PATRICK BARNITT/Sway: Sometimes you just need a cat that knows how to croon and Barnitt repeatedly shows that he knows how to get the job done soon. Ditching the intimate trio sound of his last album for a lush, big band backing, he covers some mainstay tunes while also dipping a toe in contemporary waters making them all flow together in the same direction. Not trying to manqué swinging Sinatra but not shying away from proudly wearing the influence, he offers up a set that gives the masters their due while staying his own man. The perfect match for martini time.
KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE/soundtrack: A bunch of disparate talents come together to make the cleffer for a political documentary. Yes, the times they are a changing. A little too fat to sound ambient, this set could stand on it's own as an instrumental set that lights dark corners away from the norm---but not too far away. The kind of music that cold easily be noticed on it's own away from the pic, there's a new breed of real pros coming up and claiming their spots.
LAFAYETTE GILCHRIST/Dark Matter: A piano cat that won't be pigeon holed as he let's you know what would happen if Scott Joplin met Chuck Brown in an Edward Hopper painting, you can never pin him down as he can confabulate all kinds of influences in one tune---and that's half the fun, trying to keep up. A player that exists in his own wonderful time zone, this is a delightful ear opener that keeps you tuned in just to hear what's coming next. Well done.
JACK QUARTET/Filigree: A high minded meeting of the minds in which a smart quartet takes on the music of contemporary composer Hannah Lash, all involved show why they have such sterling, worldwide reputations as they move the frontiers of contemporary classical forward. Despite the title, the music is not delicate but often engaging in it's complexity and depth taking the listener to places not previously imagined. Stellar work from all involved.
(New Focus 228)
NICHOLAS ALTOBELLI/Vertigo: A nu generation of Texas singer/songwriter troubadour, Altobelli's folkie based/California grown roots are unmistakable but so is the Texas beer halls that drive the tinkling piano underscoring things. With a loping gate that comes from mellowing after being out of the studio for four years, this cat has survived a few fires and come out the stronger for it. Nicely done throughout.
MOKEN/Missing Chapters: When this cat opens the record sounding like Tiny Tim, you quickly realize this is Afropop for malcontents. From Cameroon and transplanted to Atlanta, the music is nice but the vocals meander in such a way that you know linear thought wasn't one of the inspirations for this set. Perhaps the Afropop version of freak folk, the message is clear but you start thinking it might be in code for the true believers to really latch on to.
JENNA McLEAN/Brighter Day: A young jazz vocalist delightfully blowing off the bullshit of the modern world leads with her old school soul and delivers the goods. Just letting a solid set of pipes, good phrasing and good taste in backing cats power the session, which was recorded in one afternoon (old school, of course), whether scatting on Gershwin or giving good reading to Joni Mitchell, her pure performance is a welcome tonic to jaded ears that just want it true and direct. A winner throughout and a great beginning.
PUREUM JIN/Real Blue: A wonderful parade of young lions on the prowl, this session is led by the latest in a growing line of saxy ladies that blows so mightily it'll leave you wondering why they started naming her-icanes after men a few years ago. A non-stop, no holds barred improviser that careens without letting the wheels roll off the track, there's just nothing here not to like---especially interesting since the program is mostly originals. Tasty throughout, this is a wining bet that will pay off big.
RENAISSANCE/Ashes are Burning: Certainly a good thing Universal didn't have possession of these tapes when the great fire hit the warehouse. 45 years ago, when prog consisted of different flavors, we got our early taste of Annie Haslam whose grace and five octave voice left a much better and lasting impression than the competing schmata queens of the day. Not the same band that it was just a few years before, the sound took you to other realms without dallying around swords and sorcerers probably explaining why it still has a fresh sound today. Recorded during the golden age of throw it against the wall, this is one that delightfully stuck. Still a winner. This version comes with some contemporaneous tracks recorded fro BBC.
RENAISSANCE/Song for All Seasons: The band's career defining 70s album that found them breaking out of the Pentangle/Fairport Convention pack powered by an actual hit single, this set lets the wider world know what the rabid cult already knew. Given the deluxe treatment an album like this deserves, it's been remastered, given bonus BBC tracks and has an added two discs of a contemporaneous concert that hit the high spots while touring behind this album. Add in a comprehensive booklet and a period poster and you have a set that the purist will treasure---especially since this isn't a $250 a seat, victory lap kind of crew. Classical prog pop that took things in a different direction, this is a sterling testament for the ages.
Volume 43/Number 240
June 18, 2019
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2019 Midwest Record
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