Brian Auger – Live At The Jazz Open Stuttgart (2009)

FrontCover1Brian Albert Gordon Auger (born 18 July 1939) is an English jazz rock and rock music keyboardist who specialises in the Hammond organ.

Auger has worked with Rod Stewart, Tony Williams, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Eric Burdon. He incorporated jazz, early British pop, R&B, soul music, and rock into his sound. He has been nominated for a Grammy Award.

In 1965, Auger played on “For Your Love” by The Yardbirds as a session musician. That same year, Auger formed the group The Steampacket with Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll, Vic Briggs, and Rod Stewart. Due to contractual problems there were no official recordings made by the band; nevertheless, nine tracks were laid down for promotional use in late 1965 and released as an LP in 1970 in France on the BYG label. They were released on a CD by Repertoire Records in 1990 (licensed from Charly Records) as well as 12 live tracks from Live at the Birmingham Town Hall, February 2, 1964. Stewart left in early 1966 and soon thereafter the band broke up.


With Driscoll and the band Trinity, he went on to record a cover version of David Ackles’ “Road to Cairo” and Bob Dylan’s “This Wheel’s on Fire”, which appeared on Dylan Covered. In 1969 Auger, Driscoll, and Trinity performed in the United States on the NBC special 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee.

In 1970, he formed the jazz fusion ensemble Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express shortly after abandoning the abortive “Wassenaar Arrangement” jazz rock commune in a small suburb of The Hague. Oblivion Express cultivated the talents of several notable musicians, including Average White Band drummers Robbie McIntosh and Steve Ferrone, as well as guitarist Jim Mullen. In 1971 Auger produced and appeared on Mogul Thrash’s only album, Mogul Thrash. Two members of that band, Roger Ball and Malcolm Duncan, would go on to form the Average White Band.


Auger toured with Kim Simmonds, Gregg Errico, and Tim Bogert in the mid-1980s in a band they called Maestro. No album resulted from this collaboration and tour. In 1986, he played keyboards for the Italian singer Mango on the album Odissea.
Brian Auger after a show at the Cabaret de Monte-Carlo with bassist-arranger Pino Presti in 2006

In 1989, Auger was musical director for the thirteen-part film retrospective series Villa Fantastica made for German TV. A live recording of the series, Super Jam (1990), features Auger on piano, Pete York on drums, Dick Morrissey on tenor saxophone, Roy Williams on trombone, Harvey Weston on bass guitar, and singers Zoot Money and Maria Muldaur.

Auger toured with Eric Burdon in the early 1990s and recorded the live album Access All Areas with him in 1993. Oblivion Express was revived in 2005 with recording and touring. The group featured Brian Auger, his son Karma Auger on drums, his daughter Savannah Auger on vocals, and Derek Frank on bass.


In 2012, Auger released Language of the Heart, one of the few solo albums of his career, produced by Tea. It features Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Julian Coryell on guitars.

In 2014, Auger was invited by producer Gerry Gallagher to record with El Chicano as well as Alphonse Mouzon, David Paich, Alex Ligertwood, Ray Parker Jr., Lenny Castro, Vikki Carr, Pete Escovedo, Peter Michael Escovedo, Jessy J, Salvador Santana, Marcos J. Reyes, Siedah Garrett, Walfredo Reyes Jr., and Spencer Davis. In the same year, Brian Auger and Oblivion Express played at the KJAZZ festival in Los Angeles, and toured in Japan and Europe with Karma Auger on drums, daughter Ali Auger on vocals, Alex Ligertwood on vocals, Yarone Levy on guitar, Les King on bass, and Travis Carlton on bass. (wikipedia)

Brian Auger

And here´s another high energy live recording. Brian Auger was and is really hot !


Brian Auger (organ)
Karma D.Auger (drums, background vocals)
Savannah Auger (vocals)
Andreas Geck (bass)

Savannah AugerTracklist:
01. Freedom Jazz Dance (Harris) 6.20
02. Truth (Ligertwood) 6.51
03. Straight Ahead (Dean) 6.28
04. Season Of The Witch (Leitch) 7.20
05. Indian Rope Man (Price/Roth/Havens) 10.00
06. Bumpin’ On Sunset (Montgomery) 7.31
07. Whenever You’re Ready (Auger/Dean) 8.45
08. Light My Fire ((Morrison/Krieger/Densmore/Manzarek) 6.35



The official website:

More from Brian Auger:

Joanne Shaw Taylor – White Sugar (2009)

JoanneShawTaylorFrontCover1Joanne Shaw Taylor (born 1985, England) is a British blues rock singer and guitarist who was discovered by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics at the age of 16. The British music publication Blues Matters! called Taylor “the new face of the blues”.

Taylor was born in Wednesbury, West Midlands, England, and grew up in Solihull, and was inspired in her early teens to play the blues after hearing Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins and Jimi Hendrix. Dave Stewart heard Taylor play, and in 2002 invited her to join his supergroup, D.U.P., on tour in Europe.

In May 2009, Taylor released her debut album, White Sugar, on Ruf Records. Taylor’s second release was 2010’s Diamonds in the Dirt, also on Ruf Records. Both her albums peaked at number eight in the US Billboard Top Blues Albums chart. In 2010, she won Best JoanneShawTaylor2Female Vocalist at the British Blues Awards. She won the same award at the 2011 British Blues Awards, plus the Songwriter of the Year award for “Same As It Never Was” from Diamonds in the Dirt.

On 4 June 2012, Taylor played lead guitar in Annie Lennox’s band at the Diamond Jubilee Concert in London. Taylor played an extended solo during the performance in front of Buckingham Palace, attended by approximately 12,000 people (not counting the many thousands lining The Mall). Just before her solo spot, Taylor’s Fuzz Face pedal malfunctioned, leaving a much cleaner guitar sound than usual. This apparent misfortune was ameliorated, however, when she was informed that Stevie Wonder had loved her “clean, bluesy, understated tone”.

Taylor’s fourth studio album, The Dirty Truth, was recorded in Memphis, Tennessee with producer Jim Gaines, and was released on 22 September 2014.

Wild, Taylor’s fifth studio album was released on 30 September 2016. It was recorded in Nashville’s Grand Victor Studios with Kevin Shirley working as producer. The album became her first top 20 entry in the UK Albums Chart.

In 2018, it was announced that Taylor had signed her first major label contract with Sony Music on their imprint, Silvertone Records. She supported Foreigner at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall on 15 May 2018 and at the Royal Albert Hall on 16 May. Following her own headline tour in 2017, Taylor completed a four week tour around the United States, and returned to the UK in late 2018 to play intimate venues around the country. Taylor’s sixth album Reckless Heart was released on 15 March 2019 in the UK and Europe, and on 17 May in US.


