ELLIOT DEUTSCH/Make Big Band Great Again: Pretty much the definition of a working musician, Deutsch didn't set out to make a political record but looking a things from an artist's perspective, that's what's come about. Showing that keeping our sense of humor is an important step in getting through things, his titles speak for themselves. As does the music. There's no politics in these jazzbo grooves that show how important spirit is since big band basically hasn't been self sustaining since...? The chops are there and any straight ahead jazzbo will know this is the stuff. Well done.
PAUL AUSTERLITZ/Water Prayers for Bass Clarinet: With all the talk given to world jazz, here's a cat that takes it in a whole nother direction. With his unusual instrument leading the way, this sounds like a nice, solid jazzbo outing, until the world elements are added as opposed to blended giving you a different flavor than you are used to. With a world traversing experience behind him and a doctorate on his resume, this cat can blow up the perfect storm and give it a dead solid perfect lie (hey, I can mix metaphors, too). A wonderfully adventurous date that's claimed to be the first part of a trilogy that should wrap up into a great statement if this is just the opening shot. Hot stuff.
(Round Whirled 83)
DON BYRON-ARUAN ORTIZ/Random Dances and (A)tonalities: Oddball, left leaning things are best left to the hands of real pros that know what to do. Never one to be shy, Byron dances around Ortiz's piano melodies in a scintillating, off kilter way----as does Ortiz back to Byron. It's not a noize record but a wild ride for eggheads that want to get their chance to be cool kids. A duo that refuses to be used as background music, this is for the jazzbo that likes it nice and rough as opposed to nice and easy.
PURE FIRE-The Ultimate Kiss Tribute/various: A crew that's been resurrected enough times to be venerated, the Kiss tribute album from 2004 has been retrofitted for today, but the guts are still basically in tact---a bunch of first call fellow travelers tearing it up with nary a "Beth" in sight. Including a making of DVD that features those on board that are no longer around, you just can't call yourself a headbanger and not have this within reach. Hot and heavy throughout.
MICHAEL MARTIN MURPHEY/Austinology-Alleys of Austin: Reinventing himself several times over the years, 50 years later Murphey finds himself back where it all started when Willie Nelson was opening for him. Rather that hit us with another "and then I wrote" kind of set, he looks back at an Austin scene of many years ago and celebrates all the peers that were pillars of it like him. No wonder some of this stuff has stood the test of time so well. When it comes from the heart like this, it can't/doesn't miss. This is like a capsule version of the best of Americana. Well done throughout.
RANDY HALBERSTADT/Open Heart: 41 years a teacher and he can still hit the ivories in late night/after hours fashion. A jazzbo to the core, he took his time getting this set together, from the writing to finding the right players, and if this is OCD, it has useful applications. Or it could just be strict attention to detail, so much so that it can make structure swing sounding spontaneous. Whatever, it's a smoking date that delivers the goods mightily. A tasty workout throughout, this is easy flowing jazz that can bring new ears into the tent.
KRISTIN STROM/Moving Day-The Music of John Shifflett: A recently passed
Bay area bass ace finds his memory well represented by a saxy lady rounding up other pals and giving him a Viking's send off to Valhalla, without turning him into a smore. Represented here as the kind of cat you'd like to have backing you up, this solid swinger shows you what you missed living east of the Rockies. Tasty throughout, you can hear the love in the grooves.
LUCAS PINO & No Net Nonet/That's a Computer: The title's actually a reference to a comment some soul sucking professor made to Pino who it seems was really off the mark when referring to his playing. Loading his jazz deck with modern touches and edges, the playing here is real and inspired and the composing was not done by rote, so...? Modern stuff you don't have to be a hipster to get into, this is a nice glimpse at the future of jazz done right and done big. Solid work throughout.
(Outside In 1814)
XUAN/Have Some Fun: Sunshine pop and garage rock meet up under the charming vocal penumbra of this daughter of Vietnamese refugees that's such a restless soul, she went to Southeast Asia on her way around the world and back. Sweet stuff for teen tastes that like it frothy.
GENE ESS/Apotheosis: The jazz guitarist that's been making some compelling records for a while now veers off to a spiritual track saluting those who endure. The music is more inner directed than past releases but no less accessible and doesn't trail into new age territories. A different kind of set that doesn't borrow from past spiritual jazz efforts, you can look at it as a new kind of fusion that has it's roots in Oriental sensibilities and goes outward from there. An interesting ride throughout.
DANIEL ROTEM/Serenading the Future: A far more Zen inspired set than you would expect from an Israeli, Rotem is apparently wise beyond his years as he comes out with a double cd for his second recording and fills it with a lushness that almost takes it beyond categorization. Stellar instrumental music that feels like it fills in a lineage from Paul Horn forward, this sax man knows what he wants to express and does it like an old soul. A killer listening date that really goes the distance.
Number 41/Number 347
October 13, 2018
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record
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