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JESSY J/Live at Yoshi's 10 Year Anniversary Special: Like the rest of the contemporary saxy ladies out there plying their trade these days, Jessy has a distinctive sound that let's you know who's at the wheel without checking the label. Celebrating 10 years since she first dazzled us and won her a spot on the front lines, this mostly live set finds her giving it back and playing with the kind of inspiration a celebration demands. Show stoppingly, foot stompingly bad ass throughout, this veritable live greatest hits set has it all. A winner throughout.

SANDRO DOMINELLI/Here and Now: If you don't know by now why this cat is always at the top of something going on in Canada, it's time you gave this drummer a listen. Working a modern tip here with a trio that shares similar feelings, Rez Abbasi adds his 21st century Wes vibes to the action and all inspire each others tone heights. This is real jazz the way you like it. Hot.

SHELDON ZANDBOER/Tipping Velvet: One of those Canadian improv piano aces that has a long been there/done that history finally drops his debut set and shows the it was worth the wait. Combining lessons and inspirations he's picked up along the way into a dandy, straight ahead set, this is a must for cats looking for melody to go along with the chops. A right on ear opener that has so much on the ball, you'll gladly give this repeat playings.

ELIANE ELIAS/Music from Man of LaMancha: My, we've come a long way from "Ho Ho Song". Submitted for your approval: Eliane Elias is sitting at home one day when the co-composer of "Man of LaMancha" drops by and tells her that a Latin spitfire like her should round up Jack DeJohnette and give it a whirl to reposition her fave songs from the musical. She does. He loves it. It then proceeds to sit in the can for well over 20 years. This could only happen in the Twilight Zone. Retaining it's freshness, this piano gal proves she can rock anything over the years and not miss a beat. She has proven beyond all shadow of a doubt that she doesn't even know where to find false notes. Certainly out of the ordinary and certainly a winner throughout.

CHRIS SQUIRE/Fish out of Water: Among the most cogent of the early batch of Yes solo albums, the bass man really wanted to make a record that let him blow off some steam but didn't really fall far from the tree Calling in cats like Bill Bruford, Pat Moraz, Pete Sinfield and others of that degree, you can feel his imprint but it doesn't feel that different from Yes' successful run that this came out in the middle of. Still a stand up set for prog fans, the late bass man obviously hoped this would be something he would be remembered by.

ALAIN MALLET/Mutt Slang: The protean jazz piano sideman has had his hands full in the service of others for the last 25 years so it's taken until now for him to drop his debut album. He looks at world beat/mash up from the other end of the telescope and declares, "yeah, so?" taking the decided stance that all music is connected. With all his elements so finely integrated, he's manifested his own sound, and took it even farther by adding a 5.1 disc to let you hear how far he really takes it. Not jazz, world or new age but all of it at once, this is a genre busting date any fan of any of it all will love. It's almost a musical adventure you don't realize you're taking.

DUO NOIRE/Night Triptych: Tell you what---if you can't deal with a pair of African American, Yale graduated classical guitarists playing a set of works specially commissioned by women composers in which Clarice Assad is the grand dame of the bunch, then we'll let you go back to listening to your Johnny Rebel records and we're fare forward listening to this---no judgments on either side. You might not think a duo can raise the roof enough to make a ground breaking record but these young bucks that are a product of their time are pushing the envelope forward. The nu generation of classical musicians is not looking back. Heady stuff that opens the ears in fine style.

BEN MARKLEY QUARTET/Basic Economy: Dialing it back from his big band tribute to Cedar Walton, the piano man goes combo and original with a lot of muscular, left leaning playing filling in the white spaces. A solid modern jazz set that opens the ears nicely and provides just the right amount of thrills and spills as it takes you on a journey that leaves the ordinary behind. Smoking work throughout, this is a date that has wings.

BONGWOOL LEE/My Singing Fingers: A New Yorker by way of Korea, this former tyro prodigy is now loose upon the streets of New York with her advanced music degree in tow and piano chops to spare. Like a jazzbo Tina Turner, Lee can either play it nice or she can play it nasty, all the while without overplaying. You can accept her work as either pretty music or as the something deeper that lies below the surface, but she's a fine addition to jazz piano trio work either way. A fun, tasty set sure to give you what you came for.

BILL ANSCHELL/Shifting Standards: Very crafty how this piano man can make Dizzy sound like Monk. Of course, his recordings are always filled with surprises. Giving it a go on chestnuts here with is trio of ten years standing, they find the angular in the familiar and bid you welcome to strap in for a magic carpet ride. This is one of those real treats where the chops are there to successfully unshackle the standards from their moorings. Well done.

J. PETER SCHWALM/How We Fall: If you're into the cutting edge electro stuff, you already know Schwalm from his 6 years with Eno and other even more cutting edge situations he brought his sound sculptures to. Very much a journey through the dark side in search of the dawn, this is the soundtrack to the low budget, spooky movie you always wanted to see but hasn't been made yet. Those with already bent to the art bent will have this up on their top 10 list.

WALK-A-BOUT/Things are Looking Up: Modern rockers whose chops sound club honed know all the right moves to get those fists pumping and the beer flowing. Just right for a rocking party.

Number 41/Number 204
May 23, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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