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HAKON SKOGSTAD/Two Hands t Tango: Music is the international language? Here's a young, Norwegian classical piano ace that has the chops to use solo piano to take tango to the back alley cabarets of Argentina in fine style. A solid recital with no dust on it, this borders on being cocktail tango music and it's unique vibes are what carry the day after being infused with Skogstad's chops. Hot stuff. And none of these tangos are Piazzollian.

FREE RADICALS/No State Solution: With 20 years as Houston's premier party people under their belts, the crew takes a sort of look back with a newly re-energized remix album that cherry picks hot spots from the last two decades for modern retrofitting. As dizzying as they ever were, this set will have your head spinning in so many directions, whiplash is inevitable. Tasty stuff you don't have to be youngster to enjoy.

GINKOA/One Time: This electro duo has studied what has come before and while this is a forward thinking modern set all the way, it's got swing swinging through it's house elements and they are party people here to provide a good time for all. Deceptively simple, this set is deep enough to keep you enthused and wanting more.

CARLOS AVERHOFF JR/iQba-Jazz Meets Cuban Timba: When it comes to world beat mash ups, something can be cutting edge but the fact is lost on us gringos who didn't know anything about the source material in the first place. The energy and chops are what carry this date for those of us that aren't all that conversant in various Cuban forms. All we know is that these are cats that came to play and they do. At the core, this is dance music as protest. The gringo listener will just enjoy it for the solid playing it is. A taste treat from a different column, this is a great place to expand your horizons.

BOB MINTZER BIG BAND-NEW YORK VOICES/Meeting of the Minds: A jazzbo that knows his stuff, a vocal group that raises the bar, the Great American Songbook as the source material and classic vibes that just won't quit. Anyone looking for a real jazz experience need look no further, this is a slight modernization on what brought you into the tent in the first place. A set the participants could have done in their sleep but didn't, this is listening material that makes you shut up and listen. Killer stuff throughout.

IVAN BARYSHNIKOV QUARTET/Journey: The journey this Russian took from engineer to sax man really is the tale of throwing off the bonds of communism and forging your own direction, but that's another story for another time. We're glad he had the courage of his convictions because he's one right on sax ace on the rise and we're certainly the better for it. A jazzbo so steeped in the tradition that it clear he had to go his own way, this is a smoking, mainstream club date that would keep you around for the last set. Hot stuff throughout.

NEAL MORSE/Smilitude of a Dream Live in Tilburg 2017: Morse knew you probably weren't there so he has provided a you are there package of the live date with 2 cds and 2 dvds, encore included on the dvd. Shredding, prog rock that has the crowd in the palm of their hands, Morse and company take you around the block and back in this no stone left unturned set that gives this branch of metal heads exactly what they want. Inclusive and well done throughout.

J. P. SOARS/Southbound I-95: A white boy from Florida with the electric blues understands how to play more by under playing it. An Albert King award winner, his guitar chops are obviously beyond reproach which is more than evident here. With an encyclopedia's worth of musical appreciation at his finger tips, much of which he sneaks into the tracks at will, this shredding growler with a whopping address book of important pals simply knows how to serve it up hot and cliché free. A wild and wooly set sure to grab your ears and turn your head.

HOWARD GLADSTONE/Hourglass: A thinking man's troubadour, Gladstone might highlight some hardships, but he's no down moth kvetch. All told, it's a bright, hopeful album about seeking and making the most of things before it's all done. Like a folkie with a new age side, this cat is a modernist bringing the back porch into today in fine style.

YOTAM BEN-OR/Sitting on a Cloud: This harmonica man's debut set shows the spirit of Toots Theilmanns is alive and well. Using much the same light touch as the master, this jazzbo knows how to lead and puts his crew through the right moves to make sure everyone gets some, as well as the listener, and the result is a sure fingered, low fire bang. Solid stuff for mainstream jazzbo ears on the prowl for a new kick, this tasty set fills the bill in mighty fashion. Well done.

Number 41/Number 218
June 6, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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