JUNE BISANTZ & ALEX NAKHIMOVSKY/Love's Tango: A dandy odd duck of a release that finds two solid jazzbos teaming up for an original set of bossa based tunes with an unmistakable authentic feel. Stretching the boundaries of a well worn format that's recently celebrated it's 50th birthday, it's obviously a solid sound that welcomes all with something to bring to the table. The kind of music that's getting the jump on summer and trying to do it's part to chase the polar vortex away, can Sea Breezes and dental floss bikinis be far behind? Quite the luscious taste treat.
JACK KILBY & THE FRONT LINE/Love is a Song Anyone Can Sing: A gaggle of mostly young jazzbos that has learned their lessons well enough that they can play big band in the tradition but keep it lively and forward thinking without being overly reverential to the past. Hot and hard hitting, this bunch is here to push the sound into the future without anything rolling off the rails. Energetic and engaging, this gang is here to play, but they work as hard as they play. Well done.
RIC HARRIS/Open for Business: A white boy with the blues that left the Carolinas to study guitar at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music before taking a mere 30 years off the bandstand to raise a family, he's now back giving it everything he's got. With as much of a tip of the hat to southern rock as southern blues, his jump blues certainly has the jump on lots of other comers. Rollicking party music playing, this is loaded with the kind of musical moves that make you not care about paying the babysitter extra if it means the party keeps going. Old guys rule!
JAMES FERNANDO/Lonely Sailor: A certified piano tyro with the chops and flying time that would have enabled him to take the easy way out, instead he lets his restless soul merge his loves for classical and jazz with his tech abilities to make an acoustic piano go electric----and then show us how it's done solo. Coming across as improv and impressionistic, another trick up his sleeve is making it sound easier than it is. A date meant for real listening, you need this at hand when it's time to block out the noise of the day. Well done throughout.
REAUL E. BLANCO & JAZZ WIRES/Land of the Giants: If this sounds like Latin jazz you just can't put your finger on, it might be because the cat at the wheel is a Cuban expatriate that had the good fortune to be encouraged and supported since he could walk. The sound is modern and contemporary leaving Ricky Ricardo in the dust but not wrapping itself in the sound of the street. This is straight up, on the money stuff that hit's the bulls eye with well honed chops and good vibes for all. A winner throughout, particularly for the open eared jazzbo that wants the good stuff delivered to his door.
LINETTE TOBIN'S PANGAEA/New Shape of the World: Can you be a DC immigration lawyer by day and a world beat drummer by night? Stranger things have happened. Picking her playmates wisely, this bouncy Afro Cuban world beat date has the diversity and drive to bring it to the fore with ease. Kind of a nu ethnic date, the hallmark elements are in evidence but gringos can dig it too. Solid stuff.
GARY DEAN SMITH/Awakening: We can always appreciate a good busman's holiday set and here we find Jimmy Haslip bringing the pals, chops and vibes to this smooth jazz crew subsuming it under the leader's name for the record. Easy going beach jazz meant to go great with cocktails, it's smooth without being smooth as glass giving you something to grab on to along the way. Well done throughout.
KEVIN QUINN/Paramedics: A young guitarist that took his chops from school to the Shape Shifter crucible where they were forged by contemporary Brooklyn jazz, his debut is loaded with smooth jazz full of rough edges. Never veering in to off putting territory but giving you plenty of the spontaneity that seems it reveals something new with each successive listening, this is solid, forward thinking jazz guitar that simply goes the distance. Check it out.
LYN STANLEY/London Calling-A Toast Julie London: This record calls up a fun memory. Years ago, I had to contact Bobby Troup about a special project. I called his house, a woman answered and it took me a few minutes to realize ‘god damn, I'm talking to Julie London'. This toast, rather than a tribute or homage by Stanley, a classic thrush that understands the mode and simply gets better with each new recording, refashions the classics putting her own stamp on them with a bunch of first call jazzbos bringing up the rear making the whole here something new and wonderful. Keeping it real all the way down to the "Calendar Girl" inspired art work in the booklet, this is a wonderful journey through the past that really serves as a bridge to a bright future. Killer stuff throughout.
CAROL SUDHALTER QUARTET/Live at St. Peter's Church: A saxy lady that's been at it long enough it's amazing she's still got such powerful lungs after cutting her teeth in joints when smoking indoors was still legal. With a classic sound that makes this swinging set feel like it could have been recorded at any time in the last 50 years, this is a valentine for the real jazzbo that's more than a happy with a fast ball right down the middle where you can see the smoke trailing behind it. Those of us that can't play like this give it five thumbs up.
SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD/Off-Center Cast Recording: A recording of the recent revival of a 1995 debut by a writer that's since become a Broadway staple, the update of the original keeps the spirit in tact but doesn't have any superfluous elements. A double cd that brings it all home once again with a raft of performances about people facing new challenges through history. Still full of all it's snap and creativity, there's a generation that has lapsed since the original and the revival and it's a good place for younger ears to get on board with a classic. Still hot after all this time.
JOHN PIZZARELLI TRIO/For Centennial Reasons-100 Year Salute to Nat King Cole: And it's been almost 25 years since the last Cole tribute because...? The last was a piano tribute with a killer guitarist on board, this one is by a killer guitarist that has the added coloration of his pop being around when these songs were originally original. With chops that won't let him sell things short and material that can't let him, even when he sneaks in a few originals, this is an album Pizzarelli was meant to make and there's not a byte here that says otherwise. Killer stuff throughout.
(Ghostlight Deluxe 83322)
UNBREAKABLE/Original Cast Recording: An important recording of a commissioned work from a nu Broadway staple that feels like an operatic look at 120 years of LGBTQ struggle. It won't change the minds of any haters out there but there's a lot of people, even in 2019, that don't have any significant exposure to gay people than Uncle Arthur on "Bewitched" or Jack on "Will & Grace" and it will go a long way toward humanizing ‘nonconforming' life styles for those that really don't know anything about it but are forward thinking enough to want to expand their pool of ‘us' in an increasingly us or them world where barriers to ‘us' need to be struck down to scale for survival. An incredible groundbreaking and monumental work, if your ears are open, this will fill them with lots of food for thought. Well done.
MICHAEL JEROME BROWNE/That's Where it's At!: A white boy with the blues that approaches the middle from another angle, Browne strips down soul music from various eras and delivers the roots of it all in a most elegant roots fashion. A top shelf performer that knows how to deliver the good on time and in tact, he's totally a cat that you can't miss out on if you call yourself a roots fan. Well done.
Volume 43/Number 95
February 8, 2019
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2019 Midwest Record
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