Pianist Don Friedman has had a lengthy career that includes 35 CDs as a leader and many significant associations since at least the early '60s. Friedman has lost none of his enthusiasm or creative abilities through the years, as can be heard on this excellent quartet outing. Although a few selections are mildly funky or a little more modern, most of the performances are very boppish, with Friedman playing his take on the Bud Powell tradition. Friedman's five originals and bassist Martin Wind's catchy "Early Morning Blues" are on the same high level as the four standards. Guitarist Peter Bernstein is a major asset. His solos are tasteful and swinging, but it is his interplay with Friedman that are the consistent high points. With fine support from Wind and drummer Tony Jefferson, this is one of Don Friedman's best all-round recordings.~Scott Yanow, allmusic.com
The third studio meeting in nearly 17 years between Medeski, Martin & Wood and guitarist John Scofield has no easy referent to their earlier recordings – purposely. This quartet sounds like a real band on Juice, which is a mixed blessing. The positive aspect is that this longtime collaboration creates near instinctive communication. This is a much more inside date, though the rhythmic interplay between bassist Chris Wood and drummer Billy Martin is outstanding throughout.
After a number of years paying her dues as a backup singer and recording for a number of indie labels with mixed success, Marilyn Scott finally brings her crisp, romantic vocal stylings to Warner Bros. on Take Me With You, a stylish potpourri of pop, soul, jazz and Brazilian influences tailor made to fit the definition of the finest in Adult Contemporary music. While Scott's powerful yet subtle and smoky voice ties all the loose threads together, the collection's strengths lie in its frolicsome diversity. Scott changes moods depending on the producer du jour. George Duke elicits cool, straightforward pop, while longtime cohorts Russell Ferrante and Jimmy Haslip forge her range from standard to hip-hop influenced jazz. Ironically, the most exciting track, a percolating Brazilian treatment of Stevie Wonder's "Bird of Beauty," is also the least commercial from a corporate marketing standpoint. Without the radio typical sheen, producer Dori Caymmi allows Scott to romp through a loping playground where even elegant Kevyn Lettau-like Portuguese is within the realm. Perhaps the reason it's taken Scott so long to break through on a higher level is the type of stunning diversity typified here. It's been worth the wait.
A top-notch adult contemporary vocalist still awaiting a well-deserved crossover commercial breakthrough, Marilyn Scott adds powerful fuel to her cause on Avenues of Love by helping herself with a well-balanced array of production and songwriting talent. George Duke surrounds her with party voices and a kneejerking Latin groove on a playful list of dance steps on "I Like to Dance," then surrounds her clear, sensuous voice with airy, billowing synth cushioning on the Bacharach-David classic "The Look of Love." Scott and bassist Jimmy Haslip reroute to Memphis on Michael Ruff's Wilson Pickett-like pick me up, "Love Is a Powerful Thing," engaging a two-piece horn section that sounds even larger. The Yellowjacket touch is in full effect on the picturesque "Avenida del Sol," which approximates an update of the gentle Astrud Gilberto sound; the tune was written by Scott and Bob Mintzer, and produced by Scott, Haslip, and Russell Ferrante. Scott's greatest gift here is her sense of modulation; she belts like crazy on the funk pieces, but recognizes the emotional power of restraint on the ballads.