Planet D Nonet Reviews:
(The Planet D Nonet) got an immediate emotional thumbs-up in the first eight bars of "Good Queen Bess," and not because it was a dead-on copy of a Hodges small group. Rather, Planet D Nonet knew the original thoroughly enough to be a little naughty, to make sure that each players idiosyncratic sensibility shone through. The CD isn't called Swing Goes Modern, which is a good thing -- each of those terms is so open to misreading these days -- but it feels as if Hilton Jefferson had secretly been listening to Phil Woods on his day off, as if Shorty Baker had had that third cup of coffee. This compact, hot little band is all about rocking momentum -- something they've got internally (as opposed to the ersatz "swing" some groups manifest) and about timbre -- coarse or purringly smooth. I apologize to the soloists for not praising them individually, but I was too busy enjoying the band (beautifully recorded) to care. And their "Saturn" is just as much fun. I was thoroughly sorry when this short CD was over.
Michael Steinman / Cadence: The Independent Journal of Creative Improvised Music / Summer, 2010
Recently, Planet D released two recordings, on Eastlawn Records, a label Spangler co-founded. The EPs capture the group's diverse roots. The ballads on Ballads, Blues & Beyond are so soothing you'd want to cuddle up with them. Those tunes will surely put you in a hypnotic state, but the Sun Ra ditty "Saturn" will snap you out of it, and prep you for the second album. Blowin' Away the Blues is a down-home, rip-snorting blowing session in which the horn players show off their chops, as do guests vocalists (Adams, Mario Rodriguez and Charles "Buddy" Smith) and instrumentalist guests (including saxophonists Johnny Evans and Keith Kaminski).
Charles L. Latimer / Metro Times / 2/24/2010
oving back in time, if not in space we mention here two short CDs by the Planet D Nonet, co-led by drummer RJ Spangler and trumpeter James O'Donnell. This large combo is dedicated to preserving the music of the twenties through the fifties and on these recordings several instrumentalists and singers augment the group.
The first release, Ballads, Blues & Beyond, features music by Ellington, Strayhorn, as well as the Motor City's own King Porter and Sun Ra! This is driving, exciting, unpretentious music; the solos are short and to the point and the accent is on swinging.
The second one, Blowin' Away the Blues, lives up to its name, complete with vocals by Charles "Buddy" Smith, Alberta Adams, and Mario Rodriquez. From the opening bars of the "Honneydripper" you know this is joyful party music. Both are available from www.cdbaby.com/Artist/PlanetDNonet.
By Piotr Michalowski / Southeastern Michigan Jazz Association / June, 2010