JEFF COLLINS/Keys to Christmas: A piano cat that loves Christmas takes a wildly diverse set of holiday chestnuts and roasts them his way, all without vocals. Making it a bold, swinging time of year, he does a fine job of letting his fingers do the talking making this a wonderful addition to your holiday music stack. Turning old faves into new faves, this is smart work that mixes chops, inspiration and craft into a heady brew with dazzling results. Hot stuff.
LEE KONITZ-KENNY WHEELER QUARTET/Olden Times: A reissue of an album you never heard because it was deemed as not being able to stand up to a similar ECM recording from the same time, 16 years later, all we can say is better late than never. Jazzbos that were no spring chickens when this was recorded showed what it was to play for the joy of playing for an audience that was there to dig. Any claimed audio deficiencies seem to have been righted and there's nothing to stand in your way of finally getting a chance to show up at one of those you had to be there evenings. Real music for real musos, it's easy to hear why Konitz thinks this was one of the best recordings he's taken part of in his long fruitful career. Hot stuff from cool cats.
JARRY SINGLA/Mumbai Project: This is more than just an ethnic record that falls somewhere between the trips Zappa and McLaughlin took to the subcontinent. Singla is a German-Indian living in Germany with dual citizenship looking at the realities of today and how it effects almost everything. Taking the opportunity to cook up a double discer that's part ethnic record/part not, it wasn't so outrageously upbeat and high spirited, you could mistake this for a contemporary classical date. Global music has taken it to the next level of the game on this ambitious outing that's sure to make you drop your jaw and shout "Shiva H. Vishnu!". Killer stuff that'll set the open eared on their ears, as well as rocking back on their heels.
SUGAR HILL TRIO/The Drive: The youthful energy of young jazzbos trying to recapture the free jazz groove on classic tunes recorded basically in a pair of sessions---just like the old days. Bristling with vigor, these four cats hit hard and take you right back to the smoky basement club where after hours never ends. Smoky stuff that just drips hipster---in a good way.
KEN SCHAPHORST BIG BAND/How to Say Goodbye: A busman's holiday labor of love, this big band, which has roots going back some 30 years in these grooves, serves it up righteously and classically as Schaphorst bids farewell to some of his mentors that are no longer with us. With everyone clearly playing their hearts out on this set of heart felt originals, this is pure big band without the schmaltz that just plain tickles the ear in such delightful ways. Any horn fan that likes it right down the middle is going to go nuts for this. Hot stuff.
JONNY ZYWICIEL/Onward & Upward: The young popster takes shoe gaze in a new direction seeing a how he has enough going on in his life to the good that he should shine a positive light on things, even when going through youthful heartbreak etc. The sound of sensitive dorm rooms that don't echo with the sound of head bang, he's been there and he's there for ya, bruh.
CAROL LIEBOWITZ-NICKY LYONS/First Set: The sax piano duo take you on an art/jazz trip that's geared toward in the moment improv fans. With credits that are beyond reproach, this is more than pots and pans music, tailor made for eggheads to enjoy on Sunday afternoons.
WILL BONNESS/Halcyon: A smart piano man that takes it back to the Oscar Peterson era jazz clubs, he's got a set of world wise chops that have served him well on his ventures between here and there. Taking his time to step out once again, this album following his last by five years, shows him to have the heart of a real jazzbo, probably with a piano players hump to match. Smart stuff any jazz piano fan will dig, he needs to step out as a leader more often if hot stuff like this is going to result. Well done.
YEVGENY KUTIK/Words Fail: Imbuing the music with the sadness that only a Russian can muster, the violinist brings his perfect touch to the bow and delivers the goods with new takes on war horse classics that become at once familiar and different. A lovingly crafted recital geared toward the real music lover, Kutik doesn't disappoint showing just how much fire can be packed into something so low key and deceptively simple. Well done.
FRANK KIMBROUGH/Solstice: In which we find the beloved New York improv piano man turning 60 and getting in touch with his inner George Winston as he and some pals turn their attention to the turning of the seasons. Not all that much of an impressionistic date, it's a mellow date that makes you wan to put some cider k cups in the old Keurig and watch the leaves fall as the wind blows. As tasty as the hot cider treat, this is what happens when you let uber capable hands do the driving. Who'd have ever thought you could hear hell raisers like Carla Bley, Maria Schneider, Annette Peacock and Andrew Hill ever played like this? Well done.
Volume 39/Number 360
October 28, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record
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