Album & Artist Reviews

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Joe Lasher Jr - Country Music Album Review by Donna Rea of Music Charts Magazine®When I first was introduced to Joe’s work, about eight months ago, I remember saying to myself “It doesn’t get any better than this.”  I was wrong!  It got better!  I spent most of yesterday, and all of today listening to his new EP, “Jack to Jesus”. I have only one complaint about this 5-track EP.  And, that is – it’s a 5-track EP.  It isn’t enough.  When it’s over, you have to play it again, because one thing Joe does better than most of our seasoned artists is this … He always leaves you wanting more!

There is not a song on this entire EP that isn’t radio-ready–NOW.  It’s enough country to keep the older country fans (like me) happy; and, it’s enough of today’s country sound that it should be not only what our younger listeners what, but exactly what our program directors all across the nation want to give their listeners.

Did you ever listen to an EP that has a ‘little bit of everything’?  Well, that’s what you are going to get with this one.  There is a lot of country ballad, a little country/southern rock, and a tiny touch of country/rap.  Enough of that to keep our fans of The Lacs and Colt Ford happy, but not so much that it made me dislike the song.

“Whiskey Nights” sits in the lead-off position. What a great start to what ends up being one of the best debut country releases to come along in a years! ‘Some nights are whiskey nights, you’d rather drink yourself blind than see the mess you’ve made…..some days are for getting it right, but some nights are whiskey nights.’  Memorable lyrics set to a slow-to mid tempo melody – you can’t help but fall in love with this song.

The second song you are going to hear is “Tap a Little Tail Light”.  Whenever radio wants to start playing this one – I think there is an audience out there just waiting to listen to it. This is so much ‘today’, as far as our country  music goes.  You listen, you are immediately put in mind of some of our top male artists.  And, Joe manages to do that without losing his own individuality.

Joe Lasher Jr. is a name all country music fans are going to want to remember.  He is an up and coming singer/songwriter who has undoubtedly found his place in the world of country music.  He’s right where he belongs.  “Somebody Up There Must Like Me” is the third song on the new EP.  The story might remind you a little bit of Tracy Byrd’s “Keeper of the Stars,” just the idea that ‘someone had a hand in it, long before we knew’.  But, the lyrics and the song Joe sings are definitely not the old Tracy Byrd song.  They are all new, all uniquely Joe, and again – all today’s country.  ‘Somebody up there must like me, to lead me to you’.  Enough said about this one!  It’s more of a ballad than the others.  I can just picture people wanting to get out on the dance floor when he starts this one.

Now, while it would be impossible for me to pick a favorite out of the five songs here – I have a least favorite.  That would be the fourth song, “Kickin’ Ass and Takin’ Names”.  Now, it’s not the title, or or even the lyrics that turned me off a little.  It was that small amount of rap at the opening of the song; and that more rockish sound that this one has.  This is definitely a ‘pull this one out at the party’ song. And, I don’t doubt he will get one request after the next for this one at his live shows. I like it.  I didn’t love it.  But, I can definitely see a crowd dancing to it, singing with it, and just kickin’ up their heels to one heck of a good time. I know I have some readers who are going to run straight to track 4 when they get their copy of this CD.  And, they are going to play this one more than once.

The last song you are going to hear is “Jack to Jesus”.  This is what country music is all about, folks.  This is a story.  This one, more than the others, takes me back to MY era of country music.  Back when it was really all about the story, and in many cases – all about the message.  This song is about what happens ‘on the road from Jack to Jesus’.  Wow, it’s a sad story.  And yet, it’s a story that says “someone out there needs to hear this, so pay attention!’.

To learn more about Joe Lasher Jr., please visit his website,  He has links there to his other social media as well, so be sure to check out his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter.


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Daryle Singletary - There's Still A Little Country Left - Music Charts Magazine® CD Review by Donna Rea“There’s Still a Little Country Left” is the first album Daryle Singletary has released since 2009. I consider myself the world’s biggest fan of traditional country music!  It seems Daryle is, too,  He remains true to his roots, and describes himself as a “hardcore country traditionalist.”

