Music @ The Speed Of Life (Mint Condition)

January 9, 2013 in News by Michele Wilson-Morris

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Mint ConditionThe group Mint Condition has always had a unique and identifiable sound. As a band, they gel together so well that you can instantly identify their music, which is a pleasure because it’s that authentic and original. Their recent release, “Music At The Speed Of Life” follows in the footsteps of their past productions, which have all been a hit in this reviewer’s eyes.

There’s some serious crooning from these cats as soon as the needle drops, which is exactly what fans have come to expect. Trust me, they do not disappoint. This new album has a slightly different sound, one that seems to be even more seasoned, as they continuously get better with each release. Listeners can expert solid lyrics and amazing music with a great delivery, clever rhythms, and great beats. One listen to this CD (or any of their CDs) will convince you that I’m not overselling them. They’re just that good. With “Music @ The Speed Of Life”, Mint Condition is at the top of their game, bringing R&B to fans with sheer perfection.

I loved the very inspirational track “Completely”, which should easily be a hit. This band, which hails from St. Paul, Minnesota has been around since the 1980′s, and though they don’t produce a lot of music (at least not as much as I’d like to see/hear), what they do release is always fabulous and this CD is not the exception to the rule. “Believe In Us” is a slow to mid tempo ballad that is absolutely off the chain!! “Blessed”, “Never Hurt Again”, “Nothing’”, and SixFortyNine/Changes” (featuring Nathan Miller, Eric Leeds, and Brother Ali) all deserve mentions as some of the best on the CD, but there’s not a bad cut, and I’m sure listeners will find others to be just as much to their liking. This is a must have CD for any serious R&B fan, or music lovers in general. I highly recommend it!!

“All The World’s A Stage, award winning percussionist Tom Teasley

January 8, 2013 in News by Michele Wilson-Morris

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TomTeasleyWith “All The World’s A Stage, award winning percussionist Tom Teasley has created a feast of soundscapes with the rhythms and sounds of instruments from around the world. There are so many colors and textures of the Middle East and Asia. Teasley plays instruments that many have never heard of, including the aquasonic, balafon, bodhran, cajon, didgi-harp, riqq, melodica, coumbek, Korg wavedrum, Roland HandSonic, MalletKat, and bansari whistle. Nice mix of acoustic, and electronic percussion with endless possibilities.

It’s always a treat getting a project from a percussionist, because when you are a supporting musician, your job is to make the lead performer sound as good as possible, and not necessarily to display all of the skills you have within your arsenal of skills. Now, on this 9 track CD, music fans will get to connect with a wide range of exotic sounds, and something as simple as a whistle takes on a different purpose when used for percussion, most notably on the track “Rise Up”. The voice is another interesting ‘instrument’ when applied by Mr. Teasley, not like a beat box but with the techniques used in Indian music, heard on “Fuska and Varuna”. This is a CD that will bring you to new places and you’ll be glad that you took the trip. Happy travels.

Visions: The Music Of Stevie Wonder Yoron Israel

January 8, 2013 in Music Reviews by Michele Wilson-Morris

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Yoron IsraelYoron Israel’s recently released CD, “Visions: The Music Of Stevie Wonder” is unique in that it is a rework of Stevie Wonder’s music, but as Israel hears it. He says this is always the way he heard Wonder’s music, and he has put it into a form where we can share and enjoy his concept with him. Musically sound and full of innovations, I really enjoyed his approach to making the music in the form of jazz. Israel states that Wonder, in his opinion, was always a Jazz composer even if his music was more mainstream R&B. Leading his band from the drummer’s position is amazing, and his playing is consistent and fabulous.

Always making his presence heard and felt, Israel’s abilities are reminiscent of the late great Art Blakey. “Visions” with spoken word is bad to the bone with perfect balance, and the spoken word adds an interesting touch. The musicians backing Israel up do a tremendous job in their playing as well, exploring the works of one of the greatest American artists to ever preform. The amount of love and respect for Wonder’s music comes pouring out song after song on the CD. I did not mention other songs because I liked them all so much that I could write a review of each one and I’m sure you’d rather hear the music than to read my writing. I almost wanted to do just that, but I instead recommend you get this CD and listen for yourself. Trust me, it’s a journey of discovery that you won’t soon forget.

The 10 track CD is interesting in another way, that being the fact that Israel doesn’t just choose the most recognizable of Stevie Wonder’s songs, but reaches deep and conceptualizes some of those that are lesser known. “You Are The Sunshine Of my Life” is an exception of course, and I can clearly hear what Israel means when he says Wonder’s music has always been composed for jazz. This is one classy CD with wonderful renditions that will make you smile inside and out. This CD is a big winner for fans of jazz and R&B, and I highly recommend it.

Jazz Artist Beth Duncan “Comes The Fall”

January 8, 2013 in News by Michele Wilson-Morris

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Beth DuncanRomantic music is always welcome in my playlist. Add to that a first class jazz production with with an exceptional voice like Beth Duncan’s, and you have an inkling of an idea as to how good her new album, “Comes The Fall” is. “Come This Fall” is a 14 course (track) gourmet feast for the ears. The rhythm section arranging was done with guitarist Steve Homan, Mike McMullen on tenor and flute, Bill Douglass on bass, and drummer/producer Guy Kowarsh who is also the CD’s producer. Featured on this session are Jim Martinez on keyboards, Babatunde Lea and Brian Kendrick on percussion. and Steve Roach on trumpet solos.

