Audiences Will Reflect Fondly On Foster’s Latest LP

Courtesy: Smoke Sessions Records

Early this year, renowned jazz drummer Al Foster celebrated a big milestone when he celebrated his 79th birthday.  That was back in January.  Now as the year slowly inches toward its end, Foster has another reason to celebrate.  That reason is his brand-new album, Reflections.  His second for Smoke Sessions Records and his seventh as a bandleader, the 11-song record is an enjoyable collection of originals and covers.  The covers pay tribute to the likes of Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, and Joe Henderson (all of whom he has worked with during his expansive career) while the originals offer their own share of engagement and entertainment.  Among the most notable of the covers is that of Rollins’ ‘Pent-up House,’ which comes early in the album’s hour-plus run.  To be precise, the album clocks in at one hour, seven minutes.  Among the most notable of the album’s originals is ‘Six,’ which comes just at the album’s midpoint.  It will be examined a little later.  Another notable addition to the album is its finale, ‘Monk’s Bossa,’ which obviously pays tribute to another legendary jazz artist, Thelonius Monk.  All three songs noted here are key in their own way to the album’s presentation.  When they are considered alongside the rest of the album’s entries, the whole becomes a thoroughly enjoyable offering that every jazz fan will find enjoyable.

Reflections, the latest album from famed drummer Al Foster, is an enjoyable presentation that any jazz aficionado will find enjoyable.  That is proven throughout its blend of originals and covers.  Among the most notable of the record’s covers is that of Sonny Rollins’ ‘Pent-Up House.’  Rollins’ original was featured as part of his 1956 album, Sonny Rollins Plus 4.  Foster and his fellow musicians – Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Chris Potter (saxophone), Kevin Hays (piano), and Vicente Archer (bass) – stay true to the source material here.  Right from the song’s outset, Payton leads the way with his light but still energetic performance.  Given, Rollins’ original tops the eight-minute mark while Foster and company’s take on the song is much shorter at five minutes, five seconds, but it still pays the fullest possible tribute to the work of Rollins and his then band mates.  Potter’s work on saxophone takes the place of the solos from the original and does so quite well at that.  There are also some solos in the original performed by Foster’s fellow famed drummer Max Roach that are omitted in the updated rendition, but that is beside the point.  This group’s take will still leave listeners fulfilled by its finale.  It is just as enjoyable in its own right as the original song.

Among the most notable of the album’s originals is ‘Six,’ which serves as part of the record’s midpoint.  Composed by Payton, the eight-minute-plus composition starts out in a very subtle, contemplative fashion before giving way to a more vintage funk style approach.  That throwback style is evident through the use of the horns and keyboards.  Foster’s equally funky time keeping pairs with those instruments to really give the song the sense of a work from the likes of Stevie Wonder.  Considering the amount of information in the album’s expansive liner notes, it is difficult to know for certain if there is any discussion on the song, though many of the other songs are discussed.  That aside, the song is still such an enjoyable work.  The pairing of Payton and Potter alongside Hays (whose work on the keyboards really adds even more to that feeling) really makes the composition all the richer.  It stands out so starkly from any of the album’s other works, original and otherwise and it just one more of the notable additions to the album.  ‘Monk’s Bossa,’ which serves as the album’s finale, is one more interesting original featured as part of the album’s body.

‘Monk’s Bossa’ is an interesting work what with its sort of lounge style presentation.  Hays leads the way with his work on the keys here while Foster’s light touches on the toms expertly compliments that work.  That is because his playing is so gentle.  He adds just enough, making sure to let Hays have his moment here.  Potter and Payton each get their own moments to shine, too, making the most of their performances, too.  The whole of the performances makes this song just as enjoyable as any other in the record.  When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Foster’s latest album engaging and entertaining and another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Al Foster’s newly released album, Reflections, is an aptly titled record that so many jazz fans will find enjoyable.  That is proven throughout its hour-plus body through its originals and covers alike.  The songs examined here do well in their own right to make that clear.  When they are considered with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Reflections another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Reflections is available now through Smoke Sessions Records. More information on this and other titles from Smoke Sessions Records is available at:

