By Jon Solomon Thursday, Nov 29 2012
Ben Makinen, who's been a professional drummer for close to three decades, says the inspiration for his solo electronic album came from a dream he had in which he was visited by an ancient butterfly that told him a story of love between a gruff Goliath beetle and a beautiful ladybug. In the dream, their families rejected them, so the beetle and the ladybug looked for refuge and acceptance in a distant land. Makinen, who plays all of the instruments here, has translated that dream into an intriguing eleven-track album that delves into ambient and techno while occasionally tossing in Middle Eastern or Latin flavors on cuts like "Beetle and Bug and Cupid's Arrow" and "La Femme Nikita." Since Makinen is a drummer, it's no surprise that a lot of cuts are built around interesting electronic percussion and beats, including the deep groove on "The Goliath Confession."
By Jon Solomon Thursday, Oct 11 2012
Although John Kite has been the featured pianist at the Brown Palace Hotel for the last 25 years, Anything Goes! marks his first solo album. Drawing from Tin Pan Alley-era songs and jazz standards, Kite kicks off the disc with a peppy take on a Cole Porter tune in which he also sings. He gets more meditative on Ennio Morricone's "Cinema Paradiso" and tosses in a quote from the standard "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Con Te Partirò," made famous by Andrea Bocelli. The pianist sprinkles in bits of other tunes on "Stardust" and "It Might as Well as Be Spring." The resulting game of "name that tune" in the middle of these songs will keep listeners on their toes.
Leslie Brown - Tenderly
By Jon Solomon Thursday, Sep 20 2012 - Denver Westword
Save for a rousing take on Duke Ellington's "Caravan," Leslie Brown's Tenderly is an unhurried affair — and that's as it should be, because the singer's relaxed delivery is suited to songs that are slow and slinky, such as opener "He Must Be in Love" and the gorgeous title track.
Even the Champs' normally upbeat "Tequila" is slowed down a few notches, turned into a laid-back, swinging groove by drummer Ben Makinen, with some deft piano playing by Art Lande. Elsewhere, the Eagles' "Hotel California" and Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine" get innovative jazzy treatments.
Brown is in complete control of her voice, and there's a certain purity that runs throughout the disc, which is ideal for late-night listening.
For a guy who grew up learning to play Click|keyword[Elton+John]">Elton John songs on his autoharp while listening to the radio, Clay Cabe has quite an affinity for funk. Although his debut, 2003's December, was an acoustic-driven folk-rock album, TheClick|keyword[Underworld+(Band)]">Underworld is more of an eclectic effort. There are still a few folk ballads present, such as "The Spider and the Fly," but other cuts are rooted in funk and rock, especially the title track, which features some first-rate shredding from guitaristClick|keyword[Mitch+Chmara]">Mitch Chmara, and "Freak." "We're Not Through," meanwhile, has a Spanish feel (with some tasty solo work by Click|keyword[Mitchell+Long]">Mitchell Long). With additional help from bassist Click|keyword[Dave+Randon]">Dave Randon and drummer Click|keyword[Ben+Makinen]">Ben Makinen, Click|keyword[Clay+Cabe]">Cabe has crafted a much more ambitious offering this time out.
Ben Makinen is slowly but surely crafting a niche of his own in the world of video ethnomusicology: films about real people who make the music that makes the world go round.
I love Makinen's style, his sense of humor and his great fortune to have been there at magic moments to capture the real-speak and choreography of his subject in tango with the camera. Usually, with about 90% of YouTube I feel like screaming "Outlaw camcorders!", but with Ben's wonderful short films I renew my appreciation for the people's TV network. I'm keeping an eye on this cat!
"Lost Lullaby took me on a trip around the globe with musical images from the Far East to Western concert halls with a stop in the Hearts of Space."
AREA 15(TM): LIVE is a blistering, high-energy recording from producer and drummer Ben Makinen's trio AREA 15℠. This CD features guitarist Mitch Chmara, who is receiving praise from musicians worldwide:
"A Full-fledged Fretboard Fantastique !
The pure love of playing is showcased in a masterpiece performance! Fretboard fire and frenzy in a freeform jazz jam!
A fast swing arrangement for a jazz trio, this awesome improvisational format explores uncharted ground with bold bravado. Tonal and modal moments arrive like scenery along the highway at a pedal-to-the-metal pace. This trip unveils unpredictable soundscapes under fretwork flights of fancy, with flourishes flairing up, floating in the foreground, flying past, fierce and festive, furious, fast, and all fed with feel and finese. F*in' fantastic!
With this fretted fusion engine fuelling the tempo, the bassist fans the flames with his own fitting flair. From firey fluidity to full, fat, fidelity, he holds the rhythm down to earth while adding his own tasty flourishes of melodic fuel. Walking lines at a jog, a trot, a run, he enriches the sound with low end depth with confident competence. Phat!
The drummer's firing on all cylinders with bop-style taste and power, his chops up to par and on the mark! He keeps the meter with polished precision, tight to the rhythm, and launches off in orbit with improvisational intuition as smooth as a flywheel. Swingin', boppin', punchin' and choppin', man, this cat's drivin' with cool control! Top-notch!
A sound mix attuned to the atmosphere they're creating captures the entire excursion in this incredible live performance. The way these guys can read each other, the way they anticipate and respond with such dynamic feel, is absolutely mind-boggling! But here it all is, recorded in all its fret-felt fidelity! Simply off the chart, man! Excellent, excellent performance! Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!"
Syracuse, New York
"Wow, what a mind blowing CD... I put it on my top 5 of all time. The guitar is searing, explosive... The music is close to slam jazz... a lot of room for stretching and confounding complexities. Do yourself a favor and get this CD now; you won't be disappointed."
- jsweatpea, Reviewer, Austintown,Ohio