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The Modern Jazz of the Mackrosoft

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For several years, under the direction of ace producer Aja West, the Mackrosoft has been blending diverse elements with modern jazz to create a lavish selection of thrilling tuneage that appeals to far more than the traditional fan base of jazz music.

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THE MACKROSOFT: 1st Mack to the Moon (CD on Mackrosoft Records)

This release from 2003 offers 30 minutes of fusion jazz.

The Mackrosoft is: Aja West, AJ Chavez, Bel Kenya MD, the Dragon Rojo, the Honorable Arigbaboo 5000, and Nairobi Smoothide, with contributions by Alex Valey, the Baba Ganoosh, Craig Florie, Daniel Gould, Darius Wilrich, Fred Wesley, Mike Clark, Nick Allison, Paul Jackson, Petur Smith, Steve Black, Steve Moore, and Tony Schloss.

Twinkling keyboards and pleasantly surging horns and sashaying percussion slide from the speaker, entrancing and captivatingly delivering sultry jazz melodies. Elastic basslines rumble underneath, while sneaky synthesizers ooze tasty electronics into the smooth-edged niches.

At other points, the hopping bass stands in the forefront, propelling the tunes, while strict horns share the spotlight. Percussion patters along in the midground, and jovial, nimble-fingered keys establish prog riffs. The mesh sounds remarkably like sparkling fusion period Miles Davis.

Chugging rhythms and charming keyboards conspire to produce bewitching tuneage, while synthesizers inject icy cleverness in between horns steeped in a smoky cafe demeanor. There's even a dose of searing guitar to complete the textbook fusion template.

These compositions are solid and engaging, the type of modern jazz that refuses to be ignored, but is insistent in a congenial and unintrusive fashion. There are an abundance of catchy hooks swimming in slithery melodies. Merging instruments generate a wondrous gestalt, while affording several solos that glisten with rewarding satisfaction.

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THE MACKROSOFT: Journey to Vaginus (CD on Mackrosoft Records)

This CD from 2003 features 31 minutes of funky jazz tunes.

This time, the Mackrosoft is: Aja West, AJ Chavez, Bel Kenya MD, the Dragon Rojo, the Honorable Arigbaboo 5000, and Nairobi Smoothide, with contributions by Alex Valey, Craig Florie, Daniel Gould, Darius Wilrich, Jason Vontver, Nick Allison, Jim Knodle, Randy Guss, Steve Moore, Steve Black, and Skerik.

This time, a funky presence has crept into the fusion jazz music which elevates the already tasty tuneage to another level. The percussives are lusher and more intricate. The keys are still progressive, but their timbre is nicely flavored with a touch more bounce. The bass rumbles away with sultry determination, often adopting a rubbery mien. The horns are excellently tainted with funk, resulting in an appealing zest that infects everything (from the music's disposition to the listener's unconscious smile).

The instruments are serving each other in pursuance of the melody. They almost coexist, so great is their comfortable synergy. Snappy riffs are supported by slick performances that shine with reflected glory. Each tangential sound serves to enhance its neighboring riff, establishing a dazzling groove whose allure is inescapable.

While the funk blends with the fusion, there's a distinct escalation of joy going in the tunes. These compositions spread exultation like a holistic virus. Epidemics like this could make doctors obsolete.

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THE MACKROSOFT: The Dawning of the Aja Aquarius (CD on Mackrosoft Records)

This release from 2005 features 34 minutes of snappy modern jazz.

This time the Mackrosoft is: Aja West, Aaron Straight, AJ Chavez, Alex Veley, Anne Montone, the Baba Ganoosh, Beck Vontver, Bel Kenya MD, the Cheebacabra, Daniel Gould, Darius Wilrich, Dragon Rojo, Heather Porcaro, Holland Greco, the Honorable Arigbaboo, Jason Vontver, Jim Knodle, Nairobi Smoothide, Nick Allison, Randy Guss, Rich Lambert, Rick Robles, Steve Black, Skerik, and Zack Price.

With this release, the Mackrosoft season their fusion jazz sound with a modern flavor. Complex percussion provides zippy rhythms as seductive congas join with traditional drums. The horns resound in a futuristic chorus, while the keyboards adopt a slippery disposition in conjunction with a display of modern effects. Synthesizers chitter and whir with energetic flurry, frequently voicing their contributions in pixyesque resonance. The basslines go for the gut with fuzzier notes.

There's a breakbeat edge lurking in the music now, bumping the fusion into urban territory with unpredictable developments guiding the bevy of instruments. While not overbearing, the energy contained in the songs is infectious and stimulating.

Voices play a role this time, not in a lyrical sense but rather providing a choir of pleasant festivity to the already rollicking songs. One track does actually feature lyrical vocals.

Needless to say, the jovial mood is undisturbed by the music's evolution. The tunes still reverberate with happy time sentiments, urging the audience to celebrate each enthusiastic riff. Meanwhile, the actual compositions flourish to excess, rewarding all in hearing. The tunes are durable and endearing.

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AJA WEST & CHEEBA: Flash & Snowball (CD on Mackrosoft Records)

This CD from 2005 offers 53 minutes of delightfully rocking jazz.

Joining West and Cheeba (who play Rhodes electric piano, clavinet, Moog Opus 3, Moog voyager, Prophet 5, Ensoniq ASR 10, Juno 60, ARP string ensemble, Yamaha organ, tenor saxophone, foot system pedal synth, octave cat, guitaret, organ, bass, melodica, and percussion) are: Nick Allison on piano, Rich Lambert on drums, Cedric Ross, Scott Koziol and Mike Porcaro on electric bass, Victor Tapia on conga, shaker and chimes, Alex Veley on Rhodes electric piano and clavinet, Gould Effect on saxophone, Steve Baker on guitar, Snakerhythms on saxophone with effects, Heather Porcaro on worm guitar and synthesizer, and Steve Moore on Wurlitzer, trombone and vibes.

Get ready for a resplendent dose of high energy modern jazz with heavy rock influences. Horns and percussion and guitar support a bevy of versatile keyboards belting out everything from classic prog riffs to slippery futuristic effects. And it's all wrapped together into a selection of tight tuneage that bristles with stimulating invigoration and sparkling enthusiasm.

The horns are sultry and passionate, generating shrill veils of glimmering resonance that probe into the listener's soul like vaporous candy. The rhythms are forceful and sinuous, achieving a tasty level of complexity that excellently propels the melodies with dynamic verve. The fusion based guitar provides fiery riffs that slide into play with delightful power. The basslines are durable and infectious, oozing through the mix like thunderous honey.

Ah, but it's the profusion of nimble-fingered keyboards that bestow this music with its true vitality. The keys act with psionic expertise, delivering exactly the right amount of hooks and sweeping chords to elevate the songs to a plateau of dazzling appeal. Each note is meticulously arranged, serving a sonic divinity that transcends the audience's personal tastes. The resulting chords chug and swoop, spreading cheer and thrills like raindrops in a congenial tempest.

The compositions are lively with a suitable touch of astral dreaminess.

For the curious among you, Flash and Snowball are the band's mascot cats. Their influence provides this music with a distinctly feline quality that will captivate even dog lovers.

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