New CD Review: Luis Muňoz “VOZ” (Pelin Music)

September 11, 2015
Devon "Doc" Wendell

Devon “Doc” Wendell

By Devon Wendell

Costa Rican composer and percussionist Luis Muňoz is one of the most vibrant and dedicated Latin jazz artists on the scene today. His new album VOZ is an obvious labor of love which fuses Brazilian jazz, and “crossover” pop. But there’s a refreshing purity about VOZ. Muňoz is joined by special guests: Claudia Acuňa, Magos Herrera, and Téka on vocals.

Magos Herrera

Magos Herrera

“Preludio Y Fin” is a beautiful jazz ballad. Magos Herrera’s delicate and mournful vocal phrasing is complimented by Adam Asarnow’s thoughtful and masterful piano accompaniment. Jonathan Dane’s trumpet style here is reminiscent of Miles Davis’ finest ballad recordings of the late 1950s. Muňoz’s brush work on the drums is subtle and absolutely superb. A stunning piece of music.

“Manantial” features the incomparable Téka, one of the most original and powerful vocalist/guitarists to come out of Brazil in many years. She is featured on both lead and backing vocals. Her breathy, sensual vocals glide beautifully atop of Ron Kalina’s chromatic harmonica lines. No one sounds like Téka. Muňoz’s sensitive drumming and colorful texturing on the Fender Rhodes piano adds depth and complexity to this “crossover” pop composition.



“Argentina” was written by Nicaraguan lyricist Luis Enrique.
Jonathan Dane’s Flugelhorn is melodically and harmonically complex. Magos Herrera’s vocals are poignant and plaintive. Brendan Statom’s acoustic bass lines weave in and out of the melody like a wonderful dream.

Luis Munoz

Luis Munoz

Muňoz plays it cool, maintaining a mostly subordinate role in the overall band sound. This is a haunting piece of music but not as darkly stunning as the instrumental “Journey Into Saint Augustine.” Daniel Zimmerman’s acoustic guitar dances around Jonathan Dane’s muted flugelhorn phrasing, while Brendan Statom’s bass lines keep it all together. A lovely musical dance among three amazing musicians.

“Pasiόn” was written by the great Panamanian lyricist Romulo Castro. No one can turn a phrase like Téka and this composition is further proof of her amazing skills. Téka’s longtime guitarist Chris Judge accompanies her every nuance perfectly. Ron Calina’s harmonica lines almost sound like a great alto-sax player.

Trumpeter Jonathan Dane is one of the brightest stars on this album. His tone echoes Freddie Hubbard’s on “Testamento/Mas Alla” and Magos Herrera’s lead vocals are subdued, controlled, and full of melancholy.

Most of the album has a sad and mournful feel to it. “Amarilis” will bring tears to your eyes. It’s just a quartet performance consisting of Jonathan Dane, trumpet, Luis Muňoz, melodica, Brendan Statom, bass, and Daniel Zimmerman, on acoustic guitar. Muňoz’s melodica playing is perfectly in tune (a rarity for this instrument) and tasteful.

Claudia Acuna

Claudia Acuna

Téka’s rich vibrato and melodic phrasing on “Quisiera” (co-written by Jaime Gamboa) is the highlight of the entire album. Téka shares the lead vocal spot with Claudia Acuňa. Jonathan Dame’s trumpet follows every breathtaking twist and turn of the vocals with taste and purpose. Chris Judge’s guitar accompaniment is sweet and thematic.

The album closes with “Amanecer Luminoso”, written by Costa Rican poet Osvaldo Sauma. This is a sweet but stark lullaby, a piano-vocal duo. Magos Herrera’s tender vocals are accompanied by some very subtle piano comping by Adam Asarmow.

Luis Muňos’ VOZ is a beautifully pure album of some romantically dark and sincere Latin jazz at its best. Muňoz plays more of a background role, letting fantastic artists like Teka, Claudia Acuňa, and Magos Herrera shine on this carefully crafted masterpiece.

Voz will be released on Sept. 15.

* * * * * * * *

To read more posts, reviews and columns by Devon Wendell click HERE.

