August 2016 Archives

Blu-ray Review: Kiss Rocks Vegas

Kiss Rocks Vegas is a bombastic souvenir of the group's 2014 residency.
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In November 2014, Kiss descended upon Las Vegas, doing a nine-show run at the Hard Rock Hotel. It was a rare opportunity to see the band's bombastic stage show in a smaller setting and the group delivered. The stage was arguably as good as any they have had in their careers with a spectacular light and video production and the group's performances, which spanned their 40-plus year career, were top notch as well. The cameras were rolling and the band has released a new Blu-ray simply titled Kiss Rocks Vegas. Kiss Rocks Vegas is available in multiple configurations. A two-disc

DVD Review: Deep Purple - Live At The NEC

Jon Lord's memorable final show with Deep Purple is documented in this new DVD.
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In early 2002, legendary Deep Purple keyboardist and founding member Jon Lord announced his retirement from the band. Veteran keyboard player and fellow virtuoso Don Airey took his place, a position he has held ever since. In September 2002, the band decided to give Lord a proper sendoff, including him at a gig at the NEC in Birmingham, England. The performance was filmed and it was a memorable one, making up the DVD Deep Purple - Live At The NEC. Airey is the sole keyboardist for the first half of the show, with Lord joining in midway through the proceedings.

CD Review: The Scientists - A Place Called Bad

Compilation shines a new light on this oft-overlooked Australian powerhouse.
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Australian post-punk rockers The Scientists never made much of a commercial dent during their 10-year tenure, but their influence has grown in the interim, far exceeding any success they had when they were actively releasing albums. Artists such as Jon Spencer and Thurston Moore have sung the group's praises and the band is seen as having predicted the grunge revolution that was to start shortly after their breakup. The group released a number of albums and singles, which were mostly available in Australia. Now The Numero Group has compiled this influential music, rereleasing it as A Place Called Bad. The

DeepSoul "Behind the Scenes": James Mtume

Remember the 1983 hit "Juicy Fruit"? Writer/producer James Mtume was the man behind that song, but he also worked with R&B's most sophisticated singers.
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One of the classic early 80s R&B hits, "Juicy Fruit" has been sampled by numerous hip hop artists, most notably the Notorious B.I.G. (1994's "Juicy"). The group, Mtume, scored several soul hits until their 1986 breakup, but founder James Mtume boasted an impressive resume both before and after the group as a musician, songwriter, and producer. He co-penned and produced hits for major artists such as Phyllis Hyman, Donny Hathaway, Stephanie Mills, Teddy Pendergrass, R. Kelly, and Mary J. Blige. While he made his name as an R&B dynamo, Mtume brought a jazz background to the genre. Born to legendary

CD Review: Judy Henske & Jerry Yester - Farewell Aldebaran

A lost classic finally gets rereleased 47 years later.
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The year 1969 should have been an exciting one for the duo of Judy Henske and Jerry Yester. The pair recorded Farewell Aldebaran, an eclectic album that remains hard to classify, but one which exemplifies the "anything goes" mentality of late 1960s rock. They had backing from Frank Zappa, who released it on his avant-garde Straight Records label and it was co-produced by Zal Yanovsky (Who Yester replaced in The Lovin' Spoonful), who also contributed guitar, bass and vocals. It didn't work out as planned though. The album may have been too diverse for its own good and it received

DeepSoul "Behind the Scenes": Leon Sylvers III

The creative force behind the 1970s group The Sylvers went on to produce classic R&B hits of the 1970s and 1980s.
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This week's DeepSoul kicks off a four-part series called "Behind the Scenes," a look at songwriters/producers you may not know by name, but you do know their work. These talented composers helped shape modern R&B and pop, penning and overseeing tracks by artists ranging from the Whispers to Whitney Houston, Phyllis Hyman to Michael Jackson. First in line is an artist who experienced his own success before achieving even greater success "behind the scenes": Leon Sylvers III. Leon Sylvers honed his skills as the creative force behind the Sylvers, a group consisting of nine siblings who boasted impressive harmonies. The

