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THOMAS LORENZO QUARTET/Spanish Breeze: Is the economy so bad that cats from Weather Report, George Benson and Santana need to huddle up with a guitar cat you never heard of just to keep the lights on? Don't bet on it. This breezy set is a little heavier than smooth jazz. While it doesn't break any new ground, it covers a lot of old ground nicely and goes down easy. Well played and loaded with fun vibes, mostly in the spirit of one incarnation of Weather Report or another, this is what you need when you simply need something new that cooks.

PRANA TRIO/Singing Image of Fire: Church basement/women's circle time as this progressive minded jazz trio hits the Rumi texts and goes for the other worldly spirituality that makes the incense light up as the chakras do their thing. Art chicks and seekers will gravitate toward this set as it's just the right thing for mind expansion and tailor made for the adult Lisa Simpson in your life.

RAMBLIN DAWGS/Shoot Em Up: We won't tell David Grisman about it, but nu blues rock from Jersey is now Dawg music and this crew is the bunch of leading practitioners that know how to kick it out like Stone Pony is still in business. Hot, sweaty, party music that doesn't back off, this is the new sound of traditional college party rock.

REAL VOCAL STRING QUARTET: So what do classically trained Windham Hill refugees do when the system turns their back on them and sets them adrift in the Bay area? Pretty much what ever they damned well please. Classical with a punk/lounge core sensibility, these ladies will not be playing any tea parties anytime soon, unless it's a guest shot on "Weeds". Kinda world, kinda classical, kinda folk, kinda a bit of everything, this is way out adult listening that never gets cute for the sake of being cute, it's solidly played above everything else. A wondrous left field outing that won't disappoint.

ELOY/Visionary: 40 years on, especially after a 10 year lay off, the protogenitors of prog Kraut rock dust off the gear to crank it up one more time. Rolling along without showing signs of arthritis, they deliver the jams and more. Any prog rock fan, young or old, will find this a new facet of the original real deal.

NANCY STEARNS/Yip Harburg-With Humor and Hope: Since she's one of the new people doing more than her share to keep the works of Harburg alive, we won't hold being a lawyer against her. Solid interpretations and even a previously unrecorded track are all on board, along with solid interpretations of his classics. A fun and necessary look back at one of the real masters of American song.

PLAYDATE: The three members of this crew have been friends since childhood so there's the name and title for you as well as the vibe that flows freely between them. Easy jazz with bite as made by some real, young lion jazzbos with their New York edge honed, this is a fun outing for anyone looking for lite jazz that really isn't. Each gets a chance to shine and they use the moment wisely. Tasty stuff you'll be glad to stumble across.

GENE HARRIS/Another Night in London: Let's here it for the gang at Resonance for taking the trouble of digging up this 15 year old live date and turning it loose on an unsuspecting public. Letting the jams fly like he was back in the day with the Three Sounds, Harris takes some of the oldest shit he could find laying around and imbues it with such freshness you wouldn't know most of these tracks are older than your grandpa. Even if it's just fills, frills and running the scales, Harris and crew deliver such snap, crackle and pop that it's irresistible. Then they get into the meaty stuff! One of those nights you had to wish you were there, this is a great player at the top of his game creating must hearing for any jazzbos that love piano quartets. Hot stuff throughout.

Volume 33/Number 75
January 15, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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