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Jazz Reviews

What we're listening to lately in the BB Test Kitchen is drummer extraordinaire, Sandro Dominelli. His newest CD, Passages has about one of the best (and most unique) covers of Human Nature, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy and Start Again in recent memory. Think drummers aren't sensitive or can't arrange or compose? Think again. Better yet, listen up.

David Binney the composer is without a doubt the equal of David Binney the improviser. This is often not the case in modern jazz, which is rife with superb players who lack the equivalent disposition for composition (unbeknownst to them). Not only is Binney one of the foremost jazz musicians in the world (his prodigious technique, expressive tone and unique lyricism are world class) he is one of the few meaningful and engaging modern compositional voices. “Cities and Desire,” Binney’s second Criss Cross release, is a collection of tunes dedicated to each of his most frequented tour stops. His compositional style combines simple melodies, driving grooves, parallel harmonies, and ostinatos, as on “Montreal,” angular horn lines such as “New York City,” odd meters on “Rome”, and lyrical ballads like “Miami” (his home town). What’s more, Binney’s compositions provide the perfect vehicle for his style of improvising allowing the group to stretch out and explore the possibilities of interaction and intensity. He surrounds himself with a fine supporting cast including Mark Turner on sax (our thoughts and prayers are with him), Craig Taborn on piano, Thomas Morgan on bass, and Dan Weiss on drums. Not to shortchange the other sidemen, but it is Weiss who propels the group with his energetic and exciting brand of drumming (not to mention he also plays Tabla on “Toronto”). While David Binney is generally recognized as one of the premiere improvisers in jazz today, “Cities and Desire,” should do much in the way of solidifying his status as a composer of equal acclaim.     

Cities and Desire
David Binney

 This review is courtesy of and contributor, Jonathan Goldman,
 The first time I ever heard Oliver Jones play the piano I could have sworn it had more keys. His latest album entitled “Second Time Around” is no exception. What’s more is Mr. Jones surrounds himself with musicians equal to the task – Eric Lagacé on bass and Jim Doxas on drums. The result is hard swinging total group statement. The disc contains 6 originals and 5 standards ranging from a tender rendition of Heyman and Young’s “When I Fall in Love” to Jones’ can’t-help-but-feel-good “Simple Blues”. Jones’ unpretentious, yet inventive playing culminates in 59 minutes of pure joy. Simply put: Oliver Jones is a jazz giant no matter the tempo, style or era. More info can be found at

Reviewed by Jonathan Goldman
Composer, arranger and customer engraver (for sheet music arrangements).

Cameron Wallis
OneUpOneDown, Cameron Wallis
Montrealer Cameron Wallis shows a sophistication beyond his years and a musical arranging far away and above from the regular jazz pack. Sensitive stylings, slick, inventive rhythms, appealing ‘color’ in memorable tunes, and a moody sensitivity you don’t often find, even in this golden age of jazz. Voice of Reason is the tune that got me hooked – when I first heard it on CBC radio. You can also listen on, or check out or Wallis’ own site to order. There is something tender, lilting, and fusion/jazz pulse to this particular CD – that is like a breath of fresh air in a smoky room. Don’t miss it! Forget the American Idol auditions –this is where real music, important music is happening.   Maria Schneider Orchestra

Maria Schneider
Wow – that’s all you will say after you hear a few cuts of this amazing CD by the most competent composer, performer, creator, Maria Schneider. As Schneider writes in the liner notes, she has searched (and found) softer hues and more intricate textures’ largely influenced by a love of dance and movement. Allegresse should be required listening  - it is a jazz with a bit of fusion and will transfix you with its colors.            

Doug Talley
In a world of jazz giants and celebrities, Doug Talley emerges as a unique voice. He boasts a warm, lyrical tone and refreshingly melodic imagination. Talley’s choice of material is also unique consisting of jazz standards and originals, among them a suite of tunes depicting Kansas City (the Mecca of jazz) and a blues inspired by Schubert’s lied The Erl King. His latest release is entitled By Request

David Renter
David Renter’s second release as leader entitled Everywhere I Go contains a set of originals and the odd jazz standard or Willie Nelson cover. Renter’s originals provide a fresh interpretation of traditional jazz forms such as blues, bossa nova, as well as some modern post bop numbers. While his compositions are more modern sounding, Renter’s harmonic and rhythmic imagination suggest a swing pedigree. Renter’s unique perspective combined with his lean post-bop sound set this up and comer apart. 

Colina-Miralta-Sambeat Trio

Take a foundation of solid jazz musicianship, spin on the Latin dial, add in touch of flamenco, a savvy saxophone from Spain, the incredible drum work of Marc Miralta and glue it together with Javier Colina on bass. This is sophisticated but warm jazz that is a mix of the Americas and Europe that is yet another land. It is fresh and yet – so solid – which is what you expect from this incredible jazz dream team.
You expect jazz drummers to keep a beat. But most of us also entertain a bias against drummer for that same reason. We don’t expect percussionists to be composers nor sentimental ones. And that, in the case of drummer Daniel Barnes is totally off track. Toronto based Barnes has a number of CD’s but Classic Beauties is exactly that – tender, poignant but innately well paced numbers that are captivating. Barnes teams up with some exceptional players –Richard Underhill among them. Barnes himself is a drummer sans rival. The level of musicianship, together with the soothing soul of this CD makes it one to collect.

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