Doc Wendell’s Prescription For Bop And Beyond: “Freddie Hubbard: Without A Song-Live In Europe 1969” (Blue Note)

September 5, 2015
Devon "Doc" Wendell

Devon “Doc” Wendell

By Devon Wendell

Freddie Hubbard was the quintessential Renaissance man of the trumpet during the 1960s. Hubbard’s superior technique, beautiful tone, and sheer confidence enabled him to do anything. From the start of the decade, he made bebop records with Dexter Gordon and Kenny Drew and hard-bop albums with Jackie McLean, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, Wayne Shorter and Hank Mobley. He proved to be one of the most prolific trumpeters of his generation. At that same time he was a key contributor to the avant-garde movement. The albums he made with John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, and Ornette Coleman defined an entire genre. Hubbard was at the center of it all.

Freddie Hubbard

Freddie Hubbard

His recordings as a band leader for both the Blue Note and Impulse labels during this time are adventurous and relentlessly swinging. All of them are essential. Hubbard was a true master and pioneer as a soloist and composer. His playing could fit into any style and so he made it happen that way.

By 1969, Hubbard was reaching the end of his tenure with Blue Note. His live performances at the time were electrifying. That year, producer Sonny Lester recorded Hubbard at three separate venues in Europe with an exceptional quartet; Roland Hanna, piano, Ron Carter, bass, and Louis Hayes on drums. These recordings were released in 1971 as Freddie Hubbard: Without A Song:-Live In Europe 1969.

The album starts out with beautiful renditions of “Without A Song” (recorded on December 13, 1969 at Royal Festival Hall, London England) and “The Things We Did Last Summer” (recorded December 14, 1969 at Colston Hall, Bristol England). The tracks exemplify some of Hubbard’s greatest ballad work ever recorded. Hubbard’s big, rich tone, slow vibrato, combined with his unique harmonic and melodic sensibilities on these numbers alone make this album an essential purchase.

But there’s more. Hubbard’s unique readings of Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night In Tunisia” and Miles Davis’ “Blues By Five” from the Bristol show are cooking. Hubbard plays in a more avant-garde style while staying true to the original arrangements of both songs. Louis Hayes’ bombastic bop drumming burns and pushes the rest of the band to play even harder. Roland Hanna’s piano style is elegant yet adventurous. Ron Carter’s masterful bass lines are simply perfect.

“Body And Soul” and “Space Track” were recorded in early December (no specific date or venue name given) in Germany, 1969. The first features more of Hubbard’s tender approach to tackling ballads. Ron Carter’s bass sounds as if it’s leading the band here. Hanna only comes in sporadically, and Hayes plays very softly. The effect produced is unique and it is obvious that this was something that happened in that moment and never again repeated. The reversal of roles within the band makes the music all the more compelling. This is what a great jazz performance is truly all about.

At times, Hubbard makes the trumpet sound like a human voice crying in pain. This is inspired music.
‘Space Track” is an avant-garde piece. The band often changes tempo and explores new sonic landscapes. Hubbard’s dynamics are amazing. He plays softer than a whisper one moment and then soars loudly the next. No matter how far “out” Hubbard and the band ventures, they never cease to swing and create incredible music on the spot.

The album finishes with a fiery version of Hubbard’s original masterpiece “Hub-Tones” from the Royal Festival Hall show in London.

Hubbard plays with a ferocity and freedom rarely heard on record. Louis Hayes delivers a superb drum solo. The sound of this band is so unique. I wish Hubbard would have recorded more music with this magnificent lineup.

Freddie Hubbard: Without A Song-Live In Europe 1969 is one of the most intriguing live jazz albums of the ‘60s. It captures Hubbard at one of his many peaks, paired with the kind of band that one dreams about. This is a must have.

* * * * * * * *

To read more posts, reviews and columns by Devon Wendell click HERE.

Doc Wendell’s Prescription For Fat Girl: Fats Navarro Memorial No. 2: Nostalgia (Savoy)

August 4, 2015

Devon “Doc” Wendell

By Devon Wendell

For many occasional jazz listeners there are only 3 great trumpeters that come across their minds and lips, and they are of course Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and occasionally Louis Armstrong. For those of us obsessed with the music’s many genres and glorious history (like myself) the list is much longer and consists of dozens of the instrument’s greatest innovators, ranging in a large spectrum of styles.

The player who made me want to quit the guitar and trade it in for a trumpet in college was the great Fats Navarro. I don’t believe one could or should compare the style of “Fat Girl” (as he was nick-named) to that Dizzy or Miles, although he played with both men and was a big influence on Miles. But Navarro’s influence didn’t stop there. Clifford Brown, Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, and Freddie Hubbard (to name just a few) were all students of Navarro’s fluid style. Navarro could be a fast virtuosic player, but it was his lyricism, sweet tone, sense of rhythm, and his confidence that made him so unique and swing as hard as he did. Navarro was one of the key contributors to the bebop era of the 1940s and one of the most important musicians in the entire history of jazz.

