Veteran alto and soprano saxophonist Gary Bartz's debut recording for the Dutch Timeless label is one of his finest efforts as he enlisted the services of pianist Benny Green, bassist Christian McBride, drummer Victor Lewis, and tenor saxophonist Willie Williams on three selections to perform an unusual program of one Bartz composition, three jazz classics, two movie themes, and one radio theme. Bartz's strong tone, sense of swing, and improvisational imagination place him within the ranks of jazz's finest saxophonists, and he proves it throughout this recording. Favorites include the title track, which is actually two Bartz compositions, one medium, one up, joined by an excellent McBride bass solo; John Coltrane's "Song of the Underground Railroad," performed up-tempo, in the spirit of Coltrane all the way down to a blistering sax-drums duet; McCoy Tyner's "Peresina," a medium Afro-Latin number with the melody played by the not-heard-enough combination of tenor and alto sax; and Wayne Shorter's "Children of the Night" where the melody is played over a hip groove by McBride and Lewis and features one of the best Bartz solos on record.
By the late '90s, guitarist Gary Moore was at a career crossroads. Should he continue on the path that brought him his biggest stateside success (Still Got the Blues), or try something a bit contemporary? The ex-Thin Lizzy member decided on the latter, issuing Dark Days in Paradise, an album that saw Moore utilize electronic beats and, of course, his trademark soaring guitar work, rather than blues-rockers. And you have to give the guitarist credit – he does venture outside of what you'd usually expect from a new Moore album, whether it be the Beatlesque "One Fine Day" (which contains a bassline quite similar to the Fab Four's "Rain") or the keyboard-heavy ballad "Like Angels" (which sounds like it's straight from 1987). While fans of Victims of the Future may be left wondering where the hard rock went, Dark Days in Paradise will be an interesting listen for fans curious to hear Moore trying new approaches.
Yeah, Cassandra Wilson is a jazz singer, but she’s a 21st century jazz singer, mixing elements of jazz, pop, rock, Delta blues, and light funk into her performances, expanding what a jazz vocalist can be in a contemporary world with her horn player phrasing, smoky texture, and a voice that has matured into a haunting, sensual alto. She tackles some jazz standards, but she’s also adept at taking modern rock and old country-blues songs and finding a way to make them into new jazz standards, fully aware that she’s pushing boundaries in a genre that all too often plays it safe these days.