Monday, October 27, 2014

Rudresh Mahanthappa - Gamak (2013)

Rudresh Mahanthappa - Gamak
JAZZ | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVER | 360MB | 57:57
ACT 2013

01. Waiting Is Forbidden
02. Abhogi
03. Stay I
04. We'll Make More
05. Are There Clouds In India?
06. Lots Of Interest
07. F
08. Copernicus – 19
09. Wrathful Wisdom
10. Ballad For Troubled Times
11. Majesty Of The Blues

Alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa continues to avoid stereotypes, whether pushing the envelope with his acoustic ensembles or including electronic colorations in 2011's Samdhi (ACT). With Gamak, his unique blend of progressive jazz and Indian music is still evolving. The added twist here is not only a reunion with the magnificent rhythm section of bassist Francois Moutin and tabla/drum guru Dan Weiss who performed on the saxophonist's Codebook (Pi, 2006), but also the addition of guitarist David Fiuczynski. whose own body of work is no stranger to the exotic. Mahanthappa's thirteenth recording is chock-full of ideas both peculiar and tantalizing, as in "Waiting Is Forbidden" and its elements of punk rock, tight funk and intricate tempo changes. The equally mesmeric "Abhogi" is based on a rare India raga, tinted by Fiuczynski's blues-drizzled slide guitar, Moutin's robust arco, some keen drums trades from Weiss, and Mahanthappa's cutting alto lines. These, as well as the remaining tracks, exude a certain "algorithmic elegance." The combination of Mahanthappa and Fiuczynski is golden. "Fuze's encyclopedic axe contains everything from acid rock work with his Screaming Headless Torso group to an extensive knowledge of Eastern music and alternate tunings. He's the perfect foil for Mahanthappa's multilingual music and feverish flights, as evidenced on the languid "Are There Clouds In India?," where the two complement each with harmonic and dissonant tension. Other decisive moments include Moutin's dynamic bass spotlight on "F" and the pensive "Ballad For Troubled Times," where the altoist delivers gorgeous elongated lines. In contrast, the set concludes with the head-banging "Majesty of the Blues," which short circuits just as the groove gets good. Still, it's a fitting conclusion to another excellent and unusual release by the ever-searching and forward-thinking Mahanthappa. --Mark Turner, All About Jazz

Rudresh Mahanthappa - Alto Saxophone
Francois Moutin - Bass
Dan Weiss - Drums
David Fiuczynski - Guitar

Friday, October 24, 2014

Jaheim - Appreciation Day (2013)

Jaheim - Appreciation Day
R&B | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 389MB | 52:05
Atlantic 2013

01. Age Ain't A Factor
02. He Don't Exist
03. Morning
04. What She Really Means
05. Pussy Appreciation Day
06. Baby x3
07. Shower Scene
08. Sexting
09. I Found You
10. Florida
11. Sticks N Stones
12. First Time
13. Blame Me
14. Chase Forever

When Jaheim announced his first album in three years, which followed five straight Top Five R&B albums, he said, "I decided to call the project Appreciation Day because that’s exactly what this album is…my show of appreciation to them." He was speaking about his fans, but the album's title track refers to women -- more specifically, a specific part of female anatomy that he likens to a breakfast pastry. He projects like a gospel sermon: "For the feel of it, the scent of it, the taste, I lit a candle on top of the case." Jaheim's boldness is at an all-time high, but there's a lot of relatively -- relatively -- tame romantic matter, such as the Shirley Murdock-sampling "Morning" and the apologetic "Baby X3." "Age Ain't a Factor" is a woman-honoring highlight, but Jaheim can't help but sneak in some humor ("Ladies, it's Thanksgiving, and I'm about to eat that stuffing") and deliver it like it's an ordinary line. The lover-man talk and man-to-man relationship advice, as conversational and relatable as ever, is temporarily cast aside for "Florida," a ballad regarding race and the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. It's limiting to refer to the song as Jaheim's most powerful work. It's something more than a performance, what with probing like "Tell me, why don't you love your black babies the same?" capped by stunning Ronald Isley-like runs. Despite the involvement of over a dozen co-producers, Appreciation Day provides another well-balanced mix of contemporary and old-school sounds. It's a Jaheim album in every respect -- precisely what his fans expected from him in 2013. ~ Andy Kellman, All Music Guide

Jaheim - Another Round (2010)

Jaheim - Another Round
R&B | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 341MB | 49:09
Atlantic 2010

01. Ain't Leavin Without You
02. Finding My Way Back
03. Whoa
04. Till It Happens to You
05. Bed Is Listening
06. Impossible
07. Another Round
08. Her
09. II Pink Lines
10. Otha Half
11. Closer
12. In My Hands
13. Ain't Leavin Without You (Remix)

Truth in advertising, Another Round varies little from Jaheim’s earlier efforts, but for the returning listener, that’s the selling point. Right off the bat the fingersnapping funk of “Ain’t Leavin’ Without You” brings that husky brand of neo-soul that’s unique to the singer, who’s partnered here with a handful like-minded producers including the returning KayGee. With warm guitars, jazzy flutes, and early-'70s soul nostalgia, the following “Finding My Way Back” is a perfect example of how the singer nails those Vandross-sized moments of yearning. The silky smooth “Her” gets at the cool passion of the Isley’s, and Bill Withers even comes to mind on some of the more organic cuts, but with such obvious respect for the past, the argument against interpolating Percy Sledge’s classic “When a Man Loves a Woman” for the trite “Impossible” should have been obvious. Still, at 14 cuts the album still stands after some trimming, and when you add big fan Jadakiss on the “Ain’t Leavin’ Without You” remix, you’ve got all the elements Jaheim fans require. ~ David Jeffries, All Music Guide

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Bettye Swann - The Complete Atlantic Recordings (2014)

Bettye Swann - Complete Atlantic Recordings
Real Gone Music 2014

01. Victim of a Foolish Heart
02. Cold Day (in Hell)
03. I'd Rather Go Blind
04. Today I Started Loving You Again
05. Your Until Tomorrow
06. I'm Not That Easy to Lose
07. 'Til I Get It Right
08. The Boy Next Door
09. Kiss My Love Goodbye
10. Time to Say Goodbye
11. When the Game Is Played on You
12. All the Way In or All the Way Out
13. Doin't for the One I Love
14. I Feel the Feeling (Unreleased)
15. Either You Love Me or You Leave Me (Unreleased)
16. This Old Heart of Mine (Unreleased)
17. Suspicious Minds (Unreleased)
18. I Want Sunday Back Again
19. The Jealous Kind (Unreleased)
20. Heading in the Wrong Direction
21. Be Strong Enough to Hold On
22. Storybook Children (w/ Sam Dees)
23. Just As Sure (w/ Sam Dees)

