NEIL LARSEN - JUNGLE FEVER
A standout set from keyboardist Neil Larsen – a record that crossed over big back in the 70s, and which still sounds pretty darn great in the 21st Century! Larsen's keys here are kind of a more mainstream take on territory Bob James was exploring a few years before – arguably hipper at this point that some of James' own recordings, and recorded in a relatively lean setting with guitar, bass, drums, and percussion – plus a bit of tenor or trumpet from time to time. The keyboards glide along gently on the spacey numbers, and get a bit more bite on some of the funkier ones – always with a good sense of space that means that Neil's never jamming too much, or getting in the way of his groove. Titles include the classic "Sudden Samba" – plus "Jungle Fever", "Red Desert", "Emerald City", "Last Tango In Paris", "Windsong", and "Promenade". (SHM-CD pressing!) ~ Dusty Groove
CLARA MORENO SAMBA ESQUEMA NOVO
Clara Moreno's jazzy samba soul take Jorge Ben's classic Samba Esquema Novo album – much more than a simple tribute record, though – it's some of her warmest grooves in years! The songs ever fresh, of course, but Clara is really doing something special here, adapting the material in a way that honors the soulful integrity Ben brought to the bossa sound in early 60s, but rather than simply covering his work with a feminine touch in a modern setting, she and arranger Paulo Malheiros take a lively (and often live sounding) jazzy approach, and it feels right at home there! There's a lot of piano in the mix,the rhythm section is solid for sure and Clara's beautiful voice is right out front. We especially love how warm and unfussy the vibe is, almost like a live session at times, and Clara could need sound any more at home with these songs. We knew we were in for something special with the unique take on "Mas Que Nada" that starts it off, and sure enough, it's as fresh and lively throughout – with "Tim Dom Dom", "Balanca Pema", "Chove Chuva", "E So Sambar", "Rosa, Menina Rosa", "Quero Esquecer Voce", "A Tamba", "Pr Causa De Voce, Menina" and more. ~ Dusty Groove
Canadian-born and UK-based Antoine has been releasing original instrumental music for more than 15 years. He actualizes his musical vision with harmonic and melodic elements that are mostly composed on the classical and electric guitar, while special attention is always given to the rhythm. Antoine’s first three albums feature world-class musicians including Vinnie Colaiuta, Jerry Goodman, Scott Henderson and Dave Weckl, who all bring their unique qualities to compositions aimed at audiences seeking instrumental music that emphasizes improvisation and innovation. Sphère is Antoine’s fourth album, featuring Gary Husband on drums, lead synth and piano, and Jerry De Villiers Jr on lead guitar. The album follows Ad Perpetuum, a collection that was well received by fans and critics on its release in 2014, described by DownBeat Magazine as “a powerful example of jazz-fusion at its hardest.” Sphère collects nine new original pieces featuring a blend of foot-tapping grooves, original chord progressions and creative soundscapes. The music offers plenty of space for De Villiers Jr to shine with his rich and warm guitar tone and highly melodic approach. The album also gives a platform for virtuoso multi-instrumentalist Husband to display his intensity and musicality in his highly creative approach to both drums and keyboards. Fafard gives his signature to all the music, with De Villiers Jr as co-composer on three tracks, and provides the bass frequencies and occasional solos on the electric bass. Sphere will be released in September 2016.