In jazz, it’s all about your sound, and Beth Duncan is blessed with a voice that has great musical range, and tonal color. She creates an enchanting blend with the tenor sax on her title track “Come This Fall”. The opening phrases immediately catch your attention, and the strings Jim Martinez provides on the keys add sweet elegance to the arrangement.

Ms Duncan’s phrasing shines on “How High The Moon”, with the duet of voice and percussion leading to solos with the harmon muted trumpet of Steve Roach, and impressive guitar voicings from Steve Homan. Listening to this cut, one notices how clean the brushes from the drummer sound as he swings the band along with solid bass from Bill Douglass. The mix throughout the cd is excellent.

One note about the great arranging, and what I found especially enjoyable was when Beth vocalizes with the ensemble such as with the sax on “Come This Fall”, and with the guitar and flute on the jazz waltz, “I’m On A Cloud”. Recently it was only Esperanza, or the Grammy nominated Denise Donatelli’s “When Lights Are Low” where I could hear intricate voice with ensemble on this level. Kudos to Steve Homan and Beth Duncan’s great talent. As a jazz musician, and radio host at KJZZ, Phoenix, I would not hesitate to recommend this to my listeners, or radio program directors across the country. If you still need convincing cue up “Embraceable You”, with voice and bass. It’s happening.

The Ox On The Roof Alexandre Tharaud

December 9, 2012 in Music Reviews by Michele Wilson-Morris

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With “All The World’s A Stage, award winning percussionist Tom Teasley has created a feast of soundscapes with the rhythms and sounds of instruments from around the world. There are so many colors and textures of the Middle East and Asia. Teasley plays instruments that many have never heard of, including the aquasonic, balafon, bodhran, cajon, didgi-harp, riqq, melodica, coumbek, Korg wavedrum, Roland HandSonic, MalletKat, and bansari whistle. Nice mix of acoustic, and electronic percussion with endless possibilities.

It’s always a treat getting a project from a percussionist, because when you are a supporting musician, your job is to make the lead performer sound as good as possible, and not necessarily to display all of the skills you have within your arsenal of skills. Now, on this 9 track CD, music fans will get to connect with a wide range of exotic sounds, and something as simple as a whistle takes on a different purpose when used for percussion, most notably on the track “Rise Up”. The voice is another interesting ‘instrument’ when applied by Mr. Teasley, not like a beat box but with the techniques used in Indian music, heard on “Fuska and Varuna”. This is a CD that will bring you to new places and you’ll be glad that you took the trip. Happy travels.

 

Rock of Ages Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

December 7, 2012 in News by Michele Wilson-Morris

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The soundtrack for the hit movie “Rock Of The Ages” is full of history of the eighties music, redone by many of the movie’s stars including Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Julianne Hough, Alec Baldwin, Diego Boneta, and Mary J. Blige. It’s wonderful to hear what the cast has done with the music, and this is an album with songs that many will recognize, and all will thoroughly enjoy. The 20 track CD is so incredible, I’m not sure where to begin. But, let’s go with track #2, “Sister Christian /Just like Paradise /Nothin’ But a good Time” which hits hard and sets the tone of the CD, rocking hard…very hard. “I Wanna Rock”, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” are stand outs tracks, and the album also contains some refreshingly cool and mellow sounds from the ’80s like “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, performed by Zeta-Jones in a way that is quire impressive.

Zeta-Jones has a phenomenal voice and believe me, she does this song justice in a way that I’m certain Pat Benatar, would approve of. “Paradise City”, Cruise, whom I’ve never heard sing before (not seriously anyway), does a superb job as well. “Harden My Heart”, “Shadows Of The Night” are also notable.

There’s a fantastic variety for all music fans, and whether listeners are rock enthusiasts or prefer other genres, “Rock Of Ages” is guaranteed to please. “Here I Go Again” is one of my personal favorites, but this soundtrack just delivers over and over again. There are no bad cuts to be found here.

“Rock Of Ages” is very professionally done with the best and most talented musicians and producers, and will bring back many great memories and rediscoveries. I highly recommend this CD, and can’t wait to see the movie now, which I missed at the theater. Job well done!

Film Review: Modern Con Man Collection

December 4, 2012 in Indie Films by Michele Wilson-Morris

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Imagine being dropped off in a major city with absolutely no money to your name, no contacts, and no credit cards either. How do you think you’d fare for 7 days? You might be a smooth talker, but something tells me (at least I can speak for myself) that it would be a nightmare. But not for Todd Robbins, who is a master is manipulation. At the end of his 7 days, Robbins was staying in a nice hotel and had $500 in his pocket.

The Modern Con Man Collection Boasts 3 DVDs:
- How To Scam Your Way Into Free Beer (And Other Bar Bets)
- Poker Night Games (And Other Card Playing Tricks)
- Workplace Pranks (And Other Ways To Con Your Co-Workers)

Brought to us courtesy of First Run Features, the DVDs are hilarious and great for anytime you want to have a few friends over and have a laugh, or just enjoy the craziness all alone. I can tell you now that Robbins is not the guy you want to buy your next used (or new) car from. Slicker than a frog’s back, on Disk 1, Robbins shows you how to drink your way through the night for free on How To Scam Your Way To Free Beer by giving you some of his tricks that will prank drinkers at the party or bar. Smoothly, like a uncle who’s come into your life that you didn’t know about and your parents didn’t want you to know about, he shares his secrets of the bar con game with many brilliant manipulations that will confound your victims like he does his. He really makes it look so simple on this very entertaining and enlightening DVD . It’s very funny at times and will make you wonder if you could really pull it off, and after watching, I think I could. Con after rib chuckling fun, this is a must for the party guy or girl. Read the rest of this entry →

 
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