Soul siren Bettye Swann had been making records for labels big (Capitol Records) and small (Money Records) since 1965 when she connected with Atlantic Records, arguably America's most prestigious soul label, via a production deal with Rick Hall and his Fame Studio in 1972. Over the next four years, Atlantic issued seven singles by Swann with little commercial success, despite collaborating with a variety of fine producers and songwriters, but this collection makes it clear that quality was not the issue that kept Swann from hitting the upper reaches of the charts. The Complete Atlantic Recordings features both sides of those seven Atlantic singles, a 1976 duet single with Sam Dees, and seven tunes that either popped up on compilations or went unreleased, and while the approach of the production and arrangements shifts throughout the set, Swann's vocals are superb from front to back. Swann's style was a canny blend of the smooth sophistication of Chicago and Philly sounds and the emotional power of Southern soul, and she had a real knack for turning classic country tunes into soul workouts. Swann's versions of Tammy Wynette's "Till I Get It Right" and Merle Haggard's "Today I Started Loving You Again" are excellent, "Suspicious Minds" takes the Elvis Presley standard and gives it a tough, funky edge, and "All the Way in or All the Way Out" sounds like it should have found a place on both the C&W and R&B charts. Swann was also a sure hand with more traditional soul and R&B material, as her performances of "I'd Rather Go Blind," "This Old Heart of Mine," and "The Jealous Kind" confirm. The first few tracks, produced by Hall, sound like Memphis soul with a Motown accent in the arrangements, while four tunes arranged by Thom Bell and produced by the Philadelphia-based production team the Young Professionals play like classic Philly International outtakes, and the remaining tracks, produced by Brad Shapiro (best known for his work with Millie Jackson), lack the same force of personality but still provide a great showcase for Swann's talents. After Swann's contract with Atlantic ran out, she retired from music, and stayed out of the public eye until playing a show in England in 2013; The Complete Atlantic Recordings makes it clear she was a great underutilized talent, and fans of vintage soul will find this to be an unexpected delight. ~ Mark Deming, All Music Guide

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Peter Tosh - Scrolls of The Prophet (1999)

Peter Tosh - Scrolls of The Prophet
REGGAE | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 480MB | 72:46
Sony/BMG 1999

01. Get Up, Stand Up 
02. Stepping Razor
03. Downpresser
04. Equal Rights
05. (You Gotta Walk) Don't Look Back
06. African
07. Legalize It
08. Bush Doctor
09. Igziabeher (Let Jah Be Praised)
10. Fools Die    
11. Mystery Babylon 
12. Ketchy Shuby
13. Till Your Well Runs Dry
14. One Love
15. Get Up, Stand Up (Acoustic, Live)

Scrolls of the Prophet is the first single-disc Tosh best-of to contain tracks from his Columbia, Rolling Stones, and EMI albums. Since the set originates with Columbia, the material from the other two labels is limited; there are five tracks from Equal Rights and four from Legalize It, with two from Bush Doctor and one from Wanted Dread & Alive, plus three rare or previously unreleased tracks. But the bulk of Tosh's most memorable tracks appeared on those first two Columbia albums, including his solo remake of the Wailers song "Get Up, Stand Up" and "Stepping Razor," "Equal Rights," and "Legalize It." Tosh was intense and directed, but not prolific. His tunes are sometimes borrowed; "Downpressor Man" is a rewrite of the folk-gospel tune "Oh Sinner Man." His themes are also repetitive, as the sequencing here -- which follows "Legalize It," his ode to the legalization of marijuana extolling the drug's medicinal qualities, with "Bush Doctor," a song that bears much the same message -- tends to emphasize. Nevertheless, he managed a surprising variety within the sometimes constricted reggae form, speeding things up on his hit remake of the Temptations' "Walk and Don't Look Back" (a duet with Mick Jagger) and slowing them down for the ballad "Fools Die," which has a haunting flute line. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide

Peter Tosh - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Robbie Shakespeare - Bass
Al Anderson - Guitar
Sly Dunbar - Drums
Aston Barrett - Bass
Carlton Barrett - Drums
Tyrone Downie - Keyboards
Donald Kinsey - Guitar
Robbie Lee - Harmonica
Skully - Percussion
Abdul Wali - Guitar
Bobby Ellis - Trumpet
Harold Butler - Clavinet
Harry Hall - Tenor Saxophone

Dwele - Greater Than One (2012)

Dwele - Greater Than One
SOUL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 330MB | 48:24
eOne 2012

01. Greater Than One Less Than Three
02. Going Leaving
03. Takes22Tango
04. What You Gotta Do
05. What Profit
06. Obey
07. This Love
08. Must Be
09. Swank
10. PATrick RONald
11. Special
12. Love Triangle
13. Frankly My Dear

Each Dwele album should have greater, Maxwell-level anticipation. The singer should headline over the majority of contemporary R&B stars instead of open for Maze. (That's not a knock on Maze.) It's not like Dwele isn't in a comfortable spot, though. His releases routinely debut in the Top Ten of the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and he's allowed to continue recording with no detectable creative restrictions, as heard on Greater Than One. Once he got deep into the making of this, his fifth album, he noticed a pervasive "'80s" feel. In this case, '80s often means the sophisticated type of R&B-jazz hybrids -- the mellow grooves -- actively played on Detroit stations like WJZZ during the earlier part of that decade. While that has always been part of Dwele's sound, it's a little more pronounced here; there are instances where he could easily slip into some Pieces of a Dream or, given the continued presence of his brother Antwan on trumpet, anything featuring Seawind's Jerry Hey. On "This Love," produced by Prince "BlkMagic" Damons, the sound shifts from 1980/1981 to 1982/1983-style midtempo boogie with chunky synthesizer bass, and a little high-pitched wriggle. There's some electro-funk bounce to "Patrick Ronald" (long for a certain brand of tequila, featuring Monica Blaire, one of album's several Detroit guest stars) and "Special," too. If anything, the album is looser, more relaxed and mischievous, than any Dwele album that preceded it, which is saying something. The majority of the songwriting, as usual, concerns adventures in mature bachelorhood and courtship. Dwele continues to appeal to both female and male listeners -- no pandering, no forced masculinity to be heard. ~ Andy Kellman, All Music Guide

Dwele - Vocals
Louis Newsom - Drums
Krazy - Guitar
Sydni Jones - Vocals
Angel Burgess - Vocals
Zakiya Cogborn - Vocals
Antwan Gardner - Trombone

Goapele - Break of Dawn (2011)

Goapele - Break of Dawn
SOUL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVER | 223MB | 34:58
Decon 2011

01. Play
02. Tears On My Pillow
03. Undertow
04. Break of Dawn
05. Hush
06. Money
07. Pieces
08. Right Here
09. Milk & Honey
10. Cupcake

Goapele’s earlier releases are not short on dreamy, slightly trippy content, but she refines and intensifies that mode on Break of Dawn, her first release since 2005’s Change It All. Her debut for the Decon label, Break of Dawn is slinking and seductive, largely switching between low-key electronic quiet storm and Southern-style throwback ballads with support from the likes of Bedrock, Malay, Krucial, Bobby Ozuna, and the duo Electric Thunderbolt. During the album’s middle third, Goapele breaks from heartache and desire, covering perseverance on the title track, motherhood on “Hush,” and love over wealth on the 1987-Prince-indebted “Money.” ~ Andy Kellman, All Music Guide


