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The Ashley Hamer Group Does Avishai Cohen

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The Ashley Hamer Group Does Avishai Cohen

Posted on 09 April 2010 by Robert

I’ll admit, I have never listened to Avishai Cohen or heard anyone cover any of his songs. However, that didn’t stop me from being interested when I got an invitation via Facebook to see one of Denton’s up-and-coming jazz groups play some great music.

When I first arrived at The Greenhouse, I quickly found that it was a packed house. Granted, I arrived around ten minutes late but I’ve been to The Greenhouse before and it was never this packed. The Ashley Hamer Group played in a nice location, and it was a very in-your-face situation. The set was entirely acoustic with no mikes which had one drawback: I didn’t get to hear the saxophone as well as I wanted to. The name of the band was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t on the invitation, and it was posted nowhere near the bar or anywhere else at The Greenhouse for that matter. It wasn’t until I asked the drummer in the band, Colin Hinton, that I knew they were referred to as The Ashley Hamer Group.

Members:
Ashley Hamer – Saxophone
Matt Hornbeck – Guitar
Tim Chernikoff – Keyboard
Julia Adamy – Bass
Colin Hinton – Drums

I noticed right off the bat that Matt Hornbeck has some great chops on the guitar. He was playing some fast runs that require tremendous dexterity with ease. I was rather impressed. The keyboard fit in well with the rest of the band; almost too well. At times, I didn’t even notice what the keyboard was playing until I heard a quick fill or solo. I also noticed that Colin Hinton has a lot of fun playing the drums and seems to be a nice, easy-going kind of person. In fact, the group as a whole seems to be a ┬álaid-back group of friends just out having fun loving what they’re doing. Between every song, they could be seen laughing and cutting up with each other. It’s this type of attitude that makes a band great.

The only negative part I can say about the experience is the fact that there wasn’t enough seating to fit the crowd. I had to sit behind a small tree in order to be close enough to the band to hear and see what was going on, but others were less fortunate. I ended up leaving at 11 PM because it became so crowded that people were constantly standing in front of me. I was disappointed, but I had already been impressed by the band and had enough information written down to write this review.

The Ashley Hamer Group is a great 5 piece band. You definitely need to go seem then when you get the chance to. The music they played at The Greenhouse was wonderful, their attitudes are great and they’re good musicians. I regret having to leave early as I’m sure the performance got even better as time went on. I’d love to hear some original tracks and hopefully I’ll be able to hear a few at a performance of theirs in the future.

Photos courtesy of Lucky George Blog

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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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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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