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Dan Bilawsky reviews several new Posi-Tone Releases for AAJ…

http://www.allaboutjazz.com

Some labels release a few records a year; some put out a record every month or two; and then there are those, like the Los Angeles-based Posi-Tone Records, that prefer to push even more music through the pipeline.

As 2014 came into being, Posi-Tone began an ambitious release schedule, putting out a new album every few weeks. Those who cover jazz and follow the scene intently can’t seem to turn around these days without bumping into one of their discs. Everything from groove dates to post-bop parties to beyond-the-norm entries fly under the banner of this small-but-thriving label. Here’s a look at four from the ever-growing Posi-Tone pile.

Brian Charette
Square One
Posi-Tone
2014

Organist Brian Charette has appeared as a sideman on several albums for this imprint, but Square One is his leader debut for Posi-Tone. He works with the tried-and-true organ trio format here and it suits him well.

Guitarist Yotam Silberstein and drummer Mark Ferber join Charette for what starts out solid and turns into a hell of a ride. The first few tracks on this one almost almost seem like a warm-up, as the band finds its footing with funk-to-swing fun (“Aaight!”), pays respect to Larry Young(saxophonist Joe Henderson’s “If”), and pleasantly waltzes on by (“Three Martina”). All of this material comes together well, but sparks don’t always fly. That all changes when the band finds its stride with The Meters’ “Ease Back.” That track, which comes at the midpoint of the album, starts the winning streak. Everything that follows is superb. Ferber’s snare drum groove on “A Fantasy” makes the song, Silberstein pulls out some Lionel Loueke-esque sounds on “Things You Don’t Mean,” and the whole band becomes strikingly unhinged during “Ten Bars For Eddie Harris.”

Charette’s ability to hunker down into a groove, look to the outer limits, or switch between the two at a moment’s notice helps to keep listeners on their toes during this delightful and occasionally daring date.

Jared Gold
JG3+3
Posi-Tone
2014

Jared Gold, like Charette, has never subscribed to old school organ orthodoxy. He’ll give the past its due, but he works in the present. This is his seventh album in seven years—all released on Posi-Tone—and it finds him fronting an augmented organ trio, with three horns added to the mix. These other voices don’t dominate the program, but they do get to step out on occasion, round out the sound of the group, create some harmonic heft, and add some secondary colors to these pieces.

The album opens on Gold’s slow swinging “Pendulum,” guitarist Dave Stryker’s crackling “Spirits,” and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s gospel-inflected “Sermonette,” complete with some baritone saxophone preaching from Jason W. Marshall. The attention then shifts to the core trio during a take on James Taylor’s “Shower The People” that shifts focus from nuanced texture painting to slick-and-slippery funk. Drummer Sylvia Cuenca steals the show on a burning “No Moon At All,” trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt steps up to the plate on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” and alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius gets to shine on Gold’s lively-and-bouncy “Fantified.” This mostly-covers set finishes with two more, as a smoking “Cubano Chant” and comfortable “Charcoal Blues” finish things off in style.
Steve Fidyk
Heads Up!
Posi-Tone
2014

Drummer Steve Fidyk is best known for his sideman and studio contributions, writing for Modern Drummer magazine, and work with the Taylor/Fidyk Big Band. Here, he makes his bones with the Posi-Tone gang by fronting a quintet that features a pair of heavy-hitters—trumpeterTerell Stafford and saxophonist Tim Warfield. The program contains four Fidyk originals, two numbers from guitarist Shawn Purcell, and three covers.

Heads Up!, like the aforementioned Charette album, doesn’t start out with the most distinctive music on the disc. It’s the first cover—”Make Someone Happy”—that, strangely enough, gives Fidyk’s music its own identity. A muted Stafford draws focus as Fidyk’s brushes glide along below. From that point on, most everything makes its mark. Purcell’s guitar and Regan Brough’s bass join together for the Charlie Parker-ish “Might This Be-Bop,” which is also bolstered by Fidyk’s brushes, and Stafford picks up his flugelhorn for an uncommonly slow and beautiful take on “I Can See Clearly Now.”

Fidyk’s most notable originals—”The Flip Flopper,” a funky tune with some memorable guitar work from Purcell, and the warm-hearted “T.T.J.”—come later in the album, but it’s Cole Porterthat has the final word; Fidyk and company finish with a metrically-altered “Love For Sale” that’s pure fun.