If you are looking for something totally different from what you are hearing on today’s Top 40 Country radio stations, then you are looking for “There’s Still a Little Country Left”. This is not the country/rock, country/rap, and country/pop stuff we are hearing on the radio these days.  You’re going to get the music that we all remember from when it really was country.  And, Daryle definitely knows what that music is supposed to sound like.

With an album name like “There’s Still A Little Country Left”, you get some idea what you are going to hear when you hit the play button on this one! There are fun songs, thought-provoking songs, songs that bring back a lot of memories, fast songs, slow songs, and a few mid-tempo.  But, there is one thing every one of these songs has in common. They are all great, and they are all country.

I’ve spent a lot of time listening to this album since it was released few months ago.  Every song is easy to listen to.  Every song tells a story. And, every song has that very distinctive Daryle Singletary vocal. “Say Hello To Heaven” is telling a story about losing someone he loved, someone a whole family loved.  And, that person was obviously killed in an auto accident…and, the lyrics are beautiful.

“Sunday Mornin’ Kind of Town” is the kind of Sunday I had growing up. A lot of our younger generation may not remember that kind of Sunday , but this song paints a great picture of what kind of day it was.  And, the kind of Sunday I would like to have again! Right after that great Sunday Mornin’ song, we get “Spilled Whiskey”. This is one of those song you can picture Daryle singing in front of a dancing crowd at a honky-tonk or a Texas dance hall.  Well, these days, most of us would call that place a ‘club’ or even just a ‘bar with a dance floor’.  It doesn’t matter what you call it. We all know that kind of place, and this is the kind of music that you would want to dance to when you get there.  It’s also the kind you are going to want to listen to, just because you can!

I believe the song “Like Family” might be my favorite. Like all of Daryle’s songs. There is a story here. It’s a story that a lot of today’s career people may have forgotten about.  That is how important family is.  This one is slow – it’s one of those ‘close your eyes, lean back in your chair, listen to the music, and remember’. But at the same time, the song is packed full of things that will make you realize, more than you did before, that your family is the most important thing you have.

“So Much Different Than Before” is really as much about growing up as it is about change.  This is such a great melody.  It’s a happy melody. Which kind of goes along with the story he’s telling.  How things aren’t just different than before, they are better.  He slows it back down a little with the next song. “Enough to Lie To Me” is wonderful.  Remember when we used to tell people how pretty their dress was, when was really awful.  Or, we might tell them that they really did a great job decorating their living room, when we actually thought it looked terrible.  And of course, there was the reference Daryle made to his parents telling him about Santa and flying reindeer.  He remembers those times. The whole point of this song is “Wouldn’t it be nice if someone still cared enough to lie to me”.


There’s Still A Little Country Left


  1. Get Out Of My Country
  2. Say Hello To Heaven
  3. Sunday Mornin’ Kind of Town
  4. Spilled Whiskey
  5. Like Family
  6. So Much Different Than Before
  7. Enough To Lie To Me
  8. Wanna Be That Feeling
  9. Too Late To Save the World
  10. There’s Still A Little Country Left
  11. America (Bonus Track)
  12. The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised – Feat. Johnny Paycheck (Bonus Track)


Daryle Singletary is definitely still around. And, he is still singing real country music.  You can get all his news and tour information by visiting his web site:



