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KEN PEPLOWSKI BIG BAND/Sunrise: You want to hear some really smashing big band? Look no further. Peplowski leads on this date like it was recorded when labels paid attention to records like this. With a nonpareil crew backing him, the clarinet ace just plain delivers. The set card is mostly familiar, the presentation is original and one of a kind. The kind of stuff you love to show up for, this swinging set is simply going to make your day. Killer stuff throughout.

BOMBAY RICKEY/Electric Shairavi: A totally wild ride for the young and young at heart. The most auspicious international, intergenre mash up you could ever imagine, this isn't your father's world beat. With sonic twists and turns that make you hold on tight, this cinematic/operatic date seems free form but is actually tightly structured. Never a mess, this is the sound of tomorrow in a world where pop has done popped out. Like taking off from a musical Kitty Hawk, there's no telling where you might land but this crew won't let you crash. Hot stuff.

FRANK VIELE/What's His Name?: If you are outside New England, this local hitter might be a surprise to you. Cleaning up on every local award that can be won, Viele is now taking his classic AOR (meets Americana) chops out of his comfort zone using them to win over the rest of the country one by one. A throwback for boomers that remember what it was to hear something new that just dug in and didn't let go, this cat is no manqué---he's the real deal all the way. With Vic Steffens lurking in the background, there's killer talent on both sides of the glass here and the result is rocking magic.

JASON KLOBNAK QUARTET/Friends & Family: Musical comfort food? You could look at it that way and you wouldn't be wrong, but you wouldn't be exactly right either. The post bop trumpet ace and his B3 pal have already hit the right groove and now they are back to really mine it without repeating themselves. Another smoking set of fun jazz that leads the party into after hours without actually going there, this is one of those treats your ears are crying out for. Killer stuff throughout.

JEN HODGE ALL STARS/All's Fair in Love and Jazz: The only songs here younger than dirt are Hodge's own originals, the rest are sent from another era. Swinging on the oldies in a way that makes it sound like she could lead the hotel band in the hotel from ‘The Shining", this unadulterated dose of sweet swing is a real gasser. Whether cleansing the palette or reveling in times gone by, you'll find yourself enmeshed in this album's groove in no time at all. This is how you take a journey through the past.

STEVE KROON/In Your Dreams: The vet percussionist serves up a set of smoking jazz that's both hot and sweet. A tasty party on a platter, the only message extant here is to have a good time, and this caterer knows how to deliver on that. Happy music for happy times or for when the blues need to be chased away, this is like an unexpected treat that you want to savor. Well done.

CHAMBER 3/Transatlantic: They pride themselves on not being in the same time zone but what I hear is a lot of 60s Detroit/New York leading edge jazz with that vibe that let's you know you better strap yourself in for some wild listening. Tasty stuff throughout, this trio doesn't let time zones or time stand in their way. Left leaning tastes will always welcome this sound and it makes itself known early and often. Check it out.

DAVE LEIBMAN-JOHN STOWELL/Petite Fleur: On their third pairing for the label, this duo tackles the works of Sidney Bechet with Leib giving such an expected performance that duo is all that's needed here. For all the various miles he's racked up under his belt, this return to the ground zero of soprano sax is a mind blower. With an after-hours and a from the heart feel that rings genuine, give the grand master another gold star for his unerring ability to hit it out of the park every time he steps up to the plate. Adult listening for real adults that know how to appreciate greatness.

REVEREND FREAKCHILD/Dial It In: The good Rev seems to be taking blues a little more seriously than he has in the past but just how much more seriously...? With a high flying crew of Americana cats lurking in the background this time around, his industrial take on traditional blues is a natch for cutting edge tastes. It still might leave other dazed and confused. Certainly tomorrow's white boy blues, this is the stop to make if you just want to have your mind blown in a low key way that will never fail to take you by surprise. Check it out.

MONIKA HERZIG/Sheroes: If you want to think it's heresy in the era of #metoo and send in those hate emails, so be it. Forget about Taylor Swift's squad. You want to talk girl power? How about a stellar pianist assembling a jazz super group with players like Leni Stern, Ingrid Jensen, Ada Rovatti and others kicking down the door once and for all about having to label the players as female jazzbos. These are jazzbos! End of story. This isn't about empowerment, this is about making a record that will be listened to for years to come by players already in charge of their own power that play like they felt they could never be stopped in the first place. Go on, take a blindfold test and tell me they ‘play like girls'. Dorothy Ashby, Shirley Horn and all the other foremothers of jazz past are smiling and grooving to this set. Chops are chops! Killer stuff throughout.

Volume 41/Number 137
March 17, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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