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MAEVE GILCHRIST-VIKTOR KRAUSS/Vignette: Pedigrees count. If this duo wasn't made up of two solid hitters and didn't come out on Adventure Music, it would be easy to pat this harp/bass duet on the head and send it on it's way. However, this set is reminiscent of the kind of bag breaking stuff that drove instrumental/Celtic music to new heights just as it was running the risk of getting too complacent. Playing off each other intuitively and seamlessly, these two masters of the crafts weave such a spell you can easily forget where you are and what you are doing. Smashing.

MAS QUE NADA/Sea Journey: Not all the talented jazz kids are going to school in Texas. This award winning crew from University of Western Michigan loves Brazilian jazz more than their latitude would imply and the serve it hot and smart here. With more depth than college kids should have, this is as enchanting as anything the pros have given us over the years. Unstoppable fun stuff throughout, it's sincere enough that you'd mistake it for the ‘real' thing. Hot stuff.

LARRY HAM-WOODY WIT/Presence: A little bit of tasty jazz from Texas as we find this piano/sax duo hitting the mark with some right on pals in tow. Real jazz for real ears, there's no frippery present or needed as these cats know how to swing their way along a straight ahead path and keep you riveted throughout. Well made, well done and a solid good time.

FAY CLAASSEN/Luck Child: The award winning Dutch jazz vocalist has made the album that sounds like it should have been the album Joni Mitchell should have made when she was having her flirtation with jazz well nigh 40 years ago. With a similar kind of vibe to chanteuse Mitchell, Claassen has a dandily varied set card that falls under her spell, as you will too. Putting art first and commercial considerations second, this is a well conceived set that makes itself right at home with very little effort. A comfortable set that works throughout, this sounds like it could be one of those career defining moments. Hot stuff.

REILLY: A comely miss in the Lisa Loeb mold brings a taste of that pop back to the front in a bouncy debut that shows us not everything is a bunch of beats imported from Sweden. A tasty slice, this ep has your ears open for more.

JON ZEEMAN/Blue Room: No mere white boy from the jumping ‘I got the blues/ I paid my dues" school, this guitar slinger is a fellow traveler of the Allmans and has possibly Butch Trucks last recordings on here. Not one to believe blues has to be depressing, Zeeman jumps, jives and pumps out the sounds with vigor and aplomb (while never laying a bomb,---even if he is the bomb). Highly recommended for frat boys of all ages looking for a great time.

NATHAN SPEIR/Part OF A Kindly Plan: A fearless experimenter, Speir finds ways to push the limits of ambient/new age in ways that only someone really committed to the form can do. Inspired here by some long ago read poems about tranquility and finding happiness, Speir's vision seems to say that wonderful things can come out of the quiet if you let it. Mind opening music throughout, there's no noodling here as he gets you on track early and keeps you there for the rest of the ride. A solid bet for when you need an alternative to noise by a real pro.

MICHAEL MORREALE/Vol. 1 Love and Influence: A stunning double disc of original compositions by a stalwart of Staten Island jazz that has waited a long time, toiling in the vineyards, for this moment in the sun. A masterful straight ahead set, Morreale simply is jazz. Dollars to doughnuts no one west of the Hudson has heard of many or any of the cats under the trumpeter baton here, but that certainly doesn't make them chopped liver. A sumptuous audio feast, this is clearly the kind of set musos and listeners can wait a life time to have arrive fully formed. Killer stuff.

CARL BORDEN/Breathe: And you thought John Bassette was the last of the grinning black Buddha's that didn't delve into soul music! Borden might not be a folkie, but you wouldn't expect some cat that reminds you of Cyrus Chestnut to be going new age. There's always talk of black musicians taking it to church and Borden does a lot of that here with a majestic, churchy vibe running through the keyboard work. The new inflection to the genre is a very present tonic that adds a new vector to a well traveled sonic path. If it's good for the soul, that could qualify it as soul music, right? Check it out.

ANGIE WELLS/Love & Mischief: Wow. This sounds like Nina Simone would have sounded if she just decided to swing instead of carry the weight of the world on her shoulders. With an appropriate old school set card in the tracks, Wells doesn't feel like she's going for an old school vibe so much as she is just giving a bunch of songs that resonate with her a solid work out. Jazz vocal fans that want to feel some back in the day stuff by a young modern will have their ears really perk up here. Well done.

ICELAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA/Recurrence: Sono Luminus just doesn't know when to quit---and by that we mean their presentation. This double disc set has one disc in standard audio and one disc repeating the program in every high end audio format imaginable. This stuff might be contemporary classical but it has enough old school touches in the music that whether you are into Boulez or one of the old masters, there's a full on chance you are going to stick around for the whole presentation. Definitely a futuristic presentation, modern classical music has come a long way since John Cage hit us with 4'32". By all means, open eared classical heads owe it to themselves to check out this wide ranging work.

TODD ADELMAN & Country Mile/Time Will Tell: A Colorado cat that identifies with Texas and Austin pickers goes for broke on his 6th album with a set that sounds like it could have wandered out of Luchinbach a few decades ago. With wildly veering song craft that doesn't feel the need to hue the line but does keep it together, this rootsy bunch hits the target handily and delivers a singer/songwriter roots good time with music that repeatedly hit's the target. Solid stuff that flies high even as it flies under the radar.

Volume 40/Number 153
April 3, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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