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Bobby Wills - Crazy Enough - Music Charts Magazine® Country Album Music ReviewMaking his U.S. debut, Bobby Wills recently released CRAZY ENOUGH, his five-song EP on newly launched label Willing Nashville. If it sounds crazy to plant one foot deep in the bedrock of country tradition while carving out a sound as personal and powerful as anything you can hear on country radio or pretty much any radio today, well, then Bobby Wills is as crazy as they come. Collaborating with Nashville hit-makers, Bobby co-wrote each of the five tracks on the new EP with top tunesmiths Walt Aldridge (Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire and Tim McGraw) and Mike Pyle (Blake Shelton, Lee Ann Womack, and Mark Wills) including Top 30 hit “Never Didn’t Love You” and title track “Crazy Enough.” Infectious new single “Crazy Enough” hit Country radio this summer and was featured as new music on iTunes. The up-tempo track was also listed as the “Pick of the Week,” at and spotlighted by Music Row as the No. 2 most added song on Music Row’s Country Breakout Chart and as a song ‘infused with personality and raucous energy.’ Stacking up 112,000 views on YouTube, the music video, directed by award-winning Stephano Barberis, incorporates the daring sport of Parkour and is currently airing on Great American Country. Bobby was nominated for the 2015 Canadian Country Music Association Awards (CCMA®) Songwriter of the Year award and was named the 2013 Canadian Country Music Association Awards (CCMA®) Rising Star winner. He has received consecutive (CCMA®) Male Artist of the Year nominations in addition to taking home the Alberta Country Music Association (ACMA) Male Artist of the Year award (2012/2013).   The Gibson-sponsored artist made the first of many trips to Nashville in 2007; he is currently residing in Canada and will move to Music City this year.

The EP is titled “Crazy Enough”, and that is the lead single. It wasn’t my favorite song on this album.  For me, “Crazy Enough”  is Bobby Wills - NEW ALBUM - Music Charts Magazine® CD Review by Donna Rea of Countrys Chattermore country/rock than I like. But, we did tell you that Bobby is planting “one foot deep in the bedrock of country tradition while carving out a personal/powerful sound.” My first thought when I listened to “Crazy Enough” was that, Bobby Willis is better than that song. And, I was really glad that the other four songs on the EP proved me right. “Never Didn’t Love You,” “Still Something there,” “So Much for Taking It Slow” and “With You” are all a little slower than “Crazy Enough” – they are definitely all more country than “Crazy Enough” – and they are all the kind of music I want to hear from country artists these days. Vocally Bobby  is without question one of the best male vocalists out there right now. And, he seems to have found a winning combination, having co-written  all of the songs on the EP with Mike Pyle and Walt Aldridge.

I know there are people out there who are not only going to like “Crazy Enough,” they are going to love it.  I know that because of the kind of music we are hearing on country radio these days; and, I know that because I hear what is ending up at the top of the charts every week.  “Crazy Enough” has that kind of tempo that will make you want do do a little toe-tapping, and maybe even a little singing along.  But for me, it didn’t tell the story we heard in songs like “Still Something There” and “So Much for Taking it Slow.”

Readers can find out more about this up-and-coming artist by visiting his web site:



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Music Charts Magazine® CD Reviews - Jon Wolfe - Natural Man - by Donna ReaI think the tourism folks in Texas use the slogan, “it’s not just country music, it’s music country”. And, they are right. There is so much really good country music coming out of Texas these days, and Jon Wolfe is just one more example of that. For anyone who loves country music, and has not had the pleasure of listening to Jon Wolfe, the best place to start is to point you to his web site ( The bio on that site will tell you all you need to know about Jon, and there is even a music section where you can listen to some of his songs.

The best introduction to Jon Wolfe is the basic yet not so simple fact that he’s a Country singer and songwriter who’s Country to the core. With an array of influences including George Strait, Clint Black, Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks and Merle Haggard, the Oklahoma native turned Texan has been burning up the Texas Charts where he garnered six consecutive Top Ten singles (“Let A Country Boy Love You,” “That Girl In Texas,” “I Don’t Dance,” “It All Happened In A Honky Tonk,” “The Only Time You Call” and “What Are You Doin’ Right Now”). Wolfe has opened for some of the platform’s biggest stars and has played more than 400 shows in the past four years. A storyteller at heart, Wolfe’s traditional Country sound has led him from his small hometown of Miami, Oklahoma to the dancehalls and honky-tonks of Texas, and now to Music Row.

I am excited to tell you about Jon’s new album, called Natural Man. The album can be pre-ordered on his web site now, with an official release date of March 31, 2015. It gives us 13 great country songs! The album was produced by Jon, Lex Lipsitz and Billy Decker, and the music is a well-laid out combination of today’s country and real traditional country.