Taylor uses primarily Fender Telecaster electric guitars, although she also sometimes uses a Gibson Les Paul has also said she likes Stratocasters for rhythm guitar work. She acquired her main Telecaster, nicknamed ‘Junior’, at the age of 15. It is a modified 1966 Esquire model purchased secondhand in Denmark Street, London which has had a Fender Jazz humbucker neck pickup added in addition to the factory bridge pickup. She also uses a Fender Albert Collins signature model Telecaster which was a gift from Joe Bonamassa.[citation needed]

She uses Ernie Ball skinny top/heavy bottom strings and usually tunes the guitar to E♭. (wikipedia)


She’s already being called “the new face of the blues” by the press in her native Britain, but her debut album is the first opportunity most Americans will have to hear Joanne Shaw Taylor’s sharp, fiery take on blues-based rock. Opening with the dark and sultry “Going Home,” Taylor makes her intentions clear from the very beginning: her sound is raw, funky, and soulful, and she’s as likely to reference Jimi Hendrix’s R&B-inflected blues-rock as Stevie Ray Vaughan’s rock-inflected blues. She’s also unwilling to be hemmed in: notice the gorgeous guitar intro on “Just Another Word,” and the way that the song goes well outside the lines of traditional blues structure without erasing them. Also notice the especially Hendrix-y “Kiss the Ground Goodbye,” the lovely instrumental title track, and the stark, spare “Heavy Heart.” The latter is the finest track on the program; it features a brilliant chord progression and a sly bluebeat outro that reveals a sense of humor that is otherwise pretty much hidden. The album ends on a very powerful note, with the slow-burning “Blackest Day.” The challenge on this song is the solo, and she meets that challenge brilliantly, twice, and in two very different ways: once with gentle regret and then again with forsaken rage. A spectacular debut from a major talent. (by Rick Anderson)


Steve Potts (drums)
David Smith (bass)
Joanne Shaw Taylor (guitar, vocals)


01. Going Home 4.49
02. Just Another Word 4.10
03 Bones 5.22
04. Who Do You Want Me To Be? 3.35
05. Time Has Come 5.52
06. White Sugar 4.28
07. Kiss The Ground Goodbye 4.40
08. Heavy Heart 5.21
09. Watch ‘Em Burn 5.09
10. Blackest Day 8.19

All songs written by Joanne Shaw Taylor
except 03, written by J. Davey – J. Amor – R. Davey – H. Coltmann




Sir Richard Bishop – The Freak Of Araby (2009)

FrontCover (2)Richard Bishop is an American composer, guitarist and singer best known for his work with the Sun City Girls. He styles himself Sir Richard Bishop.

In 2005, Bishop began performing as a solo artist, playing throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States. He has done extensive touring with Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy), Animal Collective, Devendra Banhart, Bill Callahan, and many others.

Bishop’s first official solo record, Salvador Kali, was released by John Fahey’s esteemed Revenant Records label in 1998. The album showcases Bishop’s own particular obsessions and roots, drawing from a variety of worldwide sources. Locust Music issued his second record, Improvika, in 2004. This album consists of nine extemporaneous pieces for solo acoustic guitar. Up next was Fingering the Devil, which was recorded at an impromptu session at London’s Southern Studios on a day off from the 2005 European tour. This was followed by two more releases from Locust: Elektronika Demonika, a recording of electronics, containing no guitar at all; and While My Guitar Violently Bleeds, which is made up of three extended compositions for acoustic and electric guitar. Richard’s 30-minute film God Damn Religion was released on DVD by Locust in 2006.



2007 saw the first Sir Richard release from the Drag City label, Polytheistic Fragments. It includes works for acoustic, electric and lapsteel guitar, plus two piano compositions. Next up was The Freak of Araby (Drag City, 2009). This was the first Bishop album to feature a full band of supporting musicians. The record is a tribute to late Egyptian guitarist Omar Khorshid as well as to Middle Eastern music.

In May 2010, Drag City released the album False Flag by Rangda, a new group featuring Bishop, Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance, Comets on Fire), and Chris Corsano (Flower-Corsano Duo, Flaherty/Corsano, Jandek, Björk, etc).

Bishop was a founding member (along with brother Alan Bishop) of ethnic-improv pioneers and underground tricksters Sun City Girls, who during their 26 years (1981–2007), produced an extensive discography of over 50 full length albums, 20 one-hour cassettes and a dozen 7” records. In the early 1980s he was also a member of the group Paris 1942 which included Alan Bishop, J. Akkari and former Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker.

In 2003, Richard Bishop, along with Alan Bishop and Hisham Mayet, founded the Sublime Frequencies label, dedicated to acquiring and releasing obscure sights and sounds from Africa, India, S.E. Asia and beyond. (wikipedia)


Sir Richard Bishop is the Pico Iyer of the guitar. On his previous five solo recordings he’s visited not only various nations and continents, as the writer has done in his books, but time periods on his instrument as well — something that Iyer, limited by physics, has been unable to do. Arabic music has long held a place in Bishop’s heart as a guitarist, as a member of the Sun City Girls and as a solo artist, but he’s never indulged it so completely as he does on The Freak of Araby. There are two distinct inspirations for this album; the primary one is the Egyptian guitarist Omar Khorshid (1945-1991), known as “the King of Arab Guitar.” His influence, in the way Bishop phrases and uses everything from reverb to his picking style, reveals the inspiration of Khorshid, who, at the beginning of his career, was a member of Abdel Halim Hafez’s Oriental Orchestra, and went on to become an actor and one of the great composers in Arabic cinema; he scored more than 40 films during his brief lifetime. The other influence, which is a bit more subtle but unmistakable, is the great Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum — Khorshid was a member of her backing band for a time.


Bishop plays only the electric guitar here, and utilizes a small band on this set — a quartet with a bassist, a drummer, and a percussionist. There are five originals and six “covers” of standards from the Arab world — including “Enta Omri,” by the great composer Mohamed Abdel Wahab. It should be noted that the way in which Bishop approaches the traditional and cover material is with a sense of reverence but not slavishness. He takes liberties and his sense of humor is on full display here. Check his reading of the traditional “Kaddak el Mayass,” which blends the very traditional melody with surf guitar technique and sound. There’s just enough of the latter to make it a modern reading, but the sense of mode, tonality, and phrasing of the vocal song is everywhere on display as well. The opening cut, “Taqasim for Omar,” is a gorgeous solo guitar piece that uses modes and Eastern tonalities and cadences as well as Bishop’s full-blown knowledge of the electric guitar as a “folk” instrument of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.


One of the more startling things about this recording — which may irk some fans — is the lack of guitar solos here, and this is where the influence of the great Egyptian vocalist comes in: Bishop treats the majority of this material in a truly songlike manner, forgoing his own genuinely engaging and startling ability for pyrotechnics on the instrument in favor of re-creating the lyricism of the songs themselves. The sense of sung melodies is everywhere apparent — check the readings of the aforementioned “Enta Omri,” Elias Rahbani’s “Ka’an Azzaman,” or the traditional “Sidi Mansour” (though there is a boatload of reverb utilized in the middle section of the latter that departs significantly). The lack of fiery guitar wizard machinations — at least the overt ones — might bother excitement junkies, but a second listen will yield plenty of them in Bishop’s playing as well as his approach to the material and the open acknowledgement of his muses for this project. In sum, The Freak of Araby is simply wonderful. (by Thom Jurek)

In other words: This music is full of magic !


Rasheed Al-Qahira (guitar, chanter (morocan))
Mohammed Bandari (drums)
Abdullah Basheem (percussion)
Richard Bishop (guitar)
Ahmed Sharif (bass)

01. Taqasim For Omar (Bishop) 7.16
02. Enta Omri (Wahab) 2.45
03. Barbary (Bishop)  2:20
04. Solenzara (Bacar/Darbal/Marfisi) 5.01
05. The Pillars Of Baalbek (Bishop) 5.18
06. Kaddak El Mayass Traditional) 3.26
07. Essaouira (Bishop) 2.21
08. Ka’an Azzaman (Rahbani) 2.51
09 .Sidi Mansour (Traditional) 6.03
10. Blood-Stained Sands (Bishop) 7.26




Gwilym Simcock – Blues Vignette (2009)

FrontCover1Gwilym Simcock (born 24 February 1981) is a Welsh pianist and composer working in both jazz and classical music, and often blurring the boundaries of the two.

