BLEY SHEPPARD SWALLOW/Life Goes On: I didn't think we'd be hearing anything new from Carla Bley and how nice it is to be wrong. How nice it is that she can compete with her younger self and still kick her younger self's ass. Leading a trio that can play via telepathy, something set up so simply shouldn't have the right to feel so deep---and does it ever. Even when the music is instrumental, you can feel Bley's puckish grin and dark sense of humor having it's way. Just like Eddie Murphy coming back to SNL, this is no victory lap or exercise in nostalgia. If nothing else, this is going to stand as one of the great after hours albums of all time.
MIKE MATTISON/Afterglow: A roots cat by way of a Harvard Literature degree has earned his spurs as a member of the Trucks/Tedeschi axis where he has helped the gang rack up the awards. Perfectly able to keep the vibe alive going his own way, he's got the chops that let him step away to let his own light shine and deliver the goods. If you already know him, you already dig him---and he doesn't let you jamsters down.
ANDREW ALLI/Hard Working Man: Sure, he tips the cap to Little Walter here and there but this fat toned harp blower is his own man all the way. Slinging the blues from down deep and down home, this is a smoking traditional set that comes complete with the 50s sounding claustrophobic recording room and all the greasy, badass vibes entailed there to. Straight from the gut, this is essential blues that really connects and hits hard.
FUNK SHUI NYC/Sharknato on a Plane: Modern funk that mixes in some second line with the kitchen sink and serves up a fun time for today's ears that might not remember old school funk but are redefining it their own way. As big and bold as the crew itself behind it all, this is a wild ride that provides great thrills and spills as it rollicks it's way home. Great for shaking up tired blood.
NOA/Letters to Bach: An international star that seems like she's been away from our shores for some time kept her connection to Quincy Jones alive as she got him to exec produce this set of inventions on Bach melodies with modern lyrics. The years hasn't dimmed her voice a whit and she knows how to do arty things without coming across as an art chick or in any way pretentious. With well seasoned international chops that have pleased many audiences over the years and miles, this graceful and sprightly collection is a great awakening for jaded adult ears looking for something to really grab them. Well out of the ordinary and well worth taking the time to enjoy.
DANA SANDLER/I Never Saw Another Butterfly: And for those of you who are impressed by the indomitable nature of the human spirit, Sandler set to music actual poetry by children in a WWII concentration camp that didn't yield many survivors. Quite the serious undertaking that's not to be taken lightly as it's almost more cinema than musical.
JC HOPKINS BIGGISH BAND/New York Moment: Good times a plenty are bouncing around here as this swinging crew has all the right moves in all the right places and shows they know how to swing with nothing but providing a good time on the agenda. With a classic feeling underpinning it all, this dandy retro neuvo outing is a great palette cleanser that washes the dross away and let's the good times roll---in fine style.
PAUL SHAW QUINTET/Moment of Clarity: A long standing MVP drummer finally grabs the spotlight for himself and rounds up a crew of downtown all stars to bring it all to life. Solid sitting down jazz with some swing at it's core, this bunch knows what it sounds and feels like in an after hours club and bring that freedom to your ear buds by the truck load. Tasty stuff for that want their jazz to have a serious edge, this set hits it out of the park.
JASON PALMER/The Concert 12 Musings for Isabella: You never know where inspiration is going to come from. Trumpeter Palmer's work here was inspired by the biggest earth heist ever. The 12 songs each commemorate one of the 12 paintings that got disappeared and never recovered. No naïf to jazz or music, Palmer recorded live in an a setting that was compatible to the vibe he wanted to elicit. Cinematic, authentic and fully heartfelt, this double discer takes you through a wide range of emotions as it takes you here to there. Recorded in a setting where talent meets art without worrying about commerce, listeners with an ars gratia artis sentiment are well vindicated here. Well done.
(Giant Step Arts 4)
JACK SLEDGE/Notes of a Drifter: A twanging roots cat that grew up in Brooklyn in the 90s redefines what the Americana dream is about to those on the outside looking in for modern times. A four song taste of what he has up his sleeve, this cat knows how to hit the target and leave you wanting more.
JOHN STEIN/Watershed: The first class jazz guitarist is newly retired and will no longer be hiding his light in the groves of academe. With a load of albums already to his credit, this set finds him using his newly gained freedom to push his crew to go balls to the wall making this Brazilian flavored set anything but a set of swaying sambas for tourists. Putting the groove front and center in these proceedings, you can expect every guitarist comparison to be thrown his way in short order and he's more than up for the comparisons. Sizzling and tasty, this is a jazz guitar treat and then some.
(Whaling City Sound 121)
Volume 44/Number 109
February 17, 2020
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2020 Midwest Record
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