EYAL VILNER BIG BAND/Swing Out!: Fun large band stuff in which the chestnuts are roasted with some worthy originals all served up in a fine mix that tastes great throughout. When a crew like this can even find the swing in Mahalia Jackson, you know they have been paying attention to the dancers they have been playing to as they continue to hone their chops. Keeping it fresh to the point that it doesn't sound like classic cartoon music, this bunch knows how to excite and does it quite well.
IAN WARDENSKI QUINTET/Collective Thoughts: Slightly warmer than cool school, this crew plays with a solid groove that doesn't need to light a fire to be hot stuff. Smartly played throughout out, this educator knows how to leave the ivy walls behind when the tape starts rolling and the tone needs to be just right. A righteous sitting down listening crew, this is what you want to hear when you're heading in to after hours but aren't quite there yet. Well done.
RICH WILLEY'S BOPTISM BIG BAND/Down & Dirty: A trumpet cat that was brought along by some of the top old school jazzbos shows how he learned as he earned and puts those lessons to good use. Rounding up a crew filled with names even a jazz tourist would recognize, everyone gets a chance to shine in this big band date all the while serving to make Willey shine even more. A nicely jumping session that never falters, they make Willey's originals feel right at home in your ear and play with the kind of off the clock zeal old pros have when a good time is in the air and powering the proceedings. Well done.
LARRY CORBAN/Emergence: Even if he's backed by other leaders, this bunch has been a crew since 2013 and they play with the lived in simpatico that is the extra man on the court. Favoring letting the notes fly whether speeding it up or slowing it down, there may be a lot of notes, but they are all in service of pushing the tunes forward. Reaching down and letting their swinging jazzbo souls fly free, the ace guitarist let's us know that the fifth time is the charm as this is easily his best outing yet. With nothing here that doesn't go the distance, this set is easily a winner throughout.
CIRO HURTADO/Altiplano: The world music mainstay shows once again that he's incapable of showing up at the studio, switching on the machines and making just another record. Guitar in hand, he takes flight on another flight of fancy inspired by the high plains of the Andes, setting celestial sail on a set that makes you feel like you're there with the music swirling around you in the streets. Engaging enough to make an arm chair traveler buy a ticket for a change, in this mighty ear opener, this "ethnic" set takes the music beyond borders and regions where it stakes a firm claim on your mind. Hot stuff throughout.
BROOKS & DAY/Mystic Messages: Modern new age with some jazzbo underpinnings, these two old pals that play real instruments give you anything but nostalgia here. With the kind of subtle oomph that makes this more than girl friend music for yoga classes, the jazzy, improv touches make this a fence straddling kind of set that's going to have an unsuspecting, under the radar appeal across many boards. Despite their long musical roots, the duo brings a freshness and curiosity to the music that really grabs you. A smart set that anyone looking to dabble in new age will find themselves getting hooked over.
MIKE WOODLARK/Mackland Ave: The piano/keyboardist has a sprightly touch that keeps things buoyant and lively as he reflects back on a place he lived and thrived for a decade of adult but formative years. Sometimes seeming like an audio version of misty, water colored memories but without becoming mawkish, this easy going set has a gaggle of all the right moves in all the right places making this a high water mark in contemporary instrumental music. Check it out.
TULLIE BRAE/Revelation: Something about this set wrongly makes you think this could be a set of white girl with the blues clichés but there's a left turn in the grooves that delivers a real bitch slap. Moving from the cotton fields and into domestic violence and other #itstime subjects, Brae may be a white girl with the blues, but there are no clichés within earshot. Honing her chops in Louisiana churches, it sounds like they really do have hell hounds on their tails down there. This shows the blues to be much more organic than any purist would have you believe. She keeps it firmly in the tradition while moving it forward so far and so fast that guys can listen and enjoy this even without pretending to have feminist leanings. Powerful, new stuff at all times.
(Endless Blues 1022019)
CHANDA RULE/Sapphire Dreams: With a voice and vibe that feels like Sade meets Nina Simone, this Chicago jazz vocal export has so much on the ball you can count on her conquering the world from her newly adopted home of Austria. Her old school vocal vibe is no nostalgia trip as authenticity is the key to her appeal. With a backing crew that gets it and isn't along just for the ride, this fully formed date takes you where it wants to and you go along voluntarily. A real tonic of a release.
SOUTH PARK /Complete 22nd Season: If Parker and Stone write this stuff high, it's admirable. If they don't, they should be on a short list for a Pulitzer or a Nobel Prize. Killing and grilling more bullshit in 20 minutes than Twain or Swift could in a whole novel, I'm probably going to inspire someone to write "The Zen of South Park" by saying that their success is predicated on being right in the moment. The "Beavis & Butthead" reboot faltered because Mike Judge was so forward thinking the first time around that what he would have satired became commonplace. These cheeky monkeys weren't making fun of Amazon and suburban pot entrepreneurs 20 years ago, they are doing it right now in the 22nd season when this stuff is relevant. Even bringing back an unhinged Al Gore is made relevant as he fights to remain cereal. Back when this started, there was no vaping, no acceptance of anxiety disorders and all the stuff that keeps this in the moment with great hilarity. Add in deleted scenes and other subtle extras like that and you have yet another package that finds this show even more current than it was when it first started out. Hail to the fevered minds behind it.
Volume 43/Number 219
May 28, 2019
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2019 Midwest Record
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