JOHN VANORE/Stolen Moments: He’s been dead for almost as long as he was alive, trumpeter Vanore looks deep into his back pages thinking about how meeting Oliver Nelson 50 years ago was pivotal point in his musical development. Making this a unique set without relying on easy outs like covering, re-imaging, homage-ing etc etc etc, this is merely a set from a jazzbo leading a big band of several generations deep that know want a cooker Nelson was and want in. Merely! Playing with the kind of determined passion driving him to keep the great Nelson from being forgotten, he crafts a timeless jazz excursion that will do exactly what it sets out to. A real killer the solid jazz fan will love.
ALEX HAHN/Emerging: Crossing the line from tyro to young lion, Hahn already holds a slew of prestigious awards the mass market hasn’t heard of---but he’s closing in on the stuff they do know about. Is he a brilliant arranger of a smart jazz sax man? You decide, and enjoy the decision making process. With too much bite to be smooth jazz, this cat is consistently proving to be a great ear opener that goes the distance. A winning set from a winner of a cat in the midst of a meteoric rise. Check it out.
BRAD PETERSON/Ellipsis Album: A former running mate of Jeff Buckley and Radiohead before getting sidelined with a spinal injury that had him setting music aside for priorities like brushing his teeth comes roaring back with an alt.album that doesn’t drip in period self pity when it easily could have. Setting coulda/shoulda/woulda aside to make an amazing album all by himself in his own clubhouse/recording studio, this kind of strikes you as the Brian Wilson/Todd Rundgren collaboration that should have been. A wise album that was probably borne of pain, it’s a left field monster that anyone with a serious taste for modern pop should checkout. Really well done stuff by a cat that should have been discovered long ago.
CHICAGO AFROBEAT PROJECT/What Goes Up: Forged in the same crucible that gave us AACM/AEC two generations back, the progressive Chicago Afrobeaters call in Tony Allen for his first full north American collaboration lending authority and credence to a crew that was already dripping loads of it as the music sweats. Bad ass modern stuff for the kind of modern tastes that thrive on boundary pushing, the funk, the flavor and the flavinoids are all here in force. Killer stuff that shows creative music is alive and well, it’s full of the kind of power and glory that inspires the young to keep on pushing. Well done.
ADAM LARSON/Second City: Here’s a jazz sax man that could run the scales and get away with it but instead he puts himself in full show off mode with his most diverse set yet that finds him accenting his trips and what he does in Chicago, making sure it doesn’t stay in Chicago. A modernist whose showing off is solid and doesn’t breed resentment, he’s a melodic envelope pusher that plays with the precision of a well cut diamond. This is music to snap your ears to attention.
MOUNTAIN HOME MUSIC COMPANY
GRASCALS/Before Breakfast: There’s so much good bluegrass and progressive bluegrass in the air these days that it’s a good thing it comes in different flavors so you can keep pointing to a different band as the crème of the crop. This bunch that’s always had so much more going for them than just a clever name know how to put on a show, even if it’s just on record without visuals and live spontaneity. A solid, note perfect performance that hits high spots from various bluegrass/country quadrants, it’s hard to find stuff sweeter than this. A well wrought winner of a date that takes some standard bluegrass tropes and turns them on their respective heads before day is done. Killer stuff sure to make a bunch of new bluegrass fans.
DOYLE LAWSON & QUICKSILVER/Life is a Story: Venerable. This crew has done and seen it all. Here they do a remarkable job of straddling the line of traditional and modern by keeping the instrumentation in the tradition and giving the lyrics a modern and futuristic slant that falls right in to place under the veneer of neo-nostalgia. Perhaps the set that carries them finally over the Grammy goal post, this solid, creative set gives it to you right in the gut with one ‘whoa’ moment after another. Killer stuff that could teach those outside the genre a smoking lesson or two on how to connect with the audience.
ROMEO DANCE CHEETAH
ROMEO DANCE CHEETAH/Magnificent Man: Does it help to be young and pomo to get the antics of this over the top character? Hell, if you’re young and pomo you’ve probably been digging his act on You Tube, at Bonnaroo and all the places he shows up at with all the alacrity of a photo bomber. The way he can goof on everything, himself included, it’s almost like he’s a modern, funny side of Zappa. Once you know you can leave your sense of propriety, as well as self righteous pomposity, at the door, a wild ride of a good time is assure. Hot stuff from the new frontier.
JOHN DOKES/Forever Reasons: With a valued day job as the cat that let’s you know how bad your allergies are going to be, Dokes sets his after hours sights on being this generation’s standard bearer for classic jazz vocal. Already a known quantity for his work with George Gee’s orchestra, Dokes does this magnificent job of taking you back to the day without this being a set of manqué-ing around. Swinging and warm throughout, you will find yourself wondering who this is from back then when it finally hits you this is now. Note perfect throughout, this is a wonderful return to class and sophistication that just can’t be beat. Hot stuff.
STEINWAY & SONS
ANDREW RANGELL/Bouquet of Beethoven: Not satisfied with being today’s pre-eminent Beethovenist, Rangell pushed his piano a little higher up the mountain to make sure tomorrow’s Beethovenists have a harder time displacing him. In the course of this double discer he breathes new life into the warhorse works and conquers the formidable task of leaving his own mark on a host of the outlier works that beg the moldy figs to find fault. Clearly a Schroeder approved recording throughout, Rangell turns these discs into a full on recital that enraptures. A high water mark recording that rewards the listener with each note.
TK MUSIC PRODUCTION
HALONEN & SYVERSEN/Voices from Heaven V. 2: Proving once again there’s more to Norwegian music than death metal, this duo serves up another dose of their audio acupuncture with frequencies that will cure your ills. Masking it behind some nice, contemporary new age, these two have been working in the healing industries for 2 decades and have compiled the knowledge to know from whence they speak---and play. A most worthy audio getaway particularly for those who need it most. Check it out.
Volume 40/Number 270
July 29, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record
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