Archive for June, 2010



19
Jun
10

JEFF HEALEY’S JAZZ TREAT-BY JOHN EMMS

JEFF HEALEY LAST CALL-CD REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS-ALBUM RELEASE APRIL 6 2010

Jeff Healey’s final jazz album titled Last Call is the sonic and emotional equivalent of a walk on a warm summer night or a cozy sunday morning with a cup of good coffee. What makes the cd truly entertaining is in the choice of material

Songs like Time On My Hands, Autumn In New York, Deep Purple. and the opening track Holding My Honey’s Hand are melodic and inviting. Healey’s overdubbing of guitar, muted trumpet and smooth vocal tones capture the timelessness of the songs.

Helping out Healey is the  shimmering piano work of Ross Wooldridge. Check out his chops on Autumn in New York, Laura,  Keeping Myself For You and his solo on Deep Purple.. Wooldridge also doubles on clarinet. Elsewhere Jazz Wizards violin player Drew Jurecka and Healey swing the hell  out of the track The Wildcat and nail the rhythmic jaunt of Black and Blue Bottom.

Don’t forget this is an easy going jazz album. However Healey guitar fans will note Jeff does contribute some fantastic acoustic guitar on Hong Kong Blues and many other points throughout the cd.  Kudos to Silverbirch mastering engineer Andy Krehm for achieving the  warmth and nuances of  Healey’s chops in the most ‘vinyl” of ways.

Diverse, warm and engaging Last Call is a  surprise jazz treat at any level of the genre..

JOHN EMMS IS ON TWITTER

19
Jun
10

HERBIE HANCOCK-THE IMAGINE PROJECT-HANCOCK BRINGS OUT ELITE PERFORMANCES-JOHN EMMS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

For starters this is flat out one of the best sounding recordings I have heard in recent memory. The depth and clarity is stunning!  The vinyl version will I’m sure be a revelation.

Ok, that’s out of the way.

Herbie Hancock as the old saying goes “has forgot more about making music than most could even learn in a lifetime”” That’s probably a fact

So when Hancock releases an album to the pop market, it’s sure to be genuine but maybe not a multi-platinum seller.

Let’s face it, fusing the textures of straight jazz to pop music can be messy. In fact the melodic end of jazz is not usually appreciated by today’s ‘POP’ music download crowd.  Anyone who listens to music these days wants and often seeks out the solid hook or riff.  There is nothing wrong with that.

On the Imagine Project Hancock attempts to unify an international cast of musicans into a whole meaningful collaboration. You could say a binding musicality worldwide where songs can make a difference.

On the Imagine Project Hancock and friends move the listener in stunning fashion.

Let’s be clear this recording will NOT change our crazy world.  But what it does show is music indeed is a universal global movement

The meat of this is cd comes down to elite perfomances by some of the biggest talents in the world of music. Space Captain featuring Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, and Hancock  is a tour de force of soul and groove. It has to heard to be believed.

Peter Gabriel’s Don’t Give Up moves in familar territory but Pink and John Legend  infuse it with new found relevance. The same could be said about the cover of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are Changing featuring an extrordinary vocal by Lisa Hannigan and an outro jam by Hancock and guitarist Lionel Loueke along with the backing of The Chieftans.

K’NAAN welds together a world music throwdown with Tinatiwen, Los Lobos and Hancock into a blend held together by Larry Klein’s killer bass groove. It should be noted Klein also produces and arranges this project with Hancock. 

Without going into more detail it’s  sure fire musicianship by James Morrsion on Sam Cooke’s A Changes Gonna Come, Dave Matthews on John Lennon’s Tomorrow Never Knows and Anoushka Shankar’s excellent sitar working against Wayne Shorter’s sax work on on The Song Goes On that puts this album into Orbit.

Elsewhere vocalists Chaka Khan, Juanes, and Indie Arie reach new heights.

A world album of the tallest order! I will feature some of this recoridng on a special jazz roots radio feature of Collection of Songs http://emms.podbean.com/

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, radio show host and musician.

19
Jun
10

DUKE ROBILLARD-BLUES MAN FOR ALL SEASONS-JOHN EMMS MUSIC REVIEWS

duke robillard/review..stomp the blues tonight

July 2, 2009 john emms Edit Leave a comment

duke coverduke robillardLet’s face it Robillard has forgot more about blues music than most younger musicians currently know. That’s a stone cold fact.

As a throwback to his days with ROOMFUL OF BLUES, this disc proves to be very worthy.

With the  updated engineering of today coupled with Duke’s killer feel you might think you’re in some smoky club mid fifties but with the perfect seat, and nice clean ambience to boot. I’m talkin’  smack dab in your living room folks!!