Goapele - Vocals
Mike Tiger
Dan Electric
Bobby Ozuna
Drumma Boy

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Maceo & All The Kings Men - Funky Music Machine (1972)

Maceo & All The Kings Men - Funky Music Machine
FUNK+SOUL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVER | 206MB | 33:36
Excello 1972

01. Funky Music Machine
02. I Want to Sing
03. Dreams
04. Feeling Alright
05. Something
06. Born to Wander
07. T.S.U.
08. For No One
09. Make It With You
10. A Funky Tale to Tell

A rare gem from Maceo Parker – the second album cut with his King's Men group in the short time he was away from James Brown in the early 70s! The set was done for the Excello southern soul label, and it's got a bit of a different groove than his work for House Of Fox with the same group – a style that's got a bit more conventional southern production overall, and grooves that run towards soul a bit more than funk – although the whole record is still pretty darn funky overall! Players in the group include Charles Sherrell, Melvin Parker, and Jimmy Nolen – and titles include "Funky Music Machine", "Dreams", "TSU (Aristocrat of Bands)", "Funky Tale To Tell", and "Born to Wander".  © 1996-2011, Dusty Groove America, Inc.

Maceo Parker - Saxophones, Flute, Vocals
Melvin Parker - Drums
Jimmy Nolen - Guitar
Charles Sherrell - Bass
Joseph Davis - Trumpet
Garett Tilford - Tenor Saxophone
Richard Griffith - Trumpet, Vocals

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gerald Albright - New Beginnings (2006)

Gerald Albright - New Beginnings
JAZZ+FUNK | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 368MB | 55:17
Peak 2006

01. We Got The Groove
02. New Beginnings
03. Deep into My Soul
04. And the Beat Goes On
05. Georgia on My Mind
06. Take Your Time
07. I Want Somebody
08. You Are My Love
09. Last But Not Least
10. I Need You
11. Big Shoes
12. Georgia on My Mind (reprise)

Make no mistake: Gerald Albright has chops -- serious chops -- not to mention strong improvisational skills (on both tenor and alto sax) and a healthy amount of gritty, down-home soulfulness. But having a lot of positive attributes and actually making the most of them are two different things -- and while the saxman has excelled at times (1991's Live at Birdland West remains his most essential disc), he has also delivered his share of forgettable, knee-jerk fluff (1989's Bermuda Nights and 1990's Dream Come True were among the worst offenders). Drawing on both soul-jazz and smooth jazz, New Beginnings is a mixed bag that isn't in a class with Live at Birdland West but is still one of his more worthwhile commercial outings. There are some weak tracks, to be sure; Albright's note-for-note cover of the Whispers' 1979 hit "And the Beat Goes On" pales in comparison to the original version -- and a few other automatic-pilot tracks are equally boring. But when Albright lets loose, New Beginnings becomes a treat that brings to mind Grover Washington, Jr. and early Ronnie Laws rather than Najee, Kenny G., or George Howard. Albright really soars on a gospel-drenched performance of Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia on My Mind," and he has some enjoyably funky moments on "Big Shoes" and "We Got the Groove" (both of which keyboardist Jeff Lorber co-wrote with the saxman) as well as the title track (which features Patrice Rushen on acoustic piano). Is Albright capable of much more than what he does on New Beginnings? No question. Albright is quite capable of providing a five-star masterpiece, which New Beginnings is not. Nonetheless, this 2006 release has more pluses than minuses -- and it is certainly superior to Dream Come True, Bermuda Nights, and some of the other duds he recorded for Atlantic in the '80s and '90s.~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide

Gerald Albright - Saxophone, Flute, Bass
Tracy Carter - Keyboards
Teddy Campbell - Drums
Darrell Crooks - Guitar
Melvin Davis - Bass
Marlon McClain - Guitar
Paul Jackson - Guitar
Patrice Rushen - Piano
Chris Botti - Trumpet
Wallace Scott - Vocals
Walter Scott - Vocals
Rex Rideout - Keyboards
Luther Hanes - Keyboards
Chuckii Booker - Keyboards
Jeff Lorber - Guitar, Keyboards

Gerald Albright - Sax For Stax (2008)

Gerald Albright - Sax For Stax
SOUL+JAZZ | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 412MB | 51:19
Peak 2008

01. Theme From The Men
02. Knock On Wood
03. Never Can Say Goodbye
04. Memphis Passion
05. Respect Yourself
06. I Stand Accused
07. Cheaper To Keep Her
08. Walkin Down Beale Street
09. What You See Is What You Get
10. Who's Makin Love
11. W.C. Handy Hop

Before Gerald Albright began charming audiences with the sleek saxophone sound of his crossover jazz albums, he honed his chops as a session player for R&B artists. On 2008’s SAX FOR STAX, Albright returns to his personal and professional roots, offering up tasty interpretations of classic Stax/Volt soul sides. Fans of Albright’s light jazz sound needn’t fear, however; SAX FOR STAX has the sweet, languid feel of his output from the last 30 years. Even smoking, up-tempo numbers like “Knock On Wood” and “Respect Yourself” are rendered with sophistication. Laid back and mellow, Albright’s tribute to Stax is designed to go down smooth. ~ Anthony Tognazzini, All Music Guide

Gerald Albright - Saxophone, Flute
Arlington Jones - Keyboards
Teddy Campbell - Drums
Melvin Davis - Bass
Rick Watford - Guitar
Will Downing - Vocals
Ledisi - Vocals
Errol Cooney - Guitar
Darrell Crooks - Guitar
Philip Bailey - Vocals
Tracy Carter - Keyboards
Lenny Castro - Percussion
Kirk Whalum - Tenor Saxophone

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Steely Dan - Katy Lied (1975)

Steely Dan - Katy Lied
ROCK | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 205MB | 35:37
ABC 1975

01. Black Friday
02. Bad Sneakers
03. Rose Darling
04. Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More
05. Doctor Wu
06. Everyone's Gone To The Movies
07. Your Gold Teeth II
08. Chain Lightning
09. Any World (That I'm Welcome To)
10. Throw Back The Little Ones

Building from the jazz-fusion foundation of Pretzel Logic, Steely Dan created an alluringly sophisticated album of jazzy pop with Katy Lied. With this record, Becker and Fagen began relying solely on studio musicians, which is evident from the immaculate sound of the album. Usually, such a studied recording method would drain the life out of each song, but that's not the case with Katy Lied, which actually benefits from the duo's perfectionist tendencies. Each song is given a glossy sheen, one that accentuates not only the stronger pop hooks, but also the precise technical skill of the professional musicians drafted to play the solos. Essentially, Katy Lied is a smoother version of Pretzel Logic, featuring the same cross section of jazz-pop and blues-rock. The lack of innovations doesn't hurt the record, since the songs are uniformly brilliant. Less overtly cynical than previous Dan albums, the album still has its share of lyrical stingers, but what's really notable are the melodies, from the seductive jazzy soul of "Doctor Wu" and the lazy blues of "Chain Lightning" to the terse "Black Friday" and mock calypso of "Everyone's Gone to the Movies." It's another excellent record in one of the most distinguished rock & roll catalogs of the '70s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