Simcock was chosen as one of the 1000 Most Influential People in London by the Evening Standard. He was featured on the front cover of the August 2007 issue of the UK’s leading Jazz journal Jazzwise Magazine.

Simcock was born in Bangor, Gwynedd. At the age of eleven he attained the highest marks in the country for his Associated Board Grade 8 exams – on both piano and French horn. He went on to study classical piano, French horn and composition at Chetham’s School, Manchester, where he was introduced to jazz by pianist and teacher Les Chisnall and bassist and teacher Steve Berry. He went on to study jazz piano at The Royal Academy of Music, London with John Taylor, Nikki Iles, Nick Weldon and Geoff Keezer.

He graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with a first-class honours degree and the “Principal’s Prize’ for outstanding achievement. Whilst at the Royal Academy of Music he studied with many renowned musicians including Milton Mermikides.

Gwilym Simcock01

In 2008 he was commissioned to perform at The Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London. He composed a Piano Concerto “Progressions” which he performed with his trio and the BBC Concert Orchestra on 9 August 2008, broadcast live on BBC2 TV.

On 5 October 2008 he was featured in an evening at the King’s Place Opening Festival in which he performed four concerts leading four different groups including a duo with John Taylor.

In 2006 he was the first jazz musician to be selected for the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme, and this was extended to 2008. It involved numerous recordings that were broadcast on BBC Radio 3 as solo performances, and his trio appearance at the Wigmore Hall during the London Jazz Festival 2006 (broadcast 7 July 2007).

His trio, which has performed at festivals and venues worldwide such as the North Sea Jazz Festival 2007, now features James Maddren (drums) and Yuri Goloubev (bass), while his debut album featured Stan Sulzmann, John Parricelli, Phil Donkin, Martin France and Ben Bryant. He was chosen by Chick Corea for a solo concert performance and live recording at Klavier Festival Ruhr 2007. This concert was broadcast on WDR radio and 20,000 copies were given away as a cover mount CD in Germany’s leading music magazine Fonoforum.

Gwilym Simcock02

In 2011 his album Good Days At Schloss Elmau was one of the twelve nominees for the Mercury Music Prize, ultimately losing to PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake.[2]

He was a member of Tim Garland’s Lighthouse Trio, however left in 2013 being replaced by John Turville. He was a member of Malcolm Creese’s Acoustic Triangle, Stan Sulzmann’s Neon, and Bill Bruford’s Earthworks. He has also played with musicians including Dave Holland, Lee Konitz, Bob Mintzer, Bobby McFerrin, Kenny Wheeler, Iain Ballamy, Julian Argüelles, Pete King, Don Weller, Steve Waterman, and Torsten de Winkel / New York Jazz Guerrilla. He is a founder member of The Impossible Gentlemen.

He also plays French horn[3] and has played with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO), the BBC Big Band, and with Kenny Wheeler on his 2003/2005 tour.

In recent times he has been on tour with legendary US guitarist Pat Metheny in a quartet featuring Linda Oh and Antonio Sanchez. (wikipedia)


And here´s his second solo-album:

And the album launched his new trio with extraordinary, classically trained Russian bassist Yuri Goloubev and young UK drum star James Maddren as well as documenting Gwilym’s emerging voice as a solo pianist. The first CD offers a mix of stunning improvisations and new Simcock compositions as well as insightful interpretations of Grieg’s Piano Concerto and the popular tune “On Broadway”. It also provides a brief window into the mind of a composer who mixes classical and jazz without effort, with a recording of a suite for cello and piano originally written for the opening of London’s newest venue King’s Place. Classical cellist Cara Berridge features on this work. The trio CD is a stunning mix of Simcock compositions and brilliant interpretations of great classics such as “Black Coffee” and “Cry Me A River”.

As Gwilym himself says “recording an album is like taking a photograph. An album is a document of a specific moment in time, a vignette, an insight into the stage that one as a musician has reached. This album marks both the beginning of a fresh journey with a new trio, and documents my continuing quest towards finding an individual voice as a solo pianist”.

He goes on to say: “All of this music is neither ‘Jazz’ nor ‘Classical’. It is just music, and the type of music that interests and stimulates me. What I feel is important in music is lyricism, subtlety and clarity in harmonic and rhythmic movement, and an overall sense of an emotional connection with the listener, whatever the context of the music may be”. (press release)


“The first of this double CD collection is a wonderful display of Simcock’s gifts as a solo pianist as well as his talents as a composer in jazz and classical idioms”. (Ray Comiskey, The Irish Times)

“Just when you thought the piano could go no further in jazz one emerges to raise the bar of invention and virtuosity still higher. On this recording Gwilym Simcock seems to have breached a dam of inhibition and let loose a flood of music that is truly exhilarating”. (Helen Mayhew, JazzFM)

“Gwilym Simcock’s latest Blues Vignette (Basho) adds to the British pianist’s growing reputation is an ambitious double album deftly covering both solo and trio formats with some vivid originals evoking Jarrett and Bill Evans while skilfully straddling the classical and jazz hemispheres”. (James McGowan, Tribune)


“Simcock is certainly going to open some eyes and ears in North America with this ambitious release, which demonstrates why this still young musician and composer is starting to be mentioned as being among the very best in the world” (

“The balance Simcock achieves between compositional structure and improvisation is the thread which runs through the trio numbers and is the unifying strand between the two CDs. Each is an inseparable part of Simcock’s emerging musical identity. It will be fascinating to see how this trio develops over time, for its potential is clearly great. Undoubtedly one of the year’s most satisfying releases”. (Ian Patterson, Allaboutjazz)

“Simcock’s imagination really does seem to flow freely across classical and jazz without noticing the joins. Simcock, Goloubev and James Maddren celebrate the trio tradition of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett on some vivid originals here – and the young leader sounds as if he’s wearing his immense knowledge more lightly, yet using it more incisively, than ever before”. (John Fordham, The Guardian)

And I add a small booklet with more reviews.


Yuri Goloubev (bass)
James Maddren (drums)
Gwilym Simcock (piano)
Cara Berridge (cello on 09. + 10.)



CD 1:
01.  Little People (Simcock) 6.56
02. Exploration On Mvt II Of Grieg Piano Concerto (Simcock) 8.33
03. On Broadway (Mann/Weil) 4.14
04. Improvisation I – Statues (Simcock) 3.05
05. Improvosation II – Letter To The Editor (Simcock) 3.49
06. Improvisation III – 
Be Still Now (Simcock) 4.04
07. Caldera (Simcock) 9.38
08. Jaco And Joe (Simcock) 9.20
09. Suite For Cello And Piano Part 1 – Kinship (Simcock) 14.56
10. Suite For Cello And Piano Part 2 – Homeward (Simcock) 6.04

CD 2:
01. Introduction (Simcock) 4.45
02. Tundra (Simcock) 7.04
03. Blues Vignette (Simcock) 8.11
04. Black Coffee (Burke) 5.22
05. Longing To Be (Simcock) 12.16
06. Nice Work If You Can Get It (Gershwin) 6.35
07. Cry Me A River (Hamilton) 8.05
08. 1981 (Simcock) 8.29



Gwilym Simcock03

More from Gwilym Simcock:

Eliane Elias – Live At Festival Grenzenlos (2009)

FrontCover1Eliane Elias (born 19 March 1960) is a Brazilian jazz pianist, singer, composer and arranger.