The  material is mostly from the 1940′s and 50′s, and with the players all of Robillard alumni, the actual recording comes off as musicians totally in sync with the project.

In short they all love this stuff! That’s the trick folks.

Johnny Watson’s 3 Hours Past Midnight is a prime example of  how good the band and cd sounds. Nothing is forced and Duke whips off one of those ringing pure vibrato single note type solos, that are so good it makes you smile from ear to ear.

Elsewhere the horns play charts that anchor up the  melodies of Baby You Don’t Know and Do Me Right, and simply swing like hell on the title track written by Robillard 

I ’m not in love with all 16 tracks for one reason only.

If Duke had cut this cd back to 10 or 12 songs it would have been more  like an old vinyl album experience.

Other highlights are Look But Don’t Touch with Sunny Crownover,   the Ike Turner jump of Tore Up and the much recorded Early In the Morning, done here with real class.

Standout chops throughout the disc from drummer Mark Teixeira, sax guru Doug James, basssit Marty Ballou and Bruce Bears on piano.

You can’t fake this stuf baby, and that’s what makes this disc so vital

19
Jun
10

jack de keyzer-canada’s best bluesman-JOHN EMMS MUSIC REVIEWS

DE KEYZER-THE CORKTOWN SESSIONS-CANADA’S BEST BLUESMAN ON A ROLL-by john emms

April 18, 2010 john emms Edit Leave a comment

After 25 years of being a class act, it’s scary to think JACK DE KEYZER is now hitting his full stride

THAT FOLKS IS IMPRESSIVE

I have been a huge JACK DE KEYZER supporter for many years. Perhaps some people  may have grown tired of my absolute steadfast proclamations that Jack is one of the leading lights of blues music in NORTH AMERICA.

Well, with his most recent album THE CORKTOWN SESSIONS being virtually stuck in my vehicle’s cd player for the last 7 months it only seems right his recent 2010 Juno win for BLUES ALBUM of the year is icing on the cake.

I’ve been writing reviews, playing his music on my new radio show and finally put my own natural trust in Jack to produce and play on both of our SHAFTMEN CD’S.

I could go into huge  detail why you need THE CORKTOWN SESSIONS as part of your blues collection, but any artist who bridges the gap between blues, roots, jazz and plain ol’ rock n roll deserves your full attention.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran musician, radio show host and music journalist

Visit John and THE SHAFTMEN at www.theshaftmen.com

listen or purchase THE SHAFTMEN’S music at

http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-shaftmen/id365389445

19
Jun
10

BEST BLU-RAY DISCS-2009-EAGLE ROCK RULES-JOHN EMMS MUSIC REVIEWS

best blu-ray concert discs-2009-EAGLE ROCK LEADS THE WAY-john emms reviews

December 21, 2009 john emms Edit 1 comment

BLU-RAY discs with quality picture and amazing surround or stereo mixes is THE way to experience “live” concerts in your living room. Personally speaking  EAGLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT is without a doubt a leader in this field. Crisp images, clarity of detail and their amazing audio formats notably the DTS HD Master Audio are superb.

HERE ARE  my TOP BLU-RAY DISCS MUSIC LIST FOR 2009

Jeff Beck-Live at Ronnie Scott’s-Exciting performances with mind blowing solos..stunning picture, great tonal balance

Paul Rodgers-Live in Glasgow-Killer video tranfer.Fantastic mix on everything..That voice-may be the best in rock

Rolling Stones-Shine A Light-Martin Scorsese-is the best filmaker on earth-the camera work is stunning.- audio mix is good but Eagle Rock’s blu-rays have more audio depth-Hey it’s the Stones is all u need to know 

Diana Krall-Live in Rio-Krall’s voice is superb, the orhestra sounds like it’s in your front room-not for your rockin party..better late at night, superb quality

John Mayall-& The Bluesbresakers/Friends-70 th Birhday Concert-the blu-ray detail, audio, and video is hands down killer with this release-MAYALL IS IN TOP FORM TO BOOT

Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood-Live From Madison Square Garden-Great aduio stereo presence on both vocalists, camera work is detailed and yes the this is a quality show

Iron Madien-Flight 666-This blu-ray disc is from different concerts-so the AUDIO IS not as potent as it would be if it was a one shot concert..having said that..most will probably not notice-…my fave headbangers FOR SURE

Carlos Santana-Presents Blues At Montreux-Carlos jams with Buddy Guy, Bobby Parker, and Clarence Gatemouth Brown..blues mania on blu-ray..some  amazing guitar performances

here are other HIGH QUALITY  blu-ray CONCERT discs—U NEED-

STYX-ONE WITH EVERYTHING, KD LANG-LIVE IN LONDON, THE POLICE-CERTIFIABLE, ASIA-FANTASIA LIVE IN  TOKYO, GARY MOORE ONE NIGHT IN DUBLIN, BLACK CROWES, WARPAINT LIVE, BILLY IDOL-IN SUPER OVERDRIVE

19
Jun
10

john mayall-gets tough-JOHN EMMS CD REVIEWS

 MAYALL-john emms cd reviews-TOUGH-Mayall gets heavy

September 9, 2009 john emms Edit Leave a comment

john mayall cd cover (2)THIS IS  HEAVY AND INTELLIGENTLY PLAYED BLUES ROCK.

