OSARU – STEPPING UP
The Musical MD takes another quick break from caring for his patients, to release a brand new smooth jazz album titled 'Stepping up'. This is a 10-song collection of original tracks written, produced and performed by the artist. It features smooth, melodic tenor and soprano sax phrasing, sprinkled with subtle keyboard and vocal syncopation on a background of punchy, laid-back grooves. Osaru describes the new album as 'smooth jazz with attitude.' Once again, Osaru combines his skills on the keyboards, saxophone and wind controller with his song writing and production skills. The end product is a high energy, positively charged, groove swathed Album. From the mid-tempo funk of 'The Music Train' to the slow dance of 'Remember', you will find yourself tapping your foot and bobbing your head as each groove unfolds. By the time 'What A Great Day!' comes on, you can truly feel the optimism in the album. The album closes on a high note with the aptly titled song, 'Let's Go', which is an all out jam with tenor sax, soprano sax, electric guitar and piano all accounted for in this splendid conclusion to the album. You can't help but wonder...What's next?
WOLFGANG MUTHSPIEL – RISING GRACE
One of the most beautiful albums we've ever heard from guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel – a set that opens up in so many tones and colors, thanks to help from a great group that features Ambrose Akimusire on trumpet and Brad Mehldau on piano! Both of these musicians really help underscore the more human side of Muthspiel's music – which is still very much in the soundshaping mode of some of his other releases, but has a very organic flow and sense of warmth that we really appreciate. The group also features Larry Grenadier on bass and Brian Blade on drums – and overall, the sound is still very ECM-ish, but quite warm and personal. ~ Dusty Groove
SHABANKA & THE ELDERS – WISDOM OF THE ANCESTORS
A fantastic jazz group from the contemporary South African scene – one who've got a very righteous vibe, and a sound that's maybe even more far-reaching than any jazz we've heard from that scene back in the 60s or 70s! The group's led by Shabaka Hutchings on tenor, but is a very collaborative ensemble – with these tremendous upfront vocals from Siyabonga Mthembu, a singer with a very unique approach, and a spiritual current that we'd rank right up there with work by Leon Thomas, Dwight Trible, or Joe Lee Wilson, even though Mthembu's very much his own man. The group's also got two other great horn players – Mthunzi Mvubu on alto and Mandla Mlangeni on trumpet – plus Fender Rhodes and piano from Nduduzo Makhathini, and a wonderfully early array of bass, percussion, and drums – which lay down a fantastic groundwork for each tune. The music starts somewhere in the spiritual territory of the post-Coltrane scene – but really takes off immediately with its own individual spirit – ala Kamasai Washington – and the performance is live and unadorned, without some of the studio efforts that show up on other Brownswood label releases. Beautiful work throughout – an instant classic that we'd rank right up there with the best material by folks like Nat Birchall or Matthew Hallsall, but very different too. Titles include "Nguni", "Mzwandile", "Joyous", "The Sea", "The Observer", and "Give Thanks". ~ Dusty Groove