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BOB HOLZ/Visions & Friends: The chops and connections going on here speak volumes even before the music begins to play. Once the sounds take off, you know this drummer is keeping fusion alive and has the skills to bring the cats the wrote the book on board. Even if this could be mistaken for cocktail jazz, the depth of playing here goes way beyond that. Tasty jazz to play for your friends that think they don't get it or like it, this set is sure to bring new ears into the tent. Hot stuff.

ARTHUR LIPNER/Two Hands, One Heart: A double discer from a jazzbo that likes banging on things with a few of his good friends who just happen to be some of the most in demand jazzbo swinging their respective axes. With his good vibes leading the way, Lipner takes a trip through the back pages of the first 25 years of his career (that his optimistic lingo) and let's things flow as the undoubtedly will roll into the next 25 years. A tasty palette cleanser of a date, sit back, sample and enjoy---this is the mental and sonic oasis you've been looking for. Hot stuff throughout.

RICK MALSICK/Midwest Midwinter Blues: Malsick is one of those savvy cats that you have to let him have his head---and that's why we approach this Christmas record that isn't with curiosity as opposed to skepticism. Letting the ‘serious' side of his friendly grandpa voice lead the way on these songs that spring from a place where you nearest neighbor is ten miles away, you get a real feel for dealing with seasonal affective disorder and trying to make the best of it. No matter what he serves up, it's more than clear that this Winfield champion has more than earned his crown and is just too hip to ever let us down. A winner throughout.

SPENCER MYER/William Bolcom Piano Rags: Scott Joplin might have been the first name in piano rags, but he certainly wasn't the last. Bolcom reinvigorated the form in the later 20th century around the time "The Entertainer" sparked new interest. Like the nu tango masters, Bolcom built on the form as oppsoed to encase it in amber. Bolcom is nostalgia to Myer, a brilliant pianist that knows to how hold the center stage spotlight on his own quite well. Revisiting rags that hold the spirit of Joplin but were taken to the next level of the game, a walk down Myer's memory lane is quite a memorable one indeed. A subtle but deeply reaching set that is not to be ignored. Well done.

ALEXANDRE MOUTOUZKINE/Piano Music of Cuba: Whether tackling classical repertoire or not, this Russian pianist takes a dive into the deep end of Cuban classical piano works by composers generally residing off the beaten path. A solo set by a player that needs no augmentation, for those not in the know, this set, taken as a whole, sounds like a diverse recital with sure hands on the wheel. A player for many pleasant Sunday afternoons to come, this set is a real, unexpected treat that tickles the ears with jus the right touch. Well done throughout.

GABOR FARKAS/Liszt Opera and Song for Solo Piano: Ol' Frankie (not blue eyes), gets an able, new champion in the hands of Farkas as he knows how to find the drama, tension and release in Liszt via Liszt's arrangements of works for other august composers. One of those dead solid perfect records, it's a wealth of riches for the classical fan here as Farkas has the smarts to give you an excursion into the familiar pointing out places you've never fully heard before. Quite the dazzling interpretation.

PINOCCHIO: Kids today wouldn't get the significance of Bugs Bunny sticking his head down a lion's throat 80 years ago and hollering "Pinocchio" but at the time, it was one master tipping his hat to another. With every new technology upgrade, we get an upgrade to the Disney classics. Pinocchio now makes it's entry into the Disney Signature Collection and all attendant fanfare is earned and deserved. Popping bigger and brighter and louder than ever before, the animation and the songs will endear and endure themselves to a new generation that will pass this fantastic voyage on to the next generation in due course, wiping away a tear they don't want their kids to see. What a great time and great way to remind you wish upon a star as a classic becomes more classical.

TALKING STICKS: Mallet master Arthur Lipner isn't content just to let you sit back and listen to his jazzbo antics, he wants you to see and know what it's all about as well.
A top flight documentary that takes you to the music and beyond, you get to know the musicians, the music, the places it comes from, how it's made and more. The promise of narrow casting and niche productions are fulfilled here to the mix. If you've got an interest in banging on things, take a hot second to sit back and ponder this documentary.

Volume 40/Number 84
January 24, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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