FRED FRIED/Core Four & More: You can almost hear Wes Montgomery playing stuff like this in the club after it closed and he didn't feel like going home because he would just have to turn around and go to his day job. Real solid after hours stuff played on Fried's 8 string guitar, this is music that you just have to say feels right. This is a jazz guitar trio that simply and solidly knows which end is up. A winner throughout.
CAFÉ CON BAGELS
ISMAEL EAST CARLO/Provocateur: Back in the 50s, there was a spate of poetry/jazz and art jazz recordings. That vibe has now come around to Latin music. The vocalist doesn't rap so much as he tells stories and the Afro Latin jazzbos behind him keep things percolating. A left field set that's not for everybody, it has a raw, realness that grabs your attention even as it resides outside the mainstream. Kind of like you found a club you'd like to go to in a neighborhood that scares you off, this trip to the far side of the margins is certainly an unexpected kind of new kick for the armchair traveler. Check it out.
ERNIE WATTS QUARTET/Wheel of Time: It's always a fine time when Watts brings his sax to a recording studio, even if he has to go all the way to Germany to do it. The kind of cat that still deserves his slot at a major label, he knows how to run his own session and plays like he enjoys the freedom of being able to wail with no one looking over his shoulder and give him session notes. With a crew that's been together for 15 years, the lights are low and the post bop grooves are swinging nicely. Solidly tasty work from a real pro, this is the real sound of contemporary jazz. Hot stuff.
MATT CRISCUOLO/The Dialogue: Time for a little excursion to Mars with a hard blowing free jazzer that honed his chops in the back of Sal's Pizzeria as opposed to in the church basement. Honking and skronking with the best of them, this isn't pots and pans music but heat of the moment improv with the fire turned up. A solid bet for those with left leaning tastes that edge almost into egghead territory, if you were writing this on April Fools Day, you'd be tempted to nickname him Jack the Riffer. Oops, guess I did.
APPAH KENYATTA/Joy & Love: Sax man George Dudley picks an Indian/African alias that translates to Father Music but he's really an old hippie that has managed to be unreconstructed since everyone cut their hair and become coke head stock brokers down at the disco. With a sound and vibe that sounds like the kids that didn't want to go commercial and sign to Columbia after Clive kicked Mitch Miller in the pants and took over a&r after singing Janis, this set sounds like it just stepped out of a coffeehouse in a fringe neighborhood where it was mashing things up long before anyone cooked up that term. Play this instead of worrying about your underwater mortgage so you can be happy and not worry. This is the craziest stuff I've heard since micro indies gave up the ghost. Check it out.
DAVE FLIPPO TRIO/Life on Mars: Ok moldy figs, listen up. This jazz piano trio got their start in an upscale Chicago suburb restaurant playing dinner music when they got a request for some Hendrix. And thus the career pivot was started. This is one of those sets when the crew expertly finds the jazz in all those pop rock songs you hate by musicians you hate as well. Trust me, you're going to wind up liking this in spite of yourself. In an environment where you have to lead by your own example, these youngsters are slyly blazing their own trail in which they originalize something not generally familiar to jazzbo ears. A really smoking set throughout.
JIM CULLUM JAZZ BAND/Porgy & Bess Live: Here's a wild little treat that could only exist in today's wild west record business environment. This is a 1992 recording of a live full performance of Porgy & Bess with the cat that originated the role of Porgy opposite Leontyne Price in the 50s doing the narration. Doing the playing is who would go on to form the core of Arbors all star crew. Songs that were cut from the original are included and the leader of this all says playing this was the high light of his 50 year career. He plays like that's an understatement. This two disc production isn't for deep Gershwin fans only as it really gives you the flavor of what was going on in Catfish Row. Easily the kind of note perfect, authentic recording you'd expect from a label like PS Classics, fans and appreciators of classic everything will give this an easy three cheers. Killer stuff.
PROFESSOR CUNNINGHAM & HIS OLD SCHOOL/Rhythm Method: When we first encountered Cunningham, we just plain thought this cat was too good to be true. Since relocating to New York from Australia, he's worn several different guises but his affinity for the swing dance community in New York really seems to bring out something extra special (as opposed to merely special) in him. Writing most of the tracks as opposed to relying on what's already out there, the original swing tracks shine but he really blows your mind with "Joshua Fit the Battle at Jericho" which has never been played like this. Unabashed high energy fun, this set simply shows anyone who thinks they're a swinger which end is up. Killer stuff throughout.
ROCCO JOHN QUARTET/Embrace the Change: A saxman that studied under the watchful eyes of some serious hell raisers, he picks up the baton and you can tell this is someone serious about his Sun Ra and didn't just eat a bunch of BYG records for breakfast one day. Way out in left field, you can tell this is a hark back to the 70 when jazzbos were trying to expand their minds and connect with the universe, progressive tastes will enjoy this well.
MATT LAVELLE'S 12 HOUSES/Solidarity: Wow is someone doing a tribute to "Escalator Over the Hill" to kick off the celebrations for Carla Bley's 80th birthday? The cornet player leads his big band off on some space explorations that feel sincere at the core as opposed to some ruse to grab some arts council money. If space is your place, this is the rocket to ride to get there.
Volume 39/Number 152
April 1, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record
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