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VINSON VALEGA GROUP/Biophilia: Vinson is one of those drummers that knows how to give everyone else some and this set is simply a wonderful burst of playing that hits the target. Not exactly sitting down jazz but a real tonic to have playing in the car, it evokes and lot of jazz touchstones that keep you moving with the music and engaged throughout. Some records are more fun to listen to than to write about and this set speaks for itself better than anyone else can. This ensemble knows how to communicate telepathically and the results burn brightly. Check it out.

JEAN-MICHEL PILC/True Story: You know how you like Keith Jarrett records except for when the mic picks up all the annoying grunts he makes? Pilc has mastered the art of the Jarrett art trio without all the grunts and extraneous noises that make you rip your headphones off. Completely wonderful art jazz that pulls you in with its subtlety and keeps you on board with it's chops. A high water mark for music in this pocket.

FRANCOIS COUTURIER/Un Jour is Blanc: Solo piano art jazz throughout. If this is your cup of tea and ECM is a name you know to trust, this is a fine addition to their solo piano line. Not for moldy figs but for deep thinkers.

FRANK KIMBROUGH/Rumors: You want some jazz recording done old skool? Kimbrough gets a call from a pal telling him he's four free studio hours available the next day. Wanna use them? Kimbrough scurries to get a cat he wants to play with that's heading back to Barcelona, rounds up a third piece, a set card and the fur flies in three hours of recording. As close to pure improv as you can get, this is certainly a set with feeling and smarts played by cats that don't need to be told what to do. It's art jazz that really smart jazz and proof of why hes on the speed dial of so many players in New York.

GAIDA/Levantine Indulgence: To be released in a few weeks, just in time for Arabic Mother's Day, this Syrian world beat date is a nice ear opener for gringo ears on the prowl for something other than belly dance music to come out of the middle east. Spirited party music, Gaida is now based in New York and is probably working her corner of the world beat music world in fine style. This is the kind of record that has so much on the ball that it's the one you buy on the way out of a night at an ethnic restaurant with some pals. Tasty stuff that exists in a world of it's own, it's a nice portal for western ears to check into.

VAN WAGENINGEN BROTHERS/Muziek: This sibling rhythm section from Amsterdam has been hanging around the Bay area for 30 years. In that time, they've played with every jazz and new age act that matters, mastering a wide range of styles that seems to find them able to play anything. Calling in the chits for their long overdue debut, this is a prime piece of adult jazz that lets you jump in at any level you're comfortable, from sitting down to moving easy. Simply great instrumental prowess throughout that you could leave on repeat and still find something new on each pass. Well done.

COCO MONTOYA/I Want it All Back: With Keb Mo as producer and a really all star cross section crew backing him up, Montoya decides to adjust to the new realities of the marketplace and add his vocals to his known quantity guitar work. More of a pop record than a blues guitar slinger shoot out, Montoya pleasantly gets into a groove sounding like Jesse Winchester when he tries to get in touch with his organic, Southern soul roots. With some Motown, some bluesed up country, some effervescent off beat pop and other nice touches, this is a dandy adult pop record that flies at you from a totally unexpected direction and leaves a nice vibe in it's wake. Fun stuff that keeps it coming in a nice easy groove that does give the bloodstream a light work out.

MORELAND & ARBUCKLE/Flood: It all started with an impromptu jam and now, a decade later, this duo has the blues rock thing down better than most of the 60s practitioners. Mixing the industrial thud/thunder of Muddy Waters with roadhouse rollick, they've located the sweet spot that spells eternal frat boy. These kings of the back 40 are simply kicking it high and wide. Raucous, raunchy and full of high octane, this is the only thing you need right now to kick out the jams. Killer stuff.

Volume 33/Number 121
March 2, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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