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IGNACIO BERROA/Straight Ahead from Havana: One of those dates that proves once again that music is the universal language as the Cuban drummer bangs classic Cuban tunes into scrapple from the apple straight ahead jazz. Gringos can't tell it isn't ‘regular' jazz. A solidly sweet set that does nothing but deliver the goods in a classical club jazz feel, this is simply a nifty straight ahead set that gets your jazz blood flowing. Hot stuff.

TOM WAITS/Transmission Impossible: There's been a bunch of 70s radio concerts by Waits floating around recently and if you missed out, this set collects three prime pieces from the first great phase of his career, right around the nighthawks phase. With the kind of song redundancy you'd find in a similarly situated Sinatra collection, the hard core fan won't mind because like the Sinatra sides, there's always something a little different lurking in the bytes. Hell, can you really get enough of an emotional weather report when your piano has been drinking down Tom Traubert's blues? Nah! This is unvarnished great stuff from what old timers consider his greatest period. By all means check it out.

J.J. JOHNSON/Columbia Albums Collection 1956-1961: The box set Columbia let get away, this is the entire output of Johnson as a leader for Columbia, all records made before pairing with Kai Winding for a bunch of records that set the stage for the next leg of the legend. A dynamic, visionary post bopper, the trombonist showed he could play anything by adding the jazz to "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" in a fine and authentic manner. Up, down, fast or slow, there's not a false note in the eight records represented here and it's nothing but pure jazzbo delight. Smoking stuff that is totally time well spent.

FAIRPORT CONVENTION/50:50@50: The title means half live/half studio at 50 years on. As great as their early records were, they were also kind of sloppy and often marred by abrupt personal changes. Over the years, the sloppiness fell away. It seems like just a day before yesterday, Island Records was throwing them a mercy f*ck to celebrate their 20th anni. With Peggy and Nicol being the constants here, Conway brought the missus along to do a song she did with Pentangle and she delivers it not sounding 50 years on. Neither does the rest of the bunch. Soldiering on bravely as the pre-eminent English electric folk music crew, they do a tremendous job of keeping English folk music alive, well and relevant. Killer stuff from a bunch that has grown to fit their clothes properly.

WESLEY CORRADI MATCH/Generations: The record that shouldn't have been made by a band that didn't really exist, this is the live rendition of a tribute to Jimmy Smith concert headed by Fred Wesley as he was reconnecting to his jazz roots. Keeping it greasy since this isn't an officially organ led trio, you know Wesley brings the funk. The groove was so good, the band kept it going beyond the date. For a taste of how something so tasty was first stewed up, this must be the place. Solid stuff from a bad boy you can trust.

HEDERSLEBEN/Orbit: Did you ever think you'd consider pairing Andre Previn's daughter with space rock? Ah, you know how kids like to rebel. A chops filled prog/space date that finds the crew expanding their reach as their tunes are populating more and more cult pics, they aren't manqué-ing around as they claim territory normally roamed by well funded, classic outfits as they did it back in the day. Genre fans will be tilting the discussion heavily toward this crew. Well done.

SAM BAKER/Land of Doubt: A cinematic sounding guitarist, Baker lays down his acoustic and picks up his electric for a cinematic set that sounds like the kind of stuff Ry Cooder did for Wim Wenders---so no, this won't make you feel like you are listening to some "Wonder Woman" roll off project. Veering way left of an ECM vibe and almost dropping in on Kevin Kastning country, if he ever played a guitar with less than 1,000 strings, this atmospheric set is certainly for the left leaning that are as anti-pop as possible.

ROGER DAVIDSON TRIO with Hendrik Meurkens/Oracao Para Amanha: Recorded live in his fave home away from home, trusty piano man Davidson shows his on going love for Brazil with a set of recent compositions and the addition of harmonica whiz Hearkens who also brought along his vibes for a banging good time. Recorded live and making feel like you are there, this cheery set delivers more smiles per mile than anything else you could play in the car. Well done.

NEW VISION SAX ENSEMBLE/Musical Journey Through Time: You can so have a band of nothing but saxes. It's been done before and it'll be done again---it just has to be done right, like it is here. This crew takes tunes from all around the horn and distills it into their unique work where the chops flow like water but taste like wine. A good time is had by all and you are invited to the party to help raise the roof with these jazzbos. Hot stuff throughout.

Volume 40/Number 216
June 5, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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