More than 25 years after Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Melissa Manchester released Tribute, her 1989 album that honored the great female singers who influenced her, she turns the tables with The Fellas, a radiant encomium to the men, including Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme', Tony Bennett and Dean Martin, and the iconic songs they made famous. Tracks include: Ain’'t That a Kick in the Head; Chances Are; They Say It's Wonderful; For Me and My Gal; Love Is Just Around the Corner; Smile; Night and Day; and How Do You Keep the Music Playing.
STEVE NELSON JAZZ QUARTET – EASY LIVING
Vibist Steve Nelson is in a slightly different setting here than on some of his other recent records – running through a set of familiar standards in a laidback way, yet still handling them with that remarkably bold strike on the vibes that always makes his music so unique! The group's got a nicely warm vibe – Massimo Farao on piano, Aldo Zunino on bass, and Byron Landham on drums – and although Farao gets in some nice solos, Nelson's clearly the main attraction – as he makes these tunes explode with chromatic hues, but in an easygoing way! The whole thing's another example of why Steve's been one of our favorite vibes players for years – and titles include "Easy Living", "East Of The Sun", "Samba De Orfeu", "Beautiful Friendship", and "Lady Be Good" – plus Steve's original "Blues Up". ~ Dusty Groove
VENUS ALL STARS – VENUS JAZZ NIGHT: ISOLA JAZZ FESTIVAL
A beautiful live performance – recorded in Italy, but by a group of musicians who record for Japan's Venus Records label – easily one of the classiest jazz imprints of the past decade or two! And as a further twist, a number of the artists here are American – which makes the whole thing a great trans-national performance, handled with energy to match! Yet even without all of that pedigree, the music is wonderful in and of itself – long tracks that seem to bring even more of an edge to the usual Venus presentation – especially in the rhythmic department, which can sometimes be a bit more subtle on the label's studio recordings. The group features lots of heavy work on the bottom – bassists Aldo Zunino and Nicola Barbon, drummers Roberto Facchinetti and Byron Landham, and percussionist Ernesttico – and strong solos are by Jerry Weldon on tenor and Massimo Farao on piano. There's also a few vocal moments – with singers who include Daria Toffali, Joyce Yuille, and Denise King – and titles include "Estrada Branca", "Theme From Mash", "Get Up", "September Song", "Sunny", "Triste", "O Amor Em Paz", and "Teach Me Tonight". ~ Dusty Groove