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ANGEL FORREST/Angel's 11: A Canadian blues belting national treasure wanted to do something different so she crafted a set that would have her facing off with 11 of her fave, smoking guitarists. Subtle moves to be sure because when you've got it, you've got it, but the mix of flavors here is spunky enough to be heard. With 20 years of blues belting under her belt, it's nice to see she still has enough fire in the belly to keep pushing boundaries and keeping it fresh. Well done.

DAPHNA LEVY/Late Night Journey: She might put her own stamp on the beginning and end of the song stack, but in between, this Israeli jazz vocalist sticks to the classics and chestnuts and breathes a new life with her own special sauce into the proceedings. Coming from a long line of cantors, I can't say if they approve of her mixing it up with the night people but it's clear from her sound she understands them well. A solid set throughout sent right down the middle for jazz vocal fans that even has Lew Tabackin board as well.

JEFF CHAZ/Sounds Like the Blues to Me: Coming with his first record in a decade, this Nawlins blues shredding fixture shows he knows what audiences like. A straight ahead, high octane attack, this cat isn't about the frills but he delivers the energy. The kind of stuff you really go nuts for on a night out, Chaz knows how to entertain as well as play and he's firmly in the local tradition of letting the good times roll. Check it out.

DANNY GREEN TRIO/Altered Narratives: Everything here seems appropriate. Recorded for Origin's ‘after hours' label with production vet Matt Pierson at the helm, this jazz piano trio date seems like the perfect after hours set. Recorded with that after hours, there's no one in the studio but us, vibe this is the perfect classic feeling date that simply has to dust on it. A killer listening set, it's a real joy and time well spent. Killer stuff throughout everyone on board can be proud of.

RAUL AGRAZ/Between Brothers: This swinging trumpet player might have started out with the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra but a move to New York that let him kick it out with the best of Latin jazz has given him the impetus to lead his own big band. He starts this set off with such a powerful kick in the head you never recover, you just say ‘huh?'. Wild, wicked and wonderful, you know Tito Puente is smiling down on this session---and he was a drummer. A simply killer date that brings the party that carries on until dawn. Caliente stuff throughout.

SCOTT REEVES JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Portraits and Places: A flugelhorn player that has earned his spurs as an arranger and conductor while laboring in the vineyards for a long time for cats as disparate as Dave Liebman and Bob Brookmeyer, he knows his jazz and thanks those long gone for the music that inspired him as well as those still around that taught him. Not nearly a kid and playing like an adult, this is sitting down big band listening music that'll have you bobbing your head and tapping your foot but you'll basically be riveted to your chair. Jaw dropping stuff throughout from a cat that needs to step out front more often.

STEVEN CASPER & Cowboy Angst/I Feel Like I've Got Snakes in My Head: A great good time record for those who don't mind a little homage and tribute here and there. A pop culture sponge, Casper and his session ace pals bring back all the stuff they love; Morricone, surf guitar, sinister sounding stuff, and put it though a delightful mash up spin cycle. Playing like they need to, this bunch brings back the joy of kicking out the jams in fine style.

ROGER DAVIDSON/Live at Caffe Vivaldi Vol. 3: The kind of jazz pianist you want at your wedding as well as at your fave piano bar, Davidson started recording at the top of his game and he's raised the bar a few times since then. Here we find the impeccable player playing solo on a program of Brazilian tunes that are his originals. What's there to say except that this is a gasser and that the people gathered in this Greenwich Village coffee house don't know how lucky they are to have all this grandeur just right around the corner? Well done throughout.

REX CADWALLADER/A Balm in Gilead: Can free jazz and spirituals mix it up and play nicely together? Good question. If we have to listen to much more election year blather, civil rights energy might just come roaring back and this will find a home in progressive and left leaning church basements everywhere. It's the launch of a new sub-genre and we don't know what to tell you other than everyone in the studio knows what they are doing.

DARCY MALONE & the Tangle/Still Life: When you're from Nawlins and your daddy is Dave Malone, it should be natural to step up to the mic and rock out, hot chili style. A dandy, driving rocker, there's no expectation baggage carried along here, just Nawlins rock for nu ears with a lot of pent up energy that needs to be spent. This date hit's the party bulls eye.

Volume 39/Number 132
March 12, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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