Websitehttps://www.smokesessionsrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/SmokeSessionsRecords   

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/smokejazzclub

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Todd Cochran’s New Record Is A Unique Addition To 2021’s Field Of New Covers Collections

Courtesy: Sunnyside Records

More than ten years after he released his last record, jazz pianist Todd Cochran will officially return Friday with a new album.  The record, Then and Again, Here and Now, is a 15-song compilation of jazz standards that most jazz fans will find interesting and worth hearing at least once.  That is proven in large part through the liner notes featured in the record’s packaging.  It will be discussed shortly.  The arrangements performed by Cochran and his fellow musicians tie directly into the liner notes and their importance.  They will be discussed a little later.  The sequencing of the noted performances rounds out the most important of the record’s elements.  When it is considered along with the other noted items, the whole makes Then and Again, Here and Now a positive return for Cochran and a presentation that even being a covers set, is still worth hearing at least once.

Todd Cochrane’s forthcoming covers compilation, Then and Again, Here and Now is a presentation that most audiences will agree is a welcome return for the jazz pianist.  That is proven in part through the record’s liner notes.  The liner notes in question serve as a solid starting point for the overall listening experience.  They explain how the compilation came to be in Cochran’s own words.  He explains right from the outset, the songs that are featured in this collection were chosen deliberately.  He points out that they are works connected to certain periods in his life and certain events therein.  What’s more, Cochran points out in the liner notes some background on at least a few of the covers that are featured herein.  That added background makes for added interest in said songs, and even the other songs.  That is even without background. As if all of the background that Cochran offers in the liner notes is not enough, he also waxes philosophical in the liner notes about the role of music as a cultural connector for the world.  That discussion and the discussions that it is sure to create show even more, the importance of the compilation’s liner notes. 

While the liner notes featured in Cochran’s new collection are unquestionably important to the record’s presentation, they are only a portion of what makes the record worth hearing.  As pointed out already, Cochran offers background on some of the covers that he features in his record in its liner notes.  One of those songs is ‘Foggy Day in London.’  Originally composed by George and Ira Gershwin, Cochran explains that the song made him think of his time living in London and in San Francisco.  It goes without saying that Cochran and company’s rendition of the 1937 standard is quite different from that original.  The original is a light, upbeat composition from beginning to end.  By comparison, Cochran’s rendition is split into two “movements,” the first being a subdued composition, while the second is more upbeat and along the lines of the brothers Gershwin’s rendition.  Cochran pointed out in his liner notes that the changes he made to the originals were intentional.  In this case, it is understandable.  He and his fellow musicians make it an almost original work.  That first movement does well to conjure thoughts of Cochran’s time in London while the second movement does just as well to create thoughts of fog-filled streets in San Francisco.  The whole is such an interesting take on the Gershwins’ original work. 

‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’ originally composed by Duke Ellington, is another of the songs that Cochran addresses in the liner notes.  He points out of his take here, he was only 13 when he first heard Ellington and his big band live.  Cochran adds that at the time, he was still learning about the vast world that is jazz.  Understanding this, one can understand the toned down but still so enjoyable solo performance of the Ellington standard.  The gentle tones that Cochran produces in the chords that he uses throughout the song give a unique dissonance that actually works alongside the more familiar sound of the original.  The juxtaposition of that original content and Cochran’s reserved update shows even more, the importance of the performances featured throughout the record.

‘Bemsha Swing’ is yet another song that Cochran addresses in the album’s liner notes.  The performance that Cochran and company present here is yet another example of the importance of the featured performances.  The performance by Cochran and company is about as far from Thelonius Monk’s original as could be.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, either.  As Cochran pointed out here, It was Monk’s “outlier” status during Cochran’s younger years that drew him to Monk in the first place.  He always respected Monk’s willingness to “pursue the music he heard in his head.”  That is exactly what Cochran and his fellow musicians do here.  They follow the music in their heads, presenting a wonderful improv style performance that still stays at least somewhat true to its source material.  It is just one more prime example of what makes the record’s featured performances so important to the album’s presentation.  When this performance, the others examined here, and the rest of those featured in the record are considered together, the whole enhances the listening experience even more.  That is especially when they are considered along with the background information featured in the record’s liner notes.

