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BILL CUNLIFFE-HOLLY HOFFMAN/Three's Company: So, a top flight flute player and a first call piano man that have been playing together forever but have recorded infrequently get together to stir it up again. On half of the 8 tracks they call in a rotating cast of top flight players for some trio work. The sum total is a fine round of intellectual jazz that doesn't scream art with a capital A but does demand your attention front and center to dig into the chops on parade. A must for refined tastes, this is a new defining moment for up market jazz.

PEGGY LEE/2 Shows Nightly-Live at the Copa: One thing you can always be sure people want is what they can't have. Collectors Choice hit the Capitol vaults to come up with the Peggy Lee live album that wasn't and never happened as well. With a cracker jack bunch of jazzbos bringing up the rear, all of which were worried about the future direction of their careers as this was recorded in the late 60s, they play up a storm on covers of the day's top artists with nary a "Fever" or "Manama" in sight. If you're a Lee cultist/completeist, this ‘lost' album is a real find. Fleshed out with a slew of bonus tracks that are fairly hard to find as well with a stellar crew on board as well, this is a nice piece of the Lee legacy that puts plastic to good use in it's quest to hit the light of day. A real swim against the tide in it's time, now it's just another wonderful piece of the puzzle put into place.

PEGGY LEE/Let's Love: Rescued from high prices on EBay, this Rhino Handmade that sold out brings the face off between Lee and Macca back at popular prices. Originally coming into being in the wake of the Beatles being squashed and Wings taking flight while Ahmet Ertegun was courting Paul McCartney, Macca said he'd sure take kindly to the chance to produce Lee. Lee was a known quantity and didn't need a recommendation from Ertegun pals Leiber/Stoller to seal the deal and here we are with a Lee album that was kinder to Lee than the later stagers of her Capitol days but was an equally strange swim against the tide as Macca let his music hall roots show. Most of the heavy lifting was done by Dave Grusin who was already sowing the seeds of his GRP team. Fun stuff for vocal fans that didn't want to pay $30 for a copy let alone $80 and up.

JOE LOCKE/For the Love of You: Until the economy tanked, you could walk into a hotel bar in Chicago or a hole in the wall restaurant in New York and hear a small crew laying down some really righteous tunes. You didn't have to know who they were, but if they were good, you hung around. If you are a geek you would talk to them between sets. If you weren't a geek, you'd hang around for the band introductions. Either way, you'd have that "oh shit, you mean you're (fill in the blank)" moment. Yeah, it's a Wednesday night and they need a few bucks for the child support and there you all are. With the crew backing up Locke here, this set is one long ‘oh, shit' moment as they serve up some for the best boite jazz around. Tailor made for hearing in the background at some joint where there's no cover if you order dinner, try to find a girl that still eats meat, offer to make dinner for her and have this playing in the background when she shows up. With Kenny Washington, Geoff Keezer, George Mraz and Clarence Penn all on board, you can't miss.

EMILIO SOLLA & the Tango Jazz Conspiracy/Bien Sur: A degreed, Argentinean classical pianist, Solla shoots for left of center and scores as he mixes jazz, tango and other elements up to and including the kitchen sink into a salmagundi that percolates with unbridled enthusiasm. You might be familiar with the adjectives but you will experience something different with the sound.

PAUL MEYERS QUARTET featuring Frank Wess: Here's a real sweetie for the straight ahead jazzbo. Guitar man Meyers knows a thing or two about backing up jazz vocalists and applies his smarts to their chops in creating this easy swinger that puts his guitar in the spotlight but not to the extent of rendering the other players as condiments. Loaded with quiet fire and charm, Meyers knows his stuff and it's good to be able to export it west of the Hudson so we can all dig it headphone style. A clear cut winner throughout.

SUZI RAGSDALE/Best Regards-Less of the Same: If your daddy is Ray Stevens and some of your best friends and running pals are Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell and Darrell Scott, you probably will not come out with assembly line Nashville music. Well, ain't no sippy cup stuff here. On this double album, which is more of a double ep, Ragsdale looks over her back and front pages with authority and surety setting a new standard for alt.Nashville. It's Ragsdale music, not 3A, roots or whatever. If you want your brain fried out of complacency, give a spin to this set that could only escape on a artist owned label in this day and age. Killer stuff.

MICHAEL JANISCH/Purpose Built: It's nice to have a young bass player come along so you can saying something other than ‘hey this kid reminds me of Coltrane'. With the spirit of Miles period Dave Holland hovering in the back of the proceedings (this young lion has taste as well as chops), he knows his way around modern jazz with edge and style. Clearly an auspicious debut that was thought about for some time before the tape started rolling, there's not a wasted note on board and left leaning jazzbos will be feeling it. This kid has got it going on.

Volume 33/Number 83
January 23, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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