Donald Fagen - Piano, Vocals
Walter Becker - Bass
Jeff Porcaro - Drums
Hal Blaine - Drums
David Paich - Piano
Wilton Felder - Bass
Chuck Rainey - Bass
Dean Parks - Guitar
Larry Carlton - Guitar
Denny Dias - Guitar
Rick Derringer - Guitar
Hugh McCracken - Guitar
Elliott Randall - Guitar
Jimmie Haskell - Saxophone
Bill Perkins - Saxophone
Michael Omartian - Piano
Victor Feldman - Percussion
Phil Woods - Alto Saxophone

Friday, September 05, 2014

Ramsey Lewis - Dance of The Soul (1998)

Ramsey Lewis - Dance of The Soul
JAZZ | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 297MB | 51:12
GRP 1998

01. Baile del Alma (Dance of the Soul)
02. Fragile
03. Sub Dude
04. Lullaby
05. Portuguese Love
06. Fire and Rain
07. Cancion
08. Love's Serenade
09. Mercy and Grace
10. Cante Hondo (Deep Song)

One of his more memorable GRP dates of the 1990s, Dance of the Soul finds Ramsey Lewis playing mostly acoustic piano on a variety of material. The CD's main focus is accessible, yet creative, jazz-pop, though Lewis detours into gospel on "Mercy and Grace," classical on the acoustic solo piano piece "Cante Hondo (Deep Song)," and jazzy R&B on a remake of Teena Marie's 1981 gem "Portuguese Love" (which features the big-voiced singer Donica Henderson). The Chicagoan has some nice solos on melodic instrumentals like "Sub Dude," "Cancion," and the Joe Sample-ish "Love's Serenade," all of which demonstrate that commercial jazz-pop can be creative as well as highly accessible. In fact, these are the sorts of instrumentals one should use to turn pop and R&B fans on to jazz -- they're easy to absorb, but have a lot more substance than the type of mindless "elevator Muzak" that many pop instrumentalists favored in the 1990s. Although not a masterpiece, Dance of the Soul is a decent effort that has more ups than downs. ~ Alex Henderson, All Music Guide

Ramsey Lewis - Grand Piano, Fender
Charles Webb - Bass
Oscar Seaton - Drums
Fareed Hague - Guitar
Orbert Davis - Fluglehorn
Alejo Poveda - Percussion
Henry Johnson - Guitar
Maurice Fitzgerald - Bass
Michael Logan - Keyboards
Kevin Randolph - Keyboards

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cyrus Chestnut - Dark Before The Dawn (1995)

Cyrus Chestnut - Dark Before The Dawn
JAZZ | WAVPACK | CUE | LOG | ARTWORK | 293MB | 57:19
Atlantic 1995

01. Sentimentalia    
02. Steps of Trane    
03. The Mirrored Window
04. Baroque Impressions    
05. A Rare Gem
06. Call Me Later
07. Wright's Rolls and Butter
08. It Is Well With My Soul    
09. Kattin   
10. Lovers Paradise    
11. My Funny Valentine
12. The Dark Before the Dawn

Cyrus Chestnut's The Dark Before the Dawn is a mature, versatile album. Chestnut and his trio members -- Steve Kirby (bass) and Clarence Penn (drums) -- provide their fortunate listeners with a little bit of everything on this collection. Chestnut pays homage to John Coltrane, and his brilliant "Giant Steps," on the lightning fast "Steps of Trane," and gives J.S. Bach a swinging, 21st century twist on the interesting "Baroque Impressions." "My Funny Valentine" is slow and spacious and represents Chestnut's best ballad playing to date. Mix in originals such as the confident "Sentimentalia," the pretty "The Mirrored Window," the playful "Call Me Later" and the show-stopping "Kattin'." Kirby lays down a rock-solid musical foundation and Penn generates the rhythmic fire, but it is Chestnut who breathes life and soul and meaning into these tunes. He has the unique ability to make complicated music both approachable and enjoyable. The listener won't realize it, but will eventually notice their toes tapping and their fingers snapping to this recommended set.  ~ Brian Bartolini, All Music Guide

Cyrus Chestnut - Piano, Fender Rhodes
Steve Kirby - Bass
Clarence Penn - Drums

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ron Carter - Dear Miles (2006)

Ron Carter - Dear Miles
JAZZ | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 328MB | 52:59
EMI 2006

01. Gone            
02. Seven Steps to Heaven     
03. My Funny Valentine        
04. Bags' Groove    
05. Someday My Prince Will Come    
06. Cut and Paste        
07. Stella by Starlight    
08. As Time Goes By    
09. Bye Bye Blackbird    
10. 595

Although he has participated in a couple of Miles Davis tribute bands and Herbie Hancock's V.S.O.P., Ron Carter always resisted leading a CD of Davis tunes, until this project. Actually only seven of the ten songs that are performed by Carter's quartet on Dear Miles were associated with the trumpeter (not the two Carter originals or "As Time Goes By"), and "Bags' Groove" is a bit borderline. In any case, there are no trumpeters emulating Miles and these versions rarely hint at Davis' versions. This project simply served as a good excuse to play a variety of superior songs. Carter has plenty of solo space and sometimes takes the melodic lead. Pianist Stephen Scott gets his solos and occasionally throws in unexpected and offbeat song quotes. Drummer Payton Crossley and percussionist Roger Squitero are very much in the background. Dear Miles is a cheerful and upbeat session, most highly recommended to listeners who enjoy hearing a lot of bass solos. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

Ron Carter - Upright Bass
Stephen Scott - Piano
Payton Crossley - Drums
Roger Squitero - Percussion

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kenny Barron - Kenny Barron & The Brazilian Knights (2013)

Kenny Barron - Kenny Barron & The Brazilian Knights
Sunnyside 2013

01. Rapaz De Bem
02. Ja Era
03. Ilusao A Toa
04. So Por Amor
05. Curta Metragem
06. Nos
07. Triste
08. Sonia Braga
09. Tristeza De Nos Dois
10. Chorinho Carioca
11. Sao Conrado

