Kareem Kandi Band
“See What I’m Saying”
Local saxophone player Kareem Kandi is back with a new album. He and his band, drummer Julian MacDonough and bass player Bob Hutchinson, offer seven Kandi originals and one cover tune on “See What I’m Saying.”
Leadoff track “Now You Know” is a lively tune that begins with a blast of drumming. Kandi offers some energetic yet tasteful sax playing.
“Friends For Now” has a much slower pace. Kandi’s playing is more subdued than on the first track. It is quite tasteful and sophisticated.
At seven minutes and 25 seconds, “Love In All It’s Forms” is the longest song on the album. For much of it, drums and bass are in the background.
“After Party” is a lively tune that goes in a Latin jazz direction. The drumming is quite busy and plays a major role in the overall composition. The three musicians now when two of them should hold back to let the third be in the spotlight, as evident in Hutchinson’s solo, when the sax is silent and MacDonough only plays cymbals.
MacDonough’s solo sounds more like what one would expect from a rock band, rather than from a jazz trio.
The song that is not an original is “Something Wonderful.” Written by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers, it is from the 1951 musical “The King and I.” While the original has lyrics, this rendition is done as an instrumental. It begins at a very slow pace. MacDonough softly brushes the cymbals and Hutchinson plays a light bass line, setting the foundation for Kandi’s soulful sax. Later Hutchinson plays a slow bass solo.
“Hustlin’” is an upbeat number that goes in a bebop direction. This tune epitomizes coolness and really demands the listener’s attention. Hutchinson shows off his chops on the bass solo.
“Open Windows” is a busy composition. Here MacDonough’s drumming is all over the place while Kandi plays over it.
“R.I.T.” wraps up the album. The sax playing here is cool and sophisticated, while the bass line propels the whole band forward.
“See What I’m Saying” displays the considerable talents of these three musicians. It should please local jazz fans.
Kareem Kandi Band plays Uncle Thurm’s in Tacoma at 8 p.m. on Aug. 24 and with Track Knoop at Royal Lounge in Olympia at 8 p.m. on Aug. 27.
Reviewed by John Larson
“Beautiful I Love You”
Through this, her ninth CD, singer, songwriter, pianist and guitarist Jill Cohn continues her musical journey to find the good stuff within the oft-harsh lessons of life and love. A poet with insights steeped in hope and faith, on “Beautiful I Love You” Cohn finds much humor in life’s difficulties but not in a Pollyanna sort of way by any means. Cohn’s expressions of her spirit are bittersweet and sometimes wry but always with so much realness that she can make you feel better if only by singing your pain. Rest assured: Cohn’s music will lift you up.
She invited guest musicians to record with her on this CD. Drums, acoustic bass, Wurlitzer and more add much to the musical tapestry Cohn weaves with ambience and gentility. Next time you are having a bad day or feeling stressed out or sad, put “Beautiful I Love You” on and it will give you the medicine you need.
Cohn is an incredibly compassionate and sympathetic person, as evidenced by what her music is about. In fact, she says she titled the CD with words she believes everyone needs to hear more every day. The things she sings about happening to her are the same things that happen to us as well – the listeners to whom she is reaching out to help heal or at least convince to let go and stop trying to figure everything out in life.
If you are a single person who feels so lonely for companionship – for that one person to love who will love you back – listen to this CD and hear what Cohn has to say. She knows your pain and your joys. This is so wonderfully illustrated in “Searching for the Song.” She sings, “When your heart is hurt/ and you long for love/ pause to see the road you’re presently on/ hear the melody hear right from wrong/ don’t stop searching for your song.”
Leadoff track “Live Life” sets the tone beautifully for the entire CD musically and lyrically. In a light and gentle voice Cohn gives sound advice in this song, asking the big questions in a humble way. “…all I am looking for is God,” she sings. And in the end, “…I decided not to decide and just live life.”
“West From Carolina” comes next, taking the listener on a road trip to redemption. This leads into “Highway 40,” a fun song about traveling alone in a car that is not chugging along so well. It is at that scary moment when stranded along the side of the road that freedom breeds desperation and loneliness. Cohn sings of these things in a lighthearted, honky tonk style as if she laughs in the face of danger. With the next track being titled “Leap of Faith,” Cohn seems to swoop in to say, “Sometimes it takes a leap of faith/ when there’s no one there to catch you.”
“John Denver’s Ghost” is playful and quite humorous in its adoration of the self-proclaimed “Country Boy” as Cohn’s perfect boyfriend/husband. She lays out her daydreams of how her Prince Charming in a cowboy hat would worship her. Among Denver’s qualities, Cohn sings that he “lets me win all our fights/ always says the three special words/ baby, you are right.”
“Missing In The Moment” is a reminder to come back to earth when your mind is way out in space obsessing about what may or may not happen. “So focused on the future/ I forget to see the brilliant stuff/ right here, in the moment.” The CD is full of this type of simple wisdom, as Cohn really has a knack for putting things into perspective.
On Aug. 25, Cohn will perform in Tacoma at the Tahoma Tea Room, 1932 Pacific Ave., 7-9 p.m. All ages are welcome to this free musical event that the whole family would enjoy. This will be a double bill, as New Zealand powerhouse singer Fleur Jack (now residing in Seattle) will also perform. If you like Ann Wilson, Rosie Thomas or Brandi Carlile, you will love Fleur Jack.