AKUA DIXON/Akua's Dance: She might have moved to Rhinebeck, the unhippy side of the Hudson, but she hasn't retired or gone yupscale on us in the process. Still pushing the boundaries after more than 40 years of doing so, she switches up her cello for a baritone bass which seems to give her a new perspective and vision. Aided by Russ Malone and Ron Carter who just happened to happen by, this is more of a purely Afro centric jazz date that throws the door open for honkies to enjoy as well. Dripping with authentic soul, this is the kind of date that musos will find to be an antidote to machine inspired dreck in any genre. Certainly music for grown ups and anyone who wants to be one, breath taking is an easy way to describe this fine outing. Well done throughout.
TROUBLE KAZE/June: After a solo breath catching date, hell raiser Satoko Fujii is back to being the Yoko Ono of jazz with a date that starts out way to quietly for one of her improv dates, especially when she's taking an old group of hers to new places with new members. This is so deep into art jazz, we'll just leave it to genre fans to figure out.
LITTLE BOX OF BOSSA NOVA/VARIOUS: This threefer collection is an even bigger value than you might realize since one of the discs actually houses Joao Gilberto's first three albums. In addition to the fatly tracked Gilberto set, the other two discs are divided into Bossa Brazil and Bossa USA, all loaded with names and tunes that will make you an instant authority on the sound. Where grandpa or millennial, this is killer stuff that takes you on a well deserved audio getaway. A solid dose of stuff that turned the music world on it's ear before Beatles came along and did it again, this perennial sound of sophistication will always be at home whether the young ‘uns update it or whether the classics are rolled up and rolled out like here. A solid set throughout.
SONNY ROLLINS/Complete Blue Note, Riverside and Contemporary Collection: 8 albums recorded over 2 years, this collection might be subtitled "Sonny's Wild Years" not so much for the playing but for the fact that he didn't want to be hampered by contracts tying him to one label. Playing like one of the cooler daddios over 60 years ago this smoky, smoking set finds him in good company throughout not relying on the skronk that he would lean heavily on in later years when he came back from under the bridge. Even when he's kicking it out on rec room tunes you would otherwise consider jive, the Rollins stamp upon them confers a hipness that you would have thought only Miles could imbue. A real jazzbo delight.
CHET BAKER/Pacific Jazz Collection: Arguably the James Dean of jazz, the bad boy that still gives hipster chicks a thrill is shown here in his prime and at his hippest. As labels get bought and sold over the years, it might have become less clear that these career makers were all recorded in one place and in various configurations as the industry changed over from 10 inch records to lps, but Pacific Jazz was a ground zero for cool jazz and these daddios were the coolest. Taken out of the context of the times and the tides, these sides could exist in their own high quality pantheon for ages. Loaded with white man's soul from his native Oklahoma, this trumpet ace had good pals along with his good chops making for sounds that echo long after he's stopped. Well done throughout.
JACKIE McLEAN/Complete Albums Collection 1955-1958: A hard bopper with more renown as a sideman than a leader, one thing that you will come away from this set with is an appreciation of McLean's mastery of circular breathing which let him power his sax to a slew of unimaginable heights that led to his reputation. An important piece of too many other's jigsaw puzzles, these early Prestige sides show that his demons didn't hinder him in the limelight. The kind of daddio stuff that blows off rec room hits for solid playing as the main attraction, if this stuff, that always seems ready and ripe for rediscovery, doesn't make you into a shade wearing finger popping daddio, nothing will. A great excursion well worth taking.
TANNA/original score: Not new wave or dark wave, this score to a pic up for an Academy Award for best foreign film is the cleffer to a true, modern story set in the south Pacific about lost cultures, volcanoes and inter tribal wars. Released only digitally, this is the kind of culty score that film music fans would support when it fell deep into their hobby. There might not be anything you can hum along with here, but the next time you need a variation on "Freddy & Jason go to hell"...., well, just sayin'.
BEN MARKLEY BIG BAND/Clockwise-The Music of Cedar Walton: Walton is one of those key jazzbos that's coming closer and closer to being forgotten every day so it's extra props we toss to bandleader Markey for making this a big band date rather than a solo piano tribute. Putting back all the joyous swing that was in these tunes originally, this isn't so much a journey through the past as it is an exploration into parts unknown. With the kind of boldness that makes you stand up and cheer, I'll bet you didn't think they could blow like this in Denver where the air is so thin. Killer stuff throughout.
MICHAEL ZILBER/Originals for the Originals: In which we find the sax ace going full metal daddio playing tribute to 7 of his sax heroes with originals that have some manner of sly reference to the original daddios. A high octane, swinging set, this is sure to reach the inner recidivist daddio in any jazzbo that wants to jump on board the eternal groove to Groovesville. Snazzy stuff throughout, this is one of those dates that assures a good time will be had by all. Well done.
BERT JANSCH/Strolling Down the Highway: So much more is it our loss that the man referred to as the Jimi Hendrix of folk music, who influenced Jimmy Page, Neil Young, Eric Clapton and a few others you may have heard of, never made it to being a grand old man revered by all or to regularly revisit the heights he occasionally hit. Already hampered here by the cancer that would later claim him, Jansch gamely soldiered on in this performance well captured on two cds and in toto on DVD. With nary a "Tic Toca Tive" or "Anji" within earshot, the stubborn Scotishness born in him will out. You don't have to be a folkie to fall in love with this and even in a weakened state, Jansch could still deliver a master class in acoustic guitar. Well done throughout.
Volume 40/Number 102
February 11, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record
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