Elias was born in São Paulo, Brazil. She started studying piano at age seven, and at age twelve she was transcribing solos from jazz musicians. At fifteen, she was teaching piano and improvisation. Her performing career began in Brazil at age seventeen with Brazilian singer-songwriter Toquinho and touring with the poet Vinicius de Moraes.

In 1981 she moved to New York City, where she attended The Juilliard School of Music. A year later she became part of the group Steps Ahead. In 1993 Elias signed with EMI Classics to record classical pieces, which were released on On the Classical Side.

In 2001, Calle 54 a documentary film by Spanish director Fernando Trueba included Elias performing “Samba Triste.” In 2002 she recorded The Lost Days with Denyce Graves, Eliane Eliasarranging two Brazilian classical pieces and writing an original composition especially for Graves entitled “HaabiaTupi.” In 2002, Elias signed with RCA/Bluebird, which Kissed by Nature, an album of mostly original compositions. Dreamer was released in 2004 and received the Gold Disc Award, as well as being voted Best Vocal Album in Japan. It reached No. 3 on the pop charts in France and No. 4 on the Billboard magazine charts in the U.S. Around the City was released by RCA Victor in August 2006.

Elias returned to Blue Note/EMI in 2007 with Something for You, which won Best Vocal Album of the Year and the Gold Disc Award in Japan. This was her third consecutive recording to receive these awards, and her fourth overall. Something for You reached No. 1 on the U.S. jazz charts, No. 8 on Billboard, and No. 2 on the French jazz charts. In 2008, she recorded Bossa Nova Stories to celebrate the 50th anniversary of bossa nova.

In 2009, EMI Japan released Eliane Elias Plays Live. Light My Fire, released in 2011, features four compositions written or co-written by Elias and includes covers of songs by the Doors, Stevie Wonder, and Paul Desmond. In September 2011, her song “What About the Heart (Bate Bate)” was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the category of Best Brazilian Song. In 2012 she collaborated with bassist Marc Johnson on the album Swept Away, the Editor’s and Critic’s choice in 2012 Downbeat and Jazztimes magazines, respectively. Her 2013 release, I Thought About You, reached No. 1 on the U.S. and French websites; No. 2 on iTunes U.S., France and Brazil; and No. 4 on Billboard.


Made in Brazil, was followed by Dance of Time, which debuted at No. 1 on two Billboard: jazz and world music. Both Made in Brazil and Dance of Time debuted at No. 1 on iTunes in seven countries and won Grammy awards for Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year.

Elias is of Lebanese descent. She was married to American trumpeter Randy Brecker, with whom she has a daughter, the singer/songwriter Amanda Elias Brecker, born in 1984. She is married to Marc Johnson, who plays bass in her band and co-produces her recordings. (by wikipedia)

Marc Johnson

And here´s an excellent broadcast recording from Germany and it´s time to discover this wonderful lady … and if you like this great mixture between Boss Nova and Jazz … this recording is a must !


Rafael Barata (drums)
Rubens de La Corte (guitar)
Eliane Elias (piano, vocals)
Marc Johnson (bass)


01. Chega de Saudade (Jobim/de Moraes) 11.58
02. They Can’t Take That Away From Me (G.Gershwin/I.Gershwin) 4.05
03. Por causa de voceÌ (Ben) 4.38
04. So danco samba (Jobim/de Moraes/Gimbel) 5.53
05. Tangerine (Mercer/Schertzinger) 6.11
06. Introductions by Eliane Elias 1.32
07. The Girl From 
Ipanema (Jobim/de Moraes) 3.17
08. Fotografia (Jobim/Gilbert) 6.45

Rafael Barata


Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band – I’m BeBoppin’ Too (2009)

FrontCover1Dr. John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie (/ɡɪˈlɛspi/; October 21, 1917 – January 6, 1993) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer, educator and singer. He was a trumpet virtuoso and improviser, building on the virtuoso style of Roy Eldridge but adding layers of harmonic and rhythmic complexity previously unheard in jazz. His combination of musicianship, showmanship, and wit made him a leading popularizer of the new music called bebop. His beret and horn-rimmed spectacles, his scat singing, his bent horn, pouched cheeks, and his light-hearted personality provided some of bebop’s most prominent symbols.

In the 1940s Gillespie, with Charlie Parker, became a major figure in the development of bebop and modern jazz. He taught and influenced many other musicians, including trumpeters Miles Davis, Jon Faddis, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Arturo Sandoval, Lee Morgan, Chuck Mangione, and balladeer Johnny Hartman.

Scott Yanow wrote, “Dizzy Gillespie’s contributions to jazz were huge. One of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time, Gillespie was such a complex player that his contemporaries ended up being similar to those of Miles Davis and Fats Navarro instead, and it was not until Jon Faddis’s emergence in the 1970s that Dizzy’s style was successfully recreated [….] Arguably Gillespie is remembered, by both critics and fans alike, as one of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time” (by wikipedia)

Dizzy Gillespie01

And here´s the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band … a tribute band !

Tribute bands are often bland affairs, because they become too predictable, while often omitting any artists who played with the deceased artist. Fortunately, this third CD by the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band mixes veterans who worked with the trumpeter and talented younger players who acquit themselves very well. Trombonist Slide Hampton contributed a fresh chart of Dizzy’s “Manteca” that is a bit more introspective and less percussive and shouting, with potent solos by pianist Cyrus Chestnut.

Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band02

Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath scored the subtle, hip treatment of Kenny Dorham’s “Una Mas,” showcasing alto saxophonist Mark Gross, trombonist Douglas Purviance, and baritonist Gary Smulyan. Vocalist Roberta Gambarini’s solid performance of “‘Round Midnight” (and Hampton’s fresh arrangement) trump those who claim that this landmark Thelonious Monk composition is recorded all too often; there is always room for a top-notch recording such as this one. Gambarini also guests in Heath’s setting of Tadd Dameron’s bittersweet ballad “If You Could Seem Me Now” and Hampton’s snappy setting of “Lover, Come Back to Me.” Nor should the brass players be overlooked: Roy Hargrove’s lush playing in “I Can’t Get Started,” plus his comic vocal in the jive piece “I’m BeBoppin’ Too,” are complemented by Greg Gisbert’s searing trumpet and Michael Dease’s brief, effective trombone solo. Recommended. (by Ken Dryden)


Cyrus Chestnut (piano)
Steve Davis (trombone)
Michael Dease (trombone)
Roberta Gambarini (vocals)
Greg Gisbert (trumpet)
Frank Greene (trumpet)
Mark Gross (saxophone, flute)
Roy Hargrove (trumpet, vocals)
Antonio Hart (saxophone)
Jimmy Heath (saxophone)
Jason Jackson (trombone)
John Lee (bass)
James Moody (saxophone, flute, vocals)
Lewis Nash (drums)
Doug Purviance (bass trombone)
Claudio Roditi (trumpet)
Gary Smulyan (saxophone)