Having examined the liner notes and actual content featured in Then and Again, Here and Now, that content does much to make this compilation worth hearing.  It is only a portion of what makes the record engaging and entertaining.  The sequencing of that content rounds out its most important elements.  It is important because it takes into account the energies in each arrangement.  A close listen shows that from one song to the next, the arrangements’ energies do rise and fall.  At the same time though, the record remains relatively subdued and relaxed within each arrangement.  That is the case even in the slightly more upbeat works.  Cochran and company exhibit a certain control even in those instances.  The result of the attention paid to the record’s energies is that they ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment (again thanks to the sequencing) just as much as the content itself. All things considered, the content and the sequencing make Cochran’s new covers collection a record that is worth hearing, even being a covers collection.

Todd Cochran’s first new record in more than a decade is a presentation that audiences will find an interesting work.  That is because it is essentially a covers compilation.  Even being a group of covers, it still offers audiences something to appreciate, not the least of which being its liner notes.  The liner notes, which are encouraged to be read first, set the groundwork for the collection.  They offer insight into how the collection came into being and how Cochran came to create the covers in question.  Speaking of those covers, the performances thereof create their own interest.  That is because of the balance in original and new content featured in each performance.  The sequencing of the performances balances each song’s energy, ensuring even more, audiences’ engagement and entertainment.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation.  All things considered, they make the record worth experiencing at least once.  Then and Again, Here and Now is scheduled for release Friday through Sunnyside Communications/Sunnyside Records.  More information on the compilation is available along with all of Cochran’s latest news at:

Website: https://toddcochran.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toddcochranmusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CochranMusart

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Craft Recordings To Release New Thelonius Monk Collection Next Month

Courtesy: Craft Recordings

Thelonius Monk fans are getting a special treat this holiday season courtesy of Craft Records, the Catalog Division of Concord Music Group.

Craft Recordings will release The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection Dec. 15.  The limited edition all five of Monk’s 10” LPs recorded for Prestige, spanning 1952 – 1954.  Each record has been reproduced just as it was presented in its original release right down to the jacket art.  The audio was re-mastered from the original analog tapes by Joe Tarantino, while laquer cutting was handled by George Horn and Anne-Marie Seunram at Fantasy Studios.

As an added bonus for listeners, the new re-issue set also includes new liner notes by author Robin D.G. Kelley, who crafted the Monk bio Thelonius Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original. Kelley notes in the new liner notes that the 1950s was Monks “golden years in terms of [Monk’s] creative output.”

He also notes in the new discussion some of the difficulties that Monk faced in that same period including an issue with law enforcement that posed its own problems for Monk.  This is just some of what is included in the new in-depth liner notes.  More information is included in the full notes.

The Complete Prestige Sessions 10-Inch LP Collection will be available on high-res, standard audio and digital platforms.  Pre-orders for the collection are open now via Amazon.  The collection’s full track listing is noted below.