CD Review: CCM Jazz Orchestra - In Search Of Garaj Mahal

A killer live performance of Garaj Mahal's music by the CCM Orchestra featuring Fareed Haque.
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For over a decade, Garaj Mahal made a name for themselves by playing a fusion of jazz, funk, Indian and rock music. The group played over 1,000 shows and was known for their instrumental prowess. In 2014, the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music (CCM) Jazz Director, Scott Belck, approached Garaj Mahal guitarist Fareed Haque with an idea. He wanted to do orchestral arrangements of Garaj Mahal tunes with the CCM Jazz Orchestra, perform them live and record an album. While Haque was skeptical at first, he soon learned that Belck was serious and he ended up performing with the orchestra. The

CD Review: Todd Hunter Trio - Eat, Drink, Play

Todd Hunter sets out to make a travel log with his latest CD.
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As a touring musician and longtime pianist/keyboardist for Dionne Warwick, Todd Hunter has lived a life most musicians would be envious of. He has gotten to travel the world, playing every continent but Antarctica, and sampled the food, drink and culture of numerous locales. For his latest release, Hunter wanted to create an album that was sort of a travel log of some of the places he had been in the tradition of the great storytellers among jazz pianists. The resulting album Eat, Drink, Play takes the listener on a musical journey, one that makes it easy to imagine these

CD Review: Maggie Herron - Between The Music And The Moon

Maggie Herron delivers a diverse collection of songs with Between The Music And The Moon.
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While her previous album included a healthy dose of standards, for her new CD Between The Music & The Moon, singer-songwriter Maggie Herron wanted to focus on original material. The results are 12 songs that range between Latin dance to bluesy romps and sultry ballads. Herron's songwriting skills are evident from the start and her deep, rich voice takes the listener on a musical journey. On the opening number "Wolf," a slinky horn intro gives way to a smoky vocal from Herron with clever lyrics from her daughter Dawn (Who contributed to several tracks). Think "Fever" stylistically, though with more

CD Review: Horace Bray - Dreamstate

An impressive debut from guitarist Horace Bray.
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For his debut album, Dreamstate, Horace Bray has crafted an impression collection of songs that play more like those of a seasoned veteran. A gifted guitarist, Bray and his band, which includes Colin Campbell on keyboards, Mike Luzecky on bass and Matt Young and Connor Kent on drums are as much about creating moods as they are nimble playing and there is ample evidence of both throughout. The album leads off with the sister tracks "Laumeier" and "Laumeier Outro." The former blends mellow guitar leads over a high speed, intricate drum pattern from Young. Campbell's keyboard playing, both here and

CD Review: Charlie Ballantine - Providence

Charlie Ballantine expands his musical horizons on Providence.
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While band leader Charlie Ballantine went a more traditional jazz route on his 2015 debut, Green, he has allowed more styles to permeate his second release, Providence. In doing so, Ballantine manages to stay close to his roots while exploring new territory sonically. Backed by a crack band, including Amanda Gardier on saxophone, Josh Espinoza on organ, Conner Green on bass and Josh Roberts on drums, Providence is an exciting listen that showcases these former Indiana University students' considerable chops. The album mixes six Ballantine originals with three well-chosen covers. "Old Hammer" starts things off with a crackling sound, like

CD Review: The Bangles - Ladies And Gentlemen...The Bangles!

A killer compilation of the early years of this great '80s pop group.
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The Bangles hit their commercial stride in the mid 1980s with a string of hit singles including "Manic Monday," "Walk Like An Egyptian" and "Eternal Flame." While much of the airwaves was dominated by big haired rock bands, The Bangles were making smart, 60s-inspired pop with jangly guitars and killer harmonies. The group's success was not overnight however. The group formed in 1981 as The Bangs and was comprised of longtime members Susanna Hoffs and Debbi and Vicki Peterson. The group released a single and, later, an EP, before finally releasing a full-length album, All Over The Place, in 1984.