The 13 songs you will get on the album are, If You’re Lonely Too, That’s What I’m Talkin’ About, Smile on Mine, It Just Feels Right, Outrun Her Memory, Don’t It Feel Good, She Beats All I’ve Ever Seen, Singin’ Thing, Natural Man, What Are You Doin’ Right Now, I’m Doin’ Alright, Married to Nothin’ and When I Get to Heaven.  Every song on this CD became my favorite. I believe everyone who likes country music will feel the same way. 

This is an album full of good country music. You get everything from ‘upbeat tempo’ and memorable lyrics, to great instrumentation and really good story-telling. You get ballads, love songs, and the ones that will make you want to get up and dance. Jon Wolfe pulls all that together with his strong vocals, and very likeable country style.

Like any album that makes me lean back in my chair and say, “this is country music,” I have nothing but great things to say about this album. The last song, “When I Get to Heaven,” is outstanding! With lyrics like ‘when I get to heaven, will I ever hear a country song again’…there’s a beautiful story in this one. It’s about how much he loves the sound of a steel guitar, and fiddles – and it talks about all the awesome things that we’ll find in heaven – and his hope that there will also be the country music he love.

For those of you who really enjoy social media, you can follow Jon on Twitter @jonwolfe. In addition to reading Country’s Chatter (, we hope you are following us on Twitter, too. You will find us @countryschatter.




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Eli Young Band - Turn It On - Music Charts Magazine CD Review by Donna ReaFans of Eli Young Band know what kind of music this band puts out. Since their first album, lead vocalist Mike Eli captured listeners with his unique voice. The Texas band has been releasing albums since 2002, when they put out their debut self-titled CD. It wasn’t until 2006 when they released the CD Jet Black & Jealous that the band got a national following, and produced hit records on Top 40 country stations. 

That album, and the ones that followed, gave us many hits, including When It Rains, Always the Love Songs, Radio Waves, Crazy Girl, and Even If It Breaks Your Heart. 

On March 10, Eli Young Band will release a new EP. This one is made up of four songs, any one of them could be a hit. I listened to all four songs this evening, and I finished wishing there had been more. The four songs you will find on the EP are Turn It On, Plastic, Your Place or Mine, and Drink You Up.

The title track, Turn It On, will be released to radio on March 9. I hope every station will add it to their play list the first day. It is everything you expect from this great group. 

As good as the title track is, I personally liked the second song, Plastic, even more. The song has well thought-out lyrics, good melody, and great music. I’ll suggest now that the group ship this one off to radio, as soon as Turn It On makes it to the top of the charts.

The third song, Your Place or Mine, is lyrically predictable. You know where it’s going when you read the title. A lot of people have had a ‘your place or mine’ person in their life. However, it takes someone like Eli Young Band to put that situation to music. 

The last song, is Drink You Up. The song is fast, the lyrics are catchy. I’ve never tried to compare alcohol to anyone, but this song does a good job of doing just that.  

To keep up with all the news about Eli Young Band, visit their web site For more country music news, visit



The Cains Trio - Stay On Board - Music Charts Magazine CD Review by Donna ReaThe Cains Trio, a sibling group from Hartselle, Ala., will be releasing their debut CD on Oct. 28. The album is called “Stay On Board”. I didn’t refer to it as their debut ‘country’ CD, because I’m not really sure in which genre’ this trio belongs. What I do know, is that they have put out some great music. The best way to describe the sound to you, is to use their words. They said they are a “combination of country, soul and pop to Americana, folk and contemporary Christian”.  What I know, is that it is a good combination, and a refreshing new sound. Taylor, Madison and Logan Cain produce a quiet, mellow, soft sound. And, they use that sound to give us some great music!

