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Recital – Yoshi Matsubara & Asher Barreras

Posted on 06 April 2010 by Robert

Yoshi Matsubara & Asher Barreras, two seniors at UNT held a recital performance in Kenton hall at the University of North Texas April 5 2010. Senior recital performances are essentially projects that students must complete in order to get their degree. One might not expect much from a recital, but then again most don’t get the chance to see a performance by Yoshi & Asher. Yoshi is a guitarist & Asher is a bassist.

Roberto, Yoshi, Asher, Brian C, Brian G

The room was extremely hot but that was soon forgotten when the music started. Recital performances at UNT are very intimate affairs, usually with less than 50 people in the room (including the band.) However, there was a huge turnout for Yoshi & Asher, and I soon understood why. The performance consisted of 5 standards and 2 original pieces. “I Wish I Knew” was originally on the program but wasn’t played for an undisclosed reason. However, Yoshi’s original piece “Victory Dance” easily made up for it.

Yoshi and Asher

Set List:
Milestones
Iris
I Wish I Knew (Not Played)
Victory Dance
Blame It On My Youth
Joya
Don’t Forget
Stablemates

Sidemen:
Brian Girley – Alto Sax
Brian Clancy – Tenor Sax
Roberto Verastegui – Piano
Ryan Jacobi – Drums

Yoshi, Asher, Ryan, Brian G

I remember being most moved by “Victory Dance,” “Joya,” and “Don’t Forget.” The band had obviously rehearsed many times over a long period of time and I believe this was most obvious on these songs. Here’s a clip from the performance for your pleasure:

The piano solo in “Victory Dance” and the sax solo that followed it along the way it was obvious that Yoshi was enjoying his song being played and that he believed in what he was doing really helped make this song even more awesome. It really is a great tune. The simple fact that Asher explained that “Joya” was written because of the support of his family combined with the amazing saxophone work, compliments of Brian Clancy & Brian Girley, Roberto’s fluency at piano, and the great beat courtesy of Ryan Jacobi make a monumental song.

Too bad these songs aren’t available online or I’d purchase them right away. If you hear of either of these guys (or any of the sidemen, for that matter) hitting the big time, don’t be surprised! Definitely take the time to go see Yoshi Matsubara or Asher Barreras if you have the chance. You don’t be sorry.

Photos & Video courtesy of LuckyGeorge

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Recommended Listening

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Recommended Listening

Posted on 05 April 2010 by Robert

Sometimes, I get stuck in a rut with music and can’t seem to find anything worth listening to. While the music you already have is great, it does get old when you don’t have anything new to play. I’d like to help keep this from happening to you by linking up with some fellow jazz bloggers who have helped me find some new ones for my collection.

These articles, written by Shaunna Morrison Machosky, highlight some great Spring-themed jazz tunes. I encourage you to check them out because they are some of my favorite tracks, plus they are embedded so you can listen to them via the website.

Swing Into Spring
Jazz In Bloom: May Flowers
Jazz Is For The Birds

Also, I want you to jump over to Elements Of Jazz and check out Donna’s Jazz Appreciation Month Contribution. She’s highlighting 156 artists for you to check out. She’s already up to part three and has highlighted 39 artists so you have some catching up to do, but it’s well worth it.

Also, the Jim Cullum Jazz Band’s latests (February, 2006) “Chasin’ the Blues” is masterful, if you haven’t already heard it. I’m going to do a proper review on it this week, but I’d just like to say that I’m impressed already. Check it out via the link if you’re interested.

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Foundations Cover

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Review – Paul Murphy & Larry Willis – “Foundations”

Posted on 03 April 2010 by Robert

Disclaimer: Avant-Garde jazz is not my thing, so this review will obviously be from my perspective. If Avant-Garde is your thing, then you’ll likely not find my review helpful.

Sometimes an album comes along that receives great praise from all of the knowledgeable people and you are left wondering what all of the hype is about. Perhaps it’s too experimental for you, or perhaps it feels like it’s not going anywhere.

Album Art
Album Art

Both are the case with Paul Murphy & Larry Willis’ Foundations,which was released August, 2009. While the musicianship is undoubtably virtuosic, I felt as if the tracks were written for a very specific audience. As a matter of fact the liner notes state that the entire album is improvised, which is impressive.

Foundations is almost one of those “you had to be there” things. I’m sure that the live performance (assuming there was one) was one to be amazed at, but for me it just doesn’t work.

While the following video is a track which is not on the album, it’s very much the same type of track you’ll receive when purchasingFoundations.

Notable Tracks
Preter
Dance Pointe

Tracks
Foundations
Epigraph
Khafre
Preter
Morel
Mr. LB
Paen
Dance Pointe
East Turn Alt
Composite Drive
June Jump
Equinox

Verdict:
Avant Garde jazz is not for everyone. Some say that it is music intended only for musicians. I appreciate the abilities of the musicians in this album, but it’s definitely not an easy listener. This is music to listen to with intent, almost as if it were made only to be studied. Watch the video posted above before you make your mind up on this matter. If you want to listen to a sample of this album, or even buy it, click the link below.

