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SATOKO FUJII ORCHESTRA NEW YORK/Entity: It's not enough that the reigning bad girl of Japanese improv jazz can cast a net so wide that she catches Wilco sidemen in her net, here we find her with her New York crew of nearly 25 years standing turning in a set inspired by Buddha's understanding of particle physics long before scientists took up the study. And the cherry on top is she's got this crew of mostly honkies sounding like they are playing civil rights jazz from church basements that closed when they were wearing Garanimals. Still a raging malcontent of the highest order, this sounds like it might go down as Fujii's most user friendly listening experience on disc. Is she selling out or just exploring another facet of her creativity? We'll never know. Wild stuff just right for people up for it.
(Libra 214 058)

TUNDRA/Invisible Ritual: Half the fun of improv is you never know what you're going to get, even if it falls flat at least half the time. If Lou Reed could hang with Phil Glass, this is why you shouldn't be surprised if you can feel Reedian echoes here. This violin/piano duo might have their roots in contemporary classical but this set feels like they felt a need to take Lindsay Sterling to school. More concerned with pushing boundaries than commercial concerns, it's that puristy that'll grab real musos looking for something meaty no matter how far it comes from beyond the pale. Anything can happen with everything on the table here, this wild and wooly set is sure to take you places you've only heard in dreams. Well done.
(New Focus TUN14)

BRIAN SCANLON/Brain Scan: A jazzbo sax cat that's played on virtually everything with everyone, including scads of mass market projects that you can't escape, finally decides to launch his solo debut after 32 years of laboring in the vineyard. Calling in a crew of like chopped pros leading off with Dr. Um, Trey Henry, Larry Koonse and more, this is smoking contemporary jazz that just can't be beat. Tune in for a whale of a good time.
(Scan Man)

ANTHONY JEFFERSON/All I Am: An unabashed lover of old school silky soul, Jefferson has eclectic enough taste to appreciate Tony Joe White as he prepares his song mix. Delightfully old school with affection and not affectation, this is a fine example background music that deceptively really isn't. Steppers unite, here's a anew standard bearer.

CHRIS SHUTTERS/Good Gone Bad: An old black guy with the rocks and an old white guy with the blues team up for a guitar slinger shoot out that sets new standards. Without an ounce of pretense between them to crowd out any ounces of soul, these blues rocking bad boys deliver the kind of performances that just makes you gape in awe. Killer stuff that locks in a groove but never locks itself into any one thing, this is what real parties used to sound like back in the day. Killer stuff throughout.
(Third Street Cigar)

THE JIMMYS/Gotta Have It: Madison WI might be a progressive citadel but it's the long time home to these bad ass white boys that know how to deliver a classic R&B show good time and be no stranger to the top of their form. Calling in a few of the top contemporary white boys with the blues to keep things fresh, this is what a smile sounds like. A steaming good time throughout, this crew hits the heights yet again.
(Brown Cow 6)

LPT/Sin Parar: With a sound that sounds like RMM never went out of business and had some nu ears looking for classic sounds, this Florida salsa crew sounds way more Nyorican than Jacksonville FL even if all signs should point to the tropics. Hard swinging hard salsa, this is primo stuff for a new generation of gringos to do the white guy dance to as they try mightily to get their groove on. This is what real parties are made of.
(Bold City)

DREW FISH BAND/Wishful Drinkin': Other than looking a little too young and fresh to promote the hard country/honky tonk sounds that need to be refreshed every few years to bring country back to the country, Fish and his pals are the antidote to bro country that's to country music what panty hose are to finger banging. A pure bred uptown, down home good old boy, every generation needs a Chris Wall and this cat is just one anthem away from being legend.

FORREST McDONALD BAND/Blues in a Bucket: Slinging his guitar over 50 years everywhere from Muscle Shoals to Boston with a slew of luminaries topped off by Bob Seger, McDonald doesn't play like a 70 year old wondering what to do now. A high octane, high energy white boy with smoking soul, it's clear he just doesn't want to go home at the end of the night. A wild time that doesn't give a whit about anything other than plugging into the cosmic, eternal groove.
(World Talent 15)

VALERY PONOMAREV BIG BAND LIVE/Our Father Who Art Blakey-The Centennial: So enamored with Blakey's sound and fury, Ponomarev rounds up the big band again to travel some of the same ground in celebration of the master's 100th birthday. Note perfect without being slavish, he demonstrated his love for this before and the love still burns brightly. For fans of great jazz played right, not just fans of Blakey, this fast ball right down the middle hits all the right notes in fine form.
(Summit 758)

Volume 44/Number 64
January 3, 2020
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2020 Midwest Record

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