Kev’s Music Review: C.O.U. Chinese Organic Union

Posted: February 5th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Kev's Music Review | Tags: , , | No Comments »

For those of you who follow my music reviews, you’ll probably notice that I review mostly contemporary jazz. But to be honest, I am a great lover of anything jazz. In fact, much of the greatest advances in jazz are coming from jazz fusion, which I’ve been spending a lot more time exploring, and which I will hopefully begin reviewing more for you.

It is no surprise then, that when a new group labeled themselves the first ‘Chinese Jazz-Rap’, I was more than intrigued. Jazz? Good. Rap? Good. Chinese? Gooood. (Thats a parody from Joey on Friends by the way).

Earlier in September I went to their cd release concert and party, just to check them out live, and see what their idea of jazz-rap was all about. To my surprise; it was really good. Well, it had serious potential. A little raw in some areas, like when they tried to infuse their Chinese rap with Chinglish slang to make it more ‘authentic’. But two things really caught my ear: 1) the DJs knew their stuff. They’ve produced some serious thick beats overlaid with some even heavier jazz-influenced tunes. Even without the rapping, I would have purchased the CD cause their Jazz-hip hop beats were really movin’. Most of it is thanks to Kirby Lee, the main DJ, who has just come out with his own debut solo album. 2) The premier featured rapper, J-Fever, is a really really talented lyricist. Not only is he native to Beijing (while some of the other rappers in this collective come from Shanghai, HK, and South China), but his Putonghua, or standard Chinese, is so clear that it is a pleasure to listen to him wrap. The way he uses the cues during the off-beats really goes well with the laid-back, sit-back style of this jazz-rap.

It wasn’t too long into the first song that I was bopping, and nodding in appreciation and agreement. “Alright” I said, “they got good skill”. And then I took a closer look. These guys were young. Well, at least J-Fever is. He is still in college I believe, which means that he has a bright future ahead of him if he plans to devote it to music.

In anycase, a glimpse into the emerging underground of Chinese hip-hop, and one potential direction it is headed. If indeed C.O.U. and it’s community continues to gain popularity as it has been, we could potentially see Chinese hip-hop evolve into a forerunner for the popularization of Jazz-influenced Hip Hop. This could be a very exciting development, and could potentially be the launching platform for different kinds of jazz — jazz fusion, jazz house, and yes, even traditional contemporary jazz– to make a real home here in China.

I will keep my tabs on how C.O.U., Kirby Lee, J-Fever and the whole Chinese Jazz-Rap movement grows.
Link to C.O.U. website here.

Keeping an ear to the ground,

Kev.


Kev’s Music Review: Kurt Rosenwinkel

Posted: February 5th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Kev's Music Review | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Its been a quite a few months since I’ve done a music review; finishing school and life in general has just been catching up on me.

This review is devoted to someone who isn’t really that new on the scene, but is still at the beginning of what will likely be a very influential career: Kurt Rosenwinkel.
As a young guitarist, he is really this generation’s leading answer to the foundation laid out by Pat Metheny.  As ever lyrical in the ways of Metheny, Kurt’s style leans heavily towards an aggressive improvisation that is being popularized by his contemporaries. It isn’t surprising to see that Kurt’s most recent album, the ’05 Verve Records release ‘Deep Song’ is comprised of some of the strongest forces in contemporary jazz today: Joshua Redman on saxophone, Brad Mehldau on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass, and Ali Jackson on drums.
Kurt Rosenwinkel was born and raised in Philedelphia where he was introduced to jazz in highschool. His progress was such that he was admitted into Boston’s Berklee School of Music.  However, he dropped out in 1992 when he was invited to play in Gary Burton’s band, a world-famous ensemble celebrated for the master vibraphonist’s Art-Blakey-esk commitment to training young talent.  Kurt gained real-life lessons playing and touring with Gary Burton, and then a much longer mentorship playing with avant-garde drummer, Paul Motian.
Kurt’s most recent 2005 album was his 6th title recording, fourth with Verve records.  For those of you who want to hear the “sound” of today’s jazz, a real discussion on structure, theory and soul of contemporary Jazz, and a type of music the record labels have been really getting behind in the last 5 years, keep a tab on Kurt Rosenwinkel.

http://www.kurtrosenwinkel.com/

Keeping an ear to the ground,

Kevin.


Kev’s Music Review: Elizabeth Shephard

Posted: February 5th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Kev's Music Review | Tags: , , | No Comments »

This edition of Kevin’s Nu Jazz Review features Canadian Jazz pianist and vocalist, Elizabeth Shephard.  During the past few years on the Jazz scene, she has been making heads turn with her perfect combo of contemp jazz and funky soul.  Her extremely smooth vocals give jazz divas like Norah Jones and Diana Krall a run for their money.  Her up-beat, edgy tempo produces a hard-hitting, head-nodding sound that you’ll want to keep coming out of your speakers time and again.  Elizabeth’s piano skills are equally impressive, as she is unintimidated by innovative chords and fast-paced solos.  She is a testiment to the McGill University jazz program from where she graduated.  Her songs are all original compositions, showing her mastery of composition as well as performance.  A true pleasure all around, if you want to hear some fresh female jazz vocals that will make you smile, please, do check out Elizabeth Shephard.  You won’t be disapointed. www.myspace.com/elizabethshephard

Keeping an ear to the ground,

Kevin.