CHICAGO JAZZ PHILHARMONIC CHAMBER ENSEMBLE/Havana Blue: Orbert Davis can be commercial when he wants to but he loves art and he knows how to give it the kind of commercial smarts it needs not to be arts council music. A dazzling throwback to 50s international jazz, Davis went to Cuba to uncover Afro Cuban roots for a project meant to be a score for a dance recital. The results go way deeper than that and are breath taking. A work that words like masterpiece don't fully describe, this is simply the kind of date real music lovers that want something with real meat on the bone will devour. This is the kind of work that gets you remembered for the ages. Killer stuff throughout.
FRESU-GALLIANO-LUNDGREN/Mare Nostrum II: 250 concerts and 7 years later, this trio finally graces us with their second album. High achievers indeed,, this bunch has taken art/sitting down jazz to new heights with nary a self indulgent lick in the bunch. Best called ‘beautiful instrumental music', jazzbos, classical, instrumnetalbos and every other kind of bo will find something here to call their own and defend their turf over. Most certainly well played and well crafted music for grown ups, this is a throwback to how it once was when music was a tent that welcomed all. Hot stuff.
NILS LANDGREN with Janis Siegel/Some Other Time: Whoa! A tribute to Lenny Bernstein with focus on lyrics by Sondheim, Comden & Green! Tell me this isn't in Siegel's wheelhouse giving her an opportunity to shine like she hasn't had in years. Quintessential American music that had to come from Germany with a Swede at the helm---go figure. Simply a killer adult music date that never has a dusty or good for you feel to it, this is a perfect example of slow burning, high heat that was made to last. Killer stuff throughout that honors the music without casting slavish devotion to it giving it a joyful originality to keep it alive for years.
LITTLE CHARLIE & Organ Grinder Swing: Ditching the Nightcats, Little Charlie, a guitar slinger, finally gets the chance to make the organ trio album he's always wanted to make. So on point that it almost hurts, this crew acts like they invented hot the way they serve it up here. After several failed attempts to get an album like this out, it shows that patience and perseverance pays off in the record biz. A smoking set that'll make you hit the repeat button more times than you can imagine, this is how the second act of a career is kicked off the right way. Killer stuff.
CHERYL FISHER/Quietly There: Picking songs that are well known but not well worn, jazz singer Fisher does a reversal on the usual jazz diva route by making a quiet album of songs you think you know as opposed to giving Cole Porter more over exposure. With composers that rank well above chopped liver represented here, this is a quiet album for quiet times when you want to shut most of the world out. Sexy without trying, this is the real deal for jazz vocal fans that want to have an experience. Well done.
COREY CHRISTIANSEN/Factory Girl: Christiansen continues to carry his folk jazz guitar into Americana realms with an experimental edge, this time around drawing out praise from Andy Summers who thinks Christiansen is now kicking Duane Allman's ass, where ever it might be. Refashioning a boatload of traditional tunes told from the female Americana perspective, it's like they say, if you haven't heard it before, it's new to you. Having more in common with Ramsey Lewis' 50s sides than Ry Cooder's vision of Americana from back when, this set is an ear opener, even if experimental isn't your guitar religion. Tasty, stuff that really lets you bite into and ponder the possibilities. Well done.
JOEL MILLER with Sienna Dahlen/Dream Cassette: Nothing like winning a Juno for jazz sax to make you change directions to keep from repeating your self. Teaming up with a lyricist, Miller turns his attention to left of center sunshine pop that manages to meld his interests into a heady brew that shows the apple might not have fallen far from the tree, but it has rolled away a bit. An engaging set that takes dream pop into world jazz realms and letting it simmer to craft a new taste treat. Existing in a time zone all of it's own, thirsty ears will find a cool drink of water here. Check it out.
JOONSAM/a Door: The young, South Korean bass players that's been parked in NYC when not globe trotting or over achieving, takes it downtown for a trio date that wholly original. With augmentation from other well known downtowners, this is typical of the kind of muscular, angular jazz that New York is known for, but in essence, there's nothing typical about it. Hard charging stuff that lets everyone have some like this is a long time working band, it's fresh perspective is a breath of fresh air. Solid work that really goes the distance. Check it out.
DAN CRAY/Outside In: Piano jazz inspired by a year of hanging out in Big Sur and it's environs, it's no wonder all those 50s jazzbos liked hanging around San Francisco. Playing with a wide openness that's new to his artillery, Cray's added colors and textures bring his New York vibe somewhere else indeed. Tasty, laid back sitting down jazz, Cray is on a roll. Well done.
SAMMY EUBANKS/Sugar Me: This Pacific Northwest blues rock staple comes across here like a country blues rocking populist Hank Jr for the Sturgis set. Hard hitting stuff loaded with electric white boy blues that delivers like a freight train, Eubanks knows his way around a roadhouse and transfers those smarts to record in fine style. Top shelf stuff that'll have you coming back for more. Well done.
Volume 39/Number 221
June 10, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record
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