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Album Review: Making It Up As We Go Along from Lauren White

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Album:  Making It Up As We Go Along Artist:  Lauren White Label:  Café Pacific Records Website:  Laurenwhitejazz.com Making It Up As We Go Along is vocalist Lauren White's fifth album and showcases her refined vocal style.  Her voice shines on the ballads, demonstrating an easy command of the soft vocal inflections in her register and a penetrating tenderness when she cradles the lyrics as though she lived through the stories she describes.  Working with producer Barbara Brighton, White exhibits a leaning to sing love songs that delve into the complex entanglements bound to surface while consumed in a mature affair. The jazz romp “Unlikely Valentine," penned by Ron Boustead, is a poignant example of White's attraction for songs that delve into the complexity of love, portraying two people who like to play the field and are surprised when they fall in love. The swinging horns performed by Brian Swartz on trumpet and Katisse Buckingham on saxophone brim with celebratory aes

Album Review: Cohesion from David Larsen

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Album:  Cohesion Artist:  David Larsen Label: Larsen Jazz Website: larsenjazz.com In the spirit of jazz artists who endeavor to fill the room with music, saxophonist, composer and bandleader David Larsen accomplishes this task on his latest release Cohesion .  Joining Larsen are Darryl Yokley on tenor saxophone, Zaccai Curtis on piano, Alex Apollo on bass, and Wayne Smith, Jr. on drums.  The outfit's synchronicity is pristine and their rapport is elevating for the listener.  From smooth jazz to hard bop, the quintet creates a lively experience for their audience. Curtis's keys burst with a sonic pop across "Movement," as the lofty flares of Yokley's and Larsen's saxophones color in the landscape with large, buoyant strokes.   The musicians engage in a comfortable conversation along "Wishing Well," fusing spiraling saxophones with the animated musings of Curtis's keys and a supportive rhythm section that engulfs the listener in a lively story.   T

Album Review: I Was Here from Andy Ezrin

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Album:  I Was Here Artist:  Andy Ezrin Label:  Ez It Iz Music Website: andyezrinmusic.com Instagram: Andyezrinmusic A prolific composer, arranger, pianist, and bandleader, Andy Ezrin is the Sidney Sheldon of jazz, articulating life and its encounters as being fun and mind-opening exchanges, filled with experiences that expand one's world.  His music expresses thoughts in a lyrical symposium, embracing the joy generated from doing the work that one loves.  Andy Erzin's new release I Was Here , produced by Ezrin and Chris Hajian, is clad in original compositions and arrangements by Ezrin.  From the sheer merriment projected in "Grapes" to the relaxing ruminations that arch across "Greenwoman," Ezrin's nimble movements are accentuated by the freestyle verses played by Donny McCaslin on tenor saxophone and Randy Brecker on trumpet.  Improvisation and harmony walk hand in hand in the music, notably along the swift exchanges and spontaneous banter documenting

Album Review: The World and Its People from Yosef Gutman Levitt

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Album:  The World and Its People Artist:  Yosef Gutman Levitt Label:  Soul Song Label Website:  https://yosefgutman.com Bassist and composer Yosef Gutman Levitt of Jerusalem releases his latest offering, The World and Its People , available from Levitt’s recently formed Soul Song imprint.  Leading a drum-less, chamber-jazz-newgrass foursome influenced in part by The Goat Rodeo Sessions with Chris Thile, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Stuart Duncan, Levitt delivers a collection of atmospheric melodies and spiritual renderings that have a soothing effect on the listener. The tracks are Levitt's original works cowritten and arranged by producer Gilad Ronen, with meaningful contributions from Levitt’s close musical associates Tal Yahalom on nylon and steel string acoustic guitars, Omri Mor on piano and Yoed Nir on cello.  Pairing elements of orchestral spirituals, country dance, Indian-Asian folkloric, ambient jazz, and improvisation, the quartet dazzles the listener with both earthy and e

Album Review: Dreams Lost and Found from Halie Loren

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Album:  Dreams Lost and Found Artist:  Halie Loren Label:  Nettwerk / Justin Time Records Website:  https://halieloren.com/ Jazz vocalist Halie Loren approached her 2024 release, Dreams Lost and Found, focusing on songs that speak to the listener about "finding new visions for love and life, allowing some dreams to die to make space for new dreams to be born," according to the press release.  Finding what she was looking in the classic folk pop repertoire and jazz vocals catalogs, Loren offers a delightful array of tunes that entice her audience to release entanglements of the past and leap into the present.  Well versed in soul pop, torchlight jazz, and coffeehouse folk, Loren provides her audience with an enthralling fare. Jumping out at the listener is Loren's rendition of "C'est Le Printemps," written by Jean Sablon, Jean Geiringer, Richard Rodgers, and Oscar Hammerstein.  Her nuanced vocals make the lyrics come alive, revealing a charming animation in

Album Review: Green Lights from Troy Roberts

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Album:  Green Lights Artist:  Troy Roberts Label Name: Toy Robot Music Website:  troyroberts.com Record Label address:  toyrobotmusic.com Facebook:  @TroyRobertsMusic Instagram:  @mistertoyrobot Bandcamp link:  https://troyroberts.bandcamp.com Typical of saxophonist and leader Troy Roberts is his indelible skill to form dynamic conversations with his bandmates.  Uniquely individual of himself is his proclivity to be both a stimulant and to be stimulated, exploring multiple ways in which he interfaces with his musicians.  His saxophone turns thoughtful and pensive in his musings along "The Question," then moves with a whimsical flair through the title track, and pivots to a suave and lofty voice as he helms the melodic course of "By Your Side," all from his latest release Green Lights . Marking his 16th offering as a bandleader, Green Lights presents Roberts's innovative collaborations with John Patitucci on bass, Paul Bollenback on guitar, and Jimmy Macbride on

Album Review: The Door Is Open: The Music of Gregg Hill from Randy Napoleon

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Album:  The Door is Open: The Music of Gregg Hill Artist:  Randy Napoleon Label:  OA2 Records Label Website:  originarts.com/oa2 Artist Website:  randynapoleon.com A fusion of minds, The Door Is Open:  The Music of Gregg Hill from guitarist and leader Randy Napoleon is his second record with the core band of pianist Rick Roe, bassist Rodney Whitaker, drummer Quincey Davis, and vocalist Aubrey Johnson.  Adding to the mix are Lucas LaFave on bass, Anthony Stanco on trumpet, Walter Blanding on tenor saxophone, and Andrew Kim on trombone. Integrating blues, bebop, and soul, Napoleon's arrangements have an organic fluidity, culminating into animated passages.  Johnson's scatting and vivacious vocalese have tracks like "Spa-Teneity" and "Motel Blues" ensnare the listener, struck by Napoleon's piercing strings and Davis's rippling drumbeats.  The cool jazz vibe of the tracks imbue a contemporary peal. The bluesy tint of Napoleon's guitar chords and the