Yes it took me by surprise.  I was thinking  something more mellower and tradtional along the lines of Road Dogs 2005 or In the Palace of The King 2007

This is believe or not Mayall’s 57th album and at age 76 this cd proves  his talent  is firmly intact. 

There are band changes this time out for Mayall. In fact, Mayall’s  replacement for the supereb axe of Buddy Whittington is ROCKY ATHAS,  and out of the box on NOTHING TO DO WITH LOVE  Athas  searing and intelligent fret work steps into the breach with killer results. Athas then  continues this all the way through the entire cd.

Elsewhere on Playing with Love as on opening song  Mayall’s biting Little Walter-ish harp work is smack dab in the mix with new bassist Greg Rzab’s groove bass and new drummer Jay Davenport  Not to be outdone Mayall swings on An Eye for An Eye and goes drop d tuning on the tough love of How Far Down.

Elsewhere the glue that holds Mayall’s band remains the excellent playing of organ/piano man Tom Canning

Canning is in fine form throughout. Check out the effortless drive of That Good Old Rockin Blues or the funk of Just what Your Looking For

This is cd a wakeup call for you young guns and blues rockers. JOHN MAYALL remains vital and engaged

18
Jun
10

new hendrix remasters-explosive 40 years later-JOHN EMMS CD REVIEWS

jimi hendrix new cd VALLEYS OF NEPTUNE-REVIEW BY JOHN EMMS/cd out march 9th

March 6, 2010 john emms Edit Leave a comment

WOW..IS THE WORD when  I received this new cd of mindblowing unreleased JIMI HENDRIX material . THIS material not only SHOWS HIS GUITAR GENIUS but more than that details his creative ORGANIC output after the Electric Ladyland album.

THE BIG NEWS is a lot of the songs here feature just the trio format live in the studio, AND THEY SMOKE.

 The majority is Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums as well as cameos from Billy Cox on bass and Rocki Dzidzormu on percussion.

It’s important to point out that songs like STONE FREE, RED HOUSE, HEAR MY TRAIN A COMIN’ AND FIRE are included on this cd BUT NEVER THESE VERSIONS..

The sheer power of the trio despite Hendrix fueding with bassist Redding at the time cannot be overstated on Elmore James’ Bleeding Heart, Mr Bad Luck, Lover Man and a blistering unreleased version of Fire. IT’S THAT GOOD

There is even an instrumental of Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love, which is pure jam!

The mixing/engineering work of EDDIE KRAMER on this set  is nothing short of  exceptional. Elsewhere The killer title track and the song Ships Passing Through The Night gives a clear indication of where Hendrix could take his songs.

Fans will also want to check out the detailed 20 page booklet. No Hendrix fan should be without this release!!!

18
Jun
10

evolution of the blues-JOHN EMMS MUSIC REVIEWS

 music evolves.. top picks 2009 by john emms

January 7, 2010 john emms Edit Leave a comment

BLUES MUSIC  is changing and evolving to include more blues rock, soul and roots than ever before. VERY COOL … 

Here are  top blues cd picks for 2009, plus very good honourable mentions

JOE LOUIS WALKER-(pictured 2nd from top)  BETWEEN A ROCK AND THE  BLUES-solid songwriting, astounding vocal work R & B and soul influenced music

SONNY LANDRETH-LEVEE TOWN-By far Sonny’s best and most realized work of his career.Outstanding!!!

RONNIE EARL- LIVING IN THE LIGHT-Spiritual,  absorbing and moving Earl delivers (again)

ROY ROGERS-SPLIT DECISION- Tradition with hipness. Quality songs!

DEREK TRUCKS BAND-ALREADY FREE-(see 3rd photo) Integration of roots, and blues, may be their career album?. It’s that good

JOHN MAYALL-TOUGH..gets better with every listen, guitarist Rocky Athas shines

DOWNCHILD BLUES BAND-I NEED A HAT-new songs that just smoke. Superb vocal work by Chuck Jackson and sizzling guitar and arrangments from  MR DOWNCHILD Donnie Walsh  (see top photo)

ROBERT CRAY-THIS TIME-Groove, Groove and more Groove. Tight and soulful  

DUKE ROBILLARD-STOMP THE BLUES-Always evolving as a musician. Consistent and joyous music.

