‘Samba Jazz Journey’ Is A Musical Journey That Most Jazz Fans Will Enjoy

Courtesy: Zoho Music

Famed jazz musician Hendrik Meurkens, known as a virtuoso on the harmonica, recently partnered with the equally well-known jazz organization, the WDR Big Band to record the new album, Samba Jazz Odyssey.  The nine-song record was released Friday through Zoho Music.  The collection is a presentation that audiences will find intriguing.  That is due in part to its featured songs, which will be discussed shortly.  The liner notes that accompany the recording make for their own share of interest and will be discussed a little later.  The recording’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation.  All things considered they make this record, which is essentially a compilation, worth hearing at least once.

Samba Jazz Journey, the new project from the partnership between Hendrik Meurkens and the WDR Big Band, is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.  Its interest comes in part through the songs that make up its body.  As the liner notes point out (they will be discussed a little later), the songs are largely re-worked versions of songs that Meurkens has crafted throughout his career.  Only one of the songs featured in the collection – ‘Choro’ – is a cover.  In the case of that song, it is a cover of a song originally composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim.  Additionally, there is at least once song featured here that was composed by WDR Big Band conductor Philip Mossman in the form of ‘You Again.’  The arrangements are stylistically similar to one another from one to the next.  At the same time though, there are subtle nuances in the sounds of each arrangement that make the songs stand out from one another.  In order to really catch those subtleties, audiences will have to fully immerse themselves in each arrangement.  Even more interesting to note is that while the Afro-Latin jazz influences are audible in each song, they are just as subtle.  The group’s more Western jazz influences are so well-balanced with those leanings to make each composition all the more interesting.  In capturing those subtle variances and the balances in influences, listeners will appreciate each composition that much more, ensuring listeners’ engagement and entertainment just in that element.

The primary content – the songs – that makes up the body of Samba Jazz Journey is just one part of what makes the record worth experiencing.  The liner notes featured in the record’s companion booklet add their own share of interest to the presentation.  The liner notes are important to the record’s presentation because of the background that they offer for each song.  As noted already, the liner notes are what make clear that Samba Jazz Journey is essentially a compilation record.  The notes, crafted by Kabir Sehgal, offer so much insight into each song before audiences even start to take in the record.  For instance, his description of ‘Manhattan Samba,’ the record’s second entry, is pointed out to have been on one of Meurkens’ existing albums.  He also notes how Meurkens’ harmonica line works with the song’s Brazilian influence to make it a unique composition. 

On another note, Sehgal makes clear in his notes that ‘You Again’ is one of the new originals here.  What’s more, he also points out clearly that this jam session (again his words) is the work of Mossman.  He points out the range of all involved in the arrangement and the work put in by all.  He is right in his note that the group is up to the task in this upbeat composition, too.

Sehgal’s note of the apparent popularity of Meurken’s composition, ‘Prague In March’ is just as interesting, especially for audiences who perhaps might be less familiar with Meurkens’ work.  Sehgal points out that the arrangement featured here was re-worked by Meurkens and Carlos Franzetti and is from a previous collaboration that the pair had.  The very note of the song’s popularity within the jazz community is itself sure to generate some interest, and goes even further to show the importance of the record’s liner notes.

Rounding out the most important of the elements in this record is its production.  As Sehgal notes more than once in his liner notes, there are so many points throughout this record in which all of the musicians work together so well.  He is right.  Not only that, but the production ensures just as much that each musician’s performance is so well-balanced with that of his/her counterparts.  The clear attention paid to detail throughout each composition paid off, leading to each composition being that much more engaging and entertaining.  When this aspect of the collection is considered along with the songs themselves and the background provided, the whole makes the record well worth hearing at least once.