Just about every Fats Navarro record you can find is going to be excellent but I thought I’d select the very first one that I ever owned, suggested to me by the great jazz trumpeter and educator Dan Miller many moons ago.

Fats Navarro Memorial No.2: Nostalgia consists of 3 separate recording sessions of the late 1940s for the Savoy label, not only under his own name but also under the names of Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Dexter Gordon, and Tadd Dameron.

The first four tracks are from The Fats Navarro Quintet recorded on December 5, 1947, featuring Charlie Rouse, tenor saxophone, Tadd Dameron, piano, Nelson Boyd, bass, and Art Blakey on drums.

“Nostalgia” is a Navarro classic. The harmonic brilliance between Rouse and Navarro on the song’s head is fantastic. Navarro and the band swing oh so sweetly. Navarro plays a muted trumpet and produces the warmest tone you’ve ever heard in your life. I could always envision Sarah Vaughan singing Navarro’s solo note for note in my head. It would have been completely logical.

“Barry’s Bop” “Be Bop Romp” and “Fats Blows” are some of the greatest bebop recordings ever made. Rouse (who would play in Thelonious Monk’s band of the ‘60s) was already a unique tenor saxophonist with a fat, round tone and an astute knowledge of the bebop language.

Navarro’s high notes hit you like a left hook from Joe Louis. He then sings melodically through his trumpet with the most amazing rhythm. Navarro’s rhythmic sensibility allowed him to swing beautifully across some the most complex and frenetic chord changes. Dameron’s piano comping is delicately tasteful and the perfect accompaniment for Navarro. Art Blakey’s drumming is much more subdued on these sessions than usual but you can’t imagine him playing any other way on this date.

The next few tracks culminate from the Dexter Gordon And His Boys session on December 22, 1947. Here we have Navarro with Dexter Gordon, tenor saxophone, Tadd Dameron, piano, Nelson Boyd, bass, and Art Mardigan on drums.

“Dextivity,” “Dextrose” and “Index” are burning. Dexter Gordon and Navarro had a brief but very special chemistry. Gordon’s tenor lines unravel slowly, telling a story. Navarro’s solos are shorter but like Bird (with whom Navarro had performed and recorded with several times during his career) Navarro could say it all within four bars. And everything he would play in that short space would be impossible to forget. The sound of Gordon and Navarro together is bright and joyful. The love of this music is felt throughout every gorgeous nuance.

The next session on this compilation was called Eddie Davis And His Beboppers, recorded on December 18, 1946 with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, tenor saxophone, Huey Long, guitar, Al Haig, piano, Gene Ramey, bass, and Denzil Best on drums.
These three sides (“Stealin’ Trash,” “Hollerin’ & Screamin,” and “Calling Dr. Jazz”) have a harder edge to them than the material from the other two sessions. Davis’ tenor sax lines honk and shout like an R&B player, Long’s guitar harmonizes wonderfully with Davis and Navarro. Navarro again plays shorter, more concise solos that are more potent and memorable than Davis’s or Long’s. Fats could take you there as quickly as possible with what sounds like an unmatched level of confidence. He was obviously very aware of his immense talents.

Fats Navarro Memorial No. 2: Nostalgia features some of Fats Navarro’s most brilliant playing from several essential sessions recorded for the Savoy label. Once you hear Fats blow, you’ll never forget it and this is an excellent addition to anyone’s collection.

* * * * * * * *

To read more posts, reviews and columns by Devon Wendell click HERE.

Doc Wendell’s Prescription For Trumpet Bop: Kenny Dorham’s “Whistle Stop” (Blue Note)

July 18, 2015

Devon “Doc” Wendell

By Devon Wendell

It’s still hard to believe that Kenny Dorham is not mentioned alongside such fellow trumpet masters as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, and Freddie Hubbard. Dorham was one of the most extraordinarily unique musical thinkers to pick up the trumpet in the entire history of jazz. He not only had a highly personal approach to playing, he was also a composer of the highest level.

On Blue Note’s Whistle Stop, recorded on January 15, 1961, Dorham is joined by tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, his longtime partner from his days in the original Jazz Messengers. It would always swing when these two would get together. To quote Horace Silver: “Their work together was so hip you know, it was super hip.” Accompanying Dorham and Mobley are Kenny Drew on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums.