BIG JAMES-RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW-Big surprise here. Great vocal work. Lots of soul, less blues

COCO MONTOYA-THE ESSENTIAL-I Don’t usually do compilations, but this is bang on stuff

solid honourable mentions-these cd’s all contain some great blues tracks

COLIN LINDEN-FROM THE WATER, 

 SAB & THE FAMILY BAND-FLYIN HIGH LIVIN’ FREE-produced by Michael Fonfara

TOMMY CASTRO-HARD BELIEVER

JEFF HEALEY-SONGS FROM THE ROAD

THE SHAFTMEN -PAYCHEQUE BLUES-produced by Jack de Keyzer

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, with over 20 years of working with all major and  indie  music labels both domestic and international.

JOHN is also a musician and songwriter/vocalist with blues rockers THE SHAFTMEN 

VISIT THE BAND www.theshaftmen.com

18
Jun
10

mayer-bluesman or pop artist-JOHN EMMS MUSIC REVIEWS

john mayer-battle studies-john emms cd reviews

December 17, 2009 john emms Edit Leave a comment

JOHN MAYER is one of the most misunderstood and brilliant musicians of  his generation. An incredible guitarist and gifted songwriter Mayer recordings always display craft over guitar heroics. This can be frustrating for fans of his fiery chops.

Battle Studies his new cd continues this trend. Everything on this Cd screams solid songwriting and excellent vocal  work. Tracks like Heartbreak Warfare,  the folky Who Says, and the George Harrison influence on Friends Lovers or Nothing are understated gems of love won or lost. Perfectly Lonely has a great R & B groove, and his cover of Crossroads is bang on. Gorgeous production values and superb stickwork from from Steve Jordan and  in the pocket bass work from Pino Palladino  emphasize the class of this recording.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, radio show host and musician

Categories: Uncategorized
18
Jun
10

blue rodeo-remaining vital-JOHN EMMS MUSIC REVIEWS

November 26, 2009 john emms Edit Leave a comment

Thank God and the passion within that BLUE RODEO still have FIRE IN THEIR  BELLY. Think that’s easy. Did you get this memo?

Conventional wisdom states that after countless albums, tours and the music business being what it is few artists can still dig deep to come up with the goods late in an already successful career.

Jim Cuddy, Greg Keelor, Bazil Donavan, Glenn Milchem and Bob Egan apparently never recieved that memo. Instead the band has forged an album rich in lyrical content and high in muscianship.

Should anyone care that a band spreads out and tackles a double album opus in these non attention to detail times?

That would depend on who’s listenening. I still listen  to records the old fashioned way.

WITH MY EARS. The disc opens with a soon to be Greg Keelor classic. (You may recall he has written a few already)  It’s the title track and offers up shimmering colors, intimate lyrics and a powerful Beatlesque chorus that blows you out of the room. Jim Cuddy fires up the “rhodes” piano mid tempo One More Night with his passionate vocal,   small town vibe and everyman stance it displays Cuddy and the band at the top of their game.

Despite these new inflections fans can still take stock that Waiitng for the World, One Light Left In Heaven and Sheba all three Cuddy written tracks offer up craftsmanship without sacrificing melody and depth.

However, Keelor always known to take chances with his material spreads the sound into a wide  open D concept soundscape  with the refreshing Million Miles and his gorgeous “Harvest’ era Neil Young inspired  Don’t Let The Darkness In Your Head.

The beauty of Blue Rodeo as an outfit is that multi-instrumentalistist Egan, Milchem’s expressive stickwork and Donavan’s always vital bass lines invoke musicanship first and foremost providing Keelor and Cuddy’s song framework with emotion. With this in mind it should be said that as a recent add in tour and  studio player piano man Bob Boguski adds tremendous depth and clarity to a lot of the material

Other highlights include the big ambience of Venus Rising, The Band Stage Fright era roots inflections of  Arizona Dust and Keelor’s own Lost Togther era track Wasted.

Earlier in the year as this album was being mixed I had conversations with Keelor and Cuddy about how this album was going to be received and conceived as a double album/four sided opus. For the band to pull this off with integrity intact remains a testament to the band’s musicality.   Yes, it’s good, and I NOW HAVE THE DOUBLE VINYL..ah now that’s fun

 

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor, singer-songwriter with Canadian rockers THE SHAFTMEN

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/the-worlds-gone-crazy/id673101570

JOHN is on TWITTER

https://twitter.com/emmsreviews

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized



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