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NAOMI MOON SIEGEL/Shoebox View: In which we find another example of crowd funding being the new a&r. A trombonist in Seattle, Siegel has a world view and a wider range of influences and inspirations than the typical jazzbo. Seemingly like a melding of left field influences, she actually takes the best and leaves the rest really not caring if she's being pulled to the left, right or center. A progressive jazz date, but not in the usual ways you'd ascribe to progressive, this is a fine example of nu jazz for nu ears. Check it out.

RICKY RODRIGUEZ GROUP/Looking Beyond: This cat is one of those heartwarming success stories. Already an all star bass player in Puerto Rico, he was implored to come stateside by Branford Marsalis. Seemingly from the time he stepped of the plane, his chops made good fortune rain down on him. Now serving up some left leaning jazz that you wouldn't totally expect from the list of mentors and playmates on his resume, this stuff finds him following in the footsteps of Ellington writing for specific musos and turning in a set you often forget is a bassman's holiday. A wonderful time for the open eared.

MAKU SOUNDSYSTEM/Mezcla: Powered by Columbian immigrants living in New York, this bunch gleefully genre blends everything it can think of from south of the equator into a wild non-stop party that will have the dumbest, fattest white guy on the dance floor tearing it up with anything but the white guy dance. Mind blowingly high octane, our Columbian friends have taken the lead in crafting a one world mash up that makes borders as irrelevant as they are if you look at Earth from space. If exercise beats hypertension, high cholesterol and all that bad stuff, all you have to do is listen to this once a day and just by sitting in your chair, you'll get all the work out you need. Killer stuff.

MIKE BOGLE TRIO/Live at Stoney's: And this is one of those records that just hits you between the eyes and really leaves you with nothing to say or add. Killer straight ahead, swinging jazz piano trio work, Bogle blazes and his like minded pals are right in step, keeping up throughout. Leading toward covers from some of jazz's august composers across generations that haven't been too well worn, even if you are familiar with the cuts, you've never heard them like this. Then there's his originals which fall right in line as well. Simply killer stuff throughout with all the fury of a roller coaster ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat that just might find you clapping along with the live audience.

JOANNA BROUK/Hearing Music: You just never know what those hipsters are going to unearth next. A minimalist composer who learned her trade in the 70s under Terry Riley and others, the ambient/new age etc minimalisms that were only known to true believers who circulated her cassettes during her two decades of doing this 30 years ago are now the latest in de rigueur hipster finds. With a charming but twee touch, she's much closer to Eno than a bored housewife packing up her keyboards and heading to Barnes & Noble for some attention on a Friday night. One of those sets you aren't really sure where to place, in today's world, this set feels like it would be oddly proud to be called and used as background music. So it goes in the musical underbelly. This set is a double discer with Numero's usual attention to detail

JANE IRA BLOOM/Early Americans: Bloom's been playing at the top of her game for quite a while and once again, she finds a way to make that top rise a little higher. With the kind of accomplished chops that let her make an artistic album without it being art jazz or wallow in pretension, this set finds her leading a trio of leaders that have been working with her for years with everyone in step on this musical mission. Ending with a solo sax trip on "Somewhere", Bloom reaffirms her status as a reigning champ that it's going to take an awful lot to dethrone. This set only needs a high sign from me if your ears somehow haven't been introduced to her yet. Killer stuff.

RAE FITZGERALD/Popular Songs for Wholesome Families: Fitzgerald's songs won't lead you to suicide but they do turn 180 degrees from relentlessly cheery platitude music and beats. Songs you really have to listen to in order to hear the hope hiding at the end of the despair, totally a thinking person's kind of record. Perfect stuff to play on your phone when there's a power failure and you are wondering why? about the big issues in your life. First rate uneasy music for uneasy times.

AL GROMER KHAN/Chakra Noir: The relentlessly interesting Khan does not make ragas and meditation music appropriate for your dentist's office. He's more like a Hemingway working with strings instead of a typewriter crafting dense, multi layered sonic vignettes that jostle, provoke and create an environment where something pulling you forward keeps leading you on. Assured music aimed directly at the center of your mind, this is what you listen to if your commitment to self awareness goes deeper than buying a new pair of yoga pants. Well done.

JOHN WILLIAMS/The Guitarist-The Complete Columbia Album Collection: There's a lot of great guitarists out there and in most cases, whoever you think is the best is kind of subjective. At some point it becomes a matter of what genre and style you prefer, but over all, once these guitarists get to a certain level, ranking them gets silly. Until you come to Williams. If you wanted to play Two Degrees of Separation from Segovia, you would draw a line from Segovia to Bream to Williams---and game over. From the time his father saw something in him 65 years ago through now, Williams has never been able to deliver less than amazing. Even though it's not fully represented in this collection, he's done stellar movie work (like the other John Williams) excelled at fusion, shined on the obligatory crossover albums and played a Les Paul to show he's not above it all. What we have here is 59 discs evidencing a life well lived and a career that's hard to match. While Segovia might be the gold standard, Williams is a product of our ears, times and technologies so even his oldest material doesn't have the dated feeling too may Segovia recordings unfortunately have these days. Called the prince of the guitar by the master himself, here's a handful of proof Williams is second to none. Non stop killer stuff that will stand for years.

DEVA PRIMAL & MITEN with MANOSE/Cosmic Connections Live: All of a sudden, the internet has been making a big deal out of Enya making her seem like a rich broad with agoraphobia. Primal and company show what happens when you take mysterious music out on the road. A long time practitioner of a different kind of world fusion that is based in India chants and moves on to arcane corners of the musical spectrum from there, this is healing music at it's core and it feels like it does it's job in righteous fashion. Chant music presented with some commercial smarts, this stuff is a solid gateway drug for non believers that need to take a chill pill but are looking for alternatives. A genre high water mark kind of set.

Volume 39/Number 181
April 30, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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