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JAKE HERTZOG/Patterns: It's almost safe to say that this sounds like nothing you've heard before. To say that Hertzog is a shredder that can't be stopped is just to get the conversation started. Playing somewhere between jazz and rock, this is what "Metal Machine Music" might have sounded like if Lou Reed had intended it to be something more than a pile of shit to get him out of his contract. Wanna hear young Al DiMeola on speed? What else can I say? This is the guitar record you play when you absolutely, positively need to have you mind melted. Yngwie Malmsteen and Charlie Christian rolled into one, all this kid has to do is not run so fast that he trips over himself and the world will be his oyster. Hot stuff for shredder ears.

MARC WAGNON/Earth is a Cruel master: After playing with Headhunters, Brand X and Tunnels, the only thing left for a percussionist to do is go solo and step into the shoes Bill Bruford is leaving behind as he trots off into retirement. It's too easy to call him Bruford's heir apparent, but it does fit the bill. Playing with a wide range of interests and textures, Wagnon is the new progressive darling to watch now that he's calling his own shots. Right in that progressive/jazz/rock pocket, you know who you are if you're a fan of this, and if you are, you will be a fan of this. Right on the money throughout.

THE TRIO/Live @ Charlie O's: On paper, you'd think it shouldn't work; three expert jazzbos from different times and places. In practice, it's quite the opposite proving how real chops are real chops. Playing with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Joni Mitchell and virtually and literally everyone in between, even if they are cartoons, these three hitters band together for a live date once a week at a jazzbo restaurant where they kick out some of the best mainstream trio work heard since, heard since, well, you get it. Kicking it off with a vibe that feels like Charlie Brown jazz and going from there, the only thing these three need to tie this all together is their take on "Let Me Entertain You" because that's something they really know how to do. Simply a wonderful set where everyone is having a grand time, and you will too. Check it out. This is wonderful playing just for the sake of playing.

NORRBOTTEN BIG BAND/The Avatar Sessions-The Music of Tim Hagans: Hagans has been needlessly flying under the radar in these parts since he hangs around Europe leading the Norrbotten Big Band. Being pals with Peter Erskine since they played together under Stan Kenton gives him access to some of the best contemporary jazzbos the big apple has to offer. When all these elements combine, sparks really fly. Hagans has been having sessions escape letting his rep in these parts ferment in the last few years, but this bold date is a real statement. He's a left leaning cat with a bit of a prismatic outlook on things, but you really can't be a contemporary jazz fan without having a taste of this in your lexicon. A wonderfully wild ride that knows how to deliver the thrills and spills in fine form.

ORRIN EVANS/Faith in Action: Hard to believe Bobby Watson has been around long enough that young bloods are doing tributes to him but here's the first out of the box. Like it says in the liner notes, Watson himself feels that Evans is a worthy keeper of the flame that gets Watson's work. With a vibe that goes back to Monk, Evans leads the classic piano trio format with wise ways and everyone here is on the one. A tasty trip that's easy to take, especially for left leaning trio fans.

RALPH BOWEN/Due Reverence: Here's a sax man that likes the sax men that have come before, so much so that he rounds up a first call group of guys to help in kick it out with the titular due reverence. A thoughtful and deep record that manages to hit those bases without becoming ponderous, Bowen and company know how to get inside the music and find that sweet spot where instrumentals really sing. Solid stuff that works throughout.

THE INFORMANT: To everyone on the sidelines that only caught the headlines, this story never made any sense. A do gooder blows the whistle on the bad guys and gets sent to jail Doesn't that fly in the face of all the do gooder stuff they ever shoved down out throats? If this movie is faithful to what really happened, the do gooder was a bad guy himself and instead of trying to cut himself a good deal, he just wanted to throw a bucket of shit on everyone else. Imagine what happened when the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Matt Damon totally and convincingly loses himself in the part of a dumb ass and that what carries this well until the thing unravels. A fun bit of American history that malcontents will be able to soapbox about, probably verse and chapter. Available on DVD and Blu Ray with the Blu Ray including a digital copy. Both versions add deleted scenes.

THE BOX: You press a button and someone you don't know dies but you get a million bucks, and this is happening in 1976 when a million bucks means something. What the problem? This is a sci-fi thriller and there's blow back, you dolt. The blow back! With a lot of first rate talent involved, it underperformed at the theater because it's just too goddamned claustrophobic to view in public. And the tension! Don't forget the tension. A tad more cerebral than your usual horror pic, this could have easily been a great radio play except for the great fx in Blu Ray that just makes the creepiness that much more surrounding. Sign up here to be queasy, uneasy and scared. Blu Ray comes with a digital copy and a few extra geekstras.

Volume 33/Number 103
February 12, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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