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Joe Magnarelli “Lookin’ Up!” is the KIOS CD of the Month…



Joe Magnarelli, who grew up in Syracuse, New York and has resided in
New York City for over 25 years.He has played with some of the best in
the business including Jimmy Cobb, Lionel Hampton and Brother Jack
McDuff. He has led his own bands for twenty years and has released
nine recordings of his own as a leader.

His latest is “Lookin’ Up!” on the Posi-Tone label. It’s a straight ahead affair
featuring stellar playing by Magnarelli on trumpet and flugelhorn and a top notch
roster of players including Steve Davis on trombone, Anthony Wonsey on piano,
Mike Karn on bass and Jason Brown on drums. The playing throughout this new
session is outstanding.

Some of the highlights include the lead track “44” , a straight ahead bopper that
gets the set rolling. “Inner Beauty” is a lovely ballad that features Magnarelli’s lyrical
and romantic side of his playing. Wonsey adds a lovely solo on piano. The John
Coltrane piece, “Miles’ Mode” has Magnarelli on muted trumpet and Karn steps into
the spotlight soloing on bass. Magnarelli and Davis make a great team on the front
line. Davis’ solo on “You Go To My Head” in particular is a real delight.

All in all it’s a winning combination of talent backing Magnarelli on this new release
with fine performances throughout the entire ten tracks offered here. This record
should be getting major airplay at jazz radio around the country by the time you read
this. It’s a delightful summertime treat for sure. For more info, you may visit


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Joe Magnarelli gets covered by Dusted in Exile…



Publish or perish. It’s an old maxim that applies equally well to academic and musical circles. Trumpeter Joe Magnarelli is well-versed in both realms of endeavor, starting his professional career three decades ago and eventually accepting adjunct teaching posts at both Julliard and Rutgers. He also routinely teaches master classes and clinics on the side. That kind of diversification is requisite when it comes to making ends meet as a jazz musician. Performance alone just doesn’t cut it anymore. Productivity these days involves getting one’s name and work out however possible.

Magnarelli’s been keeping decent pace with the pressure to record. Lookin’ Up! is his ninth date as a leader and follows a framework similar to his past works. Artful postbop is the order of the day with trombonist Steve Davis (another Positone regular) balancing the frontline on six cuts. Pianist Anthony Wonsey fronts the rhythm section with bassist Mike Karn and drummer Jason Brown also on board. The program is an even split between originals and standards with five of each. The first in the former category, “44” gets the date of to a less than auspicious start with a smooth unison horn statement over a fairly generic, Latin-lite rhythm. The later “Blue Key” suffers under a similar rhythmic yoke, but Magnarelli’s muted leads bring it up a notch.

Things pick up considerably with “Third Set,” a brisk bop blower that makes the most of the brass rapport between the leader and Davis. Wonsey’s steady, sharp angled comping also earns points, particularly as backdrop for Magnarelli’s lithe solo. “Inner Beauty,” another original, gives Davis a breather and compels Brown to break out brushes as the band brings on a convincing balladic mood. Magnarelli’s goes lush and pliable on flugelhorn, rolling out soft trills and legato slurs as Karn plucks a plump contrapuntal line that aligns with first trumpet and then piano. “Easy Transition” echoes the sort of writing Freddie Hubbard popularized during his Sixties tenure at Blue Note, with an agreeably dissonant piano prelude segueing into straightforward swing for the tune proper.

“Suddenly It’s Spring” and “Miles’ Mode” aren’t exactly left field choices, but Magnarelli puts his stamp on both. The first bursts with effervescence thanks to a bustling rhythm, a nimble trumpet barrage, a knuckle-cracking statement by Wonsey, and fast-walking line by Karn that fold into a string of rapid chases. For the second, Magnarelli predictably affixes mute and puts the modal Milesean theme through a series of strong paces sans Wonsey’s support. Karn makes the most of the pianist’s absence, turning in his strongest improvisation of the date. The compensation for Wonsey comes with “Darn That Dream”, a feature for just him and the leader again on flugelhorn in its opening minutes. This is music that invites straightforward appreciation and while Magnarelli stays well within his comfort zone throughout the results are agreeably on par with what’s come prior under his name.

