Preston Frazier’s Best Albums of 2018 (So Far): Neal Morse, Parliament, Take 6 + Others

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Preston Frazier offers his take on the best albums of 2018 (so far), with tips of the hat to Neal Morse, George Clinton and Parliament, Take 6 and others …

JOHANNES WALLMANN – LOVE WINS (JAZZ): Our first Best Albums of 2018 (So Far) recipient was a labor of love that combined sharp arrangements, stellar piano playing by Johannes Wallmann and compositions that feature both contemporary jazz and elements of hip-hop written with Bob Dz. Together, they tell the story of the march towards justice regarding marriage equality. Wallmann pulls no punches, yet the album is always engagingly moving. Check out the songs “Stonewall Was a Riot” and “Equality” for a taste of something special.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Johannes Wallmann joins Preston Frazier to discuss his 2018 album ‘Love Wins,’ his journey to American shores and the on-going fight for marriage equality.]

GEORGE CLINTON AND PARLIAMENT – MEDICAID FRAUD DOGG (FUNK): Yes, that George Clinton. It’s been almost 40 years since he released an album under the Parliament moniker, but Clinton still brings the funk hard. Always a gifted producer, he assembles the best of the best on Medicaid Fraud Dogg, then ties them together to make unmistakable and infectious grooves with wave after wave of driving, relentless grooves. Clinton never shies away from his social-activist center, yet the album isn’t preachy to the exclusion of the upbeat rock-funk vibe. Check out “Pain Management” and the blues-infused “Psychotropic,” then thank George Clinton for making new music.

TAKE 6 – ICONIC (JAZZ/R&B): This award-winning vocal group continues to amaze with this Best Albums of 2018 (So Far) honoree, even after almost four decades in the business. Take 6 reach into a modern song book on Iconic, making each song their own. After listening to Take 6’s versions of Eric Clapton’s “Change The World” and Christopher Cross’ “Sailing,” you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face.

MARK WADE TRIO – MOVING DAY (JAZZ): Moving Day reaffirms why Mark Wade was voted as one of the Top 10 bass players by DownBeat readers. The album is a collection of mostly Wade originals, based loosely around the theme of movement. Along for the ride again is the Mark Wade Trio: pianist Tim Harrison and drummer Scott Neumann. It’s obvious that they have played together for a while, as there is an unmistakable telepathy. Check out Wade’s “Another Night In Tunisia” and the title track.

[SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: Bassist Mark Wade joined Preston Frazier for a roving discussion on writing and recording his 2018 project ‘Moving Day,’ then went deeper into his musical journey so far.]

NEAL MORSE BAND – THE SIMILITUDE OF A DREAM (PROG ROCK): Our next Best Albums of 2018 (So Far) award-winner was recorded live in Tilburg, the Netherlands as Neal Morse assembled a stellar band to document his 2017 Road Called Home tour. The resulting double CD/DVD is one of the best rock offerings of the year. Morse’s songs are sharp and engaging, and his band – which features Mike Portnoy, Eric Gillette, Bill Hubauer and Randy George – rise to the occasion on this challenging material. This is, indeed, the good stuff. Check out “The Ways of a Fool” and “Slave to Your Mind” to hear the power of the Neal Morse Band.

MICHAEL LEONHART ORCHESTRA – THE PAINTED LADY SUITE (JAZZ): Michael Leonhart, the longtime Steely Dan horn arranger and trumpeter, has a plethora of wide-ranging jazz albums under his belt as leader – to say nothing of a wonderful handful of rock-based albums. Here, Leonhart returns to his jazz foundation in a big way with The Painted Lady Suite. Leonhart has produced a focused yet challenging combination of big band songs which are well crafted for a 20-piece orchestra. Touches of burlesque, jazz/rock and swing all conspire to compel repeated listening. Leonhard never fails to amaze. Check out “The Painted Lady Suite 1: Transformation in the Deserts of Mexico” and enjoy the journey.


Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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