The opening track “Philly Twist” is a cooking up-tempo hard-bop staple. Of course the title is a play on words, referring mostly to drummer Philly Joe Jones whose groove behind the complex rhythm changes of this piece makes everyone swing beautifully. Dorham and Mobley’s solos compliment each other perfectly. Kenny Drew’s blues-flavored piano back-up dances around Dorham and the entire band with taste and soul. Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones both take brief but brilliant solos.

“Buffalo” is a pure blues. The thoughtful lyricism in Dorham’s solo makes this one of my all-time favorite solos by this master. And nobody can make the blues swing like Hank Mobley. Every note of his solo on this composition is sweet, honest, and hard at the same time.

“Sunset” is a Dorham masterpiece. Dorham’s muted trumpet solo is thematic and beautifully melodic. Mobley too solos without losing sight of the composition’s theme. Like most of Dorham’s compositions, a unique mood is established from the first four bars on.

The title track and “Windmill” swing like a tornado. If one was to present two examples of why Kenny Dorham and Hank Mobley were true pioneers of the hard-bop genre, “Whistle Stop” and “Windmill” would exemplify this perfectly. Dorham’s distinct knowledge of the bebop language combined with some swinging blues is what helped to define this sub-genre. And Mobley plays some of the finest solos of his career here in a style that is just as unique and timeless as Dorham’s. The rhythm section is relentless. Jones and Chambers are so in sync with each other and they make every nuance burn with love and dedication.

“Sunrise In Mexico” features some of the most delightfully syncopated trumpet lines ever played by Dorham. This modal style ballad gives Dorham, Mobley and Drew plenty of space to stretch out.

The album closes with the soft and elegant “Dorham’s Epitaph.” Dorham stated that he wrote it to be just that. It’s a very brief piece but it cements all of the compositions together perfectly.

Whistle Stop is one of the most potent and timeless releases on the Blue Note label.

It just doesn’t get much better than this. This is a must for all music lovers.

* * * * * * * *

To read more posts, reviews and columns by Devon Wendell click HERE.

2014 Remembered: A Year Of Funk

December 30, 2014

By Devon Wendell

2014 was a strange year for music. I recall thinking to myself halfway through The Playboy Jazz Festival in June; “Okay, so everyone is going funk now. Wynton Marsalis’ head would explode!” To many jazz purists, funk is considered to be sellout music.

Critics and fans freaked out when Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, and Herbie Hancock adapted the influence of James Brown, Sly Stone and George Clinton into their music. And it’s still a topic of debate.

Good funk, real funk thumbs its nose at people and musical genres that take themselves too seriously and engage in sniveling, purist nitpicking. Funk also incorporates jazz, blues, rock, pop, country, gospel, hip-hop and disco. Anything can be thrown into the funk stew if you’re sincere about it. Funk is more than a musical genre; it’s an attitude and lifestyle that makes the wildest of rockers look like squares. Primarily, funk is about shaking your ass with pride.

George Clinton

George Clinton

2014 was the year that George Clinton released the first Funkadelic album in 33 years. First Ya Gotta Shake The Gate features 33 songs, a song for ever year that there wasn’t a Funkadelic release. This may be Clinton’s most adventurous recording since 1972’s America Eats Its Young. George is accompanied by such P-Funk veterans as Rodney “Skeet” Curtis, Michael Hampton, Blackbyrd Mcknight, Michael B. Patterson, Garrett Shider, Kendra Foster, and dozens more. The music is very diverse on this record.
Funkadelic of today tackles electronica, hip-hop, heavy metal, and neo-soul with that one of a kind, in your face, over the top George Clinton attitude.

Sly Stone is also featured on 4 tracks on this 3 plus hour package of glorious filth. Clinton even uses the auto-tune effect the way Sly Stone and Roger Troutman used a talk-box several decades ago. To enhance the music, not correct it.

Prior to the album’s release, George Clinton released his first ever memoir along with writer Ben Greenman; Brothas Be Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You? Which is one of the most compelling and candid musical memoirs ever released. The book shines a light on the many tales and experiences of founding father of Parliament/Funkadelic. Click HERE for my iRoM review.

George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic continue to tour the world, putting on 3-4 hour shows a night.

Cosmic space-bass pioneer Bootsy Collins hit the road again strong in 2014, using the name Bootsy’s Rubber Band again with most of the original Rubber Band members intact. At the age of 63, Bootsy (who played bass and wrote for James Brown and P-Funk on some of their most influential recordings) shows no sign of slowing down. I’m hoping he and the Rubber Band make their way to Los Angeles soon so this funkateer can get down!

