Midnight Jazz

‘Vol. 2’ showcases live chops of Portland jazz quintet PDXV

July 24, 2008
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Reviewed by Vivian Fields

PDXV/Vol. 2

The Portland, Oregon-based jazz quintet PDXV shows off their live chops on this consistently mesmerizing disc. Recorded at Jimmy Mak’s in Portland on February 9, 2007, Vol. 2 could be used to teach young jazz musicians on how veteran cats cut it in front of an audience. The band is a delight to listen to, and the superlative sound recording captures each instrument’s distinct personality from Dave Captein’s thumping bass lines on┬áThelonious Monk’s “Trinkle Tinkle” to Randy Rollofson’s robust percussion on Nicolas Folmer’s “Rhythm Form” to Greg Goebel’s scenic piano on Fred Hersch’s “Rain Waltz.”

Whether or not you’re familiar with these compositions (the album consists of all covers), it doesn’t matter; if you have a serious appreciation for jazz, you will be thoroughly entertained by how PDXV weave through these intricate grooves. Some cuts, like “Rhythm Form” and Joe Henderson’s “Our Thing,” are bursting with energy; while others, such as Folmer’s “I Comme Icare,” have the laid-back soothing textures of a warm summer wind.



Movin’ Melvin Brown will leave you swooning on ‘Love on My Mind’

July 17, 2008
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Reviewed by Vivian Fields

Movin’ Melvin Brown/Love on My Mind

Movin’ Melvin Brown is not Al Green, and neither is he Otis Redding. However, at times you might not be able to tell the difference. It’s not that Brown is consciously imitating those soul legends; he’s just coming from the same state of mind. Who knows how musicians such as Brown are able to sing so beautifully, to project their feelings in such a powerful way that we are left swooning. “My Summer Love” is a poem set to music, a slow, relaxing groove which allows Brown the freedom to make his voice soar, reaching the heavens above. Wow.

This is one of those CDs that, upon hearing it, you want to see the artist perform live. Can Brown sing like this in concert? Most likey as there doesn’t seem to be any studio trickery here. For more authenticity, Brown is actually from the tail end of the soul-music years that he is paying homage to here. During the ’70s, Lionel Richie and the Commodores used to open for Brown’s show band. Imagine that! At 14 tracks, and nothing dipping below the four-minute mark, this album is a genuine bargain, and Brown is one of a kind, definitely.


Tonia Tecce’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ is ‘immaculately produced…timeless, classic’

July 14, 2008
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Reviewed by Vivian Fields

Tonia Tecce/What a Wonderful World

What a Wonderful World is not the kind of album you’d expect from an unsigned artist. Usually a record such as this – immaculately produced, lushly arranged, backed by real orchestras including the Philly Pops, the New Jersey Pops, and the Newark Symphony – stems from an ambitious dream that only major labels can fulfill. I won’t even attempt to guess how expensive this CD was to create. But, when you’re handling a class talent with a stunningly beautiful operatic voice like Tonia Tecce, there shouldn’t be any holding back. That isn’t hyperbole, either; this is a woman who has performed at Carnegie Hall.

The orchestral sweep of “It Could Happen to You” and “Dream Medley” takes you into another realm, a world of beauty and wonder; Tecce’s uplifting soprano becomes one with the instruments, as if she is carried by their winds. At times, her singing reminds me that of Julie Andrews but with a more operatic flair. On “O Mio Babbino Caro,” Tecce’s voice is so haunting that I feel like I’m listening to vinyl from a half-century ago; you can almost imagine the snaps and pops in the tune. It’s a tie for who has the most powerful instrument on What a Wonderful World: Either Tecce and her vocals or the tools of the symphonies who are supporting her here.

Fabulous, timeless, classic.


About author

Julian Wilson, Editor, has been writing about different genres of music, from jazz to techno, for nearly two decades in print.