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CHRIS BECK/Journey: The hard hitting, swinging drummer picks the right time and place for his solo debut as he comes roaring out of the gate with a set that seems steeped in civil right era jazz bringing cogency to the title. A little to the right of your dusty BYG and Flying Dutchman classics, this is ear opening stuff that flows without wandering. On point and on the money throughout, this is a most impressive debut.

RON DiSALVIO-BART PLATTEAU/Puglia Suite: A former Brooklyn tyro whose life was changed after seeing Dave Brubeck at Carnegie Hall, DiSalvo sets aside his teaching and touring to pair up with a flute ace for a recital that feels like it wraps up the sum total of the various experiences and excursions he's had over the years. Never becoming precious in it's minimalist presentation, the duo has the chops to give it a well rounded, full sound once they kick things into gear. Tasty stuff sure to impress sitting down, impressionistic jazz fans, this is a wonderful example of high toned music you don't have to be an egghead to appreciate.

BILL HART BAND/Live at Red Clay Theatre: The Atlanta guitarist who can count Mike Stern and Scott Henderson as his teachers takes time off from his own teaching gig to check in with a live set where the running mates are some of the top cats that have been laboring in the background of a load of your fave acts. Bringing the fusion back to the fore like it was meant to be, this guitar driven date where everyone gets some will remind you how sweet it all was before the consultants turned the sound to wallpaper. High octane, high energy and high times throughout.

VIN VENEZIA/5th & Adams: The guest list on this set says it all but above and beyond that, this guitar man's music speaks for itself. The kind of cat that get's fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts but doesn't turn around and issue arts council music just plain tears it up with a killer, contemporary jazz date that both echoes Wes and visions the future. The kind of smoking mainstream stuff that brought you into the tent in the first place, this smoking date has it all on the ball--and more. Just what the doctor ordered.

MJO BROTHERS/Hip Devotions: Envisioned as a spiritual date, the crew tips the cap to John McLaughlin, John Coltrane and the Duke as well as Jesus Christ so there's certainly a mix of the pious and the profane duking it out here. With addition of chants running throughout it, you can feel the Christian influence and (spoiler alert) good wins out in the end. With undeniable jazz chops powering the proceedings, it wouldn't hurt to let yourself be guided by with well conceived jazz mass, of sorts.

NUANCE CRUSADERS/Reflections: A Chicago cat that delivers a contemporary history of Chicago jazz---of a kind. This is the kind of wonderful straight up stuff that would draw you into a club if the doors were open on a warm night and it's siren song grabbed you. Then the clubs went away and this was being played in up market hotel lobbies---until the last great recession put an end to those amenities. I don't know where you can hear this other than on this disc and it's such sweet stuff you shouldn't deny yourself the treat. Great anytime straight up jazz, this is groovy enough to make you want to start your own club just to showcase it.

CATHY SEGAL-GARCIA/Jazz Chamber: If you are old enough to remember pop music before Beatles, this set is going to sound like a throwback to the jazz thrush albums your parents had laying around the rec room, back when the arranger was the kind of cat that ruled the roost. Hanging with a bunch of singers and players that rank among our faves, Segal-Garcia works a groove that feels like it's coming from her heart and is sure to touch yours. Solid stuff that's easily going to take you someplace else.

GRAND MARQUIS/Brighter Days: A hard working crew that tore it up 20 years ago during the swing revival and hasn't given it up or stagnated in the time since, this set finds them being a first class party band that knows how to rock and do a bunch of other things as well. Anytime you're ready to check your preconceptions at the door and let your hair down, this set will get your motor revving in high gear.

JAMIE SHEW/Eyes Wide Open: Still pulling passion out of pain after losing her husband to cancer, this time out Shew surrounds herself with sidemen that were pals of the couple and everything swings while it's restorative as well. A swinging thrush that knows how to deliver the mix of songs here has a bunch of chestnuts that she puts her own stamp on making them right at home next to her originals. A solid treat for any jazz vocal fan.

BLIND LEMON PLEDGE/Evangeline: You whippersnappers might think this is Americana with a left leaning humorous edge but this Bay Area cat is actually closer to being your gateway drug to John Koerner and beyond. Old enough to keep it authentic as per the original folk music scare, Pledge knows how to work the controls of the way back machine to craft and original old timey date that is no joke. If you really want it from the back porch, this is the place to check it out.

Volume 41/Number 178
April 27, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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