Music Director: Slide Hampton


01. I’m Beboppin’ Too (L.Gillespie) 2.37
02. Cool Breeze (Dameron/Eckstine/D.Gillespie) 5.09
03. ‘Round Midnight (Monk) 7.37
04. Manteca (D.Gillespie/Pozo) 5.39
05. Birks’ Works (D.Gillespie) 4.52
06. If You Could See Me Now (Dameron/Sigman) 7.12
07. Dizzy’s Blues (Salim) 4.38
08. Una Mas (Dorham) 7.45
09. I Can’t Get Started (Duke/Gershwin) 6.01
10. One Bass Hit (Bropwn/D.Gillespie) 4.56
11. Tin Tin Deo (Fuller(D.Gillespie/Pozo) 6.19
12. Lover Come Back To Me (Hammerstein II/Romberg) 5.31



Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band01

Maria Muldaur – Christmas At The Oasis (2010)


If you’re seeing this and thinking, I didn’t know Maria Muldaur ever recorded a Christmas album, well, welcome to the club. The background here is that Christmas at the Oasis, recorded live at a 2010 show at San Francisco’s now-defunct Rrazz Room, was recorded for broadcast locally as part of a Christmas special. Ms. Muldaur never had any intention of recording a Christmas album (see her own notes below), but the producer kept nudging her, telling her how good the set was, and when she listened back, her reaction was, as she told Dan MacIntosh of Songfacts, “‘Oh, my God, that sounds fantastic.’ I have this stellar jazz band that I work with up here, and they were just smoking. And so finally I was pressured and persuaded on all sides to release it. So we did. I mean, we just went in there and tried to clean up the sound a little bit.”

An album could hardly have been lower profile than this. Initially sold only at her live dates, it then migrated to be a website-only purchase. Now, however, it’s available on Amazon as a manufactured-on-demand CD-R—whatever it takes to get it into wider circulation, because it’s one grand, swinging affair, as rollicking a Yuletide celebration as one could ask, with our gal cutting loose in splendid, attitudinous voice throughout and a powerhouse band kicking it behind her on some vintage holiday fare, including three chestnuts most associated with Louis Armstrong, as well as some evergreens from some of the female blues singers of yore she admires so much.


But first, here’s what the lady of the hour has to say about this project in her liner notes:

Year after year, as the holidays approach, we are all inundated endlessly on every side by an onslaught of the same old sentimental, sappy, overdone, pedestrian Christmas tunes. Over the years, as an antidote to that, I have collected and enjoyed some wonderfully hip, swinging, humorous, irreverent Christmas songs by some of my very favorite artists in the Jazz & Blues idioms (Louis Armstrong, Louie Prima, Bessie Smith, Charles Brown, Victoria Spivey & Mabel Scott to name a few) and in the last dozen years or so, have performed this special collection of rare gems live on numerous occasions. Many people have delighted in these tunes and have suggested I record them on a Christmas album of my own, but for years I resisted the idea, as I saw just how very many artists of every stripe put out Christmas albums, and had decided that I would be the one artist on the planet who didn’t release a Christmas album!

Last year, much to my utter astonishment, an artist I consider to be the Hippest of the Hip, The King Of Cool, Bob Dylan, came out with his very own Christmas album, Christmas In The Heart, the proceeds of which were donated to the charity, Feeding America. “Now, there’s a cool idea–and a swell gesture,” I thought. But still, I resisted the idea. The second event was a Christmas concert I gave with my stellar band of top-notch Jazz musicians, which was recorded at The Rrazz Room in San Francisco for a special Christmas TV broadcast. The evening exceeded my every expectation. The band was rockin’ and swingin’ so hard, we all had a great time, and the audience just loved it! Many of them asked if a CD of the music they had heard would become available.

So……after hearing all the wonderful, spirited music on our live Christmas recording, and being urged on every hand to consider releasing our performance as a live Christmas CD, I finally succumbed, and have thrown my hat (my Santa hat!) into the ring, deciding at last to leave the lonely outpost of being the only artist on the planet without a Christmas album, and finally join the fun, and all my fellow artists, with a Christmas release of my own! We had a ball making this music and hope you will enjoy this refreshing collection of Christmas tunes throughout the Holiday Season!

Jim Rothermel.jpg

Indeed! She lets the band take charge at the outset with a Dixieland-tinged romp through Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,” the first of many moments when musical director Jim Rothermel enlivens the proceedings with his spirited clarinet solos aided and is abetted in his efforts by the lively guitar work of Jeff Massanari. This sets the stage for Maria’s entrance, wailing “Well, lookee here, Jack, comin’ down the track, he’s got a rhythm in his feet, but nothin’ in his sack…he’s a boogie-woogie Santa Claus…” Yes, it’s Mabel Scott’s rousing 1948 take on Kris Kringle’s modus operandi in which Muldaur’s swinging vocal over the brisk shuffle beat is complemented by Massanari’s hot picking (funny guy, he even interpolates a snippet of “Jingle Bells” as he surges ahead) and a terrific bluesy fusillade on the 88s from John R. Burr. A lowdown “Christmas Blues” follows, with Rothermel’s bluesy clarinet embellishments setting the stage before Muldaur enters singing a low down “the merry bells are ringing today/but they don’t mean nothin’ to me/I hear the children playing today/but I’m as blue as I can be/ol’ Santa Claus forgot my address/that is something I can plainly see…” The whole shebang promplty jets into an overdrive Kansas City blues originally crafted by Jay McShann as “No Money No Honey.” Muldaur’s tackled this one before, on a 2000 Stony Plain compilation, Stony Plain’s Christmas Blues, backed by the Duke Robillard Band, but she’s even more freewheeling in her attack here and the band is right there with her. And for all the despair in McShann’s lyrics, Muldaur and company have a party with it.


Anyone who’s followed Muldaur’s career knows of her sense of history, which is in full flower here. She may have been averse to the idea of cutting a Christmas album, but when she took the plunge (even if it didn’t start out as an album project, per se) she was going to pay homage to the tradition in her own way. “Sleigh Ride” is one example but that’s the band only. She offers a slinky, seductive “Santa Baby” (with a salty reading of the sentiment “think of all the fellas I haven’t kissed” that would surely impress Miss Eartha Kitt) during which Massanari crafts a an equally salacious guitar solo; a take on Charles Brown’s “Merry Christmas Baby” that has levels of sensuality and longing even its author and its otherwise most famous interpreter, one Elvis Presley, didn’t plumb, aided and abetted by Rothermel’s lusty alto sax and moody solos from Massanari and Burr; like “Sleigh Ride,” “Winter Wonderland,” which dates back to 1934, is an occasion for the band to bop through a delightful theme-and-variation attack, led by Rothermel’s sax but with equal time for Massanari and Burr to fashion fanciful statements of their own as well. She goes back to what is generally acknowledged to be the start of the blues Christmas tradition with a swaggering, multi-textured take on “At the Christmas Ball,” introduced in 1925 by Bessie Smith.

Jeff Massanari.jpg

Armstrong’s “Zat You Santa Claus” elicits a comical treatment with Muldaur vocally trembling at the thought that her late-night visitor might be someone other than Kris Kringle as the drums and sax heighten the element of danger lurking nearby. Two other Armstrong-associated tunes are occasions for the singer and her band to swing free and easy, “Yule That’s Cool” and “Christmas Night in Harlem,” and it could be argued that the delight the musicians take in these—from the way Muldaur plays with the lyrics and the soloists frolic through their spotlight moments—lends these performances a special buoyancy. For good measure, add to these treats the jumping jive the dramatis personae deliver on Louis Prima’s “What Will Santa Claus Say.”


