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MATT KANE & the Kansas City Generations Sextet/Acknowledgement: Drummer Kane couldn't wait to blow town for New York in the 90s and determined not to come back to KC and play unless he had something to say. What he eventually had to say was that he wanted to spotlight the locals that were keeping things hot around the old hitching post. Not looking to retrace old steps, he wanted to highlight what's going on in KC now. Mission accomplished. The players are all lined up to give it their all so they can get out of town too. Simply smoking contemporary jazz from players that are trying to escape area small towns. Solid mainstream jazz for listeners that want their ears perked up by something straight ahead that smokes and sizzles. Well done.

MATT PARKER TRIO/Present Time: It's the tone that grabs you right away on the sax man's second outing. Circling the wagons to only include old classmates of 20 years standing, it's too bad Parker came along around the time the major's stopped supporting creative, high octane outings like this. Playing like he has the knowledge of the history of jazz sax at his fingertips, there's no way you're not going to be taken with this polished, soulful outing that's really more of a thrill ride than any Great America roller coaster. Killer stuff.

PETE SCOBELL BAND/Walkin' a Wire: They keep telling me that 70s AOR is what passes for a lot of nu country these days and this extreme outdoors cat seems to want to prove that's true. Equally adept at picking it up as he is slowing it down, WalMart parking lots have replaced corn and wheat fields and this sound is the proof of it. Energetic as well as deep, Scobell connects with something primal in the public psyche to create something heartfelt you want to revisit frequently. Hot stuff.

TODD GRUBBS/As the Worm Turns: The super, hard rocking shredarooney goes vocal this time out with a prog rock story about what goes through a bombed out old soldier's mind. Nu territory for nu ears, for sure. With certified hard rock/prog chops powering his fingers and picks, Grubbs sends the suburbs rocking with a set that could fit into any collection of those that don't care about the mainstream. Hot genre action throughout.

ARUAN ORTIZ/Hidden Voices: A young Cuban pianist blows off the usual Latin jazz moves to show there's a progressive stuff brewing no matter where you look. More influenced by space period Miles than Tito Puente, can moving to New York be all it takes to make anyone a hipster? A smart cat with deep chops, anyone who misses the sound of the early 70s will be smiling over this nu iteration. Solid left leaning sounds for left leaning ears.

KEITH STONE/Prodigal Returns: This set shows nu even comes to Nawlins. Stone fancies himself a blues rocker but this guitar slinger can only be pegged as roots if at all. More rock than second line jazz, Stone has the playing and writing moves to come across as a consummate entertainer without giving you any feelings he's just a jive time filler. Connecting through it all with some deep southern show band roots, this is the sound of letting the night take your cares away. A solid work from a cat that knows his business and what works. Well done.

LAURA PERLMAN/Precious Moments: So what's the special sauce that sets this jazz vocal date that romps through nice chestnuts apart? The singer was a singer that became a hot shot music supervisor that was cruising through life until being stricken with MDS and being lucky enough to be a survivor after a ten year struggle. That special sauce is gratitude and appreciation. Backed by a four piece crew of serious jazzbo hitters, Perlman reconnects with a lot of her past and now you know in a nutshell why this feels different from the usual jazz vocal/cabaret outing. Quite a wonderful ear opening album.

RELICK/Twin House: An appropriate name for a young Texas crew that wants to prove that alt.90s are still around, this how alt sounded before it got co-opted by the big boys with the big bucks and added a lot of water to the mix. If there are still young, disaffected teens looking for sound, this is what they are looking for.

JORDAN SEARCY/Seasons: A southern singer/songwriter that turned in a good turn on "The Voice" shows he's in touch with his generation with a set that genre splices easily outside the normal walls of the genre. The kind of stuff that understands the ITunes, track buying generation, Searcy shows how hitting the target these days is done.

BOB THOMAS/a Cowboy's Revel: If you haven't been to Elko lately and wonder what's going on out there after Ian Tyson and Mike Murphey, this cowboy is here to open your ears to what's going in in the western world. Heartfelt stuff that shows there's still a down-home alive and well somewhere, Thomas never dips into corny genre clichés and keeps it all above board and on track. Smart cowboy action here--the serious kind.

Volume 39/Number 79
January 19, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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