Archive for the ‘CD Reviews’ Category

New Release Rack: Urban Gumbo’s “Hard Times for Love”

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Urban Gumbo: Hard Times for Love

Review by Greg Haymes

Hard Times for Love
Beezer Records

Longtime Local 518 music fans will recall that Urban Gumbo had about a 10-year run on the Nippertown club scene back in the ’90s. They recorded a couple of albums – 11 Stories and Tea Time in Tokyo – before finally calling it quits in 1999. But as it turns out, that wasn’t the end of the story…

A couple of years ago, three of the band’s original members – drummer Bob Girouard, guitarist Rob Piorowski and bassist Gary Butts – recruited some new members and started playing out again – mostly at the River Street Pub in Troy.

And now they’ve just released their loooong-awaited third disc, Hard Times for Love, in celebration of their 25th anniversary.

Urban Gumbo is the perfect name for this band – while there’s an overall rowdy, party-time rock & roll vibe, they don’t stick to any one musical genre – but the songs stick in you ears.



New Release Rack: The Lustre Kings’ “Go Green”

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Go Green

Go Green With the Lustre Kings
Wild Boar Records

Nippertown’s fave rollickin’ rockabilly roustabouts are back with their fifth album, Go Green With the Lustre Kings, and I’m happy to say that I was mistaken when I thought that perhaps bandleader Mark Gamsjager & Co. were goin’ all Celtic on us, judging by the title.

But as guitarslinger-vocalist Gamsjager explains, “The fact is that I’m not a songwriter, and I wanted to make a record that would represent really good songs that we’re doing in our shows. So I titled it Go Green, as in recycled songs.” And given that the album is slated for release just prior to Earth Day (Wednesday, April 22), the title gives it a double meaning.


CD Review: Kevin McKrell’s “I Wish I Had a Boat”

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Kevin McKrell: I Wish I Had A BoatKEVIN McKRELL
I Wish I Had a Boat
(Overit Records)

Review by Greg Haymes

Back in those fondly remembered days of the Grinch (if you can remember them), Kevin McKrell was a founding member of the much beloved Irish music trio Donnybrook Fair. Since then, he’s helmed several like-minded bands – including Hard Times, the Hard Road Ceilidh Band and, of course, the McKrells. He’s also been a regular at the annual holiday concerts Mountain Snow & Mistletoe and Melodies of Christmas. And let’s not forget his venture into doo-wop in the ’80s with the all-star Fabulous Newports.

But all the while, he’s also maintained his solo career, and his new album serves as something of a retrospective, as McKrell offers new recordings of some of his earlier songs, revisiting “I Miss the Rain,” “Lost in Your Eyes” and an exquisite take on “Bound for Boston.”


CD Reviews: Jazz 2K for January

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Reviews by J Hunter

In an effort to keep the momentum going from the last month of 2014, here’s some music you need to check out – either on your own, or on “Jazz2K @ The Saint”:

Between working with Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band and being the George Gee Swing Orchestra’s musical director, trombonist David Gibson has been plenty busy since his tasty 2011 Posi-tone release End of the Tunnel. That said, the Oklahoma native must have found a few minutes to scribble down some notes, because Boom! comes out of the chute like a Brahma bull on Red Bull and doesn’t let up for a second. That doesn’t mean it’s all pedal-to-the-metal like the hard-bopping “Eyes of Argus,” the swirling dervish title track or the charging opener “The High Road”; some of the best moments are the softer ones, like the loving ballad “The Dance” and Gibson’s joy-filled take on “Change the World.” What keeps this date’s emotional needle pinned in the red is Gibson’s choice to bring in two players who match his intensity volt for volt: Josh Evans’ trumpet has the kind of counter-punching power Freddie Hubbard delivered back in the day, and Theo Hill’s Trump-rich keyboard lines weave stunningly striking colors, be they acoustic on Gibson’s high-flying treatment of Tom McIntosh’s “The Cup Bearers” or electric on the sneaky-good “Grass Fed.” David Gibson may have been doing great work for others, but Boom! shows it’s time for him get out there and really blow his OWN horn!


CD Review: Tas Cru’s “You Keep the Money”

Friday, January 9th, 2015


Review and photographs by Wanda Callagy

There’s the CD release party. And then, there’s the music…

On their way south to Memphis for a three-night stand at the International Blues Challenge on January 18-20, Tas Cru and members of his band, the Tortured Souls, recently stopped by the Fuller Roadhouse Grille in Albany on December 28 to introduce their new CD, You Keep the Money at the Capital Region Blues Network’s Sunday Night Jam. The house was full with standing room only, with many familiar faces and new ones taking the stage to jam after Tas Cru’s opening set.

The wait for this was worth it. And here are some of my impressions:

On this new album, Cru carries through some familiar themes. His tongue-in-cheek love song “Half the Time” is fun and hard not to tap your foot to. The upbeat tune has a lot of interesting guitar exchanges, with strong harmonica skills from Dick Earl Ericksen. Here, I looked up a couple of his other songs, including “Cover My Love” from his 2006 album Biscuit and 2008′s Gravi-Tas. No boring repeats – almost a continuum or, let’s say, another chapter.

