Houser's deep baritone voice is rich and soulful, mating perfectly to the emotion-packed tunes he creates. He wrote or co-wrote all of the 11 numbers on this 45-minute album, ranging broadly from barroom foot-stompers to smooth, poignant ballads with love as the main theme. His lyrics take center stage while the music punctuates and complements the stories he tells.
Houser, who opens for Gary Allan on Oct. 7 at Huntington Center, honed his craft in the country music business writing songs parlayed into hits by such artists as Justin Moore and Trace Adkins.
Adkins rode one of Houser's better-known co-creations, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” to the top of the charts. Several tracks on this new album may travel that same path, this time with the writer doing the singing. It's due in stores Tuesday .
— KEN ROSENBAUM
Pulling off a two-CD tribute to legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane is a tall enough order for any musician, let alone a vibraphonist. But Mainieri, one of the best vibe players alive, proves he is up to the task.
Accompanied by saxophonist Charlie Mariano and bassist Dieter Ilg, the trio capture many of the delicious subtleties of Coltrane's deceptively intricate and sometimes ominous style; the stark beauty and complexity that Coltrane brought even to soft and tender numbers.
The album's slow pace may not appeal much beyond the pure jazz aficionado, but Mainieri and company are on the mark.
Mainieri, the winner of Downbeat magazine's International Jazz Critic's Award when he was only 20, is a producer, performer, arranger, and composer who played with such greats as Buddy Rich, Billie Holliday, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, and Wes Montgomery during the 1950s and '60s before moving on to performances with artists as diversified as Frank Zappa, Richie Havens, and Jimi Hendrix.
In the late 1970s, he founded the pioneering fusion group, Steps Ahead, which helped launch or advance the careers of many of today's jazz greats.
He co-wrote three albums with Carly Simon, has recorded with Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Aerosmith, Billy Joel, Janis Ian, James Taylor, Dire Straits, Bonnie Raitt, George Benson, and was featured on Don McClean's classic “American Pie” album.
— TOM HENRY
Just as another summer fades in our rear view mirrors comes the perfect end-of-summer kind of album from Brit-rock veterans The Charlatans.
Kicking off with a noisy blast of pop-rock on “Love Is Ending” (and what could be a better summer-is-over sentiment than that?), the 20-year-old band basically provides a travelogue across musical styles.
They check in with pure Beach Boys-style sweetness on “My Foolish Pride,” offer up soaring Del Amitri-like alt-pop on “Your Pure Soul,” take a left turn into Pink Floyd territory — both the mid-70s version and the psychedelic '60s Floyd — on “Smash The System” and then offer up the pure club funk on “Intimacy.”
The disc, the band's 11th, is rich with intelligence and history and producer Youth (Paul McCartney, The Verve) provides a plush sonic bed for the arrangements. All in all, a satisfying slab of smart pop.
— ROD LOCKWOOD