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MARK FOX QUARTET/Three Octaves Above the Sun: One of those sax men that's been at it forever and done it with everyone makes one for himself that finds his head back in the 60s/70s period when pushing the boundaries was mandatory if you wanted to make a record with a major label following fashion. Some players took the creative dictate seriously and made stuff that never stood a chance but had an after life that went well beyond personnel changes at the label that would doom the session to vault limbo. Sounding very much like something they should have been doing at Impulse in the early 70s, Creed Taylor might have moved on but the Coltrane legacy didn't an could have profited from a set like this in the merchandise mix. A welcome tonic for the open eared, this is smoking stuff that takes it to the limit. Well done throughout and sure to amaze you at every turn.

LUNA 13/Dark Side of the Sun: Goth is alive and well in LA as this duo takes it to the next level of the game mixing sinister sounds with all kinds of sonic accoutrements to keep even the most jaded teen in thrall to hear what's coming next. Industrial mayhem tailor made to annoy parents and be a soundtrack for the designer drug du jour, this sonic thrill ride is an au currant sound of suburban rebellion just waiting to be unwrapped by those who already have their devil horns in tow.

ERIN HILL/Harp Town: Hill is one of those musos that loves her work so much that it isn't work and doesn't sound like work. A harp player that can play anything (and was Dave Chappelle's "Pretty White Girl" as well) and sings like an angel serves up a pretty heavily loaded alt.program with none of the malcontent overtones. A busman's holiday of a record that's purely her's as opposed to new age etc., the joy of simplicity from the soul shines through making this one of the great left of center treats of the year. Well done.

CORRADO RUSTICI/Aham: A progressive guitarist with chops and sensibilities that fall somewhere between Kevin Kastning and Bernie Krause, Rustici takes his guitar somewhere else (Kastning) and makes all the sounds himself with just his ax, no matter what the sounds are (Krause). And he leaves no fingerprints other than his own along the way. Mixing jazz, progressive, rock and fusion into one killer gumbo, Rustici doesn't go for the shredder pyrotechnics but delivers a fairly hefty dose of them just the same. Simply killer stuff that'll blow your ears wide open.

MIKE SMITH/Always You and Me: There's no Dutchman in this cat's song stack. With a vitae as varied as he is, this friend to rappers and rockers alike is rocking out of Nashville these days with the kind of stuff that used to be AOR when there was still AOR--albeit with a lite countryish slant. The kind of music that makes you wave your hands in the air at outdoor festivals, Smith taps into the zeitgeist here with some one the money shots that hit the target.

LEFTERIS KORDIS/Mediterrana: Back when there was a time when jazz and new age were sharing a slash, such as in jazz/new age, they were making wide ranging sets like this with great regularity. It's nice to hear a well done set in that bag once again. Tossing world into the mix, this is an example of the kind of adult music that came into vogue as a rebellion by boomers against hair cut bands that were ruling the air waves. Skillfully and delicately woven together, this is the kind of stuff that helps you shake off the stress and let your mind fall into something better. Tasty work who's originality is it's calling card, this is that new sound jazz/world/new age fans have been looking for. Check it out.

CATHERINE RUSSELL/Harlem on My Mind: Oh, who doesn't like Grammy winning Russell? A true daughter of jazz that was born with chops gifted from both parents, if Audra McDonald peaked your curiosity about history with her Billie Holiday show, Russell's latest will blow your mind. Tasting and feeling like a cabaret show unto itself, Russell takes the A train and gets off around Sugar Hill bringing you along on a trip to back in the day Harlem, kind of like in the "Cotton Club' movie. An oldies set delivered from deep in the soul, Russell owns these tunes and brings them back on the pop culture radar in mighty fashion. A killer set with first class jazzbos backing her up, this is a trip that goes forward to the past that can't be beat. Yep, killer stuff throughout.

MICHAEL J. MILES/A-Sides: This guy has played around the world in some serious company and yet he still feels like Chicago best kept secret. Pushing aside his banjo chops on this outing to show us what he can do on guitar, he defies all expectations by putting out what should be a gift shop record and turning things on their heads. Covering pop hits from the 20s through the 70s, no matter how hoary the track, Miles finds music in it you never heard or anticipated and serves it on a nicely polished silver platter. Utterly killer stuff from one of the leading light of contemporary instrumental music and a winner throughout. He didn't even need to hire a ringer like Darol Anger to make this set stand out from the pack.

RICH HALLEY 5/Outlier: The hell raising sax man in the finest stripe of the tradition appropriately calls his new set "Outlier", but it's his friendliest record in a long time---even if it recalls early Carla Bley JCOA sessions. Free jazz toned down a step to welcome nascent jazzbo ears often intimidated by way out sounds, this is probably still pretty much a bunch of outlier sounds for most, but for those that like exploration, this pro hits it out of the park and clears the fence. Wild stuff that never runs off the rails, this is how you push the limits without being pretentious or precious. Well done.

TONY FOSTER/Project Paradiso: A tribute to Morricone and Mancini, this is not to be confused with the Mancini project of many years ago that found him moving in this direction. A jazz piano date with a set card loaded with can't miss material, Foster steps up to the plate and acquits his vision throughout. Not hokey, lounge piano Mancini, this cat opens your ears to joys you might not be finding on your play lists and drives the point home by finishing off with a dandy "Pink Panther" version. Solid stuff throughout jazz piano fans as well as film music fans will flip for.

Volume 39/Number 260
July 19, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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