Derek Taylor




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Joe Magnarelli and Michael Dease are both featured in JazzWax “discoveries of the week”…


C1010Michael Dease - Relentless cover







Joe Magnarelli—Lookin’ Up! (Posi-Tone). I’ve always loved Mags’ round, fleshy sound on trumpet. Here, he turns up the heat on songs like Third Set, Suddenly It’s Spring and John Coltrane’s Miles’ Mode—soaring up the lines and swooping down with sizzling intensity. On ballads like Darn That Dream and his original Blue Key (using a mute), we hear Mags’s broad tones and fondness for hanging around pretty melodies. A trumpeter who keeps getting better with each album.


Michael Dease—Relentless (Posi-Tone). This engaging big-band release features top-notch section players and soloists on tunes ranging from Duke Pearson’s Is That So to John Lewis and Dizzy Gillespie’s Two Bass Hit. But the real star here is the pen of trombonist Dease, whose arrangements have grace and punch and build smartly. Dease also is a gorgeous soloist.





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Step Tempest reviews Joe Magnarelli “Lookin’ Up!”…







It’s been 20 years since trumpeter Joe Magnarelli released his debut on the Criss Cross label. In 1994, “Mags” was already an established voice on the music scene having worked with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Brother Jack McDuff and Lionel Hampton.  Since then, he has worked with a plethora of groups and artists, from the Vanguard Orchestra to Harry Connick Jr. to Jane Monheit to the Lincoln Center Orchestra.

His 10th CD as a leader, “Lookin’ Up“, is his debut for Posi-Tone Records and is a highly attractive session from beginning to end. With the rhythm section of bassist Mike Karn (Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Harold Mabern) and drummer Jason Brown (Wayne Escoffery, David Hazeltine) plus the articulate pianist Anthony Wonsey, Magnarelli (who plays his mellow flugelhorn on several cuts) weaves his way through a 10-song program evenly split between originals and standards.

Trombonist Steve Davis joins the group on 6 cuts, serving as both a harmony voice and counterpoint to the leader’s trumpet.  Their interaction on the original “Third Set” includes both call-and-response as well as harmony.  The tune is infused with the feel of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, from Wonsey’s “bouncing” chordal accompaniment to the drive of Karn and Brown.  The blend of Davis’s rich and burnished tones with Mags’ muted trumpet give “Blue Key” (a Magnarelli original) a pleasing sound.  Wonsey’s pleasing solo exploration sets up the handsome trumpet solo. Karn’s splendid walking bass leads in the rest of the band on “In Walked Lila” (composed by saxophonist John Handy – there’s a voice one needs to her more often); everybody gets to “strut his stuff” and does so without going on too long (Brown’s joy-filled bass kick and snare rolls jump out of the speakers.) The pianist gives a lively “Satin Doll”-flavored opening to Magnarelli’s “Easy Transition“, a medium-tempo bluesy romp.  Davis displays his formidable yet amiable “blues” chops while the trumpeter lets fly several lively phrases

The flugelhorn makes an appearance on the lovely original ballad, “Inner Beauty.” Magnarelli weaves the melody and solo around the delicate piano chords and Karn’s intelligent counterpoint while Brown’s brushes sweep the piece along.  Wonsey’s introduction to Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Darn That Dream” opens with a slight flourish before he states the melody and sets the stage for the leader to come in on flugelhorn and repeats the melody. The rhythm section tiptoes in at the close of the second verse while Magnarelli repeats the melody once more before taking a well-fashioned solo.