The instrumental “La Belle Poutine” brings to the album one of the most soulful pieces I have listened to, ever. Here I hear skills and a sound that remind me so of jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. Cru’s French influence from his time in Montreal is a treat. Haunting.


BEST OF 2014: Greg Haymes’ Top Concerts & Albums

Thursday, January 8th, 2015
The Ed Palermo Big Band

The Ed Palermo Big Band @ Proctors’ GE Theatre, 4/18/14

By Greg Haymes
Photograph by Rudy Lu

1. Rosanne Cash @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy (March 5)
2. The Ed Palermo Big Band @ Proctors’ GE Theatre, Schenectady (April 18)
3. Mary Lambert with Howie Day @ College of St. Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts, Albany (October 17)
4. The Mavericks @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, Albany (November 6)
5. Harriet Tubman and Cassandra Wilson Present Black Sun @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany (March 15)
6. Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy (October 10)
7. Paul McCartney @ the Times Union Center, Albany (July 5)
8. King Crimson @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, Albany (September 9)
9. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band @ the Times Union Center, Albany (May 13)
10. Queens of the Stone Age with Brody Dalle @ the Palace Theatre, Albany (July 13)
11. Wussy with Bloodshot Bill @ the Low Beat, Albany (July 24)
12. Beck with the Ghost of the Saber Tooth Tiger @ MASS MoCA, North Adams (June 23)
13. Nick Lowe’s Quality Holiday Revue featuring Los Straitjackets with the Cactus Blossoms @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany (December 19)
14. Living Colour with Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds and Mirk @ Empire State Plaza, Albany (June 4)
15. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, Albany (January 12)
16. Nickel Creek @ Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival at Walsh Farm, Oak Hill (July 17)
17. Dust Bowl Faeries with Swamp Baby @ Steamer No. 10 Theatre, Albany (March 1)
18. Dom Flemons @ Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs (August 15)
19. Chris Isaak @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, Albany (September 16)
20. Regina Carter @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany (March 29)


BEST OF 2014: Michael Eck’s Top 10 Albums

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Joe Henry: Invisible Hour

By Michael Eck

Joe Henry’s Invisible Hour is so relentlessly, ridiculously beyond good that speaking about it reduces me to gibberish. It is my Top 10 for 2014. I don’t mean to say that it is at the top of the list, no, it is the entire list.

If you ride due southwest, following the sun, out of Albany, into the hilltowns, that is best… Open the moonroof, too. Even if it’s winter.

Fred Rudofsky’s Top 21 Live Music Events
Albert Brooks’ Top 11 Albums
Gene Sennes’ Top Concerts & Albums
J Hunter’s Best Jazz Albums, Part II
The Capital Land Crate Digger’s Cultural Top 10
J Hunter’s Best Jazz Albums, Part I
Stanley Johnson’s Favorite Things
Rudy Lu’s Top 10 Concerts
J Hunter’s Top 10 Concerts (And More)
Tim Livingston’s Top 10 Albums

BEST OF 2014: Albert Brooks’ Top 11 Albums

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

By Albert Brooks

Nippertown contributing photographer Albert Brooks weighs in with his Top 11 albums (plus a few honorable mentions) of the past 12 months:

Jimmy Greene: Beautiful Life1. JIMMY GREENE: A Beautiful Life (Mack Avenue Records)
This album is a special gift that Greene is graciously sharing with the world. It is an album of simply beautiful music that honors the beautiful life that was his daughter, Ana Grace. The album has a stellar line-up of world-class musicians offering their musical support to Greene in this moving tribute: Renee Rosnes, Christian McBride, Lewis Nash, Pat Metheny, Kenny Barron and others. This is a must-have album!

2. ANTHONY BRANKER & WORD PLAY: The Forward (Towards Equality) Suite (Origin Records)
This is one of the more thought-provoking albums I heard this year. With The Forward, Branker has composed a suite of music inspired by personal reflections on what America means to him as a first-generation American. One highlight among many here is the powerful recitation of Claude McKay’s poem “If We Must Die.” The impressive line-up here includes saxophonists David Binney and Ralph Bowen, trombonist Conrad Herwig, pianist Jim Ridl, bassist Kenny Davis, drummer Donald Edwards, conguero Renato Thoms and vocalist Alison Crockett, as well as 16 fifth grade students from Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary in Piscataway, NJ providing spoken word contributions.

3. AZAR LAWRENCE: The Seeker (Sunnyside Records)
The Seeker is a powerful album recorded live at the Jazz Standard in New York. Lawrence is a ferocious and lyrical saxophonist who may come out of the Coltrane lineage, but is his own man both as a composer and improviser. This album features a powerful line-up – Nicholas Payton on trumpet, Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums, Essiet Okon Essiet on bass and the fine young pianist Benito Gonzalez – and all the excitement of a live performance.


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