That pianist Kenny Barron is a lover of Brazilian music is not news. He came up in the ’60s—and with Dizzy Gillespie, for Pete’s sake. Brazilian Knights, featuring Barron and a Brazilian sextet at a 2012 session in Rio das Ostras, is his third full-length recording of that music, a typically masterful effort that shines a light on the pianist’s unimpeachable rhythmic touch. Indeed, from the first moment of his improv on the opening “Rapaz De Bem,” Barron evinces a complete understanding of Brazilian grooves. All he needs is a seven-note motif that recurs throughout, in various rhythmic permutations. That knowledge runs deep: He uses his solo to practically recompose Baden Powell’s “Só Por Amor” (with the empathetic help of bassist Sergio Barrozo and drummer Rafael Barata), and buries himself so thoroughly in the rhythm that he appears to be the one complementing guitarist Lula Galvão on “Triste,” when in fact it’s the other way around.That also speaks to Galvão’s gifts: He could easily share top billing with Barron, with the delicate but richly resonant lines of his acoustic guitar. The quiet joy he brings to “Curta Metragem” brings even more life to the sprightly tune, and the intricate details of his work on “Tristeza de Nós Dois” make it the album’s best tune—not to mention his sensitive but surefooted comping throughout. The album’s two other soloists, saxophonist Idriss Boudrioua and harmonica player Maurício Einhorn, also do fine work; Einhorn’s thickly laid cascades on “Chorinho Carioca” are particularly superb. (Claudio Roditi makes a regrettably brief appearance, playing both trumpet and flugelhorn on “Só Por Amor.”) Brazilian Knights is a high-quality recording from a musician whose high quality is inevitable. --Michael J. West, Jazz Times

Kenny Barron - Leader, Piano
Rafael Barata - Drums
Sérgio Barrozo - Bass
Lula Galvao - Guitar
Claudio Roditi - Flugelhorn
Maurício Einhorn - Harmonica
Idriss Boudrioua - Alto Saxophone

Graham Central Station - Mirror (1976)

Graham Central Station - Mirror
FUNK | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 243MB | 38:09
Warner Brothers 1976

1. Entrow 
2. Love [Covers a Multitude of Sin]
3. Mirror 
4. Do Yah 
5. Save Me
6. I Got a Reason
7. Priscilla 
8. Forever

The irony to this album is that the group's music is funky as always, but its lyrical content has many gospel and religious overtones. Though the title track was not a featured release, its synth-propelled rhythm and stirring vocals blend well on this moderately uptempo number. The Top 20 single "Love" is arranged in a free-flowing, mellow tempo. It peaked at number 14 on the Billboard R&B charts. It was followed by the juiced-up funk track "Entrow." Supported by its unwavering beat, group members take turns on vocals and musical exhibitions. While "Save Me" has an aggressive disco groove, the lyric is religious as the title reflects. "I Got a Reason" and "Forever" have similar religious messages. With Larry Graham being the writer on every song on the album, it is highly likely that he was experiencing a transformation in his personal and professional life. ~ Craig Lytle, All Music Guide

Larry Graham - Bass, Synthesizer, Vocals
David Dynamite - Guitar
Greg Adams - Trumpet
Gaylord Birch - Drums, Vocals
Hershall Happiness - Clavinet
Robert Butch - Organ, Piano, Vocals
Chocolate Banks - Percussion, Vocals

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Graham Central Station - Now Do U Wanta Dance (1977)

Graham Central Station - Now Do U Wanta Dance
FUNK | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 256MB | 40:27
Warner Brothers 1977

01. Happ-E-2-C-U-A-Ginn
02. Now Do-U-Wanta Dance
03. Last Train
04. Love and Happiness
05. Earthquake
06. Crazy Chicken
07. Stomped Beat-Up And Whooped
08. Lead Me On
09. Saving My Love For You
10. Have Faith In Me

The fifth album from the funk aggregate generated a smash hit with the title track, "Now Do-U-Wanta Dance." Paced by Larry Graham's rumbling bass and animated lead vocals, which feature the group leader on the vocorder, the synthesized funk track stayed on the Billboard R&B charts for ten weeks, peaking at number ten. The influence doo wop had on the bassist is revealed on songs like "Stomped Beat-Up and Whooped" and "Happ-E-2-C-U-A-Ginn." The former, paced by a rhythm track and Gail Muldrow's vocals, has a catchy hook phrase; it was the second single from the album to hit the Billboard R&B charts (number 25, 11 weeks). The latter is an upbeat, joyous a cappella number groomed around a melodious arrangement, Graham's streetcorner ad libs, and the group's vocal exchanges. Larry Graham's musical talents are inviting. He gives his own rendition of the Al Green classic "Love and Happiness." Maintaining that soulful appeal, Graham injects his robust riffs and his own dose of funk throughout this album. Even when he tones down the funk, the relish always remains present. ~ Craig Lytle, All Music Guide

Larry Graham - Bass, Synthesizer, Vocals
Hershall Kennedy - Clavinet, Trumpet
Robert Sam - Organ, Piano
David Vega - Guitar
Gaylord Birch - Drums
Gail Muldrow - Guitar
Tina Graham - Vocals
Max Haskett - Trumpet
Mic Gilette - Trombone
Jerry Martini - Saxophone
Dennis Marcellino - Saxophone

Monday, August 11, 2014

Graham Central Station - Release Yourself (1974)

Graham Central Station - Release Yourself
FUNK | FLAC | CUE | LOG | 300DPI | 236MB | 37:32
Warner Brothers 1974

1. G.C.S.
2. Release Yourself
3. Got To Go Through It To Get It   
4. I Believe In You   
5. 'Tis Your Kind Of Music   
6. Hey Mr. Writer   
7. Feel The Need
8. Today

Slicker and less original than their debut album, as Graham runs his formula of superficially engaging riffs (title track) and feel-good catchphrases ("Got To Go Through It To Get To It") into the ground. Even the funkiest tracks ("I Believe In You," recently a concert staple of the Artist Formerly Known As Prince) suffer from the too-smooth production (which is credited to God). But he doesn't have the subtlety or melodicism to really pull off smooth soul, making this a rather disapppointing listen. Still, his lively good humor and virtuosity keep things from getting too terrible. Again, Graham plays many of the tracks, backed by the same basic band as the previous release. --David Bertrand Wilson,

Larry Graham - Bass, Guitar, Arp, Vocals
Choclet - Drum Machine, Vocals
Hershall Happiness - Clavinet
Robert Sam - Organ
"Wild" Willie - Drums
Dynamite Vega - Guitar
Greg Adams - Trumpet
Mic Gillette - Trombone
Lenny Pickett - Saxophone
Stephen Kupka - Saxophone
Emilio Castillo - Saxophone

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sun Ra & His Arkestra - Super Sonic-Jazz (1957)

Sun Ra & His Arkestra - Super Sonic-Jazz
JAZZ | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 161MB | 49:30
Saturn 1957

01. India   
02. Sunology
03. Advice To Medics
04. Super Blonde
05. Soft Talk   
06. Sunology Part II
07. Kingdom Of Not
08. Portrait Of The Living Sky
09. Blues At Midnight
10. El Is A Sound Of Joy
11. Springtime In Chicago
12. Medicine For A Nightmare

Sun Ra had only been heading his Arkestra for a couple of years when they recorded the 12 songs featured on this 1956 session. But while the arrangements, ensemble work, and solos are not as ambitious, expansive, or free-wheeling as they became on later outings, the groundwork was laid on such cuts as "India," "Sunology," and one of the first versions of "Blues at Midnight." Ra's band already had the essential swinging quality and first-class soloists, and he had gradually challenged them with compositions that did not rely on conventional hard bop riffs, chord changes, and structure but demanded a personalized approach and understanding of sound and rhythm far beyond standard thinking. You can hear in Ra's solos and those of John Gilmore, Pat Patrick, Charles Davis, and others an emerging freedom and looseness which would explode in the future. [The CD was also released with a bonus track, "Sunology, Pt. 2."] ~ Ron Wynn, All Music Guide