Tom Tallitsch
Ride
Posi-Tone
2014

Saxophonist Tom Tallitsch focuses on his own music on his second release on Posi-Tone and fifth date as a leader. He throws in David Bowie’s “Life On Mars” and Led Zeppelin’s “Ten Years Gone” for good measure, but the other nine tracks are all of his making.

Tallitsch proves to be a commanding player throughout Ride, but it’s the sidemen that help to bring out the best in the music. Rock solid players like pianist Art Hirahara and bassistPeter Brendler help to keep things running smoothly, guest trombonist Michael Dease brings the heat, and Rudy Royston, the seemingly ubiquitous super drummer, adds some wattage to Tallitsch’s tunes. Royston’s in high spirits on the title track and he drives the hell out of a few other numbers.

While the faster material always carries excitement with it, Talitsch’s strongest pieces aren’t the burners. “Rain,” which Tallitsch accurately frames as “gospel country,” the Brazilian-tinged “El Luchador,” which gives Dease a chance to shine, and the bluesy “Knuckle Dragger” all leave more of a lasting impression on the ear.

Tracks and Personnel

Square One

Tracks: Aaight!; If; Three For Martina; People On Trains; True Love; Ease Back; Time Changes; A Fantasy; Yei Fei; Things You Don’t Mean; Ten Bars For Eddie Harris.

Personnel: Brian Charette: organ; Yotam Silberstein: guitar; Mark Ferber: drums.

JG3+3

Tracks: Pendulum; Spirits; Sermonette; Shower The People; No Moon At All; I Just Can’t Stop Loving You; Fantified; Cubano Chant; Charcoal Blues.

Personnel: Jared Gold: organ; Dave Stryker: guitar; Sylvia Cuenca: drums; Patrick Cornelius: alto saxophone; Jason Marshall: baritone saxophone; Tatum Greenblatt: trumpet.

Heads Up!

Tracks: Untimely; Last Nerve; Make Someone Happy; Might This Be-Bop; I Can See Clearly Now; The Flip Flopper; The Bender; T.T.J.; Love For Sale.

Personnel: Steve Fidyk: drums; Terell Stafford: trumpet, flugelhorn; Tim Warfield: tenor saxophone; Shawn Purcell: guitar; Regan Brough: bass.

Ride

Tracks: Ride; Life On Mars; Rubbernecker; Rain; The Giving Tree; Ten Years Gone; El Luchador; The Myth; Knuckle Dragger; The Path; Turtle.

Personnel: Tom Tallitsch: tenor saxophone; Michael Dease; trombone; Art Hirahara: piano; Peter Brendler: bass; Rudy Royston.

 
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SomethingElse Reviews Tom Tallitsch “Ride”…

http://somethingelsereviews.com

Two years after Heads of Tales , a searing date backed by Jared Gold, Mark Ferber and David Allen, tenor saxman Tom Tallitsch returns with another strong crew for Ride (March 4, Posi-Tone Records), in fact arguably even more so: Rudy Royston on drums, Art Hirahara on piano, Peter Brendler on bass and the phenomenal Michael Dease on trombone.

The change-up in instrumentation does nothing to change Tallitsch’s mission of evangelizing the hard bop form through the bell of his saxophone. Ride swings and grooves with flawless proficiency by guys who aren’t just going through the motions. Tallitsch’s traditionally minded saxophone diction never forgets that soul is an important part of it, but so is forgetting a lick once it’s played, too. That’s why he can go a while on a solo as he does on “El Luchador” and keep it interesting all the way through. And he can swing like the old masters, amply demonstrated on cuts like “The Giving Tree.”

Dease isn’t present on every track, but when he’s called in to help, he provides the perfect foil, and his solos on “El Luchador,” “Turtle” and especially “Knuckle Dragger” are fluid and full of character but in a graceful way. The rhythm section makes a lot of hay on the spicier numbers like “The Myth,” and Royston leaves behind a show stopping display on drums during his break on “Ride,” while Hirahara shines on “The Path.” Also during “The Path,” Brendler’s against-the-grain bass line offers up a funky counterpoint.

During the last go-around Tallitsch adapted a song from a rock icon (Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”) into the jazz form the right way, by embracing the core melody. He does this again on Ride, putting his own stamp on David Bowie’s lofty gem “Life On Mars” and Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti deep cut, the splendidly downtrodden “Ten Years Gone.” On the former tune, Tallitsch’s sax takes on the vocal role, his sax accurately locating the emotional center of the song. For the Page/Plant song, he doubles with Dease to give it a late 60s Jazz Crusaders-type groove, but one that maintains the original’s serious tone.

New personnel and backup instrumentation doesn’t matter; Ride is another sturdy, deft straight-ahead affair from Tom Tallitsch.

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Music and More reviews Tom Tallitsch new CD “Ride”…

http://jazzandblues.blogspot.com

Tom Tallitsch is a tenor saxophone player working on the modern mainstream scene, recording as a leader and a sideman regularly. He is accompanied by Art Hirahara on piano, Mike Dease on trombone, Peter Brendler on bazz and Rudy Royston on drums. “Ride” opens the album with a strong beginning that builds to a boiling tempo and fine saxophone solo and an exciting drum solo. The David Bowie song “Life on Mars” was a surprise, but a pleasant one as Tallitsch steps back and plays a nice lyrical performance. “Rubbernecker” ramps the music back up to quick modern jazz, fast and loose with escalating and cascading waves of notes and rippling piano, bass and drums interlude. Tallitsch and Dease harmonize during the beginning of “The Giving Tree” staying taught before the leader’s saxophone is able to break free with a well controlled solo underpinned by pulsating bass. It is a great solo with a waterfall of streaming sound. “The Myth” is a longer performance, opening calmly before worrying in some more nervous dynamics as the tempo of the performance increases and Tallitsch makes his solo faster and faster. Royston is excellent here developing rhythms that shift and change in an exciting manner. (March 4, 2014)

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Critical Jazz reviews Tom Tallitsch “Ride”…

http://www.criticaljazz.com

Tom Tallitsch shows exponential growth both as a performer and a composer and is certainly a name to remember!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Ride is the sophomore release from Tom Tallitsch on Posi-Tone Records. The stellar cover art is an excellent representation of a release that is evocative, energized and delightfully eclectic. This quintet is firing on all cylinders with all star drummer Rudy Royston keeping everyone on the rhythmic straight and narrow with pianist Art Hirahara and bassist Peter Brendler rounding out a formidable rhythm section that shift dynamics on the fly providing a solid base from which Tallitsch can work. Joining Tom is all star trombonist Michael Dease and the artful manipulation of swing has Ride carefully walking that fine line between the typical cerebral/visceral releases that dot the straight ahead landscape.
Covers…These can be the equivalent of tap dancing in a melodic minefield and taking on tunes from David Bowie and Led Zeppelin are certainly not done without some natural trepidation. Bowie’s “Life On Mars” is dialed down to an exquisite ballad while the reharm of the iconic Zeppelin standard “Ten Years Gone” puts a fresh coat of paint on an album rock classic long assumed hiding out in the rock and roll witness program by many. From the opening swing of “Ride” to the slightly odd metered gem ” Rubbernecker” the tone is open, warm and above all relaxed. While Ride is a release with subtle nuances hidden within a lyrical sense of purpose and a textured rhythmic sense of drive. There is not an ounce of pretentious pyrotechnics to be found and perhaps it is this inner confidence that translates a relaxed virtually live feeling to this recording. Michael Dease provides the counterpoint that makes tunes like “Knuckle Dragger” and “Turtle” somewhat reminiscent of Wayne Shorter’s early Blue Note work yet Tom Tallitsch is doing a riff on no one but himself.

I once made the statement that Posi-Tone may carry the best stable of saxophonists working the straight ahead side of the street and Tom Tallitsch more than proves this point. 

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Midwest reviews our latest releases….

http://midwestrecord.com/

POSI-TONE
WILL BERNARD/Just Like Downtown: This tasty guitarist takes plenty of the spotlight for himself but he leaves enough room for Brian Charette to pump that greasy organ sound so much so that you can be excused for thinking this is B3 date if you hear it without knowing what it is. Swinging throughout, this four piece combo delivers the real deal and never let’s things ever sink below smoking. Hot stuff for real jazzbo although they might just let hipsters in for a taste. A winner.
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NICK HEMPTON/Odd Man Out: Hempton’s playing here reminds me of a time Gerry Mulligan was teaching a master class at a university. There was a look of grudging admiration on his face when one of the student players just knew how to turn it up and turn it loose. I see that look again listening to this date. Hempton is a real cooker that can play the notes, play around the notes, play around with the notes and spread such good vibes in the process. A real swinger throughout, this is simply a killer date that expands the lexicon of modern jazz and makes it sound so cool in the process. Don’t miss it.
8112

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CD Hotlist make “The Kung-Fu Masters” a pick of the month…

cdhotlist.com

When jazz tries to get rockish, the result is too often an embarrassing cross between oversimplifed jazz and awkwardly non-idiomatic rock. But when jazz tries to get funky, the results are often much better. Case in point: this adventurous but tight septet date led by saxophonist Sean Nowell, who writes and arranges with a great sense of voicing and structure but who can also take things out in exhilarating style when called upon to do so. The compositions are all Nowell originals except for a version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic,” and not only are they funky, but they also often rock hard–believe it or not.

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Richard kamins reviews Fowser/Gillece “Top Shelf”…

steptempest.blogspot.com

This was one of those weeks when music served as a “healing force, helped to ease the pain of the tragic events in Boston and elsewhere.  Driving home from work the other night, I put “Top Shelf” into the player;  it’s the 4th PosiTone Records release from the duo of Ken Fowser(tenor saxophone) and Behn Gillece (vibraphone) and the easy-going swing was a true panacea (sounding just as fine the next day and in the background as I write.)  Featuring the classy rhythm section of Steve Einerson(piano), Rodney Green (drums) and Hartford, CT, native Dezron Douglas (acoustic bass), the leaders also invited trombonist Michael Dease to add his burr-ey sound to a number of the tracks.  When Dease is in the group, as he is on the opening track, “Slick“, the music has a resemblance to the music of the Jazz Crusaders (pre-funk).  The blend of tenor and trombone really stands out as does the interaction of the vibes and piano.  When you add in the smart work of Green and Douglas, the music really flies.  “Stranded in Elizabeth” is an excellent example of the interaction and interplay.  Green really pushes beneath the vibes solo while Einerson’s Tuyner-esque supporting chords, along with the fine bass work, acts as a solid foundation for the soloists.

There’s a Latin tinge to “Unstoppable” as well as a snappy theme for the tenor and vibes.  In a short YouTube video that accompanied the CD’s release, the leaders mention the influence of Bobby Hutcherson’s work with saxophonist Harold Land and it is most evident on tunes such as this one and the up-tempo title track.  Green creates sparks beneath the hearty tenor solo and prods Gillece to produce one of his most notable solos on the recording.  Again, Einerson’s forceful chords and driving solo stand out.

Some may say that “Top Shelf” does not break new musical ground but what the CD offers an eager listener is a band comfortable with each other playing a repertoire born from the duo’s weekly gigs at Small’s Jazz Club in New York City.  Rodney Green, Steve Einerson and Dezron Douglas are super throughout, giving the music the energy it needs to stand out.

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Marc Myers goes “Top Shelf”…

www.jazzwax.com

In most cases these days, the best new jazz albums sound terrific from their opening notes. I audit about 15 new CDs daily and, in nearly every case, the most inspiring ones are exciting from the get-go. That’s largely because better musicians and their producers know that in today’s world of digital distractions, you have to come  out of the gate with your best stuff. Listeners no longer spend much time trying to figure out what musicians are trying to say and they aren’t very forgiving when feet drag.

A good example of a new album that starts strong and keeps on going all the way to the end is Ken Fowser and Behn Gillece’s Top Shelf (Posi-Tone). This hard-bop album pairs tenor saxophonist Fowser with vibist Gillece on 10 originals composed separately by the co-leaders. Top Shelf  is their fourth joint album and features Michael Dease on trombone, Steve Einerson on piano, Dezron Douglas on bass and Rodney Green on drums.

Fowser grew up in southern New Jersey and attended Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. He became a regular at local jam sessions before transferring in 2004 to William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. Upon graduating in 2005, Fowser relocated to New York, where he often plays at Smoke and Smalls.

Behn Gillece also is from southern New Jersey and jammed in Philadelphia before moving to New York in 2006. He has appeared routinely at clubs in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia as well as at jazz festivals. He finished his graduate studies at SUNY Purchase in New York in 2008 and has won a string of competitions.

As you’ll hear, these two have a good thing going. Gillece jumps in aggressively with long, clean lines, complementing Fowser’s confident, insistent tenor. Dig Gillece on the lightly Latin Pequenina or Proximity, for example. Or Fowser onStranded in Elizabeth (N.J.) and Slick. And when they’re playing together, it sounds as if Fowser is telling a story and Gillece is taking it all down on a steel typewriter behind him. These two are magic.

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Dan Bilawsky reviews Fowser/Gillece “Top Shelf”…

www.allaboutjazz.com

The team of tenor saxophonist Ken Fowser and vibraphonist Behn Gillece has been steadily releasing music of a similar nature on the Posi-Tone label since its 2009 debut, Full View, hit the shelves. With this, the duo’s fourth album, Fowser and Gillece continue along the same path with nary a stylistic sharp turn, yet this one manages to stand out because of one important difference: a third man out front. The three previous recordings were leaders-and-rhythm dates but, with Top Shelf, the group opens the frontline door, inviting trombonist Michael Dease to join in.

The vibes-saxophone-trombone combination puts a slight aural twist on the formula that’s been at the heart of previous outings. Greater tonal and timbral complexity naturally comes to the fore with a trombone at play, and Dease’s skills as a soloist add volumes to this album; his horse neigh arrival and triplet excursions on “Due Diligence,” for example, steal the show. Every solo has head-turning potential, but the trombonist is, in some respects, underutilized; the presence of another frontline personality could have been cause for Gillece and Fowser to significantly expand their arranging/composing vision(s), but they don’t take the bait.

Instead, Fowser and Gillece continue to deliver swinging tunes and straight-eighth vehicles that bound along with enthusiasm and glee. Gillece remains the primary composer in this partnership, contributing seven of the album’s ten tunes, but Fowser also adds a few numbers to the playlist. The peppy “Pequenina,” with Dease and the leaders at the center of the action, and lightly drifting ballad, “For The Moment,” housing gorgeous rubato harmonic rainbows, prove to be Gillece’s best, standing apart from the rest in style and syntax. Fowser’s finest is the title track, a blues with a Latin rhythmic foundation that contains some strong solo work.

Top Shelf doesn’t necessarily break new ground for this duo, but it does find them in good form and good company, with Dease and a strong rhythm section onboard for a fun-filled ride.

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AAJ’s Glenn Astarita writes up Sean Nowell “The Kung-Fu Masters”…

www.allaboutjazz.com

Track review of “Mantis Style” 

New York City-based saxophonist Sean Nowell has found a home with the increasingly prominent West Coast modern jazz record label, Posi-Tone Records. His fourth release highlights the turbo-powered acoustic-electric band, The Kung-Fu Masters. Word has it that the ensemble has been creating a buzz in The Big Apple, and in recent times has acted like a jazz collective, featuring guest spots by formidable players such as guitaristMike Stern and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt. Now that Nowell has firmed-up the core band, let us hope that this high quality album signifies the beginning of a lengthy recording cycle. Simply put, this unit knocks the living daylights out of conventional jazz-funk stylizations.

“Mantis Style” is an example of the ensemble’s vast weaponry. Marked by difficult super-funk time signatures and regimented unison lines, either keyboardist Art Hirahara or Adam Klipple calm the waters by rewinding the intensity with supple electric piano phrasings then up the ante, summoning the frontline to reenergize the proceedings. Think of James Brown’s JB Horns kicking matters into submission via a rigorously technical arrangement, shadowed by punchy accents and snappy choruses. With some push and pull, the musicians restate the primary theme towards the finale as trombonist Michael Dease navigates the perimeter while offering subtle contrasts. Here and throughout, Nowell and associates dish out a sweltering modus operandi with an irrefutable vengeance.

Personnel: Sean Nowell: tenor saxophone; Brad Mason: trumpet; Michael Dease: trombone; Art Hirahara: keyboards; Adam Klipple: organ, keyboards; Evan Marien: bass; Marko Djordjevic: drums.