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CD Review: Mark Simon “Bass 10”

MarkSimon

After leaving his native Chicago to experience the excellent music department at Mt. Hood Community College, Mark Simon decided Portland was the right place for him, musically and otherwise. That was in the 1980s, and Simon has established himself as a solid performer in the Rose City ever since. For this new CD, he chose a concept that I don’t recall ever having seen: an entire menu of songs played as duos with, count ‘em, ten of Portland’s all-star bassists. Since there are 12 tunes, two of the bass players get two tunes, and eight others are heard on one each. Hence the title. More importantly, it’s a very happening, recital-like performance, as one experiences Simon oh-so-comfortably interpreting standards and jazz classics with ten like-minded pals. The tunes range from oldies such as “Avalon” and “If I Had You” to jazz choices such as “Four Brothers,” “A Child Is Born” and “Sonora,” a lesser known gem from one of Simon’s piano gods, Hampton Hawes. In addition, there’s “Alone Together”, “Dindi,” “Stella By Starlight” and a Cy Coleman rarity called “Why Try to Change Me Now.” These and others result in a nicely conceived and beautifully performed CD. Mark is currently battling liver failure, and his many friends wish him blessings as he courageously waits for the phone call which would provide a liver transplant. Despite his medical needs, Simon has provided a wonderful, new CD to savor.

Tracks: Alone Together, If I Had You, Dindi, Four Brothers, Stella By Starlight, A Child Is Born, Soft Winds, The Summer Knows, Sonora, Why Try To Change Me Now, Avalon, This Old Man.

- George Fendel, Jazzscene, Oregons Jazz Magazine

Apr. 6, 2012 | Reviews | Comments Off

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CD Review: Gaea Schell – After The Rain

Gaea-Schell

With After The Rain, Gaea Schell has created an album with a perfect balance of jazz standards and original compositions. A Canada native, Schell studied classical harp and has a jazz degree from Montreal McGill University.
After The Rain was recorded live, without overdubs and corrections, this gives the album an honest sound and energy hard to accomplish otherwise.
Even though Schell adds her gentle voice and good vocal phrasing on tracks like “September Rain”, “It Could Happen To You”, Jobim’s ” How Insensitive” (Insensatez), and Hoagy Carmichael ‘Skylark”, most of the music on the release are swinging instrumentals wonderfully played by Schell and company.
Schell is a pianist with great technique and influenced by jazz legends like Oscar Peterson, especially on the uptempo tracks, “Alone Together” and “Immergence”, and by Bill Evans in the ballads “After The Rain” and “Requited”. James Alsanders keeps the music swinging on drums, Scott Steed and Roger Shew shares reponsabilities on bass while Chuck Manning add some good sax solos on “After the Rain” and “Immergence” All arrangements are by Gaea Schell and almost half of the compositions are Schell originals including the bossa nova “In Moonlight”.

Tracks: Alone Together, September in the Rain, After The Rain, It could happen to you, Tangible, How Insensitive, Truth’s Surrender, In Monlight, Skylark, Immergence, Requited, In Love in vain, Social Call

Musicians: Gaea Schell (piano), Scott Steed, Roger Shew, Chris Colangelo (bass), James Alsanders (drums), Chuck Manning (sax)

 - Wilbert Sostre, JazzTimes

Oct. 25, 2010 | Reviews | Comments Off

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CD Review: Ed Bennett – En Route

EnRoute

Ed Bennett has carved out quite a niche among bass players in his twenty or so years as a Portlander. I love catching him on the last Friday of each month at Wilf’s in his longtime association with Tony Pacini, piano, and Tim Rap, drums. But for this recording, the versatile ex-Carmen McRae bassist chose a different path, enlisting the considerable skills of Paul Mazzio, trumpet and flugelhorn, Scott Hall, tenor and soprano sax, Dan Gaynor, piano, and Todd Strait, drums. All of the tunes, save one, are Bennett originals, and at least a few deserve special mention. “Solari” is a very uninhibited, spirited line with espeically invigorating solos from Mazzio and Gaynor. “Ask Me How” is Bennett’s clever realignment of the melody line of the Monk classic, “Ask Me Now”. And the title tune has that breezy, freeway feel to it. On the latter tune, Gaynor and Hall offer resilient solo work preceding Bennett’s own solo statement. S & W is yet another straightahead swinger, and is followed by the disc’s only standard. It’s a chance for the leader to shine on “For Heaven’s Sake”. Mazzio’s silvery flugelhorn touch is featured on the Brazil-flavored “Suavemente Ahora”, and “When It Was” showcases Bennett’s skill on a lilting waltz. These and others all add up to a melodic, swinging, in-the-pocket album of real deal jazz. Bennett is undoubtedly one of the few remaining totally acoutic bassists on planet Earth. And the music heard here defines him as a life long jazz musician.

Tracks: Blues For KG, Solari, Ask Me How, En Route, Spring Calm, S&W, For Heaven’s Sake, Sueavemente Ahora, Spindido, When It Was, Peace Work

Musicians: Ed Bennett, Paul Mazzio, Scott Hall, Dan Gaynor, Todd Strait

- George Fendel, Jazzscene, Oregons Jazz Magazine

Sep. 4, 2010 | Reviews | No Comments

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CD Review: Ed Bennett “Super Jet”

superjetAbout The Artist:
The Ed Bennett trio played together regularly for two years in Los Angeles until pianist Kent Glenn found a regular gig in Northern California. The time they spent performing was well used for the level of their musical communication during this boppish set is consistently high. Glenn’s style is touched by Bud Powell while Bennett’s favorite bassist is Paul Chambers. Five originals (four from Glenn and one by Bennett) alternate with a pair of Tadd Dameron compositions, Gerry Mulligan’s “Five Brothers” and two standards. Bennett’s bowed melody statement on “Five Brothers”, a slow emotional reading of “If You Could See Me Know” and the playful blues “The Frump” are among the more memorable moments. With the steady swing of Jack Ranelli propelling the two soloists, the result is an excellent trio session that could have been recorded in 1961.

- Scott Yanow, – cadence magazine

Oct. 23, 2009 | Reviews | Comments Off

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CD Review: Keith Barry “Blew Year’s Proposition”

kbarryWhat The Critics Say:

KEITH BARRY:
Keith Barry – Blew Year’s Proposition.

“Again, this has to be first jazz album with the feature instrument throughout being the viola! There’s plenty of jazz violin out there but it’s lower-pitched partner from the symphony orchestra is not even heard that much in classical music as a solo instrument, and in jazz not at all until this unique effort. I don’t know anything about Barry, other than the Saphu label is the baby of bassist Ed Bennett and based in Portland, Oregon. While I don’t see a cable coming out of his instrument in the photo of Barry, the sound of the viola has an electronic quality to it, probably to match more successfully with the electric guitar.

The opening Andre Previn hit of the 60s, Like Young, comes on with lots energy and bounce – the viola being heard in its higher register. Monk’s Trinkle Trinkle lacks the impact of the usual Monk tune with piano and sax, but doesn’t lose its quirky Monkish character in the more mellow treatment. The longest track of the half dozen here is the classic Soft Winds, at ten minutes. All present take some intriguing solos, with guitarist Keyser’s a standout. The closing (and title tune) blues is a Barry original, as well as is the earlier Easy Groove. Anyone with a hankering for jazz violin would surely dig this hot viola CD!”

Tracks: Like Young, Trinkle Trinkle, My Foolish Heart, Easy Groove, Soft Winds, Blew Year’s Proposition.

- John Henry, Audiophile Audition Magazine

Oct. 23, 2009 | Reviews | Comments Off

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