Lookin’ Up” breaks no new ground, all the while showing the listener how 5 musicians can have fun in the studio while making meaningful music. Each player contributes to the overall excellence of the performances with a special tip of the hat to the active and engaged rhythm section (including Anthony Wonsey.)  Joe Magnarelli’s move to Posi-Tone Records makes great sense – this is a label keeping the spirit of hard-bop alive and well into the 21s Century (while not ignoring newer developments).  To learn more about the leader, go  To find out more about this and other Posi-Tone releases, go to

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Audiophile Audition reviews Joe Magnarelli “Lookin’ Up!”…








Joe Magnarelli has long been a trumpeter that I have dug. We previously reviewed his sublime “with strings” CD in 2011 and last year’s Live at Smalls issue  teamed Joe with Mulgrew Miller just prior to Miller’s untimely passing.

It is welcome news that Joe is now with Posi-Tone Records as label guru and producer, Marc Free, knows how to find session mates to bring out the best for his roster artists. On Lookin’ Up , we find Joe’s front line trombone mate, the superb Steve Davis (ofOne For All fame) helping Joe flesh out the arrangements of both standards and five original Magnarelli tunes. With Anthony Wonsey leading the rhythm section, I found myself in eager anticipation of both a lyrical yet hot, near one hour swinging session. Once again Joe Mags has come through with flying colors.

I am most always pleased with the acoustics of Posi-Tone issues as both Marc, and engineer, Nick O’Toole, have an innate sense of instrument placement in the final mix, where the horns can have center stage, yet the rhythm section is upfront enough that you can sense their spurring on the horns to greater heights.

Right away on the opener, “44,” there is an immediate polish and sheen with Joe’s burnished tone, the snap of Jason Brown’s cymbals, Wonsey’s tasty comping, and Davis’ robust trombone blend with Magnarelli. The Joe/Steve simpatico is even more on display on their unaccompanied intro to “Third Set.” It’s enough to tempt you to catch a flight to New York with hopes of catching them at Smoke or Smalls.

Magnarelli can get your trumpet-loving heart pumping away happily on the up-tempo burners, yet can ease you back with cool comfort on ballads like “Inner Beauty” and “Darn That Dream.”

It’s easy to see why Joe is a professor of music at both the Juilliard School of Music and Rutgers University. Some aspiring trumpet students certainly have their tuition or scholarship funds in good hands. But we all know already that jazz is always “lookin up” in the Big Apple….

TrackList: 44, Third Set, Inner Beauty, You Go to My Head, Blue Key, Easy Transition, Suddenly It’s Spring, Miles’ Mode, Darn That Dream, In Walked Lila

—Jeff Krow


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Joe Magnarelli is “Lookin’ Up!” on Bop ‘n Jazz…




Joe Magnarelli is the perfect storm!
Respected educator, prolific composer and one of the most in demand players in mainstream jazz, Joe Magnarelli is a legitimate triple threat in improvisational music. Joined on the front line by critically acclaimed trombonist Steve Davis and you have a post bop release just screaming…literally.
What makes Lookin’ Up! jump is that the old school style is fortified with a more contemporary pop of color to have this harmonic chameleon changing colors, meter, and swing almost at will. The rhythm section is A list and rounded off with Anthony Wonsey on piano, Mike Karn on bass and Jason Brown on drums.
Some consider Magnarelli strictly a ballad player and make no mistake his reharm of “Darn That Dream” is as good as it gets. The original “Inner Beauty” is an exquisite number that not only encapsulates the more evocative tonal quality of Magnarelli but a lyrical sense of purpose that is second to none. The burning swing of “Suddenly It’s Spring” shows versatility while the muted work on “Blue Key” embraces a bossa nova rhythm set to a ballad melody. Not everyone does this folks. The meticulous attack on John Coltrane’s “Miles Mode” is perhaps the highlight of the release as this trio take with only Brown and Karn highlights his old school ability with a new world charm.
Lookin’ Up! works simply because this is not a rehash of old standards as Magnarelli contributes five originals. The success here is the lyrical vision and contemporary swing of a trumpet master that is deserving of far more ink then he has received in the past. Easily one of the two best trumpet releases I have heard this year.


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Another nice review for Joe Magnarelli “Lookin’ Up!”….

Joe Magnarelli: Lookin’ Up! (2014)


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Joe Magnarelli: Lookin' Up!