For her long-time fans, Muldaur has a couple of special treats. Those that go back with her to the Even Dozen Jug Band days may remember a holiday parody that irreverent bunch did with the Don Redman-penned tune “Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You,” first recorded in 1929 by McKinney’s Cotton Pickers. With a little lyric tweaking by Duke Ellington collaborator Andy Razaf, Nat King Cole cut it during his first session for Capitol Records in 1943 and in ’44 it followed Cole’s first hit, “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” onto the national charts. Muldaur doesn’t reprise the Jug Band parody here but simply digs into the tune’s deep lovestruck blues in a tender, medium-cool smoldering style with plaintive, atmospheric soloing by Rothermel (clarinet), Burr and Massanari enhancing the yearning mood. And then there is the title track, an on-the-spot rewrite of her breakout hit, the David Nichtern-penned “Midnight at the Oasis,” given a suggestive Yule twist—“let’s slip off to the North Pole…real soon…and kick up a little snow”—in which the camel is supplanted by Rudolph (“our friend…he’ll light up the way…come on, until the evening ends, ‘til the evening ends”), although she does retain, “I’ll be your belly dancer, prancer/and you can be my sheik…,” presumably because, well, prancer fits, doesn’t it? Who knew?

In the end, if Maria Muldaur simply had to be the last person on the planet to release a Christmas album, at least she made the wait worthwhile. Christmas at the Oasis is an instant swinging seasonal classic. (by David McGee)

Ruth Davies
Maria Muldaur’s live Christmas set was recorded at the Razz Room in San Francisco in 2009. What a wonderful blast of Christmas cheer! The recording is technically excellent with Muldaur’s crack Dixieland band giving a new twist to these secular Christmas favorites. A swinging instrumental version of Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” warms up the audience before Muldaur starts her vocal blast on “Boogie Woogie Santa.” Steve Allen’s “Yule That’s Cool” that Bette Midler recorded on her Christmas set Cool Yule sways delightfully. Louis Prima’s “What Will Santa Claus Say” bubbles delightfully. “Christmas Night in Harlem” sways relentlessly. “Winter Wonderland” jives with Jim Rothermel’s sax on the upbeat swing track. “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” has a blusey smoke-filled lounge feel, “I bought you a fur coat for Christmas & a diamond ring, big Cadillac car & everything.” The set concludes with Muldaur’s lyrical twist on her familiar hit “Midnight at the Oasis” which transforms to the title track, “Let’s slip off to the North Pole, real soon, and kick up a little snow.” This is not your religious Christmas record. This is a Christmas party that is as fun as it is addictive. Enjoy! (by Lee Armstrong)

John R. Burr

John R. Burr (piano)
Kent Bryson (drums)
Craig Caffall (guitar)
Ruth Davies (bass)
Jeff Massanari (guitar)
Maria Muldaur (vocals)
Jim Rothermel (saxophone, clarinet)


01. Sleigh Ride (Anderson) 2.58
02. Boogie Woogie Santa (Shaw) 5.03
03. Christmas Blues (Cahn/Holt)) 4.26
04. Yule That’s Cool (Allen) 3.55
05. Santa Baby (Javits/Springer/Springer) 4.46
06. What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swingin’) (Prima) 3.26
07. At The Christmas Ball (Longshaw) 4.39
08. Christmas Night In Harlem (Parish/Scott) 3.35
09. Merry Christmas Baby (Baxter/Moore) 5.07
10. Zat You Santa Claus (Fox) 3.40
11. Winter Wonderland (Bernard/Smith) 5.50
12. Gee Baby Ain’t I Good For You (Razaf/Redman) 5.47
13. Christmas At The Oasis (Nichtern) 3.46



More from Maria Muldaur:



Sting – If On A Winter’s Night (2009)

FrontCover1.jpgIf on a Winter’s Night… is the ninth studio album from British musician Sting.[10] The album is a collection of Christmas and winter-themed songs mostly written by others, including folk songs, madrigals and religious hymns from past centuries. Dozens of musicians appear on the album in various configurations, including jazz, folk and classical players.

It was released in most countries on 26 October 2009, on 27 October 2009 in the United States and 2 November 2009 in the United Kingdom. The album was released in several formats: vinyl LP, a single-disc CD, a limited edition CD and making-of DVD entitled The Genesis of ‘If on a Winter’s Night…’ in Six Chapters in hardback book packaging, an exclusive version, as well as various import editions (of note is the Japanese edition). The limited edition and Amazon exclusive both include bonus songs; the Japanese edition include them as well but adds “The Coventry Carol.” The album includes a reworking of “The Hounds of Winter” from his album Mercury Falling.

The title of the album is based on the novel If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino. (by wikipedia)

Booklet09AIt’s no secret that Sting is a serious man, so it’s only logical that his holiday album — his first new music since the Police reunion, not that it really matters — is a serious endeavor, thank you. No niceties for him, no comforts of carols; he favors formal over familiar, writing madrigals, not ditties. It is music made by someone who lives in a castle, which isn’t necessarily such a bad thing: the austerity is genuine, not affected, and the cerebral nature of the album is fascinating, albeit mildly so, as this is as sleepy as it is thoughtful. And it’s that thoughtfulness that does distinguish If on a Winter’s Night…; no other Christmas album exists in the head like this. It’s a holiday album for people who have never wanted to hear a holiday album, let alone own one. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)


Sting relishes a bleak and beautiful season:

Sting eschews the conventional approach to holiday releases – slap dash versions of jingle bell-dressed carols and reverential hymns-with-strings – with this shivery homage to the season of icicles and introspection.

In the liner notes he explains that the snowy season is his favorite, calling it “both bleak and profoundly beautiful.’’ He expertly captures that mood on this mix of traditional songs, lullabies, hymns, and a pair of originals.

The ultra-tasteful arrangements trot the globe from Gaelic revelry to Middle Eastern rhythms.


The upbeat, bluegrass-tinged “Soul Cake’’ offers pleasant Dickensian undertones in the poverty-stricken-yet-jolly lyrics. The melancholic “Christmas at Sea’’ finds Sting setting a Robert Louis Stevenson poem to windswept music. He recasts the midtempo pop song “The Hounds of Winter’’ from his “Mercury Falling’’ album with layers of bass clarinet, melodeon, and cello into a ballad of exquisite wistfulness. As is the simple voice and guitar arrangement of “The Snow It Melts the Soonest,’’ with Sting exploring a ragged part of his voice perfect for the tune’s mournful tone.

The disc absolutely veers into stuffy corners, thick with overemphasized, Sting-ian portent, notably on the mannered spoken word passages of “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming.’’ And the more contemporary energy of a tune like “The Burning Babe’’ doesn’t mesh as well with its throwback peers.

