In the 1990s, Kenny Barron was finally recognized as one of jazz's top pianists, recording a series of top-notch and consistently inventive releases. This CD has seven of Barron's originals in which he is teamed with Ralph Moore (tenor and soprano), vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, bassist Rufus Reid, drummer Victor Lewis, and sometimes percussionist Mino Cinelu. These fine performances help to define the modern mainstream of the period. In addition, there are a pair of standards ("For Heaven's Sake" and a lengthy version of "I Should Care") that are played as sensitive duets with Reid. Excellent and often exquisite music.
Reuniting with Larry Mizell, the man behind his last three LPs, Donald Byrd continues to explore contemporary soul, funk, and R&B with Places and Spaces. In fact, the record sounds more urban than its predecessor, which often played like a Hollywood version of the inner city. Keeping the Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, and Sly Stone influences of Street Lady, Places and Spaces adds elements of Marvin Gaye, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Stevie Wonder, which immediately makes the album funkier and more soulful. Boasting sweeping string arrangements, sultry rhythm guitars, rubbery bass, murmuring flügelhorns, and punchy horn charts, the music falls halfway between the cinematic neo-funk of Street Lady and the proto-disco soul of Earth, Wind & Fire. Also, the title Places and Spaces does mean something – there are more open spaces within the music, which automatically makes it funkier. Of course, it also means that there isn't much of interest on Places and Spaces for jazz purists, but the album would appeal to most fans of Philly soul, lite funk, and proto-disco.
Beautiful independent progressive music, with emphasis on chords and melody.
Sometimes melancholy, other times joyful, 'Places Unseen' is a bit darker, and much more instrumental than previous Cirrus Bay releases. Rooted in old-school progressive rock, with influences of Tony Banks, Renaissance, Camel, Hatfield & The North, Anthony Phillips and Bo Hansson, 'Places Unseen' features the gorgeous vocals of newcomer Tai Shan and the lovely cover art of Lee Gaskins.
Places of Worship signals trumpeter and composer Arve Henriksen's return to Rune Grammophon and furthers his collaboration with both Jan Bang and Erik Honoré. Here his experimentations with sound, space, and texture offer listening environments that reflect various sacred spaces the world over, hence its title. While these tracks are impossible to separate from the influences of Jon Hassell's Fourth World Music explorations or the more murky moodscapes of Nils Petter Molvær, they are also more than a few steps removed from them. Henriksen never separates himself from the environmental information provided by his natural Nordic landscape. The lush, wild, and open physical vistas of its geography provide an inner map for the trumpeter and vocalist that amounts to a deeply focused series of tone poems.
With longtime bassist Steve Swallow, the return of drummer Roy Haynes, and the debut of guitarist Jerry Hahn, Gary Burton's second quartet continued his open-minded policy toward other styles of music. In addition to both melodic and advanced jazz, Burton incorporates elements of country, rock, pop and even classical music on this fairly rare LP, Country Roads and Other Places. Whether it be a "Ravel Prelude," "Wichita Breakdown" or "My Foolish Heart," the music is full of logical surprises that foreshadow the eclectic nature of much of '80s and '90s jazz.