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BILLY JONES/3's a Crowd: What happens when a drummer sets out to make an album of only duets with different players joining him on each track? Well, you certainly get something intimate. A recital kind of record where the inspired drummer wants to raise the drum to a front line instrument, this is a pure, heartfelt, egghead delight. Sunday afternoons with wine and cheese were meant to have this as the soundtrack.

DAVID FRANKLIN/Songs of Potential Embrace: One of those keyboard players that inspire a spate of wannabes that muddy the waters, his music for healing is the real thing. Starting out as a drummer because he like hitting on things, this new outing shows that he learned how to channel his anger in a positive way. Not nearly a namby pamby outing, this cat that's rubbed elbows with leading instrumentalists explores his mind here to let you open and examine yours. Right in that gulf where you aren't always sure if this is regular music for good for you stuff, Franklin knows his way around making something intriguing and involving no which end of the listening spectrum you find yourself at home with. Well worth it for anyone that needs a respite from noise.

POL BELARDI'S FORCE/Creation-Evolution: All those years of Luxembourg being a tax haven probably did a lot to foster the internationally flavored creativity of cats like Belardi. With a sound and feel of leading edge New York jazz from a time well before he was born, the 27 year old bass player brings the majesty that was in that music back to the front with a deftness that makes you miss what Stanley Clarke and those cats were doing back in the day. Not made for people looking for nostalgia, this is well crafted work that carries on in the tradition adventurous jazzbos were chasing in the post post-bop years. Well done.

CHRISTOPH BECK QUARTET/Reflections: No longer a trope for new age album titles, this grad of the German Youth Jazz Orchestra grabs it while stepping out under his own banner and shows he knows what a sax can do and how to handle it. A solid new voice with a distinct tone, Beck leads his crew through a dandy set of swinging stuff that swings it's way around the jazz horn docking place far from where it started out. Often on the sly side, this date rolls out like some easy moving jazz but the undertow has a mind of it's own. Quite the solid debut from a player that's here to stay and will surely make his mark. Well done.
71183 (Jazzthing Next Generation vol. 67)

JASON RIGBY Detroit-Cleveland Trio/One: It might be from the heart of the Midwest but the leading edge sax man makes it sound like progressive modern big apple scrapple on his debut as a trio leader after several other farther ranging projects. Straight from the loft to you, this is the kind of skillful racket that shows the players aren't just stirring it up because their trust fund controlling poppas are saying they have to do something or get a real job. Powered by loads of freewheeling jazz improv, all this sax blowing is more than just a lot of wind and blowing smoke. Hot stuff for ears that like it hot, heavy and left leaning.

DANIEL HUMAIR/Seasoning: The latest in the label's series of showing some love to old timers that might not have gotten their due, at least intentionally, focuses on a swinging drummer that has done more than just keep time all these years. A cat that has so much artistry dripping out of him that he uses it in other disciples as well, the guy that has played with everyone in jazz for the last several decades shows how to give back after watching it from the back of the riser all this time. Smart stuff that plays well and doesn't indulge in ‘look ma, no hands' preciousness, this is the work of a pro showing you what he's all about. Tasty in it's left leaning way, this is a fine master class for any rising jazzbo that wants to experience what it's really all about.

MACY BLACKMAN & THE MIGHTY FINES/Shoorah Shoorah: If you're mindlessly flipping through listings on Amazon, you might make the mistake of thinking this is a Celtic record if you don't look too closely. Surprise, it's a four on the floor tribute to Allen Toussaint by a crew that obviously loved him. A note perfect set that goes back to a time an place when he was the force behind Irma Thomas. This right on set delivers such a set of goods that the feast set for you here is unbelievable. Capturing the spirit of Nawlins throughout, this goody is a knock out punch right between the eyes. A real dose of funky soul that's good for the soul, it's a must for any R&B fan or those that should be.

BLUES IMAGE/Timeless: The cat behind "Ride Captain Ride" and "In a Gadda da Vida" comes back with a victory lap record that shows the sum of him keeping at it all these years. Backed with Pat Travers and Jonathan Cain as opposed to cheesy electronics, future generations that have kept this music alive will be rewarded here with a set that you can play in the car without the kids being embarrassed by your taste. Quite the fun journey through the past taken in real time.

JULIA FORDHAM/Language of Love: Here's an album you won't really know what to do with. One of the 90s duchesses of down mouth has reinvented herself as a cocktail jazz chanteuse doing a set of covers millenials will look at as nostalgia. A diva for the age of deconstruction? All the right moves are in all the right places but there's a gift shop vibe to it that just doesn't feel right, perhaps due to the baggage that hides in the shadows. As Steve Allen would have said, this could be the start of something big. Time will tell.

JEANNIE TANNER/Words & Music: As anyone trying to make a living in jazz in Chicago will tell you, once you venture past the usual suspect rooms, the places to play where you can't even earn McDonald's money are either closing or cutting back. Undaunted, it's taken two years for Tanner to pull it together but pull it together she has with this love letter to the Chicago jazz community and the people that support it. A double discer of original material in which she cast each song for a different local jazz vocalist, the writing, playing and performing are so on point that this set deserves to be much, much more than just a local keepsake. It's needs a ground swell to make it a national treasure and focus some love back on Chicago jazz rather than just focus on hardware stores closing that were doing something for the tradition. Killer stuff that's must hearing for anyone looking for something new and different that doesn't stray from tradition. Well done throughout.

NEW TRIUMPH/Keep on Push'n: A nifty modern jazz mash up that takes it cues from "Peaches en Regalia" and proceeds to mix in smooth jazz, funk, afrobeat and others jazzy idioms. Propelled by rising stars from Seattle banding together to really make a statement in force, this crafty set is just made for kicking back and letting it's good vibes flow over you. Tasty stuff by guys that want to get the party started and keep it going, it's really nice these days when that's the music's only message. Well done.

Volume 40/Number 151
April 1, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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