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CHARLIE APICELLA & Iron City/Groove Machine: Recidivist hard bop groovers to the point of having flawless Lou Donaldson and Willis Jackson tracks in their song stack, this bunch that takes it back to when Blue Note didn't care how Beatles were rolling over everything in sight proving that good taste is timeless and who ever says something like this is dated should probably be punched in the mouth. No pomo manques here, this set hits hard and hits often. Well done throughout.
(OA2 22166)

RODNEY WHITAKER/Common Ground: An acknowledged bass ace with a well stamped passport meets a home town cat that had the will but didn't have the way and finds the sweet spot where his world wise chops can bring the composer's modern soul jazz to the world. With an all star crew in tow, this new jazz voice is finally getting his chance to be heard in grand style. Certainly a modern take on civil rights jazz for the woke, this set shows the merits of hanging in there to make the struggle worth it. Smart stuff done right.
(Origin 82780)

CHRISTINA LAROCCA/These Are My Whiskey Dreams: A wild, modern mash up of a date, you never know if this is modern vocal, modern jazz/blues or something that exists in it's own modern time zone where people with a ear open to the future can truly appreciate it. Hallmarked by unbridled fearlessness, this is a sound trapped feeling soccer moms can really make their own. Check it out.

PHIL RANELIN/Collected Works 2003-2019: 45 years after founding Tribe Record, this bone man is still going strong and this anthology of him playing with everyone shows how and why he's kept going through it all. Stopping just short of being a load of free jazz, even if some of his team mates have normally kept going well beyond that, this is hard hitting jazz that doesn't need a weatherman to tell it which way the wind is blowing---and this has a load of great blowing. Muscular jazz that isn't worried about commercial concerns or the clock on the wall, hard core jazzbos will love this double discer and dig deeper.
(Wide Hive 351)

JONATHAN NG/Dreaming on My Feet: A swinging fiddler that's played both Djangofest and World of Bluegrass, it hits you right out of the box that this sounds like Hot Club coming to you right from Mars with modern digital equipment. A tasty, fun set that has a subversive, delightful zaniness merrily running through it, this should be a mighty gateway drug to get millenials to fire up some Grappelli on You Tube and find out what all the fuss is about with the geezers. Well done.

DAVE MORGAN/Blue is More Than a Color: Way too cool for jazz supported by American art's council money, this is a big band, cinematic effort from cats in Ohio that are pretty much choosing to stay put. With a sensibility and sensitivity that keeps you rapt throughout, this highly creative and inventive work puts the main stream record business to shame that it won't encourage and grow records like this anymore. A thoughtful, encompassing work that real jazzbos ought rally around and encourage. Smart stuff throughout.
(Being Time 205)

ALEX SIPIAGIN/NoFo Skies: It's not often that music actually lets you hear in color but this set inspired by a part of Long Island has the chops to do just that. A cat that's learned how to be a crowd pleaser by putting in his time with those who know, he's been having a career of his own away from the headliner's bandstands and you can certainly say he's put in his 10,000 quality hours. Simply a smart, savvy release that invites you to partake because it's so tasty.
((Blue Room 1005)

JEFF WILLIAMS/Bloom: A drummer led jazz piano trio made up of friends old and new, they know how to kick it out on muscular, improvs that have the kind of angularity that always catches your ear. Pros that know how to use their freedom wisely, this is one of those sets that lets you hear something new each time you play it. Shining as an ensemble, this date knows how to hit all the high notes in fine form.
(Whirlwind 4737)

JOSHUA ESPINOZA/Journey Into Night: A jazz piano trio that kicks it off with some Bacharach that doesn't often get a jazz treatment and ends with some Eagles kind of tips their hand they're here for the good times. Sandwiched between is a load of originals that fill the bill with non filler treats and ultimately prove how well this cat knows his way around a keyboard. With too much sprightly dexterity to be called a purist, Espinoza is sure and due to be getting a load of name recognition all his own in short order. Well done.

AVERY SHARPE/400 An African American Musical Portrait: A musical civil rights journey beginning with the landing of the first slave ship 400 years ago and ending with an eye toward the future, this is a statement in addition to being some well wrought jazz. It's a reminder that the cost of freedom is eternal vigilance. Playing like a movie or an opera, this work is born of passion and pain and is loaded with what it takes to make whitey stop asking why the 400 year card always has to be played. Standing on the music alone, this is an award winning release.
(JKNM 898913)

Volume 43/Number 201
May 10, 2019
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2019 Midwest Record

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