Of course, if I didn’t mention Prince’s contributions to funk in 2014, I’d be risking my life!



The Purple one released two albums back to back this year; Plectrumelectrum and Art Official Age. Prince’s guitar work, vocals, and production are stellar on both releases but I did find these albums to be a bit derivative and sounding a bit too close to Bootsy’s Rubber Band and late ‘70s Funkadelic. These albums are funky, but left me wanting more.

Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars



And then you had pop artist Bruno Mars jumping on the funky band wagon with his “Uptown Funk” collaboration with Mark Ronson. It’s a little too close to James Brown and Zapp for my taste but the public loves it and this may help the pop world take funk more seriously as a genre onto itself.




Last but not least, after a 14 year hiatus from recording, D’Angelo returned with Black Messiah. This may be the most overly hyped release of any record that I’ve witnessed in many years. D’Angelo started out in a neo-soul bag but in recent years, he’s tackled songs by Parliament/Fukadelic during his live shows and grown as a musician, writer, and vocalist.

There’s no doubt that this album owes a lot to Sly & The Family Stone’s darker recording of the early ‘70s (There’s A Riot GoinOn & Fresh) in it’s dissonance. At times it’s too much and the lyrics are inaudible.



Songs like “Till It’s Done (Tutu”), “The Charade’, and “1000 Deaths” speak directly to the political climate in America today but I wish I could understand the lyrics more clearly. That Quaalude/Depressed introspective slurred vocal effect was mastered by Sly Stone but Sly’s lyrics were clearer than this. Black Messiah is still undoubtedly funky. The band (called “The Vanguard”)features some of the greatest musicians in the world from Questlove Thompson from The Roots on drums, master session player Pino Palladino on bass, to trumpeter Roy Hargrove on trumpet, and P-Funk’s Kendra Foster on vocals. Foster also co-wrote seven of the albums tracks. Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest is also a credited writer.

Some people love D’Angelo’s “comeback” album and many others are on the fence but the same can be said about Funkadelic’s latest. As George Clinton has said; “Funk is like a fine wine, it gets better with age” so time will tell how well these records fare with fans.

So 2014 was one funky year, in more ways than one. Musically, some bold statements were made by some bold artists. Funk is still the most sampled music in hip-hop and you hear the music’s influence in rock, jazz, blues, and soul. Although the music industry has treated funk as a novelty since the ‘70s, it will now be forced to look at it as a serious art form that is constantly developing and moving into many diverse directions.

* * * * * * * *

To read more posts and essays by Devon “Doc” Wendell click HERE

A Twist Of Doc: Hank Mobley – The Unsung Hero Of Bop.

February 7, 2014

By Devon Wendell

For tenor sax players, the late ‘50s and early ‘60s were a time for hard blowing, fitting in as many notes as possible within a few bars, and trying to break free from familiar patterns.

Sonny Rollins was the reigning king of articulation and might on tenor sax until Coltrane’s second stay with Miles. Although his was more of a cult-like following at the time, and there were plenty of people who didn’t like what he was playing, Coltrane would change the direction of the instrument forever. Rollins was still loved and began to play even harder and faster as a result of Coltrane’s impact on jazz.

Rollins, Coltrane and Johnny Griffin were considered to be the fastest tenor men in the game. Although these men were genius players and writers, many other fantastic contributors were left in the shadows. It’s always been difficult for music journalists and the media to pay attention to more than a few groundbreaking artists at once.

Hank Mobley

Hank Mobley

One such artist who never seemed to get his fair due during his time was Hank Mobley, who died in 1986 at 55. Mobley’s round tone and nimble, melodic blues based phrasing helped define the entire hard-bop genre.

Not only was Mobley a member of the original Jazz Messengers led by Horace Silver, he recorded and composed some of the most original, hard swinging compositions in the entire history of jazz. He also recorded with the top musicians of the day, both new on the scene like Lee Morgan, Grant Green, and Freddie Hubbard, as well as older legends such as Art Blakey, Art Taylor, and Kenny Dorham.

His two most heralded albums, Soul Station and Roll Call, both recorded in 1960 on Blue Note are among the most sophisticated and thoughtful albums recorded for the label.