Samba Jazz Journey, the new album from Hendrik Meurkens and The WDR Big Band, is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new jazz records.  Its interest comes in part through its featured arrangements.  The arrangements are a mix of re-worked songs that were previously recorded by Muerkens, an original, and one cover.  They are in themselves enjoyable because of the subtleties in the arrangements.  The background provided about the songs in the liner notes add to the overall listening experience and make the collection even more interesting.  The production puts the finishing touch to the recording and makes it even more engaging and entertaining.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the set.  All things considered, they make Samba Jazz Journey a musical journey that plenty of jazz fans will enjoy.

Samba Jazz Journey is available now through Zoho Music.  More information on this and other titles from Zoho Music is available at https://zohomusic.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Marco Pignataro’s Dream Alliance’s ‘Awakening’ Is A Unique Addition To 2022’s New Live Recordings Field

Courtesy: Zoho Music

Veteran jazz saxophonist Marco Pignataro opened April with the release of a new live recording in the form of Marco Pignataro’s Dream Alliance: Awakening. Recorded in July 2021 at Boston’s GBH Fraser Studio with his fellow musicians, Kenny Werner (piano, vocals), Nadia Washington (vocals, guitar), and Devon Gates (bass, vocals), the performance was a virtual concert. Now nine months after it was captured, that concert has come home on CD through Zoho Music. It is certain to appeal to Pignataro’s established audiences and very targeted jazz audiences. That is due in part to the concert’s set list, which will be discussed shortly. The concert’s production is just as noteworthy as its set list, and will be examined a little later. The concert’s packaging rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make the concert a presentation that jazz fans will find worth hearing at least once.

Marco Pignataro’s Dream Alliance: Awakening, the new live recording from Marco Pignataro, is a unique live presentation from the veteran jazz saxophonist and his fellow musicians. That is proven in part through its featured set list. The set list is composed of a variety of originals, covers and even spoken word pieces whose run times bring the record’s run time to more than 50 minutes. The spoken word songs are performed by Washington with poems that were crafted by Pignataro. Pignataro and company meanwhile, offer light, subtle, original musical backings for each performance. The whole of those moments will lead audiences to conjure thoughts of those hipster night clubs where just such performances would take place. The only difference is that the bongos and people with black berets would be replaced with people of much higher class. Just as interesting to note is that the spoken word performances are short, the longest clocking in at only two minutes, eight seconds. So in reality, they are their own performances, but at the same time, serve double duty as interludes, so to speak, within the concert’s bigger picture. Their addition within the record, to that end, makes them their own interesting aspect.

The covers featured in the set list meanwhile, are important in their own right. Their number is limited to just four, but they are quite well-known works in themselves. One of the covers, that of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Send One Your Love’ opens the record. The group’s performance here is even more relaxed than Wonder’s original, which itself is subdued in its own approach. Washington’s R&B-tinged vocal approach does so well in the place of Wonder, while the omission of any drums in this case actually improves on the original. The subtle use of the guitar alongside her vocal delivery is a clear illustration that less can be and is so much more. Even the occasional accents from Pignataro on the soprano sax makes for its own touch. The whole makes for an interesting presentation in its own right.

Touching on the recording’s originals, ‘Farfallina’ is among the most notable tracks. It is notable in part because while it is centered on one of Pignataro’s poems, it is not presented as one of the concert’s spoken word performances. Washington actually sings the lines composed by Pignataro, singing about a butterfly, which of course is a metaphorical term here. The pairing of Pignataro’s performance on the saxophone and that of Werner on the piano along with the vocal layering incorporated at times — which makes for an interesting call and response effect — makes the overall performance quite unique in its own right. When it and the other originals are considered along with the covers and the spoken word tracks, the whole of the concert’s set list gives audiences reason enough in itself to take in the virtual concert. Of course the set list is just part of what makes the recording worth hearing. The concert’s production adds its own touch to the appeal of its presentation.

