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PAT BATTSTONE & ANTONELLA CHIONNA/Voice of Robert Desnos: Mad art chick stuff as the American piano players finds an Italian voice that knows how to deliver the moody stuff behind the writing of the avant poet on parade here. A piano/voice date that was custom made for arts council cheese and wine slurpers on Sunday afternoons, this pair reaches back into the past to allow you to be a modern beatnik.

BANGTOWER/With N With Out: I feel like James Brown calling out Maceo..."I see you hanging out back there, Percy Jones". Inspired by space, funded by pledgemusic, Neil Citron takes a new take on guitar driven, prog/space rock in this set that's anchored just right for prog guitar fans to celebrate. A nice genre fast ball right down the middle, this is the stuff that hits the spot. Well and smartly done.

3DIVAS: The indefatigable Sherrie Maricle is at it again as she finds another way to line extend the original Diva/5 Play concept with a trio who's name plays on 3D and Diva but plays for keeps as well. A wonderfully swinging trio that adds loads of special sauce to a wide range of oldies and takes stuff like "Sunshine on My Shoulder" and "The Beat Goes On' so far out of context that you don't mind hearing them again, you don't mind not hearing them like they were originally planned and you don't mind hearing them. A master class in jazz piano swing, this will have to hold our desire to have some musical fireworks until Macy's Parade invites her back for more of her own brand of pyrotechnics. Killer stuff.

FLYING HORSE BIG BAND/Big Man on Campus: We seem to be entering an era of riches when it comes to college jazz bands making records with an established cat sitting in as a ringer. Under the direction Jeff Rupert and with Harry Allen penning most of the tunes as he sits in, this is a most elegant big band date by youngsters playing with a passion and knowledge that's advanced for their years. The originals are so smoothly intertwined that you don't even realize you're listening to uncharted territory with these charts. Tasty throughout, jazzbo ears should prime themselves to welcome a spate of stars of tomorrow. Check it out.

ARUAN ORTIZ/Cubanism: Well, there's a whole lot of things we are going to be discovering about Cuban music in the coming times---like do they have church basement jazz of their own. A solo piano date that's much more angular than what the average gringo would think of Cuban jazz, it's not like they haven't had things to rebel against there over the years. Ortiz pounds the keys with a satisfaction that restless souls will appreciate and relate to. I guess it's true that freedom will come from the shadows.

JOE MONGELLI & the Cape Jazz Crew/Wash Ashore: A cat that came back to trumpet and music later in life adds his name to the honor roll of killer jazz arrangers that made the music happen. Traveling through a set of oldies that take sit all in from Ellington to Bacharach, his signature is stamped all over the emplace and that make s this a whole lot more than cocktail jazz. Sweet stuff that underscores that modern arranging didn't come to an end with Bill Holman, this is the jazz listening date you've been on the lookout for. Well done throughout.

KERANI/Stardust: Just like things like Three Stooges and superheroes, space was once the province of boys but this keyboard gal is claiming her turf in the cosmos. Augmenting her keyboard work with up to 60 pieces behind her, this is the most encompassing look at the stars since Tomita turns his synths loose on "The Planets". Solid music to accompany your astral traveling, this is fine head music of the highest order. Well done.

ALEX GOODMAN/Second Act: Kicking off the next stage of his career showing his love for his adopted home in the Big Apple, this proven guitar ace can scrapple with the best of them no matter where he hangs his hat. Progressive in the 52nd St sense of pushing the envelope, this is a hard hitting modern, swinging date that shows he's here to play and he's here to stay. Solid stuff easily welcomed by jazzbo ears, here's a new voice that doesn't feel the need to hew to tradition to make his point and his sound heard. Well done throughout.

VIVIAN BUCZEK/Ella Lives: A bunch of steam seems to have gone out of centennials since the Ellington thing kicked the ‘genre' off, but that doesn't mean worthy subjects don't deserve them and get to have them done right. Ella Fitzgerald gets her turn this year and here we find it getting kicked off by a jazz voice from Sweden that knows and loves the material. With a Euro crew backing her in simpatico with the material and the subject, this has the kind of swing and zest that would have Norman Granz smiling. Ella fans old and new can kick off the celebration in fine form here. Well done.

RICK SPARKS/Nightfall London: I've never thought of London as a particularly quiet city, particularly since Engaland swings like a pendulum do, but a picture of Big Ben at dusk inspired the quiet piano work here. A smart mostly solo set that finds Sparks London much more pastoral that I would, you can't argue with things that work. Kick back music perfectly tailored for sonic getaways, this is quite solid restful work for when it's time to stopper down. No noodling here, contemporary instrumental fans have a winner here. Cheek it out.

SID SINGH/Amazing (Probably): The more things change.... Over 50 years ago we had brown faced comics like Godfrey Cambridge and Flip Wilson that weren't trying to assimilate but be part of the melting pot and maybe brings the middle closer to them. Getting a laugh from a brown face all these years later, this time around the comic isn't black, he's (non Native American) Indian. Not trying to assimilate, Singh is bringing the middle to him by disregarding politics and focusing on how he's disappointing his father by not being a doctor or lawyer. "New" to the stand up game with only 8 years under his belt, it's like we said about Flip Wilson, he's a very funny fellow. With a sharp wit and both feet planted firmly in classic stand up tradition, he's here to spread the laughs to an America that's changing once again. Well done.

MARIUS PREDA/Mission Cimbalom: Hammered dulcimer has come a long way since Windham Hill first tried to convince you that a Malcolm Dahlgish solo album was good for you.
Here we find Preda in the company of first call jazzbos nailing it throughout and bringing the special sauce to make sure this is a tasty event. Doing a great job of beating on that box for all it's worth, one listen to this will give you the vibe that there's more to banging on things other than vibes. Expect no less than a four on the floor sonic treat whether it's revved up or slowed down. Wonderful.

PARKER LONGBOUGH/Bridges to Nowhere-Delirium in Lo-fi: Pissed off singer/songwriter with emo tendencies might record in Alaska but he's heavily informed by southern gothic sensibilities. A spokes megaphone for malcontents everywhere, this is the sound of the suburbs as American descends into being a banana republic/third world country.

BAMBI: So what surprises can be left in Bambi at this late date? No matter how many strippers have appropriated his name, we all know that Bambi is a boy and that his mom dies. Think Walt would let you off that easy? With his attention to detail, and apparently an eye toward the future of technology, first off the sound and visuals are spiffed up as far as modern techniques will allow. Then there's a bunch of extras that a lesser work would make seem superfluous but feel right on the same page here. Toss in deleted scenes (imagine that!) and you have all the makings of a timeless classic being thrown farther into the future making it and keeping it a hallmark of family entertainment for generations to come. You even get a visit from Oswald the Rabbit as he heads off for Africa. This is a prime example of how to make home entertainment that laughs in the face of the collapse of retail and everything else. Killer stuff for years to come.

Volume 40/Number 213
June 2, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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