ANDREW McANSH/Illustrations: A mixture of Zen, music and tipping the cap to Kenny Wheeler, this trumpeter can go from a whisper to a tempest in 0 to 60 without missing a beat. Fronting for the non-raucous side of free jazz, his take on zen isn't all namby pamby all the time. Wide open jazz for wide open ears, this well schooled Canadian session cat learned the basics before he took off for parts unknown looking for the freedom it brings. Wild stuff for those looking for a wild ride.
ALCHEMY SOUND PROJECT/Further Explorations: Residing comfortably in the jazz/classical groove, this set takes you from chamber to big band and back again as it's five piece crew each bring something unique to the table. Certainly a fine session of Sunday afternoon, sitting down jazz, this is a warm place to alight and let the world go by. Solid stuff that has a real off the clock feel that the stressed out type A might try to learn to enjoy---for the good of us all. Well done.
CYNTHIA HART/I Remember: A reformed southern rocker from the glory days of southern rock softens her stance, goes new age and does it in a credible way as she takes you on a trip to Earth to get you back in touch. Using her pop/rock chops to steer this session to new places, this is a mighty fine chick album for overscheduled moms to play after dropping off their over scheduled kids at soccer lesions on the way picking up another kid from piano lessons. What's it all about Alfie, chill out and use this as your gateway drug.
GEOFF HALL/Understanding the Signs: Boy, is this kid a step ahead. Inspired by the modern soundtrack masters, Hall intuitively knows that if you can break into the studio system at all, they are going to make you make your bones in the under funded indie division where the music has to be part of the story. Hall has crafted a perfect, narrative soundtrack in search of a character driven story. Having it all hang together as a statement on it's own like he was a student of Mancini, Hall knows who he is and with stuff like this as his debut, we're looking forward to seeing his name in credit crawls soon. Check it out.
RIPPINGTONS/True Stories: 30 years out from setting sales records at JEM/Passport, the Rippingtons still travel on, adding to their sound with the sights and sounds they've absorbed along the way serving it up in fine style. With world wide ambiences mashed into the jazz grooves, ax man Russ Freeman's ears are as fresh as his fingers remain nimble making this smooth jazz with an edge and bite that remains welcome long after marketers have decided the sound has worn out it's radio welcome. This isn't a look back, it's a welcome look forward to a new era. Hot stuff that shows the fat lady hasn't sung yet.
MAGNET ANIMALS/Butterfly Killer: Riding along the jazz from hell axis, this bunch of creative malcontents joined four piece forces to craft a non linear set that sounds like the sound track for a drug trip. Always moving forward, even if you aren't sure where to, this set is a sure fire pit stop for the young and restless that have moved on from oontz oontz music and are looking for something deeper.
CHAT NOIR/Nine Thoughts for One Word: When you mix some Art of Noise with some "Walk on the Wild Side" and mix contemporary electronics into the ambient/front and center mix, you get just the soundtrack the modern Fellini is looking for to use in his next pic. Clearly left of center stuff for the artsy jazz fan, this wild ride might be an express train ride with no stops---or is it? Well off the beaten path.
JD ALLEN/Americana: Allen does it again. On a set of mostly originals, played in stripped down fashion by his trio, he captures the spirit of Americana through a blues/soul prism that your average folk fan wouldn't recognize but might well just appreciate. With an off kilter zest that captures the black version of Americana, this is a hard hitting as civil rights jazz and as raw as an exposed nerve. Hot stuff that has eruptive creativity powering it from it's core to it's blazing conclusion. Hot stuff.
ROBERTA PIKET/One for Marian-Celebrating Marian McPartland: La McPartland was quite the nifty composer but after having spent so much time as the doyen of NPR, that was a side of her piano talents that got lost in the crest of time's waves. Piano woman Piket and her jazz pals that play her charts so well, aim to rectify that by tipping the cap to McPartland's neglected canon. With a lot of neat off the clock moves laid down here by conspirators on both sides of the studio glass, the rough edges were probably rounded off before tape began to roll and this set captures the 1950s spirit that was likely imbued throughout. Tasty wonderful stuff no matter where and how it came from, this is a gold standard set of jazzbo jazz.
WHALING CITY SOUND
MONIKA HERZIG/Whole World in Her Hands: My bad. We see enough records through here by women of a certain age, having a midlife crisis smitten with the show biz bug and dating a lawyer or financier who can painlessly throw a few bucks at a recording project to keep her from bitching to his wife..... Herzig might deceptively have that look but she ain't that gal. An educator, author, writer, player, leader etc etc etc, this piano women is not only the whole package on paper, she's delivers in the bytes as well. A groovy, swinging, straight ahead piano jazz date loaded with names you'll know if she's as new to you as she is to me, Herzig might make her way through some familiar ground but she's no mere recycler. A solid date from start to finish, she's clearly a piano jazzbo you need to wrap your ears around. Hot stuff.
Volume 39/Number 208
May 27, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record
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