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Philly_Joe_Jones

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Review – Philly Joe Jones’ “Look, Stop, & Listen”

Posted on 03 April 2010 by Robert

I was excited to listen to this album because it had gotten great reviews in print and online. I was right to be excited because this album became one of my all-time favorites after the first listen. Here’s why:

Album Cover Art

Back in the 1950’s, Tadd Dameron was throwing out bop tunes and was great at it. Philly Joe Jones was part of this ensemble. When Tadd Dameron died, Jones started a tribute called “Dameronia.” Look, Stop, Listen” is the only album available (at least that I could find after searching around) by Dameronia. What I found on this album blew me away. The drum fills that Jones delivers are jaw-dropping. There is so much feeling throughout this entire album, and that is what makes it great. It is hard for me to come up with a list of favorite tracks, but here is my best shot, in order of preference:

Notable Tracks
Dial B For Beauty
Look, Stop, and Listen
If You Could See Me Now
Choose Now

Track List
Look, Stop, and Listen
If You Could See Me Now
Choose Now
Focus
Killer Joe
Dial B For Beauty
Our Delight
Theme Of No Repeat
If You Could See Me Now (1st Take)
Look, Stop, and Listen (1st Take)

Personnel
Philly Joe Jones – Drums
Johnny Griffin – Tenor Sax
Don Sickler – Trumpet
Virgil Jones – Trumpet
Benny Powell – Trombone
Frank Wess – Flute & Alto Sax
Charles Davis – Flute & Tenor Sax
Cecil Payne – Bari Sax
Walter Davis Jr. – Piano
Larry Ridley – Bass

The Verdict:
If you don’t already own this album, you owe it to yourself to buy it. I believe that it’s an album that belongs in the collection of every jazz fan. It is well worth the money! You can listen to samples and purchase the album by clicking the link below.

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Dizzy Gillespie

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Why I Love Jazz

Posted on 29 March 2010 by Robert

To me, jazz is much more than the sound that vibrates your eardrums. It’s a complex style of music, it’s a culture. To me, there’s music, and then there’s jazz. When some people find out that I mainly listen to jazz, they think that it’s odd. I’ve even been told that I listen to “old people music.” I’m not offended by what people think because had they actually been exposed to jazz they would probably understand it the way you and I do.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO1uMjz3n3w

I believe that the number one thing going through the original jazzers minds was fun. Take for example the great video above featuring Louis Armstrong & Dizzy Gillespie. When I watch that video, I can’t help but smile and I almost wish that I had lived in that day. These guys didn’t worry about whether hip-hop is jazz. These guys didn’t worry about whether jazz is dead either (at least not yet). They were having a lot of fun!

Aside from having fun, jazz is also a very emotional genre of music. If you watch Ella Fitzgerald singing “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” you can almost feel what the song is conveying. The lyrics are masterful as is Ella’s delivery. To me, jazz is far more efficient at conveying emotion than any other genre.

The theory behind jazz is complex yet concrete. You have your standard progressions, throw your chord voicings on top with a sweet melody and you’ve got a jazz tune. Now that might sound simple, but as a musician I can say that I’ve failed many times trying to learn some of this theory. It’s tough. Not to mention that many of the times, the music is improvised. I’m always amazed at the technical proficiency of the musicians.

So, share with me please… what do you most like about this wonderful style of music?


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stackofcds

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10 Albums That You Must Own

Posted on 29 March 2010 by Robert

Here are 10 albums that you should go out and purchase right now if you don’t already own them. They aren’t in order of importance, because that it would be unfair for me to have to decide which ones rank higher. They are albums that have helped shape my love for this wonderful genre and I hope that they do the same for you (if they haven’t already.)

1. Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue
2. The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out
3. Stan Getz & Joao Gilbert0 – Getz/Gilberto
4. Philly Joe Jones Dameronia – Look, Stop, and Listen
5. Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstong – Ella & Louis
6. Chet Baker – The Best of Chet Baker Sings
7. John Coltrane – Blue Train
8. Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain
9. Louis Armstong – Hot Fives & Sevens
10. Charles Mingus – Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus

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ThePursuit-thumb.jpg

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Review – Jamie Cullum’s “The Pursuit”

Posted on 27 March 2010 by Robert

Alright, let me come clean. Jamie Cullum is one of the first jazz artists that I ever got into. His sophomore album Pointless Nostalgic, and his third album Twentysomething were (and still are) gems in my jazz infancy. Having moved on to other artists, I unfortunately never had the chance to listen to his fourth album Catching Tales, but I plan on doing so soon.

Jamie’s fifth album, The Pursuit, is one that I’m interested in reviewing because of the mediocre reviews it received in Downbeat. Having read said review, I decided to give it my own chance, based on my own experiences and tastes. That said, here’s the review:

    The Tracks
    1. Just One Of Those Things
    2. I’m All Over It
    3. Wheels
    4. If I Ruled The World
    5. You And Me Are Gone
    6. Don’t Stop The Music
    7. Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down
    8. Mixtape
    9. I Think I Love
    10. We Run Things
    11. Not While I’m Around
    12. Music Is Through

1. Just One Of Those Things beings with a jazzy vocal & piano head. It’s definitely not as poppy as I was expecting it to turn out to be. In fact, the entire track swings, and swings better than any Jamie Cullum song I’ve heard to this day. There are two great solos in the track by the pianist and the saxophonist. The brass section delivers some great riffs and hits. This track left me excited to hear what else is on the album.

