Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged jazz

The Real Thing: Words And Sounds Vol. 3

Jill Scott was introduced to the world on her aptly titled, brilliant, neo soul debut Who is Jill Scott? (Words and Sounds Vol.1). She co-wrote the classic Grammy winning "You Got Me," performed by The Roots with Erykah Badu, and we've been discovering more of her ever since. With soulful, hip hop poetry style here on her third proper studio release, she continues the trend, but with more jazzy flourishes.

Canon / Verses

Being an Ani DiFranco fan has been a part of pretty much every feminist’s rite of passage since she came on the scene in the early ‘90s with the release of her self-titled album. Now seventeen years, two DVDs, and nearly thirty albums (including remixes, tributes, and live discs) later, DiFranco has simultaneously released a retrospective double-CD and book of poetry that show just how much she has grown personally, politically, and artistically.

Misbegotten Man

There is always something gratifying about a woman striking a discordant chord towards positive social and political change. After all, these are the days when America vies for a female president. Never more than now is that Helen-Reddy-cry so prevalent: “I am woman hear me roar. Cheesy as it might sound, it still rings true. There is power in the roar.

Remixed and Reimagined

Billie Holiday has been lauded along with Joni Mitchell, Judy Garland, and Aretha Franklin as one of the greatest female artists of the 20th Century. The appeal of Holiday was her pained and pinched vocals; she did not have a pretty voice, and the biggest part of her appeal laid in the rough edges of her whiskey-sour pipes. Because one listens to Billie Holiday for emotional truth, it is a little disconcerting to think of Billie Holiday dance music.


Finland's own multi-instrumentalist Astrid Swan’s debut album, Poverina, was released on Minty Fresh Records on May 22. The opening track, "They Need You if They Think You Love Them," starts out gently with a tapping glockenspiel and cleverly transitions into Astrid's husky voice and piano. The arrangement is intense and dramatic at times with almost a full orchestra of instruments. It is hard not to compare Ms.

Children Running Through

Patty Griffin is a storyteller. Rarely confessional or self-indulgent, she tells tales, assumes personas and takes the listener deep into the lives of her characters. Each persona has her or his own musical interpretation, deepening and strengthening the voice. In “Up to the Mountain (MLK Song),” Griffin assumes the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and puts herself into to the head and heart of a man working for a vision and a dream.

What Living’s All About

All would-be writers who have studied how to write know the rule: "show me don’t tell me." Visual artists find this advice easy to do and musicians are, perhaps, the same way. When the creative instrument does not rely solely on words, showing is not too difficult. Alicia Bay Laurel wrote Living on the Earth, a cult classic and the first paperback on the New York Times Bestseller List (spring 1971), which has sold over 350,000 copies. She has also written five other books. Laurel is a talented, trained musician.

Perceptions of Pacha

The most important thing to DJ Kiko Navarro is that “people must never stop dancing!” Although I’m not a consistent fan of house, and perfer hip hop when I feel the need to get down, Perceptions of Pacha definitely moved me. Kiko Navarro is a producer and remixer who started working as a DJ in 1990 in Mallorca, Spain and released his first CD compilation titled The Latin Sound of Pacha in a collaboration with Tommy Boy UK and Pacha Group in 2001.


I’m not usually a headphones-in-the-outdoors type of girl, but I knew I had to take this one to the park. For real. This was an album requiring devoted listening.

Franchise Player 02

Joey Youngman’s Franchise Player 02 is an excellent collection of dance songs marketed for sophisticated urban hipsters, who prefer their dance music steeped in brainy jazz music.

Those Things

Miguel Migs' Those Things blends a fantastic mix of electronic, soulful, jazz elements together, complimented by stunning vocal performances, to make this follow-up to 2003’s Colorful You an instant favorite and leave its listeners wanting more!

Arco Iris

Upon first listen to Skybox’s single “Various Kitchen Utensils,” you feel transported into the center of a 1920’s silent comedy, or perhaps something starring Buster Keater. The unique pairing of rock music with the sound of old-time vaudeville somehow manages to blend seamlessly and makes for an interesting and fun sound that leaves you wanting more. If indie rock has a flaw it is that it often takes itself too seriously, but Phoenix-based Skybox has found a way to keep all of the joy and edginess of indie rock without losing their sense of humor.

Live At Oslo Jazz Festival

Overall this is a good album. It is unlike anything else I've heard. There is some heavy political content here. I admit it was lost on me. I am not very political and, anyway, I could not understand most of the lyrics. I can read the song titles, though. There is one song called "Capitalism Stole My Virginity." It does not take much insight to know what that's about. The song is a wild free for all, with shifting tempos and a cacophony of horns and percussion. Most of the songs are the same way. The lead singer puts out a lot of energy and passion. He never slows down or lets up.

Living Well

Rob Crow definitely has one of the greatest album covers I've seen in a while. It's a photograph of Crow, wearing a demonic-looking t-shirt while drinking a cup of coffee and standing in front of some pumpkins and several hand drawn, paper tombstones. With a cover like that, I was a little surprised to find that Living Well had a much slower tempo than I was expecting. Although it seems that was the point – the Pinback frontman made this record at home after the birth of his first child, opting to slow down and spend time with his family while writing more introspective music.


In his latest double disc release, Acceleration, Tom Gavornik continues on with his forty-year, six-string love affair and creates a welcoming modern jazz space, always hospitable and graced by the spirits of many of his own musical icons. This is his eighth release and follows the double disc, Soul Cry, which topped many U.S. and Canadian jazz charts in 2005. Disc one gently rolls from the light "Breeze in a Bottle" through to a mellower "One Small Cup of Water," showcasing his skills with a Telecaster, and echoing the great Les Paul as well as many of the rock groups of the sixties.

Songs From Under the Sink

Mischief Brew describes the 14-track album Songs From Under the Sink as a “collection of anthems, ballads, marches, love songs, hate songs, and lullabies” written over five years, from 1997 to 2002. It is a “lost LP,” resurrected or “finally brought up from the cellar-or, from under the sink.” These descriptors help identify this album as being a non-identifiable hodge-podge of sorts, with a variety of distinct sounds. Some are “hot and spicy, some are just as fresh as the day they were written, and others may have passed their expiration date a bit.

Ladyfest South (January 25-28, 2007)

Ladyfest South is always a blast because it is back to back lady talent for a good cause. Ladyfest South 2007 happened over four nights at four venues in Atlanta and featured over fifty music and spoken word acts. This year’s beneficiaries are The Rock N’ Roll Camp for Girls and The Fund for Southern Communities. Thursday January 25, 2007 - Eyedrum Art Space Phat Man Dee from PA is amazing and fun to see. She sports interesting costumes and sings cabaret camp and pop.

From the Plantation to the Penitentiary

From the Plantation to the Penitentiary is Wynton Marsalis’ most overtly political release to date and is, simply put, brilliant.

Smash the Windows

I have truly never heard anything like Mischief Brew. Much of their music pairs such disparate elements as a heavy-metal bassline and a twangy mandolin, and a study of the lyrics reveals a similar discord: an aggressive expression of anti-establishment anger, under which lies a genuine desire to celebrate freedom and individuality. Their music feels at once like a barroom brawl and an intelligent, textured cultural critique. While Smash the Windows incorporates solid musicianship and strong production, the vocals miss their mark.