little ones to sleep as the snow gently falls outside.
The pair jump in with "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", an up-tempo number featuring a jumping, rhythmic groove and haunting guitar melody. "Jingle Bells", offers up a unique coloring of another holiday classic. Again, Mr. Moore's creative groove and use of open space provides the perfect backdrop for a truly fresh version of such a seasonally routine melody.
Baraszu and Moore conclude their holiday creation with the traditional, "Angels We Have Heard on High". The bouncing bass line and almost reggae-like rhythmic feel is a sublime counter to Mr. Baraszu's contemporary version of this timeless melody.
"Christmas Time is Here" is an inspirational rendition of Christmas standards that offer a rare perspective unheard during this season. The interaction between these two notable artists is emotive and relevant long after the season is over. Mr. Baraszu and Mr. Moore converse in a beautifully woven and unique accord that's rare in a holiday release.
"Look What the Cats Drug In" opens with ripping guitar work from Dan Baraszu on "Neutron Star", a song inspired by Stevie Wonder's "Too High". There is no slowing down with the complex harmonies by Eugene Maslov on "Last Ray". Blue Canoe's stable of talented artists is further exposed in "Symmetry 1" with the fluid, highly polished lines of virtuoso trumpeter Thomas Heflin. The album continues with unimaginable horn players Bryan Lopes and Ron Westray as well as the stellar compositional and orchestral arranging of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra. The compilation brings it home rhythmically with percussionists Philip Smith and Jimmy "Junebug" Jackson. Listen for the famous Jimmy Smith on the B3 on the final tune by Junebug, "Save Your Love For Me (live)".
"Look What the Cats Drug In" is a vibrant exploration of the post-bop gems in Blue Canoe Records' vast and ever-growing catalog. Quite literally, "Look What the Cats Drug In" displays the finest musicianship of modern jazz.
Bryan Lopes Trio's debut CD for Blue Canoe Records,"Bryan Lopes Trio Volume 1", is a high energy expedition crossing from jazz to R&B to funk and back again. This trio also displays the talent of award-winning drummer Jeff Sipe (Jonas Hellborg, Leftover Salmon, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, featured in Modern Drummer August 2008) and multi-instrumentalist Neil Fountain on bass (The Fiji Mariners, Jimmy Herring, Megaphone Man).
Atlanta first-call session man Bryan Lopes works with numerous incarnations of experimental jazz jam bands as well as some of the greats of jazz, pop, rock and R&B music including Chick Corea, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Natalie Cole, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Stone Temple Pilots and Don Henley among others. "Bryan Lopes is one of the most stylistically aggressive saxophonists living in the Southeast", says Jazziz writer James Rozzi. Lopes and crew lead listeners on a prismatic journey from jazz to funk to turbulent improvisation on this offering.
"Bouncy Pants" opens the release displaying the complex interaction between Sipe and Fountain as Lopes use of complex harmony suggestive of Michael Brecker. By the third and fourth tracks, "Happy Evil" and "Landau" the crew show their bop-chops with swinging rhythmic interaction and fantastic improvisatory stretches for which Lopes is famous. The album concludes with a funk jam of generous interplay and constantly changing tempos in "Terrelism" and the sultry "Two Pavilion Way" that conjures images of the lonely sax-man on a foggy, deserted street at 3am.
The first Blue Canoe Records release of the Bryan Lopes Trio does not disappoint. "Bryan Lopes Trio Volume 1" offers an adventurous journey into the modern jazz exploits of three of the most promising modern music-men of today.
The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra’s debut cd for Blue Canoe Records, “Blues Man from Memphis”, is a most adventurous big band effort featuring the work of Donald Brown. The recording also highlights the prodigious talents of three other world renowned artists: bassist John Clayton, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, and saxophonist Greg Tardy.
Pianist Donald Brown (who also produced the cd) is considered to be one of the most innovative composers in the field of jazz today. Among the many accolades Brown has received, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis says: “Donald Brown is a genius.” Bassist Ron Carter adds: “For those who look around and ask, ‘Where is the next great jazz composer? Who is going to lead the music into the twenty-first century?’ Look no further. Donald Brown is here.” Brown’s compositions have been recorded by many artists. Wynton Marsalis’ recording of “Insane Asylum” on “J-Mood” was nominated for a Grammy, as was Donald Byrd’s recording of “Theme for Malcolm”.
As a testimonial to Donald Brown’s expertise as a piano player, the late Art Blakey professed: “Donald Brown is one of my favorite accompanists with The Jazz Messengers since Cedar Walton and Walter Bishop, Jr.”
The KJO is a supercharged, motivated ensemble formed in 1999 by trumpet player/arranger Vance Thompson. Although a large group (17+ members), they perform regularly and have played prestigious venues such as The Montreaux Jazz Festival. The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra has a wide fan base, largely due to the enthusiasm incurred by compelling and exciting arrangements and famous guest artists.
All of the compositions on this cd are by Donald Brown. The arrangements and orchestrations are by Vance Thompson and Bill Mobley, respectively.
“Blues Man from Memphis” is an ingenious, inspired work for the contemporary jazz big band. Twenty-first century jazz is alive and thriving.
"Symmetry", the debut of jazz trumpeter Thomas Heflin, explores the vast possibilities of contemporary post bop jazz through a carefully balanced program of original compositions and thoughtfully selected cover tunes. The self produced cd admirably showcases Heflin's brilliant, highly praised improvisational skills as well as the formidable talents of his band, including four tracks featuring the late world renowned pianist James Williams.
A rising star in the jazz world, Heflin made waves on the international jazz scene in 2005 when he placed second in the prestigious Carmine Caruso International Trumpet Solo Competition in Seattle. One reviewer described his playing as "a very fluid approach... generating lines in a seamless, highly polished manner that is really a joy to experience."
Among the original compositions are "Symmetry", the title track which opens and closes the album; "Salutation", a piece based on Kalidasa's poem "Salutation to the Dawn", and the ballad "Eastern Star", dedicated to James Williams. Heflin also covers material ranging from Louis Armstrong's anthem "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" to Cole Porter's "Night and Day" to Stevie Wonder's "Ma Cherie Amour".
"Symmetry" is aptly titled: Thomas Heflin has achieved a fine sense of proportion through his original pieces and covers. And though it is one of the last recordings James Williams made before he passed away, perhaps a new jazz legend, Thomas Heflin, is emerging in his own right.