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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jazz Xprss: CD Reviews


Roberto Magris & the Europlane Orchestra - Current Views (Soul Note);

As if we hadn't already run out of superlatives in relation to the imagination, warmth and sheer musical drive of pianist Roberto Magris, he again ups the ante with his latest, Current Views. This one features familiar and new cohorts from his Europlane Orchestra. Together they take the listener on an exhilarating ride through just over an hour's worth of originals, though clearly inspired by jazz heroes such as Ellington (Dukish Mood)and Coltrane (For Naima, not actually dedicated to the legend's first wife)The skillfully meandering opener, The StoryTeller and the propulsive "React" are standouts. Well worth the time.

Ray Gaskins - A Night In the Life (Expansion Records)
Ray Gaskins has lived a few lifetimes as jazz/r&b soul sideman and leader, between gigs with Roy Ayers, disco diva Jocelyn Brown and the late great Phyllis Hyman. The Baltimore native puts the mileage to great use on this convincing melange of styles, encompassing soul, funk, and even gospel in good measure. all are buoyed by Gaskins' driving sax wail, and an unavoidable sense of joy - as well as gratitude - for life lived and for the adventures to come.

Benjy Myaz - You've Got Me (MyWerks Music)
enjy Myaz is oneof the leading musical exponents out Jamaica, and though he made his commerical name with homegrown audiences on the strength of vocal ballads such as Intimate Relationship and Randi Crawford's Love You Higher, its Myaz the instrumentalist that comes to the fore here, and to mostly good effect. His covers of the Emotions Don't Ask My Neighbour and Marvin Gaye's What's Goin On are tasty, and Love You Higher gets the instrumental treatment just for good measure. The recording sounds a little top-heavy to these ears, but overall a good product.

Jackie Ryan - Doozy (Open Art)
An aptly named disc, the latest from Jackie Ryan is as easy on the eyes as the singer is, and just as easy on the ears. Ryan ranges with a calculating abandon through a diverse territory of standards and contemporary tunes in English, Spanish and Portuguese(the latter two with even greater intensity than the English), interesting given her own mixed ancestry. The sensuality on such come-ons as "Do Something" is inviting and breezy, without ever becoming cheap or frivolous. A first-class vocal exercise in a very attractive package.

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