Sun Ra - Piano
Julian Priester - Trombone
Bass – Victor Sproles
Robert Barry - Drums
Art Hoyle - Trumpet
William Cochran - Drums
Wilburn Green - Electric Bass
James Scales - Alto Saxophone
John Gilmore - Tenor Saxophone
Jim Herndon - Timpani, Timbales
Charles Davis - Baritone Saxophone
Pat Patrick - Alto, Baritone Saxophone

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Leela James - Let's Do It Again (2009)

Leela James - Let's Do It Again
SOUL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 394MB | 56:08
Shanachie 2009

01. Clean Up Woman
02. Miss You
03. It's a Man's Man's Man's World
04. Baby I'm Scared of You
05. You Know How to Love Me
06. I Want to Know What Love Is
07. Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out
08. I Try    
09. I'd Rather Be with You
10. Simply Beautiful    
11. Let's Do It Again

For adult contemporary R&B fans, it was disheartening that a vocalist as talented as Leela James went almost four years before releasing a follow-up to her flawed but promising debut. Coming into her second album with the knowledge that it is part of the Shanachie label's extensive series of all-covers sets, predominantly the province of artists twice James' age who are on album number ten or 20 instead of two, gauging the level of expectations is tricky. On one hand, it is frustrating that James' second album, after all this time, contains no original songs; on the other, it should be a loose, no-fuss affair, less measured than A Change Is Gonna Come and more like James' well-regarded live show. The latter, thankfully, is very much true. James' selections are mostly inspired, containing some natural (if obvious) material -- like the album's bookends, Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman" and the Staple Singers' "Let's Do It Again" -- and some others that are bound to raise some eyebrows, just from seeing the titles. Womack & Womack's gently swinging "Baby I'm Scared of You" is a highlight, despite the absence of a sparring partner, which lends it a tone that is more serious than the Womacks' typically playful original. Phyllis Hyman's "You Know How to Love Me," perhaps the boldest inclusion (written and recorded when Mtume/Lucas and Hyman were at the peak of their powers), gets a faithful look, proving that James should do free-spirited and uptempo material more often. "I'd Rather Be with You" (Bootsy's Rubber Band) could use more sleaze and Bobby Womack's "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" lacks some necessary unease, and it would have been a nice twist for James to tackle something from the last 25 years, but overall, Let's Do It Again is one of Shanachie's best all-covers discs. May James find a support system that allows her to record albums of new material every other year (or so) from here on out. ~ Andy Kellman, All Music Guide

Leela James - Vocals
Christopher Sabb - Bass
Rudy Bird - Percussion
Steve White - Drums
Ricardo Ramos - Guitar
Roland Barber - Trombone
Teodross Avery - Saxophone
Kenyatta Beasley - Trumpet
Ralph Kearns - Keyboards, Vocals


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Leela James - My Soul (2010)

Leela James - My Soul
SOUL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 315MB | 39:50
Stax 2010

01. I Ain't New to This
02. So Cold
03. The Fact Is
04. I Want It All
05. Party All Night
06. Mr. Incredible Ms. Unforgettable
07. Tell Me You Love Me
08. Let It Roll
09. Supa Luva
10. If It's Wrong
11. It's Over

Let’s Do It Again, a covers album released on an independent label in 2009, fared significantly better on the charts than Leela James' 2005 debut, a major-label release. One could interpret this irony as a case of a major mishandling an artist, but it’s just as likely that it took a few years for word about James to spread. She’s one of those R&B singers whose ‘70s-throwback voice belies her birth year (1983), built more for a steady career and a slowly developing fan base than overnight platinum success. Now on Stax, longtime home of Mavis Staples (one of her most evident inspirations), James finds herself in an ideal setting. My Soul is James' best yet in every way. It does not feature quite as many big-name collaborators or eye-popping elements as her debut, but the material is stronger, more balanced between vintage and contemporary sounds, and James sounds more comfortable in her voice. Just as important is that she is coming into her own as a songwriter; four of the songs were written entirely by her, and they are among the album’s most affecting moments, ranging from the yearning, dropped-guard “So Cold,” to the forceful “I Want It All,” to the carefree “Let It Roll.” Do make sure you stay until the end, through the steamy “Supa Luva” and “If It’s Wrong,” as well as the deadly “It’s Over” (“That’s why I changed the locks on my door, ‘cause love don’t live here no more”). ~ Andy Kellman, All Music Guide

Leela James - Vocals
Spanky McCurdy - Drums
Dwayne Moore - Bass
Smurf Smith - Keyboards
Mark Bowers - Bass, Guitar
Milton Fletcher - Keyboards

The "B-Dub" Horns:
Ben Wendel - Tenor Saxophone
Bud Wales - Tenor Saxophone
Brenda Walkin - Tenor Saxophone
Barry Wilson - Baritone Saxophone


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Earth Wind & Fire - The Promise (2003)

Earth Wind & Fire - The Promise
SOUL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 436MB | 56:59
Kalimba 2003

01. All In the Way
02. Betcha
03. Wiggle
04. Why?
05. Wonderland
06. Where Do We Go from Here?
07. Freedom
08. Hold Me
09. Never
10. Prelude
11. All About Love
12. Suppose You Like Me
13. The Promise
14. Love's Patience/She Waits
15. The Promise (Continued)
16. Let Me Love You
17. Dirty

A certain reverence needs to be paid toward a group that can manage to still produce interesting, soulful music well into a third decade. Earth, Wind & Fire has endured practically everything a music group can experience and still remain true to the very essence of what made it popular. However, those expecting a knockout traditional Earth, Wind & Fire record will be slightly disappointed with The Promise. Though the magic of Philip Bailey and Maurice White's instantly recognizable vocals is still potent, there are a few things that Earth, Wind & Fire fanatics will immediately notice are different. The use of drum machines as opposed to a live drummer on the majority of the record takes some of the energy and magic out of the delivery, especially when revisiting classic moments of the group's career. Unnecessary interludes also serve more as distractions than interesting segues, and take away what little cohesiveness The Promise holds. Individually, the songs are still well-produced and hold up on their own -- and all would be considered suitable for a smooth jazz/adult R&B setting. Overall, The Promise still retains many of the qualities that endeared fans to Earth, Wind & Fire so many years ago -- it's extremely soulful and soothing, and the loyalists will eat this release up (especially with the renditions of older songs). ~ Rob Theakston, All Music Guide