The production that went into Awakenings is of note because again, the concert was recorded and presented sans audience. That means those responsible for the sound mix did not have that crowd noise to balance with the musicians. In its absence, those responsible for the production still had to ensure that the musicians’ performances were balanced within the confines of the performance space and the acoustics therein. The utmost attention was clearly paid to balancing each instrument with its counterpart. The painstaking work that went into balancing that audio paid off, as the noted audiences will find this aspect just as positive as the mix of content in the concert’s set list.

Awakenings‘ packaging rounds out its most important elements. The packaging refers here, to the overall content provided with the recording. On the back of the package, the covers and originals are denoted with credit for the covers give to their original acts. The originals are credited to the group, and those within the group. Case in point, Werner composed the late entry, ‘Inspiration,’ and is given his due credit. The Beatles (specifically, John Lennon and Paul McCartney) composed ‘Because,’ one of the concert’s featured covered. They receive their own credit. Giving credit where due not only is a legal issue, but also ensures audiences know which songs are originals and which are covers right off the bat.

Also within the packaging are liner notes pointing out that each of the featured works (musical and spoken word alike) follow one theme, that of love in each form. From romantic to familial and other, the liner notes within the package let audiences know that the songs’ focus was intentional from one to the next. The liner notes also explain the use of the poems in the spoken word performances, making for appreciation for those moments, too. Speaking of the poems that Pignataro wrote, they are presented as part of the overall packaging, too. Keeping that in mind along with the rest of the information provided in the packaging, the whole of this element clearly shows this element’s importance to the recording’s presentation, too. When this element is considered along with the rest of the recording’s items, the whole makes Awakenings a unique addition to this year’s field of new live recordings.

Marco Paignataro’s Dream Alliance’s Awakening is an intriguing live recording. Its interest comes in part through its set list. The set list features a combination of originals, covers, and spoken word songs. The combination of songs is unique in itself. The production that went into the virtual performance ensures the concert’s sound is just as appealing to the noted targeted audiences as the songs themselves. The packaging puts the final touch to the recording, rounding out its most important elements. Each item examined is important in its own right to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make Awakening a presentation that Pignataro’s audiences and specific jazz audiences will find appealing.

Awakening is available through Zoho Music. More information on the record is available along with all of Marco Pignataro’s latest news at:

Website: https://www.marcopignataro.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarcoPignataro

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and ‘Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Arturo O’Farrill And The Latin Jazz Orchestra’s New Album Is A Real Success

Courtesy: Zoho Music

Famed pianist/composer Arturo O’Farrill has had quite the successful career over the years.  He has earned multiple Grammy awards and nominations, recorded and performed with some of the most respected names in the jazz community, and in the process made quite the name for himself within that realm.  Now with his latest album with the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Virtual Birdland, he continues to build his reputation within the jazz community.  The album, at least his eighth with the group, was released Friday, a little more than a year after the organization’s most recent album, Four Questions.  It is an enjoyable presentation thanks in part to its companion booklet, which will be discussed shortly.  The songs featured in the recording and the group’s performance thereof is directly connected to the album’s companion booklet.  They add even more engagement and entertainment to the record’s presentation.  They will be discussed a little later.  The album’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  When it is considered along with the other noted items, the whole makes Virtual Birdland one more of this year’s top new jazz and blues albums.

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra’s latest album is a positive new addition to the group’s already extensive catalog.  It is a work that will certainly appeal to the group’s fans and to jazz fans in general.  This is due in no small part to the album’s companion booklet.  The booklet features brief but concise explanations of each of the album’s songs.  That background sets the groundwork for the album.  It ensures an appreciation for each song, regardless of listeners’ familiarity with the group.  Building on that groundwork, the liner notes also give some background into how the events of 2020 played into the creation of the group’s new record.  There is even mention of a foundation created by the collective to aid people negatively impacted by everything that happened in 2020.  That story and the background provided about the album’s songs makes for a great starting point for listening experience.  From there, the songs featured in the record and the musicians’ performance thereof builds on the presentation, enhancing the experience even more.

