Keys and Chords reviews Down & Dirty:
"This 77-minute CD takes you on a versatile and fascinating tour around the musical world. When you come in for a landing afterward you’ll agree that it was a journey well worth your while."
Lemonwire reviews Down & Dirty:
Dodie Miller-Gould, Lemonwire
"Down & Dirty" manages to be good, clean entertainment. Audiences should appreciate its incorporation of other genres’ style elements. Still, the album remains its own unique collection of tracks that have something of the classic about them already.
Midwest Record reviews Down & Dirty:
Chris Spector, Midwest Record
A trumpet cat that was brought along by some of the top old school jazzbos shows how he learned as he earned and puts those lessons to good use. Rounding up a crew filled with names even a jazz tourist would recognize, everyone gets a chance to shine in this big band date all the while serving to make Willey shine even more. A nicely jumping session that never falters, they make Willey's originals feel right at home in your ear and play with the kind of off the clock zeal old pros have when a good time is in the air and powering the proceedings. Well done.
JazzBluesNews interviews Rich Willey:
Simon Sargsyan, JazzBluesNews
Kenny Shanker - The Witching HourEric W. Saeger, The Hippo
"Lots of buzz surrounds this California-born jazz saxophonist. This, his third album as a leader, displays a rare gift for interpreting bop with such depth it´s like getting fitted for a hearing aid. You could hear a pin drop between his phrases, which often finish off with a casual trilling that´s as warm as the smooth compositions he´s put together with this quintet, which also features the well-rounded talents of pianist Mike Eckroth and guitarist Daisuke Abe, both of whom receive enough solo spaces so as to not sway the focus from Shanker´s sax. The signature move within these tunes is a straightforward, confident march of quarter-notes of various modalities. Amazingly clear voice here. A+ — Eric W. Saeger"
"Kenny Shanker has a rich and full sound on his alto sax as he brings some vintage hard bop to the table with some originals. Teamed with Mike Eckroth/p, Daisuke Abe/g, Yoshi Waki/b and Brian Fishler/dr, he drives with an upbeat "Kottinger Park" gets bluesy with Eckroth´s striding ivories on "Saturday, 2 am" and bops with hip delight to Waki´s pulsating bass on "Satin Ribbons." His soprano sax glides with an easy cadence on "Cascading Lights" and snaps to Fishler´s high hat on the crisp "Lyra." His tone is warm and lyrical, able to milk a passage during ""Spring Flowers" and the moody "Cake Batter." Impressive foray!"
Kenny Shanker - The Witching HourWoodrow Wilkins, The Jazz Writer
"It’s straight-ahead jazz, but with enough melodic influences to work for the masses who tend to shy away from things that aren’t catchy.
Shanker plays the alto on the opener, "Kottinger Park." It’s a high-energy, fun romp. The leader plays with passion, exploring the range of his instrument, with powerful cohesion among his accompanists.
Then there’s the aptly titled "Bobblehead." The pace, the fun, the joy this song inspires will likely have many a listener bobbing her head. Finger snapping and toe tapping follow suit. Some might want to get up and dance. It’s just an all-around feelgood song.
Shanker resides in New York City."
Kenny Shanker - The Witching HourPhil Freeman, Stereogum
"Alto saxophonist Kenny Shanker is joined by his longtime live band: pianist Mike Eckroth, guitarist Daisuke Abe, bassist Yoshi Waki, and drummer Brian Fishler, most of whom played on both of his previous releases. Shanker writes all the tunes, which are melodic and swinging. This is a solid release by a group of young players finding their voices together.'
Kenny Shanker - The Witching HourChris Spector, Midwest Record
"All the hip insider cats know who this sax man is and it´s time you found out as well. Playing a mixture of straight ahead bop, he knows how to blow up a storm and really give your ears a work out with his zeal. A hard hitting cat that knows how to layout and lay back as well, he gives out that tasty kind of stuff that keeps you coming back for more. Well done."
Kenny Shanker - The Witching HourBob Bernotas, Just Jazz
"Alto and soprano saxophonist Kenny Shanker applies his bright tone, solid chops, and rich imagination to a set of one dozen original tunes. Shanker has selected an exceptional and supportive group of players to join him in this diverse showcase: pianist Mike Eckroth, guitarist Daisuke Abe, bassist Yoshi Waki, and drummer Brian Fisher. His is a strong voice that definitely deserves to be heard."
Josh Levinson - Morning Joy
Bob Bernotas, Just Jazz
This septet session from trumpeter-composer Josh Levinson is real thing, squared, hard bop for today and tomorrow, deeply rooted in that venerable jazz tradition, while looking forward with vision and clarity. Levinson has richly orchestrated a dozen
of his originals for a tight four-horn frontline, abundantly laced with surprises that will keep listeners involved and delighted.
No crowded studio or stage here; seven instrumentalists but they blend like a summer drink, with lots of space and air for everybody. The ensemble is led by trumpet player Josh Levinson, a guy who proves he can write a titanium hook.
The big-band sound swells and pulls back on "Potential," a track that’s hip, bouncy and has a stirring piano solo. "Celebration" feels like one; lots of instrumental unity and echoism, with drums that keep it swift and light and a welcome sprinkling of vocalese for emphasis. They enter into bebop territory with "C Sharpe Was Here," and get down deep and somber in the stunning "Prayer for Orlando."
Josh Levinson’s latest CD is full of feel-great, memorable melodies, providing a joy that’s good for any time of the day or night or any season of life."