Their bio tells us that they are much more than singer/songwriters – they are also multifaceted entertainers and musicians who play guitar, piano, bass, harmonica and more. It all started when eldest sibling, Taylor, learned her first song on the piano at 5-years-old, and a few years later began teaching her young siblings to sing harmony with her. Now, all Troy University graduates, the siblings are ready to show the world those harmonies and pursue their dream.
Most of the songs on the album are slow to mid-tempo. I think “Traveling Kind” was really the fastest song on the CD, and it’s not fast… not like some of the music out there today. But, it’s all good. Each song is different from the one before it, and every song is relaxing, yet thought-provoking. My favorites are “Say Less, Love More”, “Stay on Board,” and “Be Yourself With Me”. These are great lyrics, great melodies, without a doubt great harmonies – and everything needed to make a great album.
Here are the 10 songs you’ll hear on the new album: Be Yourself With Me, Smoke on the Hill, I’ll Take That Any Day, Someone Loves You, She’s My Girl, Fighting For Love, Beautiful Life, Traveling Kind, Say Less, Love More, and Stay on Board. Below is the press release about this new trip, and their new CD.
To learn more about The Cains, visit their web site, You can follow them on Twitter @TheCainsTrio. If you aren’t already following Country’s Chatter on Twitter, we’d love to have you, too! You will find us @countryschatter.​


Primavera - Sara Serpa and Andre Matos - Music Charts Magazine Jazz CD Review by Benjamin Franklin V

Date = 2 December 2014     

Artists = Sara Serpa and André Matos

Genre = Jazz

Title = Primavera

Record company = Inner Circle Music


Review =

            Despite recording initially in 2008 and appearing on CDs by the likes of André Matos, Greg Osby, Vardan Ovsepian, and Danilo Perez, Sara Serpa is little known. She performs mostly unfamiliar material, is more concerned with sound than lyrics, and possesses a relatively thin voice. While her music appeals to some adventuresome musicians, listeners open to singing that is both experimental and accessible would also likely find it engaging.

                Ran Blake is both a bold musician and a keen listener. Her mentor at the New England Conservatory of Music, from which she received a degree in 2009, he was so attracted to her singing that he recorded two CDs of duets with her, Camera Obscura (2010) and Aurora (2012). (A review of Aurora is available at Though Serpa is a significant presence on these releases, Blake dominates: not only did he select most of the material, but he plays piano in his typically idiosyncratic, attention-grabbing manner.

                The music on Primavera, which Serpa performs with Portuguese guitarist André Matos, is notably different from that she recorded with Blake. Contrasting the duos may be done easily by listening to their versions of the same song. The tune is Blake and Jeanne Lee’s “Vanguard,” which she sings with Blake on Camera Obscura. Blake’s accompaniment is heavier and more dissonant than Matos’s, though the guitarist’s concluding notes are inharmonious, apparently as dictated by the composition. While much of Serpa’s singing on these recordings is similar, she is more daring with Blake than Matos. For example, when she sings the words (which I cannot understand) immediately before “new reason, feelings of envy and blame” with Blake, her expansive range generates drama, while with Matos her vocal scope with these words is limited and excitement is therefore lacking. Her interaction with Matos, though, seems more natural than her collaboration with Blake.  This is not to say that Serpa’s music with one of her associates is superior to that with the other; the sounds are just dissimilar, as one would expect from groups that feature improvisation and different instrumentation.

                Of the fourteen selections on Primavera (all but two are under four minutes in length), Serpa sings six wordlessly, five in Portuguese (her native language), and three in English. I find her wordless ones most effective, partly because I am unfamiliar with Portuguese and cannot comprehend some of her words sung in English. Yet her wordless vocalizing is not scat, as commonly understood. Instead, it functions as an instrument, creating both melody and harmony. She sings in harmony with Matos’s guitar, but also with herself through overdubbing, a technique that can easily be discerned on Matos’s “Tempo,” which is played slowly. In a few instances, harmony (and texture) is enhanced by the inclusion of instruments other than guitar, as when guests Leo Genovese and Greg Osby perform on melodica (on Matos’s “Rios”) and soprano saxophone (on Matos’s “Choro”), respectively.

            Though the music of Serpa and Matos might not appeal to listeners content with mainstream culture, it probably would reward those who welcome exposure to challenging but not forbidding sounds.


