MONTREUX/Sign Language: Looking back now, the funny thing about 80s era Windham Hill was that it seems to have been run like a yummy Mexican restaurant. It looks like there's a lot of stuff on the menu but it's really just a few things reconstituted in a variety of ways. Same thing here, it feels like everything was just a variation of sorts on configurations of Marshall/Higbie/Anger adding different colorations, additives and new players the label hoped to break as needed. And we were all the better for it because that core of players smoked. Pretty much the album that turned the commercial corner for the label, this contemporary instrumental date wears it's 30 years well as still sounds as fresh and smart as ever. If you missed this the first time around and today's product parade is too bland for your ears, check out this antidote to then popular hair cut bands and see if you don't feel as inspired as your parents were. Killer stuff for the ages.
KIRSTEN EDKINS/Art & Soul: The geeky pics on the inside of this album jacket prove Edkins isn't kidding when she says she wasn't your typical SoCal gal in her teen years. Already bitten with the jazz bug, we're glad to hear she didn't waste her time perfecting her skin cancer. At a young age, she's already proven herself as a saxy lady for loads of contemporary jazz greats sending Candy Dulfer a clear signal not to spend too much time looking in her rear view mirror to see who is catching up with her. With Bob Sheppard in the producers chair and several of his jazz/fusion hitter pals on the player's side of the glass, Edkins serves up an accomplished debut that's light years beyond being fuzak cocktail jazz but never loses it's populist touch. Killer stuff that almost feels too good to be true, this is the first step in what's sure to be a mighty career. Hot stuff throughout!
NICOLE GLOVER/First Record: Inspired by the words of Wayne Shorter when he told her she has to be a leader, Glover has embarked on a career as a saxy lady that plays with authority and gives her the dexterity to play with solid jazzbos or open for Funkadelic. With a solid resume that doesn't need to be embellished with ‘inspired by' filler, Glover is a straight up, straight ahead jazzbo that shows her respect for tradition but isn't afraid to blow up a storm that can be heard on Mars at the same time. If you like it hot and wild, this is the next sonic stop on your tour of new releases. Killer stuff that just doesn't quit.
CARRIE WICKS/Maybe: Ever wonder who was the mook that decided shoe gaze was a good thing for a genre? Probably some mook who grew up in a house where jazz thrushes singing about how much life sucked was the soundtrack for the story of his life. Wicks does the thrush/cabaret thing without a touch of the tortured artist effect that goes with the genre all too often. Adding her own special sauce to the mix by doing some snappy writing as well, Wicks has no problem with getting interior and personal but even when life isn't going right, she doesn't drag you down an open manhole with her. Easy swinging jazz vocal for those who thought the genre would have to rely on oldies but goodies hereafter and could enjoy the tonic. Check it out.
JEFF JENKINS ORGANIZATION/The Arrival: Long time Houston Person piano man fools the boss by showing off what he can do on B3 surprising the bandleader with his chops. If Person is impressed, that says it all for me, but listening to the playing says even more. A classic jazz organ date, Jenkins plays without restraint but with lots of focus at the same time. A must have for jazz organ fans, this is solid stuff that smokes throughout. Well done.
GEOF BRADFIELD QUINTET/Our Roots: Transplanted sax jazzbo reminds all that his adopted home of sweet home Chicago is the home of transplanted blues. Along with a crack crew of local jazzbos, Bradfield finds the jazz in Leadbelly tunes much like Clifford Jordan did back when the earth was cooling except Bradfield is his own man here. Free form and passionate, these traditional tunes are like no version you've heard of them before. Hot stuff for the left leaning jazzbos, this is a wild ride that really turns picking cotton and rotting in jail on it's head.
EMMA LARSSON/Sing To the Sky: She might have moved from Sweden to New York just a handful of years ago but she transplanted her Euro winning ways to the big apple in fine form and serves up the kind of date that serves as an invitation to see her as many nights as possible in whatever venue she's bringing her jazz vocal chops to. The kind of stuff that was made to pack jazz rooms regularly, Larsson swings and swings like a native and knows what it is to deliver a gasser. Hot stuff.
ON THE BOL
HOT JAZZ JUMPERS/Very Next Thing: Sure, anyone can serve up 20s and 30s hot jazz nostalgia but can they do it in a way that makes you forget the stuff you enjoyed in the past? This unruly mob led by guitarist Nick Russo often sounds like everyone isn't on the same page but it's more joyful noise than cacophony---much more. Whether raucous or reigned in, this bunch of pros has no problem with mixing Libby Cotton with Luis Bonfa with spirituals and calling it all hot jazz. An ambitious gasser that also includes a DVD in the package, this is one dead solid perfect adult good time that has so much on the ball it takes repeated listenings to take it all in. A high water mark of a good time throughout.
MIKE HOLOBER/Balancing Act: A big band mainstay decides to return to small group work with a bunch of fellow travelers that have never been in the same room at the same time. Sounding like New York art jazz, this is more Sunday afternoon than smoky club. With Kate McGarry's vocals being purposed as another instrument, the lyrics never get in the way and really do feel like just another element in the panorama. Well executed arty stuff.
KINGLY T/Life in the City: A Kingston cat inspired the by the 70s reggae bands that Island signed but never really pushed even if they seemed deserving of some love, this isn't a throwback but a respect release that takes it back to the day but does it in the now. Passionate and sounding like the power to run the studio was borrowed from a local lamp pole, it's hard not to be irie with this skanking in the background. Solid stuff for reggae fans that really want to keep it real.
DAVE WILSON QUARTET/There Never Was: Poaching Dave Liebman's crew for a hot second, Wilson shows his chops as an improviser that likes to free form it and blow up a real racket. Purely in the pocket for those who fancy themselves fans of classic New York jazz no matter where they live, if the producers added some white noise to simulate an intimate club and added some jerk periodically yelling "yeah", you wouldn't know this wasn't a live recording where the band was inspired by the audience's energy. A real hot time in the old town tonight. Check it out.
Volume 38/Number 352
October 17, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record
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