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JACOB MERLIN/Alchemy of Soul: Nutty frat boy fun that genre bends so many different sounds you canít quite put your finger on what it is you are hearing at any given moment. With a mix of Memphis and Nawlins running over a patina of soul show band, Merlin has a big dose of Preservation Hall mixed into his personal soul but itís simmered with a whole lot of other stuff to keep this on the far side of old timey. Grab a PBR and the good times flow.

DAVID LEONHARDT TRIO/Bach to the Blues: Thereís a good chance youíve heard this cat at least once in the last 38 years, not realizing it as he played in the background. Last time out, he was showing his playful, jazz side. This time around, he does what he calls serious as he rolls out some jazz improvs on well worn classical pieces. Not in the same bag as the 50s/John Lewis styled jazz into classics when jazz was on a crusade to be respectable, this is jazzed up classics after hours style. The trio here is working to keep each other on their toes and make each other smile. Itís contagious. Fun stuff thatís a first class diversion from the mainstream without falling too far a field.

JOHN WORT HANNAM/Queenís Hotel: Who knows whatís bubbling under the surface. Wort Hannam quit his job after hearing a Loudon Wainwright album and becoming driven to be a folk singer. Not a bad start. Since then, thereís been no looking back as it seems like every time he opens his mouth he gets nominated for or wins an award. The album kicks off with the kind of riff that just tells you this is going to be a top notch folk album and the riff is right again. This top flight Canuck folk singer needs to get south of the border a little more. His sound has been honed by loads of live performances and it must be something special if this set is an indication. Hot stuff throughout.

TIMUCIN SAHIN QUARTET/Bafa: Despite the Turkish name and the Italian album title, this is not world jazz. Coming to New York by way of Holland from Turkey, Sahin is right in the free jazz thick of things as he might be an ax man but he composes for an Ornette Coleman comeback, and we donít mean smooth jazz style. Polyrhymic with a rockerís core, this is certainly for the left leaning, sitting down jazz fan that appreciates a good amphetamine rush along the way.

MARK MOULTRUP/Dar Cho: A prime slice of sitting down jazz for people with jimmy legs. With a cerebral approach peppered with high energy moves, the fingers are flying with odd time signatures and progressive moves that eventually come back to jump but certainly take their time getting there. A cat that knows his stuff, this is his first set in years and it certainly will be welcomed by progressive ears.

MICHAEL ON FIRE/The Artist, The Dreamer, The Lover, The Fool: Old school troubadour that will either enchant you or drive you nuts. If you are into the old school troubadour thing, this Dylanesque singer/songwriter will take you back to back in the day when there were actually quite a few great cats toiling in coffeehouse obscurity while Bobby the D was out crashing motorcycles. Damn shame the typical folk bar only seats 100, which is about right for the style today because Michaelís the kind of guy that could really pack them in.

UNDERSEA POEM: Trippy music for 2010 hippies. The core couple of the Mosquitoes have broken away from the pack to chase the sun and make impressionistic music about their travels through sun dappled days on the surf. With half the group being from Rio in the first place, the laconic vibe comes naturally and thatís why it works. The other half of the crew is form Philly and thatís why you get these Chicago/Hall & Oates underpinnings making you wonder if anyone really knows what time it as or if they canít go for that. As chill moves into the bliss, this is the new touchstone of what contemporary easy listening is all about. Martin Denny can only be genuflected to for so long.

TRIO WEST/Plays Holiday Songs V. 2: Why does this jazz piano trio stay under the radar? Theyíve been amusing us for several years now. Their last holiday collection grabbed enough attention that they are going back to the well for another round. Simply put, if you are looking for that jazz Christmas set that has the standards all tied up in a bow but delivered with a different sauce, this is the place to look no further. On point in a mainstream way in fine style, the holiday season is now official.

Volume 33/Number 6
November 6, 2009
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
©2009 Midwest Record

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