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CHRISTY DORAN'S SOUND FOUNTAIN/Belle Époque: 67 years old and still sounding like he played guitar with Zappa in the early 70s, he's as wild and wooly as ever sounding like he could influence a whole new generation of hell raisers that think guys like Steve Vai are geezers. Very much in the jazz from hell mode, this is as progressive and left leaning as a pro can make it without rolling off the rails in the name of ART. Wild stuff that's not for everyone but is a new gold standard for those that like to boldly go where no one has gone before. It's on the corner of where prog jazz meets prog rock and there's only three cats here making all this big sound.

ANNE HARTKAMP/Songs & Dances: With 20 years as a pro already under her belt, Hartkamp has seemed to always escape mass detection by checking in with projects that are done under various names and skins. A precocious tyro that's now all grown up, Hartkamp finds a métier somewhere between art chick and traditional thrush giving jazz vocal an unintentional pomo spin. One of those cats that warns you early on to always expect the unexpected, she brings her working unit back to the fore to back her and the vision and the vibe synch up delightfully. Flexing her art side as often as possible, the moody twisting and turning will ensnarl you. Check it out for a great audio jazz diversion.

SABINE KULICH & LAIA GENC/In Your Own Sweet Way: First off, I get a kick out of the visual mixed messages on the cover. The two ladies here are posed like they are aping a Labeque Sisters cover, but they play piano and sax, not two pianos. Next, the key art seems to be inspired by Roulette album jackets by way of Columbia late 50s cover shots. And the music? Amazing. These two strip the Brubeck canon down to it's Brubeck/Desmond essence without making it a slavish tribute or trying too hard to make it their own while trying to make it original. Talk about righteous use of special sauce! Brubeck is too good to be forgotten and with acolytes like this on the case, his memory will march on to nu ears in fine style. Low keyed high fire, this date is a special, sweet treat for jazzbos.

MAM/Der Weise Panda: Ok gringo, the title means the wise panda, not the white panda. Playing modern art jazz to the left of the usual ECM arty release, this nu crew has already gotten some big awards under their belt in competition where one of the judges was Klaus Doldinger---so this isn't some kind of "American Idol" baloney award. With an ear toward the kind of mix mastered art jazz you'd hear coming from San Francisco in the early 70s, the vibe and the groove are the thing. Wild stuff that gives you a well focused glimpse of tomorrow.
71171 (Jazz Thing Next Generation Vol. 63)

AFRO HAITIAN EXPERIMENTAL ORCHESTRA: Freed from all kinds of restrains, the director of the French Cultural Institute of Haiti wanted to bring the top Afrobeat drummer to the island to reunite the people who were ripped from their home land with the sounds the two places cooked up that shared a common bond. Letting true creative people create yields top results. Not wanting to make it traditionally ethnic while honoring their heritages, the musos created must hearing for the armchair traveler. Killer stuff that takes you on a wild trip, here's the proof the world is getting smaller every day. Well done.

BERNIE MORA & TANGENT/Transformation: If this record first came out just as the record business was falling apart, you be shaking your head wondering why this wasn't on a major. You can tell this isn't the product of a synthesized session loaded with session notes on how to round it off to get played on wallpaper smooth jazz stations that no longer exist, this guitar led crew play for those you that like it nice and rough. Fully loaded with jazz rock sensibilities while keeping things firmly jazzed, this hard charging date will get the blood flowing and the good times rolling with it's high octane, four on the floor, pedal to the metal energy. Solid stuff that proves jazz has a future.

SERGIO KRAKOWSKI/Passaros: Another take on Brazilian music as Krakowski mixes it with Cuban vibes and puts the tambourine front and center. Certainly an art jazz set for those that prize sitting down music with an atmospheric bent, the Sunday afternoon wine and cheese bunch will get this as soon as they crack open the shrink wrap. Mellow to the max without being ambient

TAYLOR COOK/Cook Book: Not that you don't have other things to think about, but in an idle jazzbo moment, maybe it's time to reassess what was in the back of Alfred Lion's mind. Beginning recording in 1939 as the great depression was ending, this guy's tape recorder never seemed to be on pause or off as evidenced by the stuff that's still coming out of the vaults that he deemed unreleasable at the time. In the late 50s and early 60s, he did release a bunch of groove records that never seemed to hit their sales potential but had followings that made them prized finds for a half century and counting. Sax man Cook's latest, where he repositions some previous recordings and also looks forward, feels like one of those records Lion made that now seem like it would sell enough to keep the label profitable but keep the artist ‘down on the farm'. Not that capturing the feel of those records that have lived forever is a bad thing, but in these kill or be killed times, you want to see a catlike Cook realizing his full potential. There's a boatload of Toronto's finest backing him up and this set is totally tasty throughout. Check it out.

REVEREND FREAKCHILD/Illogical Optimism: The first time we encountered the right Rev, we didn't know what to make of him but we enjoyed the trip. Now, this self styled white boy with the blues continues to turn things upside-down with more most enjoyable results. Delivering a triple cd set formatted kind of like the one Prince did for Target, this kicks off with the answer to the question of how "Imagine" would sound if performed by Lou Reed. That disc ends with a cover of "Plastic Jesus" showing this is a cat that can make anything he wants into his kind of blues as the tune takes a metal turn before it's done sounding like a 60s acid trip. Freakchild's owns the genre ‘irreverence' and he delivers it in a most delightful way that those with sticks up their butts will miss the point entirely. Too fearless to ever be self conscious, you can't go wrong getting on board with this ‘holy roller' and all his personas. Check it out.

WAYNE BERGERON/Full Circle: You have to admire the balls it takes to make an indie, spare no expense, big band record today. You also have to admire how the leader has been calling the hitters on this date ‘friends' for the last 30 years. Without denying their own big band heritages, they aren't trying out for a Tonight Show band that'll never be again but they know how to swing as well as show us how swing and brass are going to sound tomorrow. Fashion may not always favor this sound but ears that appreciate chops delivering more than electronic beats will never let it go out of style no matter how the tides of time and finance militate against it. A winner of a set old and new ears should take a swing at.

Volume 39/Number 202
May 21, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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