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ALEX HARGREAVES/Prelude: So, while you dingbats wonder about the fate of the Jonas Brothers, here's a 17 year old fiddle player that knocked Mike Marshall's socks off and already has a tour of duty with Marshall under his belt. Attracting the respect of all the top hitters of the organic music field, Marshall and Bela Fleck are along for the ride on this set and Dawg Grisman, Darol Anger and others are singing his praises. A real tasty string wizard album, Hargreaves is hailed by his pals as a Mozart, and even if they do so with a piece of the management in their pockets, they really aren't over doing it. If you're older than 17 and ever wished you played in some band like Sea Train, he's sure to inspire jealously. Anyone else that likes pure music will be awe struck instead. Hot stuff throughout and way more interesting the Jonas Brothers, even if he kind of looks like one of them.

SVEND ASMUSSEN/Makin' Whoopee!...and Music!: What? You wanna call us pussy just because we'd give a 93 year old that played with Stephane Grapelli a pass just because he could get out of bed in the morning and know where he is? You wanna call us pussy just because we'd rather hear said geezer play "Makin' Whoopee" than his take on "You Oughta Know?" So what? We'll own it. Probably the last living person to have played with Fats Waller, you can easily call Asmussen the last of his breed. Having played with everyone and outlasted them all, this is a special collection because he doesn't sound like he's ready to go off into that good night and Mat Domber is the kind of savvy cat to keep sweet dates like this coming. Reminiscent of the Jethro Burns geezer jazz ensembles of the late 70s, with the obvious I-was-there vibe righteously running throughout it, this is killer stuff for real music ears. This guy's fingers are in better shape than mine, and brother, he isn't hitting these notes by rote. This is something you have to play when you want to remind yourself you are a grown up.

NICKI PARROTT-ROSSANA SPORTIELLO/Do It Again: We're not easy to impress. Just tell us you are the bass player for Les Paul and Muriel Anderson and, oh, forget it. The well resumed aforementioned Parrott and her piano side kick know how to make two players sound like a lot more. They've spent enough time in clubs to know how to do a swinging little set card like this in their sleep, and they'll do anything but put you to sleep. Hawking their wares on the corner of Simple and Elegant, this is a tasty romp that's the perfect palette cleanser when you need to wipe your mind's slate clean. Simply delightful throughout.

ERIC VLOEIMANS GATECRASH/Heavensabove: One of those Dutch jazzbos that came along between Hans Dulfer and Candy Dulfer, he's another of the Dutch cats that love Maceo but this one shows an appreciation of Groucho Marx as well. With lots of electronics going on behind his trumpet, this is a funky, Dutch take on fusion with a lot of attention to the groove. Nice party music in the vein of what Saskia Laroo has been doing all along, these improvising cats have been cleaning up on the charts and in awards and now are exporting the latest and best of what they have on tap. A real gasser for the slightly left leaning that can appreciate the real underlying groove in lite funk, mostly 70s Miles elephant funk and space styles.

IAN CAREY QUINTET/Contextualizin': Carey has a solid jazz education and foundation in that he was lucky enough to have a slew of your fave jazzbos as teachers along the course of his musical education. Getting his inspiration from the source, he plays with a real feel and understanding of what it's all about. A trumpeter that knows how to give the rest of his ensemble some, he's one of those cats you don't really know that can load the deck with originals and not scare you away. Certainly a welcoming release, he shows he has everything it takes to go the distance and delight us all the way. Never overwhelming, this is clearly the real deal.

MITCH MARCUS QUINTET/Countdown to Meltdown: You're 34. You've moved from San Francisco to New York. At your relatively young age, you've spent a lot of time touring with Donovan. Of course you're going to make a jazz set that sounds like the Jewish version of 60s civil rights jazz. Opening up with a raucous cacophony and staying to the left the rest of the way out, Marcus and his tousle haired bunch of musical hooligans know their Zappa moves as well as they know their Sun Ra moves. Trippy psych/jazz you certainly need playing in the background of your next psych out or bottoming the sound of your next student film epic.

RICH McCULLEY/Starting All Over Again: Losing some of the wind from his sails as two of his close musical buds died in the last year, this valued member of the LA Americana underground takes a little time away from the road and the sound stages to pull together another left of center contemporary folk/pop date that sounds tailor made for any of the shows Chop Shop provides the under theme for the last few minutes of. Right in the Starbucks pocket, this is the sound of roots music for people that have really never been to the country.

TOBIAS GEBB & Unit 7/Free at Last: The drummer from Trio West takes a little time away from home base to call in chits from a whole bunch of first call jazzbos and deliver a straight up good time. A little left leaning but never off putting, this is jazz in the classic mode where all that's missing is the bandstand your mind has to supply. A tasty trip guided by some solid playing and composing, this'll never get past the moldy figs so the rest of us can be in for a real good time. Delightful, hot stuff.

Volume 33/Number 99
February 8, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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