Trumpeter Joe Magnarelli has been a jazz scene stalwart for 30 years. Based in New York since 1986 he’s worked with a broad range of musicians including Lionel HamptonJimmy Cobb and Michael Feinstein and has released a series of albums as leader.Lookin’ Up! is his first recording for the Posi-Tone label and it proves to be a fine addition to that label’s roster of top-flight straight-ahead jazz.

Lookin’ Up! is a quintet outing, with trombonist and fellow Posi-Tone artist Steve Davis sharing the front line with Magnarelli. The album has a full, rich, sound courtesy of producer Marc Free and engineer Nick O’Toole. It showcases the five musicians as a group and the result is powerfully seductive.

Magnarelli and Davis form a strong front line—punchy and tough on Magnarelli’s “44” andJohn Handy‘s “In Walked Lila”; swinging on “You Go To My Head” and “Suddenly It’s Spring.” The rhythm section—pianist Anthony Wonsey, bassist Mike Karn and drummer Jason Brown—provides the expert support that ensures the lead players shine as brightly as they can. Brown is the driving force, Karn’s cool and reliable, Wonsey is a master of comping. Even without Magnarelli or Davis the three men hold the attention, establishing a groove or a mood with ease—on their brief but cool intro to the leader’s “Blue Key” for example, or during Karn’s energetic solo on “Suddenly It’s Spring.”

Magnarelli takes on the leader’s role with aplomb. His playing is consistently superb. On his own “Inner Beauty” he’s controlled yet romantic, characteristics that also define Wonsey’s solo: on John Coltrane‘s “Miles’ Mode” his muted trumpet flies over Karn and Brown’s rhythmic foundation, the whole tune full of exuberant joy. Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Darn That Dream” starts as a trumpet/piano duet then adds bass and drums—from start to finish it’s a graceful and lyrical reading of the old standard.

Lookin’ Up! closes with a fiery rendition of “In Walked Lila” which gives each musician a chance to loosen up and let rip. Five masterful talents, ten great tunes, that’s Lookin’ Up!.




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Here’s the first review for the new Joe Magnarelli CD “Lookin’ Up!”…





Longtime trumpet sideman Joe Magnarelli first bowed as a leader in 1995 (Why Not) but Lookin’ Up! (out June 24, 2014) marks his first for Posi-Tone Records. The welcoming environment the label offers for straight-ahead cats like Magnarelli is one good reason why Lookin’ Up! is already off on the good foot.

The other is because this adjunct professor of music at the Julliard School of Music and Rutgers University presides over a master class in mainstream jazz. Assisted by Steve Davis on trombone, Anthony Wonsey on piano, Mike Karn on bass and Jason Brown on drums, Lookin’ Up! teaches of the importance and the majesty of post-bop jazz not with words but with sounds.

The trumpet/trombone front line defines that sound in this case, as Davis brings his accomplished chops to bolster Magnarelli with his counterpoints, done with style as on the outro to Magnarelli’s composition “44,” harmonizing like hand-in-glove during “Third Set” and “Easy Transition,” and often following up the trumpeter’s hot solos with cool-toned ones; “In Walked Lila” is one example.

But Magnarelli shows time and again he gets the job done on his own, architecting a thoughtful aside on “44″ and easily conquers quick-tempo swingers like “Suddenly It’s Spring” with crisp trumpet flights, followed by Wonsey’s own, block chord-rich solo. Magnarelli’s muted horn acuity is on display for the tracks “Blue Key,” a bossa nova rhythm set to a ballad melody and during an agile take on John Coltrane’s “Miles’ Mode” backed only by Karn and Brown.

Ballads, however, are where Magnarelli shines the brightest; he tackles Jimmy Van Heusen’s classic number “Darn That Dream” with a clean delivery that’s sensitive to the beauty of melody, as Davis sits out. That warm, wistful tone is also put to great use on Magnarelli’s own pretty number “Inner Beauty.”

Lookin’ Up! is simply damned good, no-nonsense, straight-ahead jazz carried out with veteran proficiency. Anyone who likes their jazz served up that way will have no problem at all with this disc.