Maurice White - Vocals, Kalimba
Verdine White - Bass
Philip Bailey - Vocals
Ralph Johnson - Percussion
 Bob Robinson - Piano, Guitar
Tom Mgrdichian - Keyboards
John Paris - Drums
Greg Moore - Guitar
Tim Kelley - Keyboards
Reggie Young - Trombone
Darrell Crooks - Guitar
Gary Grant - Trumpet
Jerry Hey - Trumpet
Andy Martin - Trombone
Wanda Vaughn - Vocals
Wayne Vaughn - Drums
Eric Walls - Guitar
Wayne Linsey - Keyboards
Gregory Curtis - Keyboards
Gary Bias - Flute, Saxophone
Robert Brookins - Keyboards
Tollak Ollestad - Harmonica
Raymond Crossley - Keyboards
Paulinho Da Costa - Percussion
Ray Brown - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Daniel de los Reyes - Percussion
Alexander Dutkewych - Guitar, Harp
Michael Stewart - Trumpet, Flugelhorn

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Muddy Waters - The Anthology: 1947-1972 (2001)

Muddy Waters - The Anthology: 1947-1972
MCA 2001

1-01. Gypsy Woman
1-02. I Can't Be Satisfied
1-03. I Feel Like Going Home
1-04. Train Fare Home Blues
1-05. Mean Red Spider
1-06. Standin Here Tremblin
1-07. You Gonna Need My Help
1-08. Little Geneva
1-09. Rollin' & Tumblin' Part 1
1-10. Rollin' Stone
1-11. Walkin' Blues
1-12. Louisiana Blues
1-13. Long Distance Call
1-14. Honey Bee
1-15. Country Boy
1-16. She Moves Me
1-17. Still A Fool
1-18. Stuff You Gotta Watch
1-19. Who's Gonna Be Your Sweet Man When I'm Gone?
1-20. Standin' Around Cryin
1-21. Baby Please Don't Go
1-22. Hoochie Coochie Man
1-23. I Just Want To Make Love To You
1-24. I'm Ready
1-25. Young Fashioned Ways
1-26. I Want To Be Loved

2-01. My Eyes (Keep Me In Trouble)
2-02. Mannish Boy
2-03. Sugar Sweet
2-04. Trouble No More
2-05. Forty Days And Forty Nights
2-06. Just To Be With You
2-07. Don't Go No Farther
2-08. Diamonds At Your Feet
2-09. I Love The Life I Live, I Live The Life I Love
2-10. Got My Mojo Working
2-11. Rock Me
2-12. Look What You've Done
2-13. She's Nineteen Years Old
2-14. Close To You
2-15. Walking Thru The Park
2-16. Take The Bitter With The Sweet
2-17. I Feel So Good (Live)
2-18. You Shook Me
2-19. My Home Is In The Delta
2-20. Good Morning Little School Girl
2-21. The Same Thing
2-22. You Can't Lose What You Ain't Never Had
2-23. All Aboard (Fathers & Sons)
2-24. Can't Get No Grindin

There have been countless collections of Muddy Waters' classic Chess material released over the years, but Chess began to whittle down the domestic catalog toward the late '90s. The triple-disc Chess box remained in print, but they added two single-disc collections that each covered a specific period in Waters' career at Chess. Then, in 2001, MCA/Chess released The Anthology, a double-disc set that essentially contained much of those two single-disc collections, with several extra tracks, remastering and new liner notes. This still didn't correct the lack of a concise, single-disc overview with all the hits -- something that Muddy, Chuck Berry, and Howlin' Wolf all desperately need -- but if you're going to be buying two discs to get the full Muddy Waters story, you should get this instead of two separate discs, since it's simply easier. Besides this, even if it does contain a bunch of familiar material, it also contains some of the greatest music of the 20th century, and if you're not going to get the box but still want a comprehensive Muddy set, this is it. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide

Muddy Waters - Guitar, Vocals
Little Walter - Harmonica
Junior Wells - Harmonica
Otis Spann - Piano
Buddy Guy - Guitar
Willie Dixon - Bass
Sunnyland Slim - Piano
Luther Tucker - Guitar
Phil Upchurch - Bass
Fred Below - Drums
Francis Clay - Drums
Sam Lay - Drums
Elgin Evans - Drums
Leroy Foster - Guitar
Pat Hare - Guitar
Jimmy Rogers - Guitar
Earl Hooker - Guitar
Clifton James - Drums
Fred Robinson - Guitar
Lafayette Leake - Piano
Jeffrey Carp - Harmonica
Andrew Stephenson - Bass
James Cotton - Harmonica
A.C. Reed - Tenor Saxophone

Charlie Wilson - Just Charlie (2010)

Charlie Wilson - Just Charlie
R&B | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 282MB | 38:38
JIVE 2010

01. My Girl Is A Dime
02. You Are
03. I Wanna Be Your Man
04. Never Got Enough
05. Once And Forever
06. Life Of The Party
07. I Can't Let Go
08. Crying For You
09. Where Would I Be
10. Lotto

On Charlie Wilson‘s 2010 release, Just Charlie, the former Gap Band singer sticks with the high-quality “grown folks” R&B material that put his previous two albums in the Top Ten of Billboard 200 album chart. Besides whittling the number of special guests down from three to one, casual fans will have problems telling this one from his previous release, but these ten smooth cuts go down easy and give no sign the formula has stopped working. “My Girl is a Dime” is filled with enough pride and passion, “Lotto” feels like it’s delivered from the center of the romance winner’s circle, and Charlie’s cover of Zapp’s slow funk favorite “I Wanna Be Your Man” is highly desirable and well inspired as it turns into a duet with Fantasia. “You Are” is the grand romance ballad and key track, while everything else is as comfortable, coolly sexy, and warm as fans desire. Maybe the album naming scheme -- Charlie, Last Name Wilson, Uncle Charlie, Just Charlie -- could be reconsidered, but otherwise, this is Wilson the way you want him. ~ David Jeffries, All Music Guide

Charlie Wilson - Vocals
Marlon McClain - Guitar
Insomniax - Musician
 Erick Walls - Guitar
Fantasia - Vocals
Wayne Wallace - Trombone
Curt Ingram - French Horn
Peter Escovedo - Percussion
Brinson Poythress - Guitar
Mary Fettig - Alto Saxophone
Lance Tolbert - Bass, Keyboards
Wirlie Morris - Bass, Keyboards
Louis Fasman - Flugelhorn, Trumpet

Monday, July 14, 2014

Booker T - Sound The Alarm (2013)

Booker T - Sound The Alarm
SOUL | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 362MB | 47:32
STAX 2013

01. Sound the Alarm
02. All Over the Place
03. Fun
04. Broken Heart
05. Feel Good
06. Gently
07. Austin City Blues
08. Can't Wait
09. 66 Impala
10. Watch You Sleeping
11. Your Love Is No Love
12. Father Son Blues

