Rachael Price: You Go To My Head

Listening to this young diva intonate so wonderfully on her sensual rendition of "You Go To My Head," you'd swear you're hearing someone older and more experienced in the ways of the world, not to mention the vagaries of love. Rachael Price's control simmers with the assurance of a veteran chanteuse, belying her mere 23 years of age. Her breathy, melancholic delivery is reinforced by pianist's Wolf's blues-based solo. This particular track reminds me of Anita Baker in her heyday, and ought to be popular with both jazz and pop music lovers. Perhaps with this familiar song as bait, the general public will hook into the artistry of this young and rising talent.

October 24, 2008 · 0 comments


Rachael Price: The Trolley Song

Occasionally you get a pleasant surprise in your mailbox. For me, this time it was Rachael Price's new album The Good Hours. Recently I've labored through a plethora of new releases and, in my humble opinion, have found few worthy of comment. But Price's wonderful rendition of the unlikely old movie number "The Trolley Song" made me pause and listen. Maybe I have a soft spot in the memory bank for this song, since it conjures up such joyful images of a more carefree era. Yet beyond the nod to my own personal nostalgia, this 23-year-old Australian can really sing, and stamps her own imprimatur on whatever she attempts. The clarity of her voice, the sensibilities she brings to the song, and her bluesy warmth with just enough slyly delivered vibrato, set her apart from her contemporaries. Warren Wolf's piano flawlessly complements her and adds to this delightful musical experience. Clang, clang, clang went the bell announcing Rachael Price has arrived!

October 24, 2008 · 0 comments


Carl Orr: Miles of Miles

Australian jazz guitarist Carl Orr has toured and recorded with Billy Cobham, among others. But he has many fine projects in his own name, including Mean It, his third outing as leader. He decided to focus on highly electric jazz-funk music filled with plenty of improvisation.

On the tribute cover "Miles of Miles," the rhythm section of Armstrong, Gander and Lincy lay down a neck-bending groove. Love's organ funks things up. By the time Orr shows off his considerable chops, we are already quite deep in the muck. Bikovsky's trumpet expounds Miles's late '60s period just about the time Miles was leaving straight-ahead for fusion. Orr and Bikovsky participate in some melodic call and response as the tune fades. Their boots, now stuck in the mud, must be left behind.

April 27, 2008 · 0 comments


Tal Wilkenfeld: Serendipity

The world just isn't fair sometimes. You want to become a great musician. You spend years learning and developing a style. You pour your heart and soul into it. Every waking and sleeping moment is spent breathing music. After a decade or two, you become an OK player. But over that time you have wisely determined that you will never be good enough to make a living playing music no matter how much luck found its way to you. So you hum tunes on your delivery route every day and pick up your axe every now and then wondering what may have been if you only had the extra talent needed.

Meantime, in Australia there is this 16-year-old musician who plays the guitar so well that she quits high school and comes to America to become a star. Here only a short while, she realizes there are too many guitar players. So at 18 she switches to bass. Faster than you can say "Koala," she finds herself playing with some of the world's greatest musicians, including Chick Corea, Jeff Beck and the Allman Brothers! Now, at only 21, she releases her first CD.

This is not to say Tal Wilkenfeld didn't work hard to become great. She did, but she took 20 years less to do it. Certainly she started with a strong belief in herself. Imagine quitting school at 16 and traveling to another country to become a star! And her talent is as outrageous as her self-confidence. One cannot rule out some sort of divine intervention, yet in any case this is talent to be admired and enjoyed. The petty jealousies of failed musicians are unjustified.

Wilkenfeld is more than just an awesome player. "Serendipity," a fine example of her composing skill, is contemporary jazz with a few nods to mid-'80s fusion. Its opening measures sound a bit like The Flecktones, but soon a melody of its own develops, led by Blake. Wilkenfeld's bass playing is a full-throttle attack. She finger-plucks those strings with authority. I can only imagine the calluses. Her bandmates are a great help as they joyously do their comping and take their impressive solo turns. The tune's midsection is especially a showcase for Keezer's piano chops. He turns a few scales inside out over Wikenfeld's and Carlock's locked-in rhythm. But in the end, it is Wilkenfeld who holds her own and the fort down.

Is she going to switch to piano next year? Will we be hearing the saxophonist Tal Wilkenfeld soon? If it weren't all so ridiculously unfair, it would be funny.

April 01, 2008 · 4 comments


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