Category Archives: CD-Reviews

Review a CD / album

Mad Romance: Aim High

Mad Romance

If you like vocal groups like Manhattan Transfer or New York Voices I have another classic vocal quartet from Miami for you: Mad Romance. The group released in 2011 a very nice album called “Aim High”. The CD presents songs from the Great American Songbook, with some beautiful and refreshing arrangements done by leader Rick Harris who is also a professional trumpet player. Harris has re-formed this group with some big names from the Miami Jazz scene: Lisanne Lyons (voc), Wendy Pedersen (voc) and Greg Diaz (voc, sax).
The CD starts with a very funny version of “Pick Yourself Up” which features Rick Harris followed by “You Don’t Know What Love Is” which I introduced to you some weeks ago. This song is a classic vocal quartet arrangement with a nice call-and-response solo by trumpet and saxophone.
The next song on the CD is a Salsa-inspired version of “How Long Has This Been Going On” featuring Wendy Pederson on vocals supported again by trumpet and saxophone.

The promise the band makes with these first three titles is kept throughout the CD. Every song is perfectly arranged and shows a different side of the technical and musical capabilities of the group.

“From This Moment On” is a swinging up-time Jazz standard, “Time of the Season” is a cover version of the Zombies’ hit from the late sixties and “Yesterdays” a typical Jazz standard ballad.

“Aim Low” is a composition by Rick Harris and is somehow the title song of this album. The lyrics are very sarcastic, like “You wanna work, so aim low” and shows the arrogance and ignorance in the music business. The CD ends with “The Thrill Is Gone” which is again arranged as a Salsa.

I think the whole CD is brilliant and the voices fit excellently together. The variety of the arrangements is outstanding and the musical and instrumental skills of Rick Harris and Greg Diaz make this album a great experience. The best part for me are the Salsa arrangements, a Miami based vocal group should know how to do that. I hope I will have the chance to see this quartet once.

I created again a playlist for you, so you are able to listen to the songs:

The group has a website where you can download the song “Aim Low” and where you can find some more information about the band. Please look at Unfortunately I do not see any updated concert information.

The following video is also found on the website but since I think it’s very entertaining I added it right here for you:



Arturo Sandoval: Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You)


Last summer I saw Arturo Sandoval live in Fribourg (to be precise on July 9, 2013). We heard many tunes from the CD “Dear Diz (Every Day I Think of You)” and this concert was quite remarkable, because Arturo Sandoval was the jack-of-all-trades on stage, he was basically everywhere, playing his trumpet, he sang, played the piano and the timbales. But behind all this activities it was also possible to feel his deep reverence for Dizzy Gillespie, his friend and mentor. I bought the CD and it turned out to be one of my favorite CDs of last summer.

The music of Arturo Sandoval is full of energy, very rhythmic, inspired by his Cuban roots, perfectly arranged and excellently played. Arturo Sandoval is supported by many famous musicians like Gary Burton on vibraphone, Bob Mintzer on saxophone and organist Joey DeFrancesco. The result is a remarkable reminiscence to Dizzy Gillespie and his music and gives the “old” tunes a fresh new look and Arturo Sandoval’s trumpet is shining and sparkling above all.

The CD starts with the excellently swinging “Be Bop” and a groovy Salsa inspired version of “Salt Peanuts”, followed by the “Pink Panther – Henry Mancini” style arranged version of “Birks Works”. After that the CD reaches it’s first highlight with “Things To Come” which is really fast and furious.

We get a little bit of a break afterwards with the string quartet plus trumpet arrangement of “Con Alma” before the “must” tune “A Night in Tunisia” ends the regular part of the CD. If you haven’t seen Arturo Sandoval playing this tune I have added a video for you, since this was also during the concert the best moment. And I guess this is perfectly in line with the way Dizzy Gillespie would understand how to play this song. You’re not allowed to rest, you have to be brilliant and steal the show with this tune. 

The CD ends with the title song. In “Every Day I Think of You” you feel that Arturo Sandoval really misses Dizzy Gillespie, his long-time friend and mentor, the person who basically gave him a second chance in life after leaving Cuba.

If you want to know more about that special relationship you might also take a look at the 2001 movie “For Love or Country” (starring Andy Garcia, Mia Maestro and Gloria Estefan).

I think this CD is perfectly arranged and show that the music of Dizzy Gillespie and Be Bop in general have not added any rust, it is still the style we associate typically with Jazz music, and Arturo Sandoval is the true heir.

The first video shows you a live version of “Night in Tunisia”:

The second video includes some interesting promotional material from Concord Records:

Finally, a link to the album if you want to hear some more…