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LAUREN WHITE/Out of the Past-Jazz & Noir: Producer Mark Winkler puts his money where his mouth is inviting vocalist White to kick out the jams on his label in a project kind of close to his heart. Forsaking the beach jazz he's been doing so well with for the last few years under his own name, he occupies the producer chair to have White kick it out on classic film noir songs. Not laboring to be a dame or a thrush, White stamps the vocals as her own while remaining true to the spirit of the tunes and the flicks they came from. A delightful out of the ordinary date that finds the sweet spot for the time and place that really only exists in the back of your mind. Well done.

JOE SYRIAN'S MOTOR CITY JAZZ OCTET/Sanctuary: When is a band not a band? When it's made up of a rotating crew of players that varies from time to time with the only constant being that it's made up of some of the best current and contemporary local Detroit jazzbos. Letting the good vibes flow on a bunch of tunes pros can jam seamlessly on, the special guests here are just icing on the cake. Giving it an old school smooth jazz veneer, this bunch is hanging out and having a good time just for the hell of it. Solid stuff throughout.

MARK MURPHY/Live in Athens, Greece: A late period date from Murphy recorded in 2008. He might have been just a few steps from heading into assisted living but he was still showing the chops that got him the love from cognoscenti just a few years earlier after a career full of artistic highlights. Moving and grooving with a local crew powering him forward, you aren't going to hear jazz vocals like this again anytime soon so it can't hurt to hear these now. Smoking stuff from a cat that had it right up to the end.

STACY SULLIVAN/Stranger in a Dream: One thing is certain above all else--anytime you have a chance to hear jazz piano great Jon Weber, take it. Weber shares the intimate spotlight here with Sullivan, a solid vocalist that is leading the way for the next generation of cabaret singers. This project is an homage to Marian McPartland, the jazzbo/radio hostess Weber got to know well after his move to New York. The simpatico the two artists muster by themselves a wonderful tribute to McPartland even if you don't understand the architecture of the release. With the two fine talents melding as one, vocal fans have a sterling romp through the oldies song bag that is sure to tickle their ears with just the right feather and is loaded with enough individuality to separate this from the works of the usual pack of jazz divas.. Well done.

DICK OATTS-MATS HOLMQUIST NEW YORK JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Tribute to Herbie + 1: Now that Herbie Hancock is well into his AARP years, it perfectly time to let the well honed chops of top New York players show the love to Hancock's influential and iconic tunes from the 60s. Smartly played throughout and full of the infectious grooves that makes "Cantaloupe Island" and "Watermelon Man" perennial staples that never wear out their welcomes, this is almost a throw back to when jazzbos played jazz. Heady and well played, this is easily a welcome look over the shoulder. Well done.

MAARJA NUUT/Une Meeles: An Estonian fiddler takes traditional tunes and filters them through modern electronics for a head trip, ambient record that has more in line with being a soundtrack for smoking opium than it does delving into folklore. Proof the boundaries are being pushed all over the world.

WALTER SIMONSEN'S TRUMPETOLOGY/This is Trumpetology: You have to love it when a muso tackles something the know it alls say is commercially ‘out of fashion' just because they love it and the playing shows. If you love listening to brass, this bunch loves playing it for you. Easily equal to anything Stan Kenton had up his sleeve when he was raising the bar, this band of trumpets doesn't believe in limiting themselves making their inventions and improvs all that much tastier. It's utterly cool the way this brass bunch fearlessly displays a load of brass. Check it out.

JOE MULHOLLAND TRIO/Runaway Train: Ah, the joys of discovering an educator that doesn't feel the need to be too pedant or clever for the room. A Boston jazz mainstay that leads a double life as a professor at Berklee, he seems like the kind of teacher that doesn't fill the kids heads with stuff they need to forget when they go out in the world. A lovely, easy going jazz piano trio date, Mulholland shakes off the chalk board dust with a classic, swinging sound genre blending in a bunch of sounds that keep the date one step ahead without letting it get out of reach. Sweet stuff for when you need some tunes to kick back with, this date of mostly originals impresses throughout. A fine set from all involved.

JULIO BOTTI/Sax to Tango: The Latin Grammy winning combo of Botti & Pablo Ziegler are back with another hard hitting date that takes classic tango to new places and will probably bring home the gold once again. With the University of Southern Denmark Symphony Orchestra (?) behind him, Botti gives you a new take on well worn Piazzolla tunes with the orchestra practically giving it a Stravinsky framing. Jazz and classical elements have always been present in tango but they seem to be recombined in a whole new way here. Even moldy fig tango enthusiasts will dig it. By all means, check it out.

HECTOR MARTIGNON'S BANDA GRANDE/Big Band Theory: Big band is alive and well even if it has to improvise financial elements on the fly. The kind of music that economics is turning into a labor of love, this record is full of love and seemingly no labor, no matter how much the players are giving it their all---it never seems labored. Sweet, smoky stuff heavy on welcome originals that work, this crew continues to defy all odds letting nothing stand in the way of music full of good vibes. This set simply smokes and delivers the good to all adult ears that have left teen pop long in the rear view mirror. Killer stuff.

Volume 39/Number 177
April 26, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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