DIVA JAZZ ORCHESTRA/25th Anniversary Project: With some of the players on board for 20 of the band's 25 years, one thing they all have in common is that there's no dust on them. As spunky as they were when they first kicked it out in 1993, this smoking crew is on point and firing on all cylinders. Big band as cool as it gets, this is a fast ball valentine right down the middle to fans old and new and what to hear it done right. A winner throughout, as always form this crew.
BEN PATTERSON/That Old Feeling: There's a lot worse things a piano player can be than inspired by Nat Cole. Playing with the Cole easy swing, whether on chestnuts or originals, Patterson is easy to take and easy to like. With just the right feel throughout, he can pay tribute without being a imposter. Authentically Patterson all the way, the old and new meld perfectly into a jazz piano date that's one for the books. Well done.
PHIL STEWART/Melodious Drum: A percolating drummer steeped in the daddio tradition, Stewart sounds like he was waiting in the wings at a Philly Joe Jones session waiting to drive the crew from the back of the band stand. Swinging, smoking daddio jazz throughout, how can stuff like this ever go out of fashion when it just plain brings it and doesn't know when to stop? A killer diller of a date.
NOA FORT/No World Between Us: An unrepentant art chick that let's you know she no stranger to jazzy heartbreak doesn't do it cabaret style. With a family of jazzbos behind her (though not on this release), it was mostly recorded in the moment when the feelings that power it all were close to the surface. On target for modern gals with modern concerns.
MERRELL FANKHAUSER & Friends/Tiki Lounge Live: The surf guitar legend shows he doesn't let any sand built up under his feet. He could have easily recycled the Dick Dale sounds but he doesn't. Everyone is into the Tiki party and shows how much fun the fringe can be independent of the mainstream. Check it out.
HUGHES SMITH QUINTET/Motion: Classic sounding Detroit jazz is alive and well with new blood pumping through it. Beboppers that weren't old enough to be there the first time around but have miles on their road nonetheless keep the sound and spirit alive in fine form. Tasty stuff that hits all the right notes, this crew at it only since 2012 has got it all on the ball---with no dust on it.
EDGAR STEINITZ/Roots Unknown: It's Jewish jazz, but is it? Drawing on the various modes from the various Jewish divisions, it's all cooked up into an interesting brew where even tunes from "Fiddler on the Roof" take on a new take and are more interesting than ethnic Broadway diversions. Not klez, this is a percolating set that jumps with the joy of living and could do more for the middle east than all the diplomacy combined. Wild stuff.
MICHAEL WALDROP/Origin Suite: A modern, big band deluxe date, this is a wide ranging, sweeping set that encompasses everything some real edge. Loaded with everything that makes you show up for a big band date, this is sure to have your head spinning in a good way. Killer stuff throughout.
DAWN CLEMENT/Tandem: A real piano left fielder, Clement teams up for duets in various formats with real hitter pals of hers she admires. Even the chestnuts on parade take on a new life for the left leaning ears. Not for the feint of heart, this is one of those excursions where so little can say so much.
MARGO REY/Roots of Rey: Giving chestnuts a Latin tinge, this jazz vocalist with a serious art bent knows how to make it work better than it should. No stranger to the top of the charts, she blends her skills in a most tantalizing way. Fun stuff jazz vocal fans looking for something new and different are sure to enjoy.
Volume 41/Number 87
January 26, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record
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