The albums consist mostly of Mobley originals. And the most amazing thing about compositions like “Cattin’,” “B For B.B.” (recorded in 1956 with Donald Byrd on The Jazz Message Of Hank Mobley on Savoy Records), or “Take Your Pick” and “The Breakdown,” both from the Roll Call album, is that one can easily hear these as big band arrangements. Which is hard to say about many of Mobley’s contemporaries, especially as the ‘60s drew near. That sense of the blues that swung all night long that Count Basie, Duke Ellington, as well as Monk, and Dizzy kept with them when composing and playing, were present in Mobley’s writing and blowing. And his sound is immediately identifiable.

Someone could blind fold me and play me a Mobley composition that I’ve never heard, covered by an artist that I’ve never heard and I’d know it was his within the first four bars. There’s still something sweet and endearing to Mobley’s “High And Flighty” tone and his big, bright arrangements. I first noticed it on “Hankerin’” from Horace Silver And The Jazz Messengers and Curtain Call (Both on Blue Note) which were given to me by a friend when I was 14.

Leonard Feather may have penned Mobley as “The middleweight champion of the tenor sax,” but I don’t think Feather meant it as a put down. Stan Getz was great and he played softer than Rollins or Coltrane. What’s great about jazz is that there’s room for many styles and sounds. The media may not grab onto it at first or ever, but the musicians and music lovers do. Mobley could and did play hard throughout different periods of his career. Check out his bold, angular lines on Freddie Hubbard’s Goin’ Up album on Blue Note from 1961 or “Hank’s Shout” from Introducing Lee Morgan With Hank Mobley’s Quintet on Savoy. Hank comes out swinging and never stops.

Mobley stayed true to the game until he retired with respiratory problems in the mid-’70s but his music continues to grab the attention of new jazz aficionados’ and keep the love of longtime, loyal fans like myself.

Thanks Hank.

* * * * * * * *

To read more posts, reviews and columns by Devon Wendell click HERE.

Radio Jazz: Time To Get Sirius?

July 29, 2013

By Michael Katz

There is nothing like driving around in a remote area to underline the virtues of good music. So I’d like to say a few kind words about Sirius XM. And also Avis, whose rental car was equipped with it. I recently spent a week in Yellowstone National Park, the setting for my new novel, Dearly Befuddled.

Yellowstone is a driver’s paradise or nightmare, depending on the vagaries of bison and elk, and the tourists who want to photograph them. A typical day checking out the geyser basins, waterfalls and hiking trails involves at least several hours on the road. Thanks to Sirius, I was able to share them with Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Freddie Hubbard, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, and many others.

I’m sure those of you with functioning long term memories can remember when driving across lonesome stretches of the West meant searching through the vast emptiness of AM radio, where the choices were country music, country music, Jesus, Jesus en Espanol, country music en Espanol, and a fading baseball game from Mars. Sirius offers something for everyone, and multiple versions of it. There are several jazz channels, but Channel 67 (Real Jazz) seemed to be more Straight Ahead, as the late, great DJ Chuck Niles would have said. In addition to Miles and Stan and Freddie, my relatively brief sampling had favorites such as Stanley Turrentine, Hank Mobley, Dave Brubeck, as well as current names like Warren Wolf, Marcus Miller, the Clayton Brothers and Roy Hargrove.   The DJs, including Miller and Mark Ruffin, are knowledgeable, although chat is at a minimum. There are live recordings of concerts, too, from Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Lincoln Center.

I’ve got to admit it is pretty amazing to walk  away from the eruption of Giant Fountain Geyser and listen to Shirley Horn sing “I’ve Got The World On A String.”

Giant Fountain Geyser

Or drive away from the Black Sand Basin as Jackie Terrason plays “Smile.”

Black Sand Basin

Then there is the question, what do you do while you are stuck in traffic, while, unknown to you, a bison is playing Grand Marshal to the Road To West Yellowstone Parade.

I am somewhere behind the bison.

The answer is, you switch to B.B. King’s Bluesville on Channel 70 and listen to Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Doug MacLeod. “Got them Wanderin’ Bison, Rubberneck Tourist Blues.” The time just flies by, really.

This begs the question, should I pay up and subscribe at home. I’ve tried to be loyal to our local station, KJazz 88.1. I understand the importance of a local station, promoting local players and events (if only…). In Kjazz’s defense, they cannot run separate channels for blues and smooth jazz as Sirius does. But in the end, we all vote with our feet (or our index fingers). And Kjazz needs to spend more time with current and/or local artists, and less time recycling the same hackneyed playlist over and over.

In the meantime, if you are hitting the road, don’t leave home without Sirius.

To read more iRoM reviews and posts by Michael Katz, click HERE.

To visit Michael Katz’s personal blog, “Katz of the Day,” click HERE.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 255 other followers