But mostly, with its wintry hush and flurries of harmonies, the album evokes the title, a not unpleasant vision of contemplatively gazing out a window encrusted with frost in a thick Irish wool sweater drinking a steaming cup of cider. (by Sarah Rodman)


Chris Botti (trumpet)
John Clark (horn)
Ira Coleman (bass)
Charles Curtis (cello)
Jack DeJohnette (drums)
Daniel Druckman (drums)
Chris Dudley (trombone)
John Ellis (clarinet)
Kenny Garrett (saxophone)
Chris Gekker (trumpet)
David Hartley (harmonium)
Daniel Hope (violin)
Bashiri Johnson (drums, percussion)
Edin Karamazov (lute)
Ibrahim Maalouf (trumpet)
Mary MacMaster (harp, vocals)
David Mansfield (dulcimer, guitar, mandocello, mandolin)
Melissa Meell (cello)
Dominic Miller (guitar)
Daphna Mor (recorder)
Leslie Neish (tuba)
Dean Parks (guitar, mandolin)
Marcus Rojas (tuba)
Bassam Saba (ney, oud)
David Sancious (organ)
Dov Scheindlin (viola)
Vincent Ségal (cello)
Sting (vocals, percussion, guitar, lute, snare drum)
Julian Sutton (accordion)
Kathryn Tickell (northumbrian smallpipes, violin)
Peter Tickell (violin)
Bijan Chemirani – Rhani Krija – Cyro Baptista – Daniel Freedman – Donald Hay
background vocals:
Joe Sumner – Lisa Fischer – The Webb Sisters – Jasmine Thomas
Stile Antico (vocal ensemble)
MusicAeterna (strings)


01. Gabriel’s Message (Traditional) 2.33
02. Soul Cake (Stookey/Batteast/Mezetti) 3.27
03. There Is No Rose of Such Virtue (Anonymous) 4.03
04. The Snow It Melts The Soonest (Traditional) 3.43
05. Christmas At Sea (Stevenson/Sting/MacMaster) 4.37
06. Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming (Praetorius/Baker) 2.41
07. Cold Song (Purcell/Dryden) 3.16
08. The Burning Babe (Wood/Southwell) 2.43
09. Now Winter Comes Slowly (Purcell/Betterton) 3.05
10. The Hounds Of Winter (Sting) 5.49
11. Balulalow (Warlock/Traditional) 3.10
12. Cherry Tree Carol (Traditional) 3.11
13. Lullaby For An Anxious Child (Sting/Miller) 2.50
14. The Hurdy-Gurdy Man (Schubert/Müller) 2.49
15. You Only Cross My Mind In Winter (Bach/Sting) 2.35





Steve Morse Band – Out Standing In Their Field (2009)

FrontCover1.jpgSteve Morse (born July 28, 1954) is an American guitarist and composer, best known as the founder of the Dixie Dregs; and since 1994, the guitar player of Deep Purple. Morse’s career has encompassed rock, country, funk, jazz, classical, and fusion of these musical genres. In addition to his successful solo career, he was briefly a member of Kansas in the mid-1980s. Most recently, Morse became a member of the supergroup Flying Colors alongside long-time bandmate Dave LaRue. (by wikipedia)

A solid effort from an outstanding trio – well worth a listen, especially for guitar enthusiasts!

I recently had the pleasure to see these guys on their brief 2009. It seems like Steve is so busy playing with Deep Purple and other acts that he rarely has a chance to tour with this trio. I was so blown away by their stellar performance that I decided to pick up this album (their most recent at this time). Although I’m a fan of Morse’s guitar playing, I preface this review by saying that I’m not that familiar with his previous Steve Morse Band albums. So, my opinions on this album are relatively uninfluenced by his previous works.

SteveMorse01Overall, this is a spectacular album. I highly recommend it for fans of instrumental prog, particularly if you’re a fan of excellent guitar work and funky bass lines. For fans of Liquid Tension Experiment and Bozzio Levin Stevens, this is worth a listen. There are a lot of standout tracks on this album, with only a few tracks that are rather unmemorable. This album is highly recommended for road trips! Now on to the track-by-track:

1) Name Dropping – The album kicks off with solid, hard-driving riffing with a steady beat. A running eighth note melody is doubled on the guitar and bass which sets the foundation for Morse’s soaring guitar playing. Keep listening, because the mellow, spacey bridge adds nice contrast later in the song.

2) Brink of the Edge – Eclectic and dynamic, this piece combines heavy sections with softer passages in a true Steve Morse sound. Awesome guitar picking, as you’d expect from the master, which is complimented by La Rue’s prominent bass lines including the quintessential slap bass solo near the end (not the last one you’ll hear on this album).

3) Here And Now And Then – One of the best on the album and the first song to catch my attention. It starts out very mellow with nice use of syncopation and stays that way for a while. It eventually builds momentum and develops into a nice rock groove at the end with some great guitar work over top. The solo work at the end reminds me of John Petrucci (who, of course, was heavily influenced by Morse)? a plus for you Dream Theater fans out there (especially if you’re an early DT fan, like me).

4) Relentless Encroachment – Not the strongest song on the album, but worth a listen. The song starts out a bit weak, but gets better part way through. After some rather uninspired riffing, it switches to a softer section, which is then followed by some good ol’ riffing in the style of King’s X, followed by some good guitar work (no surprise there!).

SteveMorse035) John Deere Letter – OK, OK? cheesy name aside, this is a decent song, though not one of my favorites (I go for the heavier stuff). Morse fans will know what to expect from the title. For the rest of you, take a listen to better understand why these guys are classified as “eclectic prog.” The song showcases Morse’s signature “chicken-pickin”style as he trades 4’s and 8’s with La Rue, who pulls out some quick fingered solos of his own.

6) More to the Point – Another decent piece, but, again, not the most memorable on the album. Good use of syncopation in the main motif. Perhaps one of the better songs on the album for cranking up loud and driving down the highway.

7) Time Junction – This song is neat just for the fact that it includes featured guest Kevin Morse (Steve’s son, I presume?). In fact, the song is credited as being written by Kevin and Steve Morse (the only one on the album not credited solely to Steve). What’s more, this is a pretty awesome song. It starts off a bit weak, but takes off pretty quick. If this is the start of a rock dynasty, then I’m looking forward to hearing what’s to come!

8) Unnamed Sources – A rather uninspired offering on an otherwise outstanding album. This song starts rather pedestrian in tempo with so-so guitar and bass work. Just before the 3 minute mark it shows the potential to shine when they crank it up to a riff that’s reminiscent of Carrier on Wayward Son (makes sense with Morse’s connection to Kansas). But this shining moment is short lived. After about 15 seconds they put the breaks on and never pick it back up.

9) Flight Of The Osprey – Hands down, best song on the album. This song caught my attention right away. It starts out with a brief Baroque counterpoint section but quickly shifts to a driving rock that carries us through to the end. My only criticism of this song is that I wish it would last longer and perhaps include more soloing.


10) Baroque ‘N Dreams – An awesome piece that contrasts the rest of the album. This piece is bass and guitar only in a “classical” style that is at times dark, but always wonderful. Some nice flamenco-esque sounds find their way into the guitar line which is supported through much of the piece with a basso continuo from La Rue. No rock here, but awesome for fans of neo-classical (and good music in general).

