BRANDON ROBERTSON/Bass'd on a True Story: Settling on this title because the original songs here are tied to people, places and things that are meaningful to his journey, the meaningful thing for the rest of us is that Robertson is the coolest bass player to pluck the strings since Eldee Young passed. Kicking it off with a cover that sounds like Young coming back to leave us with one more tune, Robertson is a master of time, space and touch. With a well traveled, well honed vibe running underneath it all, he's an all around cat for real muso ears. Straight ahead jazz with little bits of here and there inserted here and there that keep you captivated throughout. Killer stuff.
ANDY BALLANTYNE/Play on Words: The vet sax man that's played with everyone from eggheads to populists serves it up purely on his own terms. With titles full of word play to play with your head as well as announce the theme of the track, Ballantyne plays with after hours abandon in a gleeful way that's powered by a smile and not a smirk. Serving sax sans skronk, Ballantyne is a solid player that deserves to have more people in touch with that sentiment. A wonderful listening date.
DITHER/Potential Differences: Different strokes for different folks. Here's a record for the rest of us that are intimidated by eggheads enthusing over pots and pans music left wondering what the big deal is. Proving that experimental, electronic music can be outré and still keep it's edge, this guitar quartet from outer space might not be making music for everybody but if Steve Reich is your idea of a musical gateway drug... Probably MacArthur geniuses of tomorrow, this crew is sure to take you places you've only heard in dream. Wild stuff that works.
(New Focus 235)
MARSHA BARTENETTI/I Believe in Love: Coming back to being a vocalist after a great run as voice over talent, she seems to have resumed her career in fine style and with a special grace for someone that started this escapade in the 60s. A skilled vocalist that has an understanding of music from the last 80 years, she delivers so intimately that it's easy to enjoy this set by sitting back, closing your eyes and letting her program do it's thing. While many of these tunes are overly familiar, she serves them up in a way that doesn't find them wearing out their welcome or feeling reheated. A real treat for vocal music fans.
JIMMY COBB/Remembering U: What is there to say? Cobb is 90, still swinging and still cool enough to get some greats on both sides of the studio glass to show up in time for their last sessions. Not quite following the modal feeling of "Kind of Blue", Cobb keeps the jazz flowing in more of a linear way---even if you can feel some Miles vibe in the music from time to time as channeled by Roy Hargrove. Purely an ensemble work throughout, Cobb directs from the back of the riser like the unerring, consummate pro he is. You don't pick this up because he's venerable, you pick this up because he's great. Well done throughout.
(Jimmy Cobb World 1001)
PAT LABARBERA-KIRK MACDONALD QUINTET/Trane of Though-Live at the Rex: Two generations of sax aces that play with the synchronicity of Al and Zoot---on the music of Coltrane no less, share their life experiences bonding with the music of Coltrane and deliver in such fine form you can't help but to have your mind blown. Swinging and grooving their way through tunes from various Coltrane times, this is one of those journey's through the past that has to be made with sherpas like this leading the way. Killer stuff.
(Cellar Live 71819)
JOSHUA BREAKSTONE TRIO/Children of Art: One of our pre-eminent guitarists celebrating the 100th birthday of a master drummer? What's the world coming to? Well, don't worry there plenty of music to go around for everybody. Breakstone turns it out here on tunes by members of Art Blakey's various editions of the Messengers, all of which give his trio plenty of room to swing it like the originals. A real gasser of a tribute, when you stop and honor the past in such a way as this, everyone walks away a winner. Well done.
CHIP STEPHENS-GLENN WILSON/Sadness & Soul: Playing together for 18 years but as a duo only for two, these two jazz aces take their piano and sax on some flights of fancy that give them a platform for improvs you would think couldn't be done. Mixing cinematic precision and non-challance together in the same measure, your ears are up for a real treat here. Using intimacy as a weapon and a friend, they are playing right in front of you in a special and personal way that leaves impact after impact. A smoking set that has to be heard to be believed.
DOUG MACDONALD & THE TARMAC EMSEMBLE/Jazz Marathon 4-Live at Hangar 18: The return of Macdonald's jazz party where a bunch of killer SoCal jazzbos are brought in to play simultaneously in various combinations and let the fur fly. The result is always on the money and this 4th edition of the round up is no less satisfying than the previous go ‘rounds. With Macdonald's guitar once again being the only constant, straight ahead jazz fans can never say they are underserved by quality sets as long as this concept keeps going. As always, a real treat.
ROGER KELLAWAY/Many Open Minds: Maybe it's an Illinois law that isn't enforced in California but isn't it against the law for a guy that's been recording for 60 years to open a program with a Monk tune where he's playing so fast that you could break your neck while he's playing if you don't hold on tight? Reveling on a program of tunes from when he was growing up/coming up, the master protean pianist puts ego aside to take you down to the saloon where the tip jar eagerly awaits your attention at the edge of the piano. A masterful set from a real master, this stands as a record that needed to be made.
Volume 43/Number 341
October 7, 2019
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2019 Midwest Record
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