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AL COHN & ZOOT SIMS/Two Funky People 1952-61: Except for some limitations inherent in the recording process such as it was 65 years ago, the music on this four-fer set sounds as fresh and crisp as something recorded in recent years. A pair of stellar sax players that struck a musical bond that lasted over 35 years ended when they died a few years apart, these sides are culled from a long series of dates that found them tearing it up with some of the greats of the post big band era and lighting sparks where ever they went. Whether recording as a proper duo or under the banner of one or the other as leader, the sound is unmistakable and is the bedrock of daddio sounds from the modern era. Plenty of honk with none of the skronk, this collection is purely saxsational from start to finish and must hearing for any mainstream groover that wants to dig some of the hottest cool playing extant. Check it out.

DAVID G SMITH/First Love: Falling somewhere in that gulf between folk, 3A and Americana, this under the radar pro that has enough outside action to keep him going continues to function like a novelist blossoming in obscurity by turning out one killer track after another that might not fit into the ever narrowing dictates of radio but fitting well into the space between your ears. Playing like a private concert on your back porch, this set is warm and inviting, even at it most down hearted moments. A killer collection that's just want that meaty songwriting fans wants to shake hands with. Check it out.

DAN WILKINS ENSEMBLE/Jnana Vijnana: This bunch of up and coming New York jazzbos takes inspiration from past jazzbos as they stop and reflect on eastern kinds of mind sets and comes forth with something more than chamber jazz. Not egghead stuff, this is easy going stuff that goes to the right of smooth jazz almost making itself thinking man's jazz. Perfect stuff for sitting down and enjoying, it's easy to listen to but there's nothing easy about it. Proof the new generation is lining up to take it's place in queue. Solid work that'll grab your ear.

THE HAIKU PROJECT/Glimpses: If you are unfamiliar with their work in the past, the title can be misleading. HP is a Danish piano man that does most of the heavy lifting himself making gently rolling compositions that have a little augmentation in the background. Great music for use in healing arts or for simply relaxing to, this cat knows how to make the most of less-is-more and let's your mind fill in any of the white space it wants to---or not. Solid stuff enjoyable in it's deceptive simplicity, this set works best when you just sit back and let it wash over you. Solid stuff for the genre.

JOHNNY SUMMERS/When it's Christmas Time: Leading off with a Christmas track that feels inspired by "Mysterious Mose", this Canuck jazzbo knows that when winter comes around, you better heat things up pretty quickly---and that's what he does. The tunes are mostly well known, the energy he brings a welcome addition. If you're looking to jazz up your Christmas, this is the first stop to make as he's right in the classic jazzbo pocket and a gasser throughout. Hot stuff.

JOHNNY SUMMERS/Piano Sessions V. 2: A swinging jazz vocalist that sings Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael and doesn't try to ape Sinatra? During Frank's centennial? That's news by itself. Proudly striking out to claim his own territory, Summers advances the art here in a sure footed way that makes a a good time for listener and singer. Solid stuff that hits all the right notes as engineered by a passel of pros throughout, this is one ride you're a fool not to enjoy. Well done.

TAKENOBU/Reversal: The new paradigm strikes again. A classically trained cellist, Ogawa tuned his ear away from the classics and into another realm. Releasing a critically acclaimed set that didn't pay the bills, he was ready to give up until Pandora went on the record giving him the exposure and bucks to pursue his way to this, his fifth recording. A genre mash up that takes eastern sounds, classical vibes, rock attitude and more outlier elements all in at once, this bag defying set is a real tonic for tired adult ears. New age? Classical? Chamber? Left leaning jazz? How about all of the above and more. Contemporary adult instrumental music has a new champion that takes it's ground on it's own term. Killer stuff.

CHAKA KHAN/One Classic Night Live Concert Series: Much like Aretha Franklin can, the first lady of funk can revisit her up to 40 year old roots without losing a step competing with her younger self with ease. A big buoyant, jubilant live greatest hits set of tunes that are pretty well baked into contemporary musical DNA, the hits are served hot and without reservation or hesitation. Even better than a trip down memory lane or a victory lap, this is a sparkling moment showing the crown is still shining. Packaged with a DVD of the show in a twofer.

PROFESSOR LOUIE & THE CROWMATIX/Music from Hurley Mountain: They say you should write about what you know and here we have this august ensemble surveying their neighborhood, an area with pretty rich loam to dig in. Leading off with the good professor's unmistakable accordion riffing, a high water mark classic Americana date begins to unfold with wild twists and turns that feel inspired by the roads around there after dark. Killer stuff throughout, after years of winning albums, the band really hits it out of the park with their definitive statement here. Well done.

Volume 39/Number 37
December 7, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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