Artist: Milt Jackson
Genre: Jazz, Hard Bop, Soul Jazz, Fusion, Vibraphone/Marimba Jazz
Label: © CTI Records, a division of Creed Taylor, Inc. | King Record Co., Ltd.
Release Date: 1974/2016
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 192kHz/24bit
Recorded: January 9, 10 1974 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
Milt Jackson's third album for CTI – part of a wonderful run that really helped him redefine his sound in the 70s! The album's got the electric approach you'd expect from the label – a great change from the sound of Jackson in the Modern Jazz Quartet, and a surprisingly great setting for his wonderful work on vibes! Milt's laidback style is perfect for the CTI mode – open, flowing, and filled with great tones – matched up here with sax work by Jimmy Heath, bass by Ron Carter, piano from Cedar Walton, and drums by Mickey Roker – a perfect setting to let loose in a way he rarely did on his earlier albums. The whole set's great – and titles include "Lost April", "Rerev", "The Metal Melter", "The Steel Bender", and "I'm Not So Sure".
Artist: Michael Wollny & Vincent Peirani
Label: © ACT Music + Vision GmbH & Co. KG
Release Date: 2016
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 96kHz/24bit
Recorded by Jean-Paul Gonnod at Studio Sequenza, Montreuil (Paris), May 4 & 5, 2016; #9,10 recorded by Adrian von Ripka live at Schloss Elmau, February 17, 2016
This duo of superb musicians can simultaneously be highly refined, and yet completely off-the-wall. They are two of the brightest lights of the international firmament of jazz as seen through a European prism. They have also put down a marker with 'Tandem': their stellar collaboration is most definitely going places. Since their first recorded collaboration, with Michael Wollny guesting on Vincent Peirani's Thrill Box album (2013), the careers of both Peirani and Wollny have witnessed meteoric rises, more or less in parallel with each other. They are considered all over Europe as two of the leading jazz musicians of their generation. What makes them stand out in particular is that they are extending the horizons of their instruments, that they strive to create ever-new fantasies in sound, and in doing so they are setting new paths for European jazz. Jazzwise likened Wollny s career to 'a vortex of creativity pointing in a relentlessly upwards trajectory.' The Observer stated that Peirani 'breaks new ground for his instrument. Their stylistic palette ranges widely. There is the mysterious, suspense-laden Björk Classic 'Hunter.' They play Samuel Barber s 'Adagio for Strings,' which the film-absorbed Wollny first encountered in the soundtrack of Oliver Stone s 'Platoon.' There is the anthemic 'Fourth of July' by Sufjan Stevens. The up-tempo number 'Vignette' by Gary Peacock is perhaps the only 'classic' jazz tune on the album. Other, original, compositions take the listener off in experimental and expressionist directions.
Artist: Michael Kiwanuka
Title: Home Again
Genre: R&B, Soul, Singer/Songwriter
Label: © Polydor
Release Date: 2012
Quality: High-Fidelity FLAC Stereo 44,1kHz/24bit
Recorded: 2011–2012 at The Steam Rooms in Ventnor, Isle of Wight
An age ago, major labels signed artists knowing it would take three, four, or even five records before she or he matured sufficiently to build a a dedicated audience. Some labels even signed "prestige artists," those who wouldn't necessarily make boatloads of cash, but their presence on one's roster would attract those who would. These days, the expectations for someone to deliver out of the gate are ridiculous. Michael Kiwanuka is the promising British singer/songwriter who won the BBC Sound of 2012 poll. Home Again is his full-length debut. From the front cover you can see -- then hear -- how everything about this album and Kiwanuka's image is laser-focused on the retro pop and soul vibe that saturates his country's music scene. The Bees' Paul Butler produced all but one track here. A throwback approach is his signature and, considering what Polydor wanted, may actually seem warranted given Kiwanuka's wise-beyond-his-years singing voice and songwriting style. There are very bright moments in this mesh of organic sounds (that are occasionally embellished -- very slightly -- by Moogs). Kiwanuka and Butler play an astonishing array of instruments here, and are ably assisted by select session players elsewhere. Standouts include the opening "Tell Me a Tale," the set's strongest cut. Kiwanuka's voice resembles Terry Callier's closely enough to warrant Butler virtually aping Charles Stepney's production style. "Bones," with its combination of doo wop backing chorus, brushed hi-hats, and jazzy guitar vamp, finds Kiwanuka in fine yet contrasting world-weary voice. The blues in "Worry Walks Beside Me" are underscored by a shimmering B-3 just behind a hazy electric guitar and stacked backing vocals. The title track commences with a fingerpicked acoustic guitar, but a Rhodes piano, multi-tracked cellos, and even a doubling of Kiwanuka's vocal brings us into contemporary indie terrain. But there are problems. Butler's attempt at making a record sound vintage paints by the numbers so carefully that he never gets below a song's surface -- despite the emotional intensity in Kiwanuka's voice. Also, while Kiwanuka is extremely talented, his songwriting needs work; some tunes are weighed down by clunky melodic or clumsy lyric turns. Despite difficulties, Home Again is a promising debut by an artist who will no doubt deliver big if developed properly. --AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek