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The aptly titled “Right On Time” is a great jazz achievement.

Right On Time (PR8191)

Ken Fowser – Right On Time – Posi-Tone Records PR8191 56:02 ***** 5 stars

On his eighth release for Posi-Tone Records, Ken Fowser has established his credentials as a composer and band leader. Fronting an impressive sextet (Joe Magnarelli/trumpet; Steve Davis/trombone; Ed Cherry/guitar; Brian Charette/organ; and Willie Jones III/drums), Fowser opens stylishly on “Stand Clear Of The Closing Doors”. With organ guitar and drums anchoring the bluesy jam, the saxophonist solos first with a concise straight jazz feeling. Charette follows on organ, displaying accessible soul chops before handing it off to Ed Cherry’s groove-based hooks. The composition (all originals) has chord modulations, a cool vamp and repeat chorus. With Latin-infused imagery, “Samba For Joe Bim” reflects the band chemistry, showcasing fluid sax runs and nimble drum accents. On “Duck And Cover” the group emulates straight ahead jazz with an agile solo on saxophone that segues to finger-snapping runs by trumpeter Joe Magnarelli and trombonist Steve Davis. Charette’s sprightly organ percolates, driven by Cherry and Jones. The arrangement skills of Fowser are on display with “ No Filter”. The introduction displays harmonic elasticity as Fowser, Davis and Magnarelli intermingle with fluency. Every instrumentalist gets to solo with finesse and colorful inflection. It is classic jazz and consistent with great jazz ensembles of the past. The group reunites at the end with glowing texture and eloquence.

In a change of pace, “Don’t Let Life Pass You By” is structured by a gentler 3/4 time signature. Fowser’s “blue” saxophone has both delicacy and potency with the right amount of flourish. Charette’s airy, melodic solo is hypnotic and Cherry’s wistful guitar sways with relaxed inflection. There is an organic murmur inside the jam. Drummer Jones kicks off”On My Way” with attitude. This medium-swing number features dynamic solos from Fowser and Charette with several drum fills and syncopation. The horns return for “Keep Doing What You’re Doing”. Revisiting blues/jazz, the sextet glides with fierce precision, replete with “nasty” solos by everyone. When they combine it is a tapestry of in-the-pocket erudition. “Fowser Time” is a full ensemble arrangement with a triple lead (sax, trumpet and trombone). Charette anchors the rhythm section. Fowler gets things started with a muscular solo framed by a chord modulation. Davis’ saucy trombone is next and is followed by Cherry’s hook-driven run and Magnarelli’s crisp trumpet notation. Charette adds another soul jazz solo before the triple lead wraps things up with judicious timing. In a nod to melancholy, Fowser and Cherry share a harmony lead in a low-key waltz (“A Poem For Elaine”). There is considerable atmospheric resonance as Fowser, Cherry and Charette solo respectively. The finale “Knights Of The Round is vibrant and up tempo. The reed/brass combination is blended with adroit cohesion. In succession, Fowser, Manganelli, Cherry and Charette cook with ferocity. A well-deserved solo by Jones leads to the big finish.

The aptly titled Right On Time is a great jazz achievement.

Robbie Gerson – Audiophile Audition

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Marc Myers’ JazzWax reviews Joe Magnarelli “Three on two”…

Joe Magnarelli: Three on Two 
(Posi-Tone). A gentle hard bop album is always welcome on my end. I love Joe’s fleshy, round trumpet tones, which express pure love for the instrument. Here, with Steve Davis (tb), Mike Dirubbo (as), Brian Charette (org) and Rudy Royston (d), “Mags” plays even more beautifully than usual on his own title track, Davis’s Easy and Coltrane’s Central Park West. Once again, Joe proves that it’s not how many notes you play or how hot you blow but whether your heart is along for the ride. 

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SomethingElse Reviews Joe Magnarelli “Three on Two”….

Last year trumpet ace Joe Magnarelli put forth his first album under the Posi-Tone flag, but this was hardly the first time around the block for this respected veteran sideman and bandleader.Three On Two, out earlier this month, is his second for the label and also marks twenty years of leading his own dates.

As the title suggests, it’s a three horn/two-part rhythm section setup, but a little bit different than what you might think it’d be. Once again, the eminent Steve Davis is by Magnarelli’s side on trombone and Mike DiRubbo joins the two on alto sax. Rudy Royston is on drums and instead of bass, Brian Charette completes the quintet on organ. His handling of both the keyboard and the bottom (via bass pedals) chores effectively expands the ensemble to a sextet and few are better qualified to simultaneously lock down the low end and mix it up with a large front line of crackerjack horn players than Charette.

And in spite of this being a straight-ahead blowing affair in the finest Posi-Tone tradition, there’s quite of bit of mixing it up, starting with the title tune, with shifty rhythms and maximal, articulate trumpet playing by the leader. DiRubbo keeps the good vibe going and Charette put a soul-leaden cap on the solos run. Straightforward swingers abound on this collection, too, like the crisp, uptempo Coltrane number “26-2,” which features DiRubbo’s lively sax and some seriously sizzling outpouring of notes from Magnarelli. The guys show they can play it cool, too, on another Trane tune, “Central Park West,” where Magnarelli lays his soul bare and delivers a pretty solo on flugelhorn.

There’s even some fresh funk on this record: Magnarelli’s “NYC-J-Funk” gets down with a sly mixture of contemporary, almost hip-hop beats (led by Royston) and the soulful genius of Art Blakey’s Messengers; here, Charette syncopates his organ and bass pedal lines with easy equanimity.

The way Joe Magnarelli’s band members are pitted against — and with — each other through a solid blend of originals and covers makes Three On Two a gratifying way to experience mainstream jazz. Just like Magnarelli’s last release.


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Audiophile Audition reviews Joe Magnarelli’s “Three On Two”

Joe Magnarelli, trumpet – Three on Two [TrackList follows] – Posi-Tone




Joe Magnarelli – Three on Two – Posi-Tone Records – PR8142 – 55:42

Joe Magnarelli has been on our radar screen for some time. This is his 4th CD release we’ve covered since 2011. Beginning with his “with strings” CD in 2011, and following up with a live Smalls session in 2013 (with the late pianist Mulgrew Miller), Joe then signed with Posi-Tone for last year’s “Lookin’ Up”.

Joe is back with trombonist, Steve Davis, for another standout session. Posi-Tone has enhanced the hard bop front line with altoist, Mike DiRubbo, and added organist Brian Charette to add more “grease” to the mix. Drummer Rudy Royston is a spot-on choice to give the proceedings a true “Blue Note type” authenticity.

The song list is a winning mix of four Magnarelli originals, plus tracks from DiRubbo and Davis, as well as two from Coltrane, and “Clockwise” from Cedar Walton. A Debussy composition (updated in 1938 into a popular song by Larry Clinton) is added to make sure we know that Joe is a man for all seasons…

Right out of the box, the horns blend sweetly on the title track. Charette lets us know quickly that he’s there, and then Joe steps up to blow. His tone is warm, round, and burnished. The addition of Charette’s organ is a wise move on the part of producer, Marc Free. Organ with horns almost always seems about right.

“Easy” from Steve Davis is all that and more. If you dig hard bop as much as I do, the blend that Davis and Magnarelli so effortlessly possess helps with the continuum of this genre. It’s hard to quantify to those who do not appreciate the Blue Note/Prestige origins of hard bop that continue today through efforts of High Note, Savant, and Posi-Tone, but when you just hear a few choruses with the right mix of jazz musicians you know the future of the music we love is in good hands.

DiRubbo’s “The Step Up” has Mike and Brian doing just that. I forgot how much I enjoyed Mike’s previous Posi-Tone issues, Repercussion and Chronos. This track brought it back. “NYC-J-Funk” brings it and the pulse is set by Rudy Royston, spurring on Joe with a funkalicious back-beat and organ fills by Charette.

26-2, a contrafact of Coltrane’s based on Bird’s “Confirmation” gives DiRubbo center-stage to blow and we enter the bop arena. Joe and Steve also have solos here. Joe gets into rapid- fire delivery mode on “Paris.” The horns’ ensemble blend is highlighted on another Coltrane tune, “Central Park West” before Joe’s lyrical solo.

Top to bottom, Magnarelli’s Three on Two CD release is a slam dunk issue highlighted by Joe making all the right moves on the jazz court…

TrackList: Three on Two, Easy, The Step Up, NYC-J-Funk, 26-2, Clockwise, Paris, Central Park West, Outlet Pass, My Reverie

—Jeff Krow

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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.