Le Coq Records’ Second ‘Jazz All Stars’ Record Is Imperfect But Still Enjoyable

Courtesy: Le Coq Records

Independent jazz label Le Coq Records released its new Jazz All Stars compilation record Friday.  The nine-song record, released Friday is a presentation that any jazz fan will find interesting, even being imperfect.  The record’s one lone negative comes from certain information that is lacking from its packaging.  This item will be discussed a little later.  It is not enough to doom the collection, but is still problematic to the set’s presentation.  Moving to the collection’s positives, its primary positive is its featured songs.  They will be examined shortly.  The songs’ production rounds out the record’s most important items and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the collection’s presentation.  All things considered, The Jazz All Stars Vol. 2 proves to be a presentation that despite being imperfect, is still well worth hearing.

Le Coq Records’ newest record from The Jazz All Stars is a presentation that audiences will find imperfect, but still worth hearing.  That is due in large part to the record’s featured songs.  According to information provided about the set, the songs are “some classic favorites.” This is where the record’s one glaring negative comes into play.  It will be discussed a little later.  Sticking to the songs for now, one of the most notable of the record’s songs comes late in its 57-minute run in the form of ‘Balinda.’  Bill Cunliffe’s gentle, flowing piano line pairs so well with Rick Margitza’s performance on saxophone here.  The duo leads the way as bassist Chris Colangelo and percussionist Alex Acuna add just the right flare to the arrangement with their respective performances.  Colangelo’s bass work gives the arrangement just enough low end while Acuna’s work on percussion deepens the song even more.  Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta’s solo late in the song’s almost 8-minute run time is one of the arrangement’s most notable highlights along with guitarist Jake Langley’s Middle Eastern style solo.  The control that Colaiuta displays even as he throws in so many cymbal crashes, diddles and paradiddles across his kit is awe-inspiring.  Langley’s subdued performance only serves to make audiences want to listen all the more.  The whole makes the opus in whole so engaging and entertaining from beginning to end.

‘Freddie’s Blues’ is another example of the importance of the collection’s featured songs.  That is because it serves to show the diversity in the sound and stylistic approach that the songs exhibit.  While ‘Balinda’ is more of an active song, even being so subdued, ‘Freddie’s Blues’ is more of a light, bouncy tune.  That is exhibited through the pure, blues-tinged sound and style of the composition.  Trumpet player Rashawn Ross leads the way and is complimented through the performance of Russell Malone on guitar.  The kick from Ross’ work on trumpet against Malone’s smooth groove makes for a wonderful contrast.  Bassist Ben Williams brings even more swagger to the composition through his subtle performance.  Their work and that of their fellow musicians in this work gives the song a great identity that is separate from that of all of the record’s other songs, further showing the importance of the record’s musical arrangements.

Much earlier in the album’s run is yet another standout addition.  It comes in the form of ‘Yesterday’s.’  The collection’s shortest track – it clocks in at just under five minutes in length – it shines because of the pairing of Andy James’ velvet soft vocals and Chris Potter’s work on saxophone.  Whether it be his controlled accompaniments to James’ singing or his full on solos, which are so controlled in their own right even being so active, Potter’s performance in this song is so impressive to say the least.  Colaiuta’s solid time keeping adds its own welcome touch to the song, too, while Cunlifee’s subtle performance on the piano proves true the old adage that less really is more.  Stylistically, this subtle swinging work takes audiences back to the high end jazz clubs of the 1930s and 40s, showing even more, the diversity in the record’s musical arrangements.  When it is considered along with the other arrangements examined here and with the rest of the collection’s works, the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the set’s featured arrangements.  They are reason in themselves for audiences to hear this record.

Now as much as the arrangements do to engage and entertain audiences, the record is not perfect.  Going back to the previous note of how the songs are allegedly “some classic favorites,” the record makes no note as to who wrote the songs, but rather who arranged and performed on them.  This leaves audiences to have to research for themselves who wrote the songs, and that is no easy take to put it lightly.  Not giving credit to the original songs’ composers takes away from their credibility and legacy, and likely poses some legal issues, too.  The noted information provided with the album, by the way, was only provided to media outlets.  There are no liner notes here, so again, the lack of any background detracts from the collection’s presentation in its own right.  It is not enough to doom the record, but its inclusion certainly would have made the presentation stronger.

Moving on from the record’s one negative, there is still another positive to the whole.  That positive is in the record’s production.  Whether it be in the record’s more subdued, controlled moments, or its more active moments, every performer gets his and her own moment in the limelight.  Every performer compliments his and her fellow musician/performer.  The result of that expertly balanced work throughout is that each composition does its own share to keep listeners engaged and entertained.  When this is considered along with the impact of the songs by themselves, the two elements join to give audiences plenty of reason in themselves to hear The Jazz All Stars Volume 2.

The Jazz All Stars Volume 2 is a mostly successful new presentation from the independent jazz label, Le Coq Records.  Its success comes in large part through its featured arrangements.  From beginning to end of the nearly hour-long collection, the arrangements change style and sound from one to the next.  The performances put forth in each song pairs with that continued diversity to make for plenty of enjoyment and engagement in itself.  While the record’s featured songs are themselves reason for audiences to hear the collection, the record is not perfect.  The lack of any background on the songs – since again some of the songs are allegedly classics – detracts from the set to a point.  The damage that this issue does is problematic, but not enough to doom the record.  The songs’ production rounds out its most important elements.  It shows that painstaking efforts were taken to make sure every performance was expertly balanced in each song.  No one performer outperformed his/her counterparts at any point in the record’s presentation.  When this is considered along with the impact of the songs themselves and the performances thereof, the record gains that much more appeal.  It collectively makes the compilation a work that most jazz fans will agree is a pleasant new collection of jazz songs.

The Jazz All Stars Volume 2 is available now. More information on this and other titles from Le Coq Records is available along with the label’s latest news at:



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