Author = Benjamin Franklin V


Dustin Lynch - Where It's At - Music Charts Magazine Country Music CD ReviewDustin Lynch is no stranger to country music. His number one, self-titled debut album produced  three top 40 hits, including “She Cranks My Tractor,” Wild in Your Smile,” and Cowboys and Angels,” which landed in the number two spot for the country newcomer.  His sophomore album was released on Sept. 9, and his first single from that album, “Where It’s At (Yep,Yep)” already garnered a number four hit, and reached number one on the U.S. Country Airplay Chart.

There are 15 songs on the new CD. Along with “Where It’s At (Yep,Yep)”,  you will get Hell of a Night, To the Sky, Halo, After Party, Mind Reader, Where We Want It, She Wants a Cowboy, Sing it to Me, All Night, Middle of Nowhere, World to Me, What You Wanna Hear, Your Daddy’s Boots and American Prayer.

“She Wants A Cowboy” became my immediate favorite as I listened to the songs. I hope Dustin will consider releasing that one as a single. There was nothing on the album that I didn’t like, and there was nothing on the album that doesn’t fit in with what we are used to hearing Dustin do. This is one artist who really needs to keep doing what he is doing now. It is a sound that not only works for him, but it works for country radio. He is as country as he needs to be for today’s market, and definitely country enough to keep the cowboy hat on.

“Sing It to Me” is another song that is unquestionably ready for the radio. Like “She Wants a Cowboy,” Dustin had a hand in writing “Sing It To Me.” There were some early Dustin Lynch songs that will never be among my favorites, but it seems he has left things like “She Cranks My Tractor” in the past. He’s growing both in his writing, and in his performing skills. He seems to be doing everything right these days.

The album closes out with “Your Daddy’s Boots” and “American Prayer”. They are both slow to mid-tempo, both great stories, both songs that will get you thinking yet, the subject matter in both songs is completely different. Dustin has a great mix on this album. It’s all good country music. “Hell of a Night” and “To the Sky” start the album off in the first and second spot. While these are fast, and you might want to turn the volume up on them, they are still country enough that I don’t think they fall into a ‘rock’ category. For me, that’s a good thing.

“It’s where I am as a person and an artist,” Dustin told Rolling Stone Country. “All the songs on the record are moments I’ve captured and pull down. They were inspired by my excitement for life. So [the album title] Where It’s At sounds pretty perfect”.

You can find out more about Dustin and his music on his web site, And for all the latest country music news, check out  You can follow Dustin on Twitter @dustinlynch. As always, we invite you to follow Country’s Chatter on Twitter, too. We’re @countryschatter.

Bobby Broom - My Shining Hour - Music Charts Magazine Jazz Album Review by Benjamin Franklin VDate = 22 July 2014     

Artist’s name = Bobby Broom 

Genre = Jazz

Title = My Shining Hour

Record company = Origin


Review =

            Leader of various recording sessions beginning around 1980, sideman on numerous recording dates headed by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and David Murray, a regular with Sonny Rollins off and on from the early 1980s until a few years ago, and leader of the Deep Blue Organ Trio beginning in 1999, guitarist Bobby Broom has been much in evidence during the last three decades. The music on My Shining Hour indicates why he is a significant presence on the scene.

            One might argue, as some have done, that standard tunes—those that constitute what is called the Great American Songbook—have been performed so frequently that they are effete. Broom’s treatment of them on this CD offers convincing evidence for concluding that this is not the case, that standards have endured for a reason: they are rich enough to inspire seemingly endless interpretations. After deciding to record an album of such material and determining the selections, Broom had to consider the mood he wished for him, bassist Dennis Carroll, and drummer Makaya McCraven to establish. Perhaps surprisingly, he risked listener boredom by opting for uniformity, not variety: the overall mood is mellow, with tempos that are seldom rushed. “The Jitterbug Waltz” is the most sprightly performance, though much of “Just One of Those Things” is gritty; “The Heather on the Hill” is a slow ballad. The other selections are in a middle groove. Yet because of Broom’s inventiveness, this music is vital, not dull.     

