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ERIK APPLEGATE/Three's a Crowd: The bass ace's last album of duos was a winner so why not expand the concept to an album of trios? It works and it never hurts to stick with something that's working. With plenty of room for Applegate to stretch out or lay back, this set that covers wide range of stuff that isn't always jazz brings it together and brings it home. Off the beaten track without rolling off the rails, the chops here will bring your own inner jazzbo to the fore from the core. Smoking.

DEAD COMPOSERS CLUB/Chopin Project: Noah Preminger has been honking his fascination with death a lot lately and here he takes it to the next level of the game. Rather than just honking his sax through the cemetery at night, here he enlists a band to reimagine the preludes of Chopin in what appears to be the kickoff of the skewed tribute to dead composers. Ah, those still waters that run deep... Are hipsters having a fascination with yennem velt? Miss Kubler-Ross, please interpret---if you can hear us.

DEANNE MATLEY/Because I Loved: This set makes a strong case for wise simplicity. A jazz vocalist/stylist rounds up some of the craftiest Montreal jazzbos to make the journey thought the various phases of love with her. They make it all sound so easy here. With very little pretense and chops leading the way, this is a great modern take on the classic thrush vibe. Several cuts above just being cocktail music, this is the big soft pillow you've been wanting to sink into. Well done.

LUCKY LOSERS/Blind Spot: Sure, we know now the real purpose of artist development was to let the artist dig a financial hole they couldn't climb out of when they finally hit it, but the altruistic side of the old days surfaces here as this duo's third album isn't a case of the third time's the charm, it's an example of how you get more sure footed and willing to break down fourth wall as your chops deepen. Kind of a retro soul date, with this set under their arms, they can tell anyone that asks if they have real jobs to kiss their asses. If this ain't while soul/blues from the heart and gut they sure have me fooled. Smoking stuff throughout.

TAIVI/Rising Tide: With admiration from Pete Seeger and Claire Lynch in her kit bag, Taivi shows she not one of the target market for "Tully" as she's a first class Americana singer/songwriter that knows how to make the most of having Lynch's band back her up right out of the box. A uplifting set that provides a great break from everything we are bombarded with these days, records like this could even make geezers start buying music again. That's how strong it is.

ADREAN FARRUGIA-JOEL FRAHM/Blued Dharma: If the thought of a piano/sax duo date doesn't float your boat, perhaps you should pay attention to who is making up this duo. Old pals from both sides of the northern border, they face off together here without other band members to pick up the slack and show just how much joyful noise they can raise on their own. The sound of two pros raising each others game with a lot of heat of the moment, telepathic moves is the sound of sheer delight. While both are jazzbos to the core, they travel beyond labels here taking the instrumental realm by storm. Killer stuff that shows overkill isn't always needed in one's tool kit.

GORDIE TENTREES & JAXON HALDANE/Grit: After over a decade of being road warriors, this freek folk duo debuts on wax with a live album of tracks culled from various dates that really rocked. An organic, back porch duo that owes a debt to the leftists of the lefties, here's where you turn if you lean more toward Holy Modal Rounders than Kingston Trio. As organic and holistic as folk gets, this is the wild sound of freedom and the freedom to fly.

FREDDY COLE/My Mood is You: Over 50 years in and he can still teach the young ‘uns a thing or two. Putting Ellington next to Randy Newman and making it all work, the vocal vet has got his nuances so tight, you don't even notice the long time backing band at work except when he lays out so they can have some. A simple, throughout classy date that sails beyond all labels, just call it a master of jazz/soul vocals at work delivering goods that defy category. Killer stuff throughout that was obviously a long time in the making.

THEO HILL/Interstellar Adventures: Not hearing any throw backs to Chick Corea's 7th Galaxy stuff here, just loads of creative, improv jazz piano trio work that stays on point throughout. Sometimes a roller coaster ride, sometimes a drive in the country, Hill has patiently waited a long time to make a record like this and what was forged in the crucible is a winner. These cats came to play and show they know how to get it done. Killer stuff that might leave moldy figs feeling the like rough edges of the past have been sanded off, but that's their opinion and their loss if they chose to be steadfast. This kind of set makes new converts. Well done.

MIKE LeDONNE/From the Heart: Totally cool B3; totally cool backing crew, totally cool vibes that make this something that should be on the B3's fan's bucket list. There might be a decided lack of grease in the playing but that doesn't mean this is something you'll find in the check out line at Whole Foods. Check out the listing in Wikipedia for ‘fun stuff' and see if you don't find the cover of this album. Smoking stuff throughout.

Volume 41/Number 186
May 5, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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