Saturday, September 27, 2014

CD Review: New High-Powered Jazz Releases From Chris Walden, Michael O'Neill and Brian Tarquin & Friends

German composer Chris Walden is returning with his Big Band for their first album in seven years. The new album entitled "Full On!" was released on September 16th through Origin Records and features some of Walden's newest original masterpieces and cover songs. Walden has worked alongside such pop icons as Stevie Wonder, Neil Young and Michael Buble and has returned to his first love, big band jazz. The new twelve song release begins with the up-tempo original instrumental "Bailout" the gets the blood pumping before vocalist Melanie Taylor takes you away with her voice on "I Can Cook Too." The album features Walden's original composition written for the A&E TV movie "Gastby" as the music plays right in to all the glitz and glamour of the story. Ms. Taylor returns to lends her vocals to the jazzy cover of Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke" as the music matches the originals appeal. The Frank Sinatra classic "Only The Lonely" gets a heartfelt makeover by Walden, featuring Tierney Sutton on vocals. Special guest Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval gets his own song, "Arturo" to shine on as he amazes with his solo. The album closes with Walden turning Christopher Cross' "Ride Like The Wind" into big band success with the help of Siedah Garrett on vocals. To find out more about this latest release from Chris Walden, please visit

From San Francisco, CA comes the latest release from jazz saxophonist Michael O'Neill entitled "New Beginnings." He invites vocalist Kenny Washington to join in on his latest adventure. O'Neill and Washington have worked together over the last decade which has lead to this latest collaboration. The new album begins with the up-tempo rhythm of Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night In Tunisia," which has Washington showing off his scat skills as O'Neill also joins in the fun. The smooth, Stevie Wonder-like feel of the Miles Davis classic "On Green Dolphin Street" allows members of The Michael O'Neill Sextet to grab the spotlight. The George and Ira Gershwin classic "It Ain't Necessarily So" sets the mood with the piano introduction as the other instruments join in to give Washington a path to follow with his wonderful vocals. The story of "New Beginnings" continues with this famous Rodgers and Hammerstein number "Oh What A Beautiful Morning," which floats gently on by as you feel a comfort in the music. The album closes with the nine-and-a-half minute relaxed feel of "Nomali" lead by the piano of John R. Burr as O'Neill's sax makes this song special. To find out more about Michael O'Neill and Kenny Washington's latest collaboration, "New Beginnings," please visit

New from Cleopatra Records, in association with Purple Pyramid Records comes a visit to the "Smooth Jazz Café." The album features performances by Chuck Loeb, Brian Tarquin, Frank Gambale, Hal Lindes, Denny Jiosa and others. Loeb and Tarquein trade guitar licks on the quickly moving "Zoot Suit." The album really picks up with Chuck Loeb handling the lead duties on this cover of Steely Dan's "Peg." Dire Straits guitarist Hal Lindes steps into the lead roll on the smooth, moody feel of "The Big Sleep," while Grammy nominated guitarist Denny Jiosa lends a hand to the easy feeling of "Hipster." The sound gets a little funky with "Birdbrain," before Australian jazz great Frank Gambale takes the lead on the rocking rhythm of "Spanish Harlem," which really gives new life to the album. To find out more about this unique release, please visit

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