Tuesday, October 21, 2014


It’s a crying shame that a jazz vocalist who sings as divinely as Meri Slaven isn’t a household name. Sure, in Michigan, her home state, she's popular and she’s performs regularly at upscale clubs and restaurants. She’s also a key member of a hot vocal group the Metro Jazz Voices. Maybe the recent release of her new album “Get Out Of Town,” will get her the national attention she’s earned and she deserves. “Get Out Of Town” has 13 songs and she staffed the album with some top Detroit jazz musicians such as Ron English, Sean Dobbins, Paul Keller, and Scott Gwinnell. Hard to make less than a stellar album with such star power. Slaven pours her voice over well-known oldies such as “The Trouble with Me is You,” “Moonlight” and “Like a Lover”. The cuts likely to get played over and over are “A Blossom Fell,” “I Thought About You” and “True Colors” because you get to experience Slaven one on one with Gwinnell and Keller. Her voice could turn the devil into a romantic.

Gary Schunk has been an in demand jazz pianist for decades. Early this year, the Detroit jazz community almost lost him. He was in a near fatal car accident. Fortunately, he’s bounced back and is back on the scene swinging harder than ever. There’s a lot of work yet to do. First order of business is he has to push his new album “Kayak,” one of the finest jazz trio recordings made in Detroit in a while. Pure down to the bone jazz, akin to the classic trio dates great jazz pianist such as Red Garland and Tommy Flanagan used to make. “Kayak” is the sixth album on the Detroit Music Factory. Schunk is at the top of his game, which isn’t surprising. There’s never been a time when he wasn’t. As some of his peers have noted over the years he's gifted and he can play everything R&B, classical, bop, Latin, and swing. Fronting a trio, as the album clearly proves, is his true calling. There are 12 cuts on “Kayak” that Schunk, drummer Peter Erskine, and bassist Ray Parker approach with the adherence to craftsmanship of master tailors.

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