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TOM LELLIS/The Flow: Since nobody in this business gets any respect any more, it's rings hollow to say that male jazz vocalists don't get the respect they deserve when they do it right. This long time all star reunites with his Brazilian buddy of long standing and they simply hit it out of the park with this career high water mark that could easily become the new gold standard for urbane music. Easily turning any ear buds into a cool cocktail lounge, this is one lounge lizard that ought to give lessons. Well done.

DEBBIE BOND/Enjoy the Right: A white girl with some deep Alabama blues running through her bloodstream kicks out the jams for album four at Muscle Shoals and clearly enjoys the ride. You might be tempted to make easy comparisons about her sound but what she really sounds like is an opera singer hanging out on the wrong side of the tracks to get some kicks. Clearly a sound steeped in all night juke joints, you don't have to be Janis or Bonnie to let the world know you gots da blooz. Fun stuff.

SUGAR BLUE/Voyage: A different kind of set than you might expect from the Chicago mainstay whose harmonica had so much on the ball that he was hired by Rolling Stones and stayed on for several tours. The harmonica is front and center but vocals are there too making this a kind of soulful, smooth jazz set that hits several right notes and blends them together nicely. Everyone on board is here to play and everything fits together nicely offering just the right emotional rescue from these turbulent times. Well done.

MYLES WRIGHT/The LA ep: There's only three songs here, but this hard working big band leader took the time to record them right, have Bernie Grundman master it and shoot the accompanying dvd for blu ray. And the music smokes. Contemporary big band played by the crème of LA sessions, the only knock here is that it's too short. He's laboring in the vineyards now but a big break is imminent because he's not sitting around waiting for it to happen, he's out working every day to make it happen. Well done.

MARCOS VARELA/San Ygnacio: A rising, young bass player that you are going to be hearing more from makes such an auspicious debut that he draw praise from Ron Carter. Graduating from the musically fertile ground of Houston's High School for the Performing & Visual Arts and heading out to New York where he rubbed shoulder with the greats, several of which make up his band here, this musical sponge sopped it all up and threw generous helpings of his own special sauce in to the mix. A buoyant, dazzling date, this is contemporary jazz at it's most right on. Well done.

PRAM TRIO/Saga Thirteen: Fresh off of winning a top shelf Canadian jazz award, this modern jazz piano trio puts left leaning touches into the classic format making them very much the kind of trio you wan to hear more from. Sitting down jazz that you don't have to be either an egghead or a hipster to enjoy, they know how to cruise right down the middle but make stops at the coolest out of the way places. A dandy ear opener that reintroduces you to the joy of listening---and not just for back ground music. Well done.

RATATET/Arctic: Wearing their eclectic ness on their sleeves, so much so that Paul McCandless is invited to sit in , this nu jazz crew whose leader has worked with a range of acts from Cirque Du Soleil to Geoff Keezer, pushes the envelope but not in such a way that you can't hear bits and pieces of all the left leaning and progressive sounds that have given rise to this crew. Just like Oregon proved to be the upstarts who came to stay, Ratatet is a delight for younger, open eared listeners that don't mid having the door to something new opened for them. Check it out.

ARTHUR VINT & Associates/Through the Badlands: A different kind of drummer with a different kind of jazz, Vint is as influenced by jamband as he is jazz classic...and country...and heartland rock and on and on. A zesty mix of musical exploration that doesn't roll off the rails by a gang of pros that can read each other's minds, this might be the sound you move on to as you outgrow jamband. A swirling delight of sounds, this set is a solid bet for the open eared that are looking to the future. Check it out.

SWAY JAH VU/In the Company of Wolves: This alt.reggae crew isn't your father's reggae. The art work looks like Mike Hurley's stoned wolves after they sold their start up to clueless investors. The name is killer. The sound is the sound of tomorrow as this Florida crew brings globalization to Fern Gully. Right on stuff from right now people, especially if they want some message in their music.

OSCAR, WITH LOVE/various: Oh my word, the riches that flow from the bytes of this three cd set paying tribute to the late Oscar Peterson on his 90th birthday by his wife! With previously unrecorded songs from his pen, tracks by some of the most august peerages in jazz piano and an overall good vibe that blows your mind, anyone who ever thought they were putting Peterson down by saying he was too commercial just has to eat those words. The dude could play! This set wouldn't be possible if he couldn't. Played and recorded in Peterson's home studio on his grand piano, the track list reads like a multi generational honor roll of piano jazz and make no mistake, they are here to play. Whether an old fan or just curious, there's no way not to wind up treasuring this treasury. Killer stuff throughout from everyone on board. And Peterson had and long and deep enough career that this threefer could only be the tip of this ice berg.

Volume 39/Number 131
March 11, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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