2. I’m All Over It – I’m going to go ahead and say it, I don’t like this one. I was extremely disappointed after being so excited about the first track. I believe that this song could be the worst on the album, with its cliche beat, quarter note piano chords and the choral hits. It is hard to explain this track, but you can hear it for yourself by following the linked title.

3. Wheels has a sort of train effect with the snare played with brushes. While listening to this song I kept thinking about Coldplay. It has got a very mellow feeling to it, stating “the wheels are falling off of the world.” I felt that the lyrics were a bit on the repetitive side and the track quickly faded into the background as I zoned out.

4. If I Ruled The World – This track brings me back to listening to Tony Bennett. Perhaps because he wrote it? The rhythym is all different, the drums are turned up and the keyboard has a rotating speaker effect which I found nice. I found the piano solo in this track very soothing and it was nice to listen to after a hard day of work. The solo has some accidentals thrown in which helps it stay on the jazz side. I found that Jamie’s distinct vibrato adds a lot to this track (and the entire album) by adding a lot emotion. When the track was over, I wanted to listen to it again.

5. You And Me Are Gone – This track begins with a cool piano riff in the lower end of the chromatic scale. It has a cool feel to it (sort of rowdy) and it swings. It has organ and it has nice piano and rhythm work. I like the block in the middle of the song. The piano solos are pretty jazzy. I would listen to it while driving. Not in the apartment.
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6. Don’t Stop The Music – This is a song that was originally sang by Rihanna. It’s a slower track that makes me feel nostalgic. The piano really adds a lot to this track, helping with the mellow-ness of the whole thing.

7. Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down – This track blended into “If I Ruled The World” because the drums sound similar and my computer was playing on random. Jamie’s falsetto in the beginning was kind of cliche. I felt that the horn section was kind of lame on this track as well, and didn’t get a very good feel for it.

8. Mixtape – This is a song about trying to win over someone by playing them a mixtape. Let me tell you right now that this is not a new idea, and this type of song has been done countless of times. This is a driving song with a fast beat. The interesting thing about this song is that the bridge is a half-time piano solo. It was enough to make my roommate and me look at each other and say “cool!” I give this song a thumbs up.

9. I Think I Love – This is a beautiful song that brings to mind dining in a classy restaurant with a live band (such as sambucas). Perhaps a nice dance with your significant other? This track is piano driven with some strings thrown in at the bridge. I think that this song is one of the top of the album. I’ll say that I like it.

10. We Run Things – The beginning is different. I’m not sure how to describe it. The song has a cool beat, This song is not jazzy at all, it’s pure pop. There is even a vibe solo thrown into this song. I’m not sure if they are really vibes or if it’s keyboard but I was surprised on a Jamie Cullum track. This is a good track for driving, but the jazzers probably won’t like it.

11. Not While I’m Around – When this track started I already felt like it was headed in the wrong direction. The beat is good but the piano and vocals are cliched, especially the lyrics. It’s something that you might hear in a romantic comedy. I found myself messing with the internet while this song was playing, as it was boring. I will say that the bridge was semi-decent… maybe. All-in-all, I really had to fight against skipping the track.

12. Music Is Enough – This is an energetic tack that has a dance feel to it. In fact, I’d say that it’s safe to say that it’s a track fit to be played at a dance club. Upon first listen I wasn’t too excited about this track but it grew on me. I do like it, and while it’s not jazz it does add to the energy of the album.

The Verdict
The Pursuit is not what I would call a jazz album. The Pursuit is more a pop album with some jazz elements. It is definitely more pop-oriented than his previous albums, but for the most part the music remains good. Hardcore jazz fans probably won’t like this album, while those who like jazz and pop will love it. I don’t think that jazz fans should go out and buy this album, but rather try out Just One Of Those Things, If I Ruled The World, You And Me Are Gone, and I Think I Love on iTunes.

Track listing

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So, tell me, what do you think?

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jazzfestival

Jazz Festival!

Posted on 25 March 2010 by Robert

The Denton Arts & Jazz Festival is scheduled the weekend of April 23-25. If you’ve never been you should definitely try to go. There will be many exciting bands there, notably Brave Combo,  Chick Corea And the UNT One O’Clock Lab Band (I’m finished with the links, I promise). There will be many other great artists there as well, including the U-Tubes.

Other than music, there will be some great art exhibits. If you open the first link I posted and go to the exhibits section, you’ll understand what I mean. Be sure to bring some cash because you won’t want to leave empty handed. It’ll be a great time to unwind, listen to some great jazz and look at some amazing art.

So if you’ve got any time off on the last weekend in April, come check it out.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s free to get it?

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