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WALTER KEMP 3oh!/Dark Continent: A progressive jazzbo with a sense of humor as well as a sense of purpose, Kemp can deliver a left leaning/civil rights flavored jazz date that doesn't alienate anyone since he realizes we're all in this together. A little fusion, a little 60s and a lot of good vibes that brings everyone together in the tent this piano cat delivers anything but the expected piano trio date. Tasty stuff that opens the ears nicely, this is a cat that puts the music before everything else and his devotion to craft shows. A winner throughout.

THIERRY MAILLARD TRIO/Ethnic Sounds: The piano man with an affinity for strings can call this anything he wants, but more appropriate than "Ethnic Sounds" would have been "West Side Story Period Leonard Bernstein Taken to the Next Level". This doesn't sound like "West Side Story" but it has the same vibe and scope. At home with an orchestra behind him, the former tyro still hasn't given up his boundary pushing ways and he has the chops not to sound like a former angry, young man that hasn't given up the ghost while looking for act two. Certainly a big, old beautiful date that just keeps moving and grooving like it's the most natural thing in the world. Killer stuff throughout.

JESSY J/California Christmas: When you're among the front line of today's saxy ladies, just because you make an indie record doesn't mean it has to sound like an indie record. Plenty of top jazzbos are just a speed dial away, and they will take your call. With her first holiday record now under her belt, J chose to keep it easy and real. Loaded with holiday standards given a gently rolling California vibe that's Latin accented but accessible to all, this is a tasty change of pace for the standard holiday fare. Charming and timeless enough to take it's eventual place as a holiday classic, you'll certainly enjoy this around the holiday fireplace. Well done throughout.

MOUTIN FACTORY QUINTET/Deep: When the Moutin brothers finally got around to adding their old piano pal Pilc to plunk the ivories, combustion took flight. The kind of deep Euro jazz that carries over into the realm of first class instrumental music, this piano trio, with other pals on board as well, create killer listening music that is fully wrought into a complete sonic statement where pros roam freely and appreciate the chance to do so. The kind of date that doesn't come around often, grab it while it's here and hot. You've really got to hear it to believe it.

ROGER HOOVER/Pastures: Coming from Ohio, Hoover doesn't naturally have that Texas troubadour thing going for him, but you can tell he's been a apt student of the Texas crew as well as the best of the singer/songwriters and that's what passes for an apprenticeship these days. Not going the manqué/homage route, you can tell he's absorbed and learned his lessons and uses them to shape his future. If you're looking for a new take on the classic, personal singer/songwriter set where you feel like you know the cat when the music is done, this cat captures that lightening in this bottle. Well done.

OBAKE/Draugr: For fans of zombie music from hell, this sonic attack of noise before all else is just what they were looking for. Death metal through a Zappaesque filter, even he wasn't thinking this far ahead when he was talking about jazz from hell. So there.

BEEKMAN/Vol. 02: The international modern jazz crew that came together in Brooklyn finds the spot to merge downtown with Euro for a left leaning jazz date that doesn't like to define itself with boundaries. Knowing how to reach the young and malcontented, this could easily become a hipster soundtrack (and it deserves to be so much more) since it has the feel of 50s new wave cinema soundtrack to it. A wild ride for the left leaning that don't like their jazz too easy.

SUGAR RAY & the Bluetones/Seeing is Believing: Band my ass, everyone on board here is a leader in their own right. That's why each of their new releases is greeted with an avalanche of award nominations---they manage to play like a band. A passel with white boys with the blues, they sound like they would have been followers of Mike Bloomfield's if his bad habits weren't scarier than Paul Butterfield's. Raw, wild and wooly deep stuff that sounds like it was birthed in the back room of a smoky juke joint after hours, please keep in mind most of the tunes here are band generated originals with Sugar Ray hogging the pen and paper. As serious as a widow maker heart attack, you know Muddy is asking where a bunch of white boys learned this. Hot.

SOFT PYRAMIDS/Planes: The second time out finds this Boston crew tackling the weighty issues of really having to grow up, the first real time. Recorded on the fly as opposed to the plotted out debut, this is jangly, groove pop for the young and the restless coming to the realization that it isn't all keg parties anymore.

NICK SANDERS & LOGAN STROSAHL/Janus: The continuing partnership of these two cats that met in college turns it's attention into giving their piano/sax treatment to centuries worth of melodies. Looking forward and backward at the same time, hence the title, these two show they know the traditional of muscular, angular improv jazz and serve it righteously for the eggheads that admire it. Well played stuff for deep thinkers, these cats have their finger on the pulse of the Euro jazz/classical tradition quite tightly.

Volume 39/Number 344
October 12, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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