This Is What Happens – The Reign of Kindo (2011)

The Reign of Kindo

Album artwork for This Is What Happens

First things first, all of you should probably watch this.  You may have seen this video several years back when it gained quite a bit of circulation around YouTube.  This is the music of The Reign of Kindo, a jazz-rock group hailing from Buffalo, New York.  In April of 2010 they released their second studio album, and third release in total, called This Is What Happens on CandyRat Records.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the label, CandyRat is one of my most trusted sources for beautifully written modern acoustic music.  Musicians like Jon Gomm and Andy McKee, two of the most notable percussive fingerstyle guitarists, are represented by the label.  In short, its catalog is stocked to the brim with remarkable music quality.  So then, back to This Is What Happens.  What exactly is it that happens?  Press on, dear reader…

If you think about it, the world’s population of music enthusiasts can essentially be divided into two categories.  There are those who value originality and advanced musicianship above all else, sometimes to the point of pretentiousness and condescension towards “lesser” artists.  Then there are those who don’t care about any of that; they just want to dance around and sing catchy melodies.  Both groups have their limitations, but luckily that’s where The Reign of Kindo comes in.  Their music combines elements from both of these viewpoints into a single cohesive style, and the result is an extraordinarily melodic collection of tunes, rich in originality and soulfulness.

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Other Things – Plini (2013)

Plini

Album artwork for Other Things

Today I’d like to present you with something a little shorter than the standard full-length album that I normally feature.  Shorter, yes, but it packs just as much of a punch. Other Things, by Plini, is a three-track record that clocks in at just under thirteen minutes.  It was released about four months ago in March, and it was recorded in a period of just six days in a bedroom.  Although your first inclination might be to lump this guy in with thousands of other “bedroom guitarists,” it’s clear that his strong musical vision sets him apart from the rest.

The main thing that I love about Other Things it is how remarkably different each individual song is from the remaining two. Starting with “Heart,” the EP starts out almost as if it might be some sort of indie-acoustic-folk record.  Several acoustic guitar tracks are layered together, along with an eclectic array of mallet percussion lines, dreamy synth effects, and a solid, tom-heavy drum beat to back it all up.  On top of all this is an electric guitar driving the melody and decorating the piece with some fantastic jazz-fusion riffs.  Overall, it’s the perfect way to ease the listener into a relaxed state of mind, prime for enjoyment.

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Magnetic – Terence Blanchard (2013)

Terence Blanchard

Album artwork for Magnetic

Since his days as the musical director of the 1980s-era of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Terence Blanchard has been a leading figure in the modern jazz movement.  I’m sure that many of us are well-acquainted with much of his work throughout the three decades.  In recent years, he has been keeping himself remarkably busy with a constant slew of original film and TV scores, including the 2012 picture “Red Tails,” which was executively produced by George Lucas.  Now, Blanchard returns to the renowned Blue Note Records with his latest studio album, Magnetic.

The aggregation of over 50 soundtrack credits as composer as left a clearly discernible mark on the musical sensibilities of this esteemed trumpeter.  Although Magnetic has distinct roots in the jazz tradition that he has become known for, it does not hesitate to travel through whole new realms of sound that had not previously been explored.  These voyages are by no means an unwelcome change, however.  They instead add a keen edge of heterogeneity that elevates the album towards a much greater plane of musical excellence.

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The Calling – Romain Collin (2012)

Album artwork for The Calling

Album artwork for The Calling

Originally from France, he came to the United States to attend the Berklee College of Music on scholarship, where he majored in Music Synthesis and studied piano performance.  He graduated from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz after having performed on a full scholarship in an ensemble handpicked by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Terence Blanchard.  I could keep going through Romain Collin‘s impressive list of achievements, but it’s probably better to just let his music speak for itself.  After his promising 2008 debut, The Rise and Fall of Pipokuhn, Collin is back with The Calling, a deeply personal album and perhaps his most creative effort yet.

Collin enlisted the musical talents of Luques Curtis on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums to round off the piano trio.  It is obvious right from the start that the trio has tremendous chemistry.  The musical interplay between instruments is absolutely phenomenal, with each part seeming to have a mind of its own. Rather than this resulting in chaos, however, it results in the masterful collaboration between three individuals who are completely in tune with the music they are creating.

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