TRACK LISTING
Disc 1:
Thelonious Monk Trio: Thelonious
Side A
  1. Little Rootie Tootie
  2. Sweet And Lovely
  3. Bye-Ya
  4. Monk’s Dream
Side B
  1. Trinkle, Tinkle
  2. These Foolish Things
  3. Bemsha Swing
  4. Reflections
Personnel:
Thelonious Monk – piano
Gary Mapp – bass
Art Blakey – drums (A1 through A4)
Max Roach – drums (B1 through B4)
Recorded at Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack, NJ; October 15, 1952 (A1 to A4) and December 18, 1952 (B1 to B4).
Disc 2:
Thelonious Monk Quintet Blows For LP
Featuring Sonny Rollins
Side A
  1. Let’s Call This
  2. Think Of One
Side B
  1. Friday The Thirteenth
Personnel:
Thelonious Monk – piano
Sonny Rollins – tenor saxophone
Julius Watkins – French horn
Percy Heath – bass
Willie Jones – drums
Recorded at WOR Studios, New York City; November 13, 1953
Disc 3:
Thelonious Monk Quintet
Side A
  1. We See
  2. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
Side B
  1. Locomotive
  2. Hackensack
Personnel:
Thelonious Monk – piano
Ray Copeland – trumpet
Frank Foster – tenor saxophone
Curly Russell – bass
Art Blakey – drums
Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ; May 11, 1954.
Disc 4:
Thelonious Monk Plays
Side A
  1. Work
  2. Nutty
Side B
  1. Blue Monk
  2. Just A Gigolo
Personnel:
Thelonious Monk – piano
Percy Heath – bass
Art Blakey – drums
Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ; September 22, 1954
Disc 5:
Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk
Side A
  1. The Way You Look Tonight
  2. I Want To Be Happy
Side B
  1. More Than You Know
Personnel:
Thelonious Monk – piano
Sonny Rollins – tenor saxophone
Tommy Potter – bass
Art Taylor – drums
Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey; October 25, 1954

Courtesy: Craft Recordings

More information on this and other titles from Craft Recordings is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://craftrecordings.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/craftrecordingsofficial

 

 

 

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Phineas McBoof’s Adventures Should Be In Every Family’s Music Library

Courtesy: Doctor Noize, Inc.

Courtesy: Doctor Noize, Inc.

Late last month Doctor Noize and his fellow musicians, Th International Band of Misunderstood Geniuses, released the group’s latest adventure from Phineas McBoof.  The album, Phineas McBoof Crashes The Symphony was the seeming finale in the ongoing story of the world-renowned musical monkey.  If it was indeed the final movement (bad pun fully intended) in Phineas’ musical story then it was quite the ending.  Luckily for those that might be new to Phineas and his adventures, the first two “chapters” in his adventures are also available.  And they are available not just on CD but also in print.  The story’s first chapter is titled The Ballad of Phineas McBoof and the second “chapter” The Return of Phineas McBoof.  For those that might be new to adventures of Phineas and his band mates, both chapters are just as enjoyable as the latest.  This applies both to the stories’ print and musical platforms.  This critic will attempt to explain why in as much depth as possible and as clearly as possible beginning with each chapter’s story.  The presentation style of each “chapter” is just as important to note as its story.  That will be discussed later.  Last but most definitely not least of note in examining these two stories is the visual imagery that is used in the stories’ print platforms.  It plays just as much of a role in each chapter as each chapter’s story and the manner in which each is told.  Each element is clearly important in its own right to the whole of these two chapters in McBoof’s story.  Altogether they make the first two “chapters” of Phineas McBoof’s story just as enjoyable for listeners as its latest (and last?) entry.

Courtesy: Doctor Noize, Inc.

Courtesy: Doctor Noize, Inc.

The first two “chapters” in the story of Phineas McBoof and the International Band of Misunderstood Geniuses are not new releases for 2016.  That goes without saying.  For those that might not be so familiar with the adventures of the musical monkey and his fellow animal band mates though, these two chapters make a great introduction to the group and its adventures.  That is due in part to the story presented within each chapter.  Each of the story’s first two chapters tells one part of how the band came together.  In “Chapter One,” The Ballad of Phineas McBoof , listeners learn that the whole story came to be because Phineas had become tired of the rock star life that he led.  Doctor Noize points out that Phineas wanted something new because his stardom had left him in fact feeling trapped.  So he set out to start over so to speak, leading him to meet the first members of his new band—Backbone the Octopus, Bottomus the Hip Popotamus, Riley the Robot, Lenny Long Tail, and the Ooh Gah Boo Gus.  The Return  of Phineas McBoof continues that story, introducing Sidney The Beak, Luciano Frogerati, Jose, and Placido the Flamingo.  At the second “chapter’s” conclusion Phineas once again disappears, which sets up the story’s latest installment, and likely its last.  The story is in itself fun throughout both “chapters” That is because of just how original it is both in the realm of children’s music and in the realm of children’s literature.  Speaking of those two realms they “play” into the next important element of each chapter, its presentation style.