            Solos demonstrate Broom’s creativity. Unfailingly appealing, they evolve from the melodies but, with the exception of the guitarist’s playing on “Sweet Georgia Brown,” hardly even allude to them. That is, they are true improvisations because, while retaining the compositions’ harmonies, they are melodically original. I offer a challenge to people who listen to this release: Have someone set a CD player to start a tune at the beginning of a Broom solo and stop the machine when it concludes. While listening to the music, try to identify the composition he is playing. Doing so will not be easy.  

            Despite the attractiveness of all the selections, “Oh, Lady Be Good” strikes me as particularly noteworthy. Broom plays the seldom heard verse alone and very slowly before his sidemen join him in stating the melody. Then, for two-and-a-half minutes Broom and McCraven participate in four-bar exchanges, sometimes with Broom playing double time. Such interactions can be predictable and tedious, but these are not.

            Because of Broom’s leadership of the Deep Blue Organ Trio, which infuses even standards with a blues feeling, listeners might expect My Shining Hour to include strong blues elements, even though not one of the selections is a blues. There are a few such touches, but not many. Mainly, Broom, Carroll, and McCraven treat the compositions respectfully, capturing their moods and letting their natural beauty emerge. Yet what most recommends this CD is Broom’s soloing, which is imaginative and engaging.


Author = Benjamin Franklin V

Adam Schroeder - Lets - Music Charts Magazine® Album Review by Benjamin Franklin VDate = 7 July 2014       

Artist’s name = Adam Schroeder

Genre = Jazz

Title = Let’s

Record company = Capri


Review =

            Relatively new to the scene though clearly accomplished, baritone saxophonist Adam Schroeder plays tunes he wrote and relatively obscure compositions by others. This variety is evident on Let’s, his second CD, where he is accompanied by guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist John Clayton, and drummer Jeff Hamilton.

                A Schroeder original, “The Smulyan Spectacles” refers to baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan. Listeners familiar with his recordings will largely know what to expect from Schroeder: attractive ballads and swingers in the bebop tradition. Two compositions illustrate the scope of Schroeder’s music. A blues, the gritty “A Hawkeye, a Hoosier, & Two Cali Cats” is moderately up tempo. All the musicians solo on this toe-tapping performance. “Contemplation (Intro)” is its antithesis. The shortest selection (1:40) and classical in nature, this baritone saxophone-arco bass duet is played way down tempo, without improvisation. Though the two musicians interpret a score, inventiveness emerges from the appealing, mellow sounds the two deep instruments produce. This is, to me, the prettiest performance on Let’s Go. The title begs a question: If this brief number is the introduction to a larger piece titled “Contemplation,” what is the nature of the rest of it? Is it written for a quartet? An orchestra? Some other configuration? Does it allow for improvisation? If the remainder is as striking as the introduction, I hope Schroeder will record it.  

            In addition to his creations, Schroeder includes a tune by Stevie Wonder, two standards, and three jazz pieces. Wonder’s “You & I” is a pretty ballad. “Wrap Your Troubles in Deams” and Sam Coslow’s “In the Middle of a Kiss” are the two standards, though the latter is played so rarely that it hardly qualifies as such. I find Thad Jones’s “Let’s” the least rewarding of the compositions by jazz musicians. The other two constitute highlights. Recorded initially on Donald Byrd’s Blue Note album The Cat Walk (1961), with the composer on piano, Duke Pearson’s catchy “Hello Bright Sunflower” is somewhat reminiscent of “Lullaby of Broadway.” It deserves to be better known than it is. Schroeder’s version progresses in fits and starts and has solos by all the musicians. Jeff Hamilton’s brush work is especially impressive. As sprightly as “Hello Bright Sunflower,” Benny Carter’s “Southside Samba” primarily features Schroeder, though Wilson also solos. In performing these three tunes by jazz musicians, Schroeder demonstrates his familiarity with a wide range of jazz recordings and adeptness at identifying neglected ones.

            Let’s seemingly offers something for everybody: brisk performances and slow ones, a short classical piece, original compositions, and works by others. Though the music is played in a familiar style, the selections are not well known, with the exceptions of “You & I” and “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams.” In sum, this is impressive music by an instrumentalist still early in his career.


Author = Benjamin Franklin V

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