Booker T. Jones has certainly put his mark on modern pop music. As part of the legendary group Booker T. & the MG's, Memphis' first integrated band, and the house band at Stax Records in the 1960s, he pretty much was in at the ground floor of the invention of soul, backing classic soul hits by Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, and many others, as well as generating iconic instrumental hits from the era like "Green Onions," "Time Is Tight," and numerous others with the MG's. Jones left Stax as the 1970s hit and the label was essentially falling apart, and he's drifted from label to label ever since, his legacy secure as the dominant Hammond B-3 organ player of his generation (apart from Jimmy Smith, of course). Sound the Alarm is Jones' tenth solo album since leaving Stax, and it returns him to the label, now owned by Concord Records, a dozen years and change into the 21st century. Homecomings are nice, and it makes for a nice press hook for this outing, but anyone expecting some vintage-styled Memphis soul here is going to be disappointed, because there isn't much of it. Jones, who wrote or co-wrote every song on the album, has brought in several guests to help him out, and while it isn't exactly a duets album, it's pretty close, and the focus is hardly on Jones and his playing. There are a couple of nice urban R&B love ballads like "Broken Heart," which features Jay James on vocals, and "Your Love Is No Love," done with the group Vintage Trouble and spotlighting Ty Taylor on vocals, but most of the other tracks with lead vocals have little real impact or presence. The best tracks here by far are the handful of instrumentals, including the soul-jazz-like "Feel Good," the funky and bluesy "Austin City Blues" with Gary Clark, Jr. on guitar, and the set closer, "Father Son Blues," which features Ted Jones on guitar. There's nothing wrong with trying to get a more contemporary sound and feel (the album was co-produced by Jones and brothers Bobby Ross and Issiah "IZ" Avila), of course, but when you're Booker T. Jones, maybe you shouldn't worry about that. After all, the funky soul groove template that Jones helped create in Memphis some 40-plus years ago never really goes out of style. One wishes there were more of that here. ~ Steve Leggett, All Music Guide

Booker T - Hammond, Bass, Piano, Vocals
Richard Danielson - Drums
Gordon Campbell - Drums
Raphael Saadiq - Guitar
Nate Watts - Bass
Nalle Colt - Guitar
Rick Barrio - Bass
Leon Silva - Saxophone
Rashawn Ross - Trumpet
Wesley Smith - Saxophone
Kevin Williams - Trombone

Friday, July 11, 2014

Buddy Guy - Rhythm & Blues (2013)

Buddy Guy - Rhythm & Blues
BLUES | FLAC | CUE | LOG | COVERS | 591MB | 80:41
RCA 2013

01. Best in Town
02. Justifyin'
03. I Go by Feel
04. Messin' with the Kid
05. What's Up with That Woman
06. One Day Away
07. Well I Done Got Over It
08. What You Gonna Do About Me
09. The Devil's Daughter
10. Whiskey Ghost
11. Rhythm Inner Groove

01. Meet Me in Chicago
02. Too Damn Bad
03. Evil Twin
04. I Could Die Happy
05. Never Gonna Change
06. All That Makes Me Happy Is the Blues
07. My Mama Loved Me
08. Jr.) Blues Don't Care
09. I Came Up Hard
10. Poison Ivy

A great open secret of the last act of Buddy Guy's career is that nearly every album he's made in the new millennium is a concept album of sorts, ranging from the gnarled modern Delta blues of Sweet Tea and the acoustic Blues Singer to the pseudo-autobiography of 2010's Living Proof. Rhythm & Blues trumps them all in size and concept: it's a double-disc set divided into one disc of "Rhythm" (aka soul) and one disc of "Blues" (aka blues of the Chicago variety). Several stars come out to help Guy along, top-lined by three-fifths of Aerosmith on "Evil Twin" and Kid Rock on, naturally, "Messin' with the Kid." The former arrives on "Blues" and the latter on "Rhythm," which suggests how fluid the lines are between the two discs. But it's also generally true that the "Rhythm" disc is big, bold, and brassy in a way Buddy rarely is; often, it's much closer to the late, great Bobby "Blue" Bland, albeit a hyper-charged, over-scaled version of soul-blues. Guy has rarely attempted this kind of horn-driven, soulful blues and it's fun to hear him tackle such sounds as he wrestles the rhythms while spitting out gonzo, gnarly guitar runs. Better still, he finds a place to settle down within the slinky grooves of "I Go By Feel" and the Keith Urban duet "One Day Away," which are not only the two greatest surprises in tone, but also the two songs that sink their hooks in deep. That's not always the case here, at least for the originals, particularly on the "Blues" disc which either trades in pastiche ("Meet Me in Chicago," "All That Makes Me Happy Is the Blues") or function as simple showcases for Guy's guitar. If this package can sometimes feel a little too pat, put the blame on producer Tom Hambridge, who also helmed Skin Deep and Living Proof and now has a track record of pushing Guy just enough to form a narrative but not enough to break him out of the box. Buddy himself remains a bit of a live wire, his voice sounding younger than Steven Tyler's and his guitar continuing to be a muscled monster that steamrollers everything surrounding it. That continued potency is reason enough to give Rhythm & Blues a spin. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


Buddy Guy - Stratocaster, Guitar, Vocals
Rob McNelley - Slide Guitar
Michael Rhodes - Bass
Tommy Macdonald - Bass
Tom Hambridge - Drums
Beth Hart - Vocals
Joe Perry - Guitar
Kid Rock - Vocals
Charles Rose - Trombone
Steven Tyler - Vocals
David Grissom - Guitar
Steven Herrman - Trumpet
Gary Clark - Guitar, Vocals
Keith Urban - Guitar, Vocals
Jim Horn - Baritone Saxophone
Reese Wynans - Hammond, Wurlitzer
Harvey Thompson - Tenor Saxophone
Kevin McKendree - Hammond, Wurlitzer

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Sandra St. Victor - Mack Diva Saves The World (1996)

Sandra St. Victor - Mack Diva Saves The World
SOUL+FUNK | FLAC | CUE | LOG | PNG | 447MB | 60:05
Warner Brothers 1996

01. Intro Skit
02. Mack Diva
03. Chocolate
04. Rise
05. Don't Bring Me Down
06. Knocked Up And Locked Down
07. MPH!
08. MPH!
09. Since You Been Gone
10. Come Over
11. Wet
12. Lonely In A Crowded Room
13. Can't Live Without You

With her debut album Mack Diva Saves the World, Sandra St. Victor covers the same ground that she did with the Family Stand -- her former bandmate V. Jeffrey Smith even appears on three tracks -- but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. St. Victor has a smooth, powerful voice that can enliven even the mediocre tracks, which there are a handful of here. However, there are more than enough songs that cross classic soul with hip-hop sensibilities, and those are the cuts that make Mack Diva Saves the World an album worth returning to. ~ Leo Stanley, All Music Guide

Sandra St. Victor - Vocals
V. Jeffrey Smith - Keyboards
Charles Alexander - Flute
Bob Robinson - Keyboards
Robert Palmer - Guitar
Booker King - Bass
Joe Belmaati - Bass
Freddie Cash - Bass
Michael Ciro - Guitar
Tim Kelly - Keyboards
Tue Roh - Fender Rhodes
William Duvall - Guitar
Fred King - Fender Rhodes
Howard McCrary - Keyboards
Mark Batson - Guitar, Organ, Piano