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JONATHAN NG/Sphynx: Who knows what's an acquired taste with millenials these days, but for geezers like me, the sound of something that sounds like it sprang from old cartoons is always welcome. Inspired by the Django bunch, sounding like he'd be right at one in one of Adrian Cunningham's ensembles, Ng is an old soul that knows the right moves. Putting his fiddle front and center, he leads a wonderful journey through the past that's always a gasser.

JUSTIN VARNES/Survival Instinct-Evilution of the Pack: A jazz drummer with enough beats in his kit to be one of these cats that fuses the past with he future, he sounds old school until you give a good listen and hear he hears tomorrow with all acuity. Leading an ensemble that plays right in synch with his vision, this nu modern jazz is great sitting down jazz that knows a few more than all the right moves. It full of Blue Note today if Al Lion was still in charge.

SAM FAZIO/Let's Go: The Chicago vocalist who managed to step up and capably fill Buddy Charles' shoes let's go with his latest set featuring sympathetic production by Tuck & Patti that gives him loads of room to shine at what he does best. A straight up vocal album by a man with a gifted voice and style, he's played well beyond the Chicago confines and deserves to be appreciate in those spaces as well. Tasty stuff sure to please any vocal fan, this set of originals and covers is one the money throughout.

KAYLE BRECHER/Kayleidoscope: You've got to watch out for this Philly jazz vocalist. She tried hard into getting you to think she's an art chick or going for the tortured artist effect--but she's not. She has well honed skills of invention and innovation that can take the hoariest chestnut and make it feel freshly roasted---and keep you from tuning out. A vet singer you want to check out as opposed to check out on, Brecher has the skills to make everything her own, even when adding to well established works by well established jazzbos. Offbeat but never off putting, these are real skills to pay real bills.
(Penchant Four 1019P4)

MICHAEL WALDROP/Triangularity: When he can get away from the classroom and grading papers, drummer Waldrop has been cutting a pretty fair swath across the terrain in recent years. Here we find him going back to the day, remastering his 2002 self released debut of his piano led trio that shows he knew which end was up right out of the box. Still sounding fresh and contemporary, this is a solid, straight ahead trio set that has the sound and fury of all the best stuff from right in the pocket. How nice he was thinking of us listeners when he was doing some recent house cleaning as this is a worthy addition to any growing collection on him.

JEFF RUPERT-GEORGE GARZONE/The Ripple: In which the twin sax men invite you to partake in the inverted tribute album. This tribute to Lester Young has none of his songs or songs played by him but is made up of songs played by those influenced by him---including just a few by the players and label owners on board. These two should schedule an Al & Zoot tribute as well. No matter what the pretext, this is some fine blowing that jazzbos looking for some sitting down stuff to relax with and savor should enjoy. A solid set throughout, it shouldn't be so surprising that this is a rare treat---but it is. Well done.
(Rupe Media 13020)

LIZZIE THOMAS/New Sounds From the Jazz Age: The Nashvillian with no trepidations about taking on New York has more than made her moves over the last few years. Assembling a crew that takes her as seriously as she takes her undertaking of the classic song bag, this jazz vocalist finds refuge in Ella and Billie but takes endless delight in being a classic broad as well. With a non kittenish come on that seems like it would be at home coming from her while lounging on top of a piano while tugging on hapless neck ties, Thomas has really got it going on. A wonderful timeless album that knows how to exist and thrive well outside the major label system---much to the system's chagrin.

GINETTA'S VENDETTA/Pocketful of Cool: The pocket trumpeter with the North Texas background does a fine job of tackling classic jazz here but the thing that really makes her shine is an original that sounds like it should have been a sound bed for Tom Waits when he was deep in his early beatnik phase. It just hits it so far out of the park! With enough frequent flier miles racked that she'll never have to pay for a vacation as long as she doesn't let them expire, this world traveled, world class player is a tonic for tired ears. Killer stuff that almost feels like it's coming from an unexpected place.
(Kickin Wiccan)

LOIS BRUNO/And So It Begins: A vet of sound alike recordings, Bruno finally gets the chance to grab the spotlight for herself as herself and delivers on a set of mostly jazz classics with a touch of some diversion to show off all the precincts she can deliver from. A straight ahead vocal set that relishes how far it can go with unpretentiousness, she might have leaned the skills to pay the bills the hard way, but she learned them nonetheless. A solid vocal set throughout.
(Wise Cat 5)

BOSSACUCANOVA & ROBERTO MENESCAL/Bossa Got the Blues: A combination that's been going strong for 40 years, this bunch might have the samba groove but it's still almost like they never heard of Jobim. Forward thinking, modern Brazilian music to the core, they still have a fresh sound like no other and could certainly teach the young ‘uns a thing or two about keeping it interesting and making it compelling. And the sound of the beach is still all over it. Killer grooves, killer stuff throughout.
(Six Degrees 1295)

Volume 44/Number 75
January 14, 2020
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2020 Midwest Record

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