PETER KOGAN/Green Album: One of those cats that plies his mastery of jazz off the beaten track (in Minnesota) shows that his love of bop and hard bop isn't something that keeps him rooted in the past. While tipping his cap to the masters once again, he struts his own stuff along the way and it fits right in with the flow. Neither history lesson or reinvention, this is solid jazz from the heart and the heartland that never fails to strike the right chord within you. Well worth it.
NICKY BARBATO PROJECT/Every Day is a Bad Hair Day: Jazzbos with a pomo edge that never met a mash up opportunity they couldn't pass up, they have a special gift for taking things to their logical extreme and then inserting a whiplash left turn that leaves you going ‘huh?'. Even when they sneak in a well worn cover, it doesn't hit you right away what's gong on. A must for kids that understand power trio and want to expand their horizons. It certainly doesn't hurt this bunch's indie cred any that some of the Hot Cup crew comes in sneaking around the corners.
BEN BIERMAN/Some Takes on the Blues: So, when you've spent your life being that protean kind of trumpet player that actually has played everything with everybody, it's time to step back from the road and roll up your passions and influences into a big, bouncy ball that lets it all hang out. A really bubbler of a date where jazz and the kitchen sink embrace, just remember he did it all for you. A four on the floor kind of date that takes you to every corner of jazz and modern blues, your ears will thank you for giving it a spin. Well done.
(Plaza Street 101)
RACHAEL KILGOUR/Game Changer: This Kerrville award winner continues to bring nu folk to nu ears and this is the stuff revolutions are made of---personal feelings that connect to places well beyond what the writer thought the boundaries were. Subtle and hard hitting at the same time, once true believers get a taste of this, they'll be sorry that it's only an ep leaving them wanting more.
(New Song 1901)
TIMOTHY WENZEL/Running Away: Once again tackling a theme without using words, Wenzel looks at the fantasy of just saying ‘screw it' and running away to start a new life---and sonically he hit's the nail on the head again as he's done with his past impressionistic efforts. Giving them a depth that moves it from being purely new age to a new plateau of contemporary instrumental music that doesn't quite reside in any particular genre, he serves up a date that's a great listening experience. Kind of in the pocket of when Windham Hill started making meatier records, this is a date that will feel like it's speaking to you and only you. Well done.
JEFF JOHNSON & PHIL KEAGGY/Cappadocia: Two hitters from Christian music that have reveled in their instrumental sides in the past serve up a different kind of spiritual record---this set pays tribute to a region in Turkey where Christians came to escape persecution. Johnson having gone there, you can feel how this really touched him. The kind of instrumental set that exists purely in it's own time zone, this is a worthy sonic journey for anyone that feels like the walls are closing. Certainly something out of the ordinary, any stressed adult will relate.
CAVE TWINS/Best Friends for Now: The sparks that light this duo's fire is that they are identical twins separated at birth that didn't meet up until they were adults with pretty cool musical careers in effect. They bring this freshness to Americana that almost seems brash in it's innocence and subtly. Killer nu folk that hits it out of park so far I think it lands in the next county. Sure to fill every one of your synapses with snap, crackle and pop.
(Tiger Spa 101)
YELENA ECKEMOFF-MANU KATCHE/Colors: The subtlety of Eckemoff's pianistics this time out make you think the colors she prefects are pastel, but that's a red herring. Here, she impressionistically used colors to represent the different stages of the life cycle. A date that feels like a recital, she raises her bar for creating solid sitting down, listening music that may be subtle but commands front and center attention. Real adult music.
ATOMIC ROAD KINGS/Clean Up the Blood: Welcome to the new generation of Butterfields as these white boys with the blues from the suburbs play with a low down and dirty back alley feel where a friendly crap game can turn into a knife fight at the drop of an eye lash. You just know this bunch hung out at the Dexter Lake Club, after hours, when the frat house just wasn't enough. Smoking, blistering stuff slowed down where you think it might be mellow---but it never is. Killer stuff throughout.
JORIS TEEPE/In the Spirit of Rashied Ali: Ain't that always the way? It takes a Dutchman to preserve American culture. One of the greatest free jazz drummers, who played with two generations of Coltranes no less, gets a fond remembrance from a bass player who credits Ali with changing his life and outlook. With a tribute cd tucked within a hard cover book that gives a concise overview of Ali's life and influence, this is the kind of thing that is for the real jazzbo--the kind of guy that likes Bill Claxton for more than taking pretty pictures. Still gloriously cutting edge after all these years.
NICK GRINDER/Farallon: Here's a cat with just the right knack for riding the retro/nuevo tip. One minute you think you're listening to Four Brothers, the next minute you think you're at a jazz lounge on Mars after Jeff Bezos beats Richard Branson there. And it's all inspired by a hands off island 30 miles west of San Francisco. A bunch of forward thinking jazzbos have come together in just the right time frame for everything to really work well---just like it does here. Check it out.
(Outside In 1907)
KEVIN KASTNING/Piano 1: Talk about stepping outside your comfort zone! Here we find the undisputed king of progressive guitar from design to playing stepping off with his first solo piano date. From graphics to playing, it's very much in the mold of uber classic ECM, back when Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea often sounded scary. With sturm and drang classical overtones running through it, we're probably at the start of a journey into finding out there's nothing Kastning can't do.
DAVE YOUNG/Lotus Blossom: To make up for sending us the Polar Vortex this week, Canada is now sending us the latest from their bass playing national treasure, Dr. Dave Young, OC, with every note showing he's still up to maintaining his legend and legacy. Working out on chestnuts with long time side kicks that know what it takes to make it all work, this is classy and classic sitting down jazz that doesn't need pyrotechnics to be hot. Nicely swinging, this how you play when you have nothing to prove but do so anyway. Killer stuff.
Volume 43/Number 92
February 1, 2019
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2019 Midwest Record
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