Courtesy: Doctor Noize, Inc.

Courtesy: Doctor Noize, Inc.

The story that is presented in the first two “chapters” of Phineas McBoof’s tale is in itself plenty of reason for families to add them to their home music libraries.  It is the story of how Phineas and his band mates came to meet and form their musical collective.  While the story presented in each “chapter” is entertaining in its own right the story itself is just one of those installments so enjoyable.  The manner in which each “chapter” is presented—its presentation style—is just as important to note here as the story.  Each installment is presented both in musical and print platform.  The two platforms compliment each other perfectly.  The print platforms tell the story in a style that would make Dr. Seuss proud if he were alive today.  That is proven in the rhyme scheme used within each book and the very words that are used including the characters’ names.  The books’ musical companions complete the experience.  That is because they take the tales told in the story’s books and expand on them even more with an even fuller telling of the story complete with various musical genres and pop culture references (including references to Thelonius Monk, Ringo Starr, The Beatles, etc.).  Each presentation in itself does its own share to entertain listeners of all ages.  The pair works together to keep listeners completely entertained throughout each tale.  Even as entertaining as the story’s dual presentation style is in its bigger picture, that dual presentation style is still not all that makes the first two “chapters” of Phineas’ story so enjoyable.  The imagery that is presented in the story’s literary platforms rounds out the story’s most important elements.

The story that is told through the first two “chapters” of Phineas McBoof’s tale is in itself more than enough reason for listeners of all ages to check out these two tales.  They form a solid foundation for the final “movement” in Phineas’ adventure.  The two different ways in which the story is told in each “chapter” makes Phineas’ adventure all the more enjoyable.  It is told both in print and through music.  Both platforms expertly complement one another, making the story even richer.  While the story’s dual presentation offers a certain sense of completion for listeners, it does not make Phineas’ story one hundred percent complete.  The illustrations that are used in the story’s literary presentations complete the adventures presentation.  It is clear that the artwork that is presented in each book was crafted wholly via computer.  On the surface that might not seem very creative.  But in a deeper sense, it actually is very creative.  Parents might recognize the artworks style as being very similar to that used in the classic Super Nintendo game Donkey Kong, Jr.  It is an artistic style that has been very rarely used since the days of that game (and video game system) if at all.  The world created through the artwork is rich and vivid.  The scenes that are presented are, in whole, expert visualizations of the given scenes, too.  They do a wonderful job of bringing those scenes to life.  That is especially the case when taking in the story’s broader musical presentation.  Audiences will not just see the scenes come to life, but advance in their own minds.  This brings everything full circle.  It makes suspension of disbelief all the easier for audiences and in turn makes the story all the more entertaining and engaging.  Keeping all of this in mind, The Ballad of Phineas McBoof and The Return of Phineas McBoof prove themselves to be wonderful additions to any family’s home library and a wonderful start to the tale of Phineas’ adventures.  This applies whether audiences already own McBoof’s latest adventure or not.

Cory Cullinan (a.k.a. Doctor Noize) has crafted in The Ballad of Phineas McBoof and The Return of Phineas McBoof a solid foundation for the adventures of the famed musical monkey.  That is due in large part to the story presented in each tale.  Each one is a fun tale of how Phineas and his fellow musicians first met and set out to write the greatest song ever.  The story’s dual presentation makes the overall story so rich.  That is because its print and musical platform compliments the other with its own original elements.  The illustrations that are used in the story’s literary form complete the experience.  They make the story truly come to life and pull audiences in both in reading the story and experiencing it musically.  Each element is important in its own way to each “chapter” of the story.  Altogether they bring both chapters together to make them one whole experience that the whole family will enjoy regardless of their familiarity with the adventures of Phineas McBoof.  Both “chapters” are available now and can be ordered on record and in literary form now at Doctor Noize’s official website.  More information on those “chapters” and Phineas’ latest adventure is available online now along with all of Doctor Noize’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.doctornoize.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DoctorNoize

Twitter: http://twitter.com/doctornoize

 

 

 

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