11) Rising Power (live) – For those of you who couldn’t make it to their recent tour, here’s your 9 and a half minute consolation prize. This track is awesome and an excellent way to close out this album. You can really hear the energy they have on stage. This track has everything you would expect at a Steve Morse Band show: Romaine’s driving rock beat, La Rue’s funky slap bass fills (anyone who’s been to a show can attest to how essential these are? it seems like he spends half his time slapping!), and of course Morse’s versatile and precise guitar work. This song also showcases some great texture changes. Its got driving rock, spacey guitar-synth, bluesy breakdowns, the elongated buildup? not to mention great guitar and bass solos. If you can’t go to the show, this really is the next best thing. (by The Radiant Is)


Dave LaRue (bass)
Steve Morse (guitar)
Van Romaine (drums, percussion)


01. Name Dropping (S.Morse) 5.00
02. Brink Of The Edge (S.Morse) 4.44
03. Here And Now And Then (S.Morse) 5.08
04. Relentless Encroachment (S.Morse) 4.56
05. John Deere Letter (S.Morse) 4.44
06. More To The Point (S.Morse) 4.29
07. Time Junction (K.Morse) 5.16
08. Unnamed Sources (S.Morse) 4.31
09. Flight Of The Osprey (S.Morse) 3.21
10. Baroque `N Dreams (S.Morse) 3.16
11. Rising Power (live) (S.Morse) 9.28




Rigmor Gustafsson & Radio String Quartet Vienna – Calling You (2010)

FrontCover1At first sight this collaboration between two of ACT’s established artists seems an unlikely alliance.
Swedish singer Gustafsson has released a series of albums for the label, all the titles ending with the word “You” so in effect I guess this is her record. Gustafsson is an assured and soulful singer schooled in jazz but with an innate feel for the rhythms of popular song ( her album “Close To You” is a celebration of the music of Dionne Warwick). She is also a more than useful songwriter and wrote the bulk of the material on her 2007 release “Alone With You.”

radio.string.quartet.vienna won great critical acclaim when they first burst onto the scene in 2007 with their album “Celebrating The Mahavishnu Orchestra”. Their ingenious arrangements of the music of John McLaughlin proved remarkably successful both artistically and commercially and in 2008 the group released their second album “Radiotree”, a collaboration with Austrian accordionist and bandoneon player Klaus Paier. This time the focus was largely on original material composed either by Paier or by members of the quartet.

Rigmor Gustafsson & Radio String Quartet Vienna

On “Calling You” the material is a mix of inspired covers from both the jazz and pop songbooks plus a smattering of original material from both Gustafsson and members of the quartet. The quartet’s line up remains unchanged with Johannes Dickbauer and leader Bernie Mallinger on violins, Cynthia Liao on viola and the extraordinary Asja Valcic on cello. RSQV break pretty much all the rules for a string quartet, playing pizzicato almost as much as arco and generating an incredible rhythmic drive, much of this due to Valcic in the proverbial engine room. The level of technical skill displayed by the players is astonishing and their arrangements, shared between Mallinger and Dickbauer, are always adventurous and colourful. No wonder the press release states that the group have “totally redefined the string quartet genre”. What is amazing is the ease with which the quartet dovetail with the voice of Gustafsson to produce something unique. It all sounds perfectly natural and what might have been a musical disaster area is, in fact, a huge success.

Rigmor Gustafsson & Radio String Quartet Vienna02

The ensemble commence with a wistful,slowed down version of Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years”. The quartet complement Gustafsson’s voice superbly and shine in a spectral instrumental middle passage. The imaginative arrangement and Gustafsson’s delivery bring out the pathos in Simon’s lyrics. It’s a stunning version of the song.

RSQV know how to have fun as well as how to emote. The jazz standard “Makin’ Whoopee”, a tune Gustafsson has covered previously, gets the playful treatment complete with buzzing strings and scat vocals.

Gustafsson’s own “Goodbye For Now” could be a jazz standard and features the singer at her most flirtatious. There’s even the sound of whistling (Gustafsson presumably) over the sound of massed pizzicato strings.

Rigmor Gustafsson & Radio String Quartet Vienna03

It’s back to the serious approach for Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself”. Gustafsson’s yearning vocal brings out the sense of loneliness expressed in the lyrics.
The brooding string arrangement complements her perfectly and in it’s way this is just as radical an interpretation of the tune as that of the White Stripes.

By way of contrast Valcic’s “Fancy Nancy” is a joyous romp with Gustafsson camping it up above furiously sawing strings. It’s a bit throwaway but great fun.

The ensemble like to mix moods and styles and no two tunes follow the same pattern. Their version of Stevie Wonder’s “If It’s Magic” is achingly beautiful, Gustafsson’s pure vocal augmented by an unusually “straight” string arrangement. Immediately afterwards Richard Bona and John Legend’s “Please Don’t Stop” marks a return to the playful, flirtatious approach complete with finger snaps.

Rigmor Gustafsson & Radio String Quartet Vienna04

Gustafsson’s album notes state that the group merely picked songs that meant a lot to them regardless of genre and classification. However they do seem to have a particular affinity for the works of Bacharach and David. A remarkable reworking of “Close To You” imbues the song with an ethereal sense of wonder, it’s fragile and vaguely Bjork-ish in spirit if not in delivery.

Johannes Dickbauer’s writing contribution is the haunting “Wherever We Go” beautifully delivered by Gustafsson above Dickbauer’s own arrangement.

Joni Mitchell’s “The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines” with music by Charles Mingus is an altogether more challenging piece of work. Gustafsson’s virtuoso vocal performance and Mallinger’s grainy, sometimes dissonant arrangement are hugely effective on the album’s most extreme piece of work.

Rigmor Gustafsson & Radio String Quartet Vienna05

Bob Telson’s much covered title track from the 1987 movie “Bagdad Cafe” also works supremely well. Gustafsson’s singing and Mallinger’s arrangement conjure up the emptiness of the desert highways referenced in the song’s lyrics. I’m not familiar with the other covers by the likes of Celine Dion and George Michael but I’d imagine they pale in comparison to this.

“Nothing’s Better Than Love” is Gustafsson’s second writing credit. She deploys semi spoken hipster vocals and the playing by the quartet is typically sparky but it’s not one of the record’s most memorable cuts.

Given that the bulk of the songs covered on the album are the work of Americans Gustafsson redresses the balance with the closing item, a beautiful rendition of the traditional Swedish folk tune “Ack Varmland Du Skona”. Gustafsson sings in her native tongue, it’s a nice touch from a vocalist who has made herself so much at home in the American idiom.

Rigmor Gustafsson & Radio String Quartet Vienna06.jpg

When RSQV took their Mahavishnu project on the road they won fulsome praise for the quality of their live performances. Together with Gustafsson they are currently touring the music of “Calling You” around Europe and it’s likely that further plaudits will be forthcoming. Listening to the album it’s apparent that this combination of voice and instruments should make for a hugely impressive live show.

The album itself is a highly impressive piece of work and as I’ve intimated it should work very well live. Whether it’s the kind of album that will remain a regular favourite after the initial sense of admiration/novelty has worn off I’m not yet certain but there’s no doubt that the singing and playing is of the highest order. (by Ian Mann)


Rigmor Gustafsson (vocals)
Radio String Quartet Vienna:
Johannes Dickbauer (violin)
Cynthia Liao (cello)
Bernie Mallinger (violin)

01. Still Crazy After All These Years (Simon) 4.31
02. Makin’ Whoopee (Kahn/Donaldson) 3.54
03. Goodbye For Now (Gustafsson) 3.16
04. I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself (David/Bacharach) 3.57
05. Fancy Nancy (Valcic) 2.29
06. If It’s Magic (Wonder) 4.03
07. Please Don’t Stop (Legend/Bona) 4.03
08. Close To You (David/Bacharach) 4.16
09. Whenever We Go (Dickbauer) 5.24
10. The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines (Mitchell/Mingus) 4.42
11. Calling You (Telson) 5.04
12. Nothing’s Better Than Love (Gustafsson) 3.28
13. Ack Värmland Du Sköna (Tradional) 5.41
14. Calling You (Telson) 5.18



Rigmor Gustafsson & Radio String Quartet Vienna07