The songs featured in Virtual Birdland stand out in part because they are original compositions crafted by members of the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra.  That is pointed out in the already discussed liner notes.  They are varied in their stylistic approaches and sounds, either.  ‘Desert’ for instance lives up to its name, with a clear Middle Eastern influence.  By comparison, a song, such as ‘En La Oscuridad’ (roughly translated means ‘In The Dark’) is a much more relaxed, smooth song.  According to the information provided in the liner notes, O’Farrill’s father played a key part in the song’s composition while saxophonist Mario Rivera took the lead in the work.  Rivera’s performance, along with that of percussionist Vince Cherico on drums, makes this work such a smooth work.  Considering the overall feel and the name, one can only imagine what happens in the dark even though the liner notes do not make any hint.  It clearly has to be assumed.  It is sure to make for a great song for any date night.

‘Para Los Rumberos,’ on another hand is completely unlike ‘En La Oscuridad’ and the album’s other entries in its sound.  The only song that even relatively comes close to this one (which is a cover of the classic Tito Puente composition) in terms of sound and style is ‘Samba for Carmen’ what with the big band style approach and sound here.  A close listen to the pair however, reveals that the arrangements are unique of one another.  The musical fire that the organization fuels through the performance of ‘Para Los Rumberos’ is an excellent way to end the album.  From the energy in the group’s entire percussion section, to the energy exuded by the horns and saxophone, the whole comes together for such a great composition that will get any listener on the floor, feet flying in time.  The energy that the group in whole is a great mirror image of what the liner notes say of rumberos: that they are people who would rather embrace the challenge of tough situations than let those situations get them down.  Looking at this song and the others noted here, their variety and the orchestra’s performance of each work makes the record in whole enjoyable in themselves.  When they are considered along with the background that the album’s liner notes, the whole makes the album even more engaging and entertaining.  These noted items are only a portion of what makes the album a success.  The songs’ sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The sequencing of Virtual Birdland is important to note in part because it keeps the album’s pacing solid from start to end.  That solid pacing comes as a result of the balance in the arrangements’ energies.  From start to end, the variances between and even within songs ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment because they keep the record changing.  Songs, such as ‘Desert’ and ‘Ana Mashoof’ are full, relaxed compositions that switch things up in the bigger picture of the record.  They make for break points in the album’s run.  Meanwhile, songs, such as ‘Alafia,’ and ‘Nightfall’ that start in soft, relaxed form give way to more energetic presentations, keeping things interesting in their  own way.  On the polar opposite end of the spectrum are works, such as ‘Samba for Carmen’ and ‘Para Los Rumberos’ that are full on energy from start to finish.  The placement of these varied stylistic approaches ensures that listeners get something different in each work, thus ensuring the noted engagement and entertainment.  Clearly, much thought and time was put into sequencing the varied stylistic approaches.  It paid off, too.  When this is considered along with the songs and their performances, and their companion background information, the result of all that is that it makes this record a work another impressive offering from Aturo O’Farrill and the Aro-Latin Jazz Orchestra.  It is a presentation that every jazz fan will enjoy.

Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra’s latest album, Virtual Birdland, is a presentation that will appeal widely among jazz fans.  That is proven in part through its companion booklet.  The booklet offers listeners a brief, but concise background on each featured song as well as a thorough background on how this latest offering came about.  That collective groundwork establishes a solid starting point for the album’s presentation.  The album’s featured songs are unique of one another, and the performances thereof are just as impressive, making for even more enjoyment.  The songs’ sequencing puts the finishing touch to the album.  That is because it ensures the album’s pacing remains stable throughout.  It also works with the songs to keep listeners engaged and entertained through the variety of sounds and stylistic approaches.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Virtual Birdland.  All things considered, they make this latest offering from Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra’s easily one more of this year’s top new jazz and blues albums.  Virtual Birdland is available now through Zoho Music.  More information on the album is available along with all of its latest news at:

Website:  https://www.afrolatinjazz.org

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

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/afrolatinjazz

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.