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07/31/20




BLACK ART JAZZ COLLECTIVE/Ascension: More timely this time out than the last time around due to changes in the national pulse, this crew of all black jazzbo hitters keeps it real without venturing back to the church basement showing that now is the time for forward thinking while taking time to honor the past. A solid set of listening jazz that you have to really listen to, this is what you get when the anger is stripped away and only the passion remains. Killer stuff from a crew that knows what it is to sup at the true vine.
(High Note 7329)

RAY MANTILLA/Rebirth: Unfortunately cashing in his chips before he could really experience a career rebirth, the aged conga pro plays like he did in the 50s and when he later hit Cuba with Diz. A snappy, old school Latin jazz date played with been there/done that expertise, this is a fitting send off from a cat that would have left us too soon no matter when it happened. Well done.
(Savant 2181)

JOSE RIZO'S MONGORAMA/Mariposas Cantan: The third set from a crew fronted by an LA dj that's filled with Bay area Latin jazz hitters, some making their last recorded performance, he has Latin jazz flowing through his blood like it's aqua ge baba. With a lot of adult heat for the feet packed into the bytes, this is a high octane thrill ride where everyone is playing with the gas turned up high. A solid set for fans that want to make their friends into new fans as well. Caliente!
(Saungu 5)

KENNY KOTWITZ & the LA Jazz Quintet/When the Lights Are Low: Kotwitz pays tribute to his 50 year mentor and Leon Sash's best buddy on a set where all the jazzbos on board could have played this set of chestnuts in their sleep but play with too much respect to ever do that. Breathing new life in Art Van Damme's jazz accordion classics, with studio ace Kotwitz at the fore, this is like a laid back version of what the Hot Club could have done on a busman's holiday. Smooth and atmospheric, this is primo music for languid afternoons that need just the right mood enhancer. Wow!
(PM Records 2020)

ANDREAS VOLLENWEIDER/Quiet Places: The Swiss harp ace reached enough of you successfully that he was able to take a 10 year powder and regroove himself. Making his original impact on the pop side of a classical label, you can feel him stretching his classical muscles here in the company of his co-horts. Whether serious and heavy or not, he's still a nimble, sprightly player who strums his harp with a smile you can feel. A delightful set that will bring back memories of how satisfying it was to listen to a well done album all the way through, particularly when it takes you to places out of the ordinary.
(MIG 148)

RICK CUTLER/Women & Children: A well traveled rock vet that's done everything with everyone (i.e.: wrote the theme for "Dateline", played back up for Gloria Gaynor, Don Rickles, Donna Summer, Perry Farrell----you get it), shows you a lot of his jazzy side here but could easily be an old school underground FM station all by himself. Playing like he could school you in the history of jazz as well, this is a tour de force kind of set that maintains an underground/just for you vibe throughout making it have a unique, special feel. Tasty and unpredictable, this is for people that remember what it was like to be a musical explorer and be rewarded for your search. Well done.
(New Dude 105)

REZ ABBASI/Django-shift: Originally arising out of a commissioned piece, Abbasi deconstructs Django's compositions and puts them back together. It doesn't seem like he's putting such radical ideas into play---but it's one of those things where the parts of the sum are greater than the whole. Totally new music for totally new ears, it's not just the recording techniques and tools that bring these classics into the present. Retaining his title as a modern master, the esteemed guitarist rewrites the book on how to get it done. A really meaty treat to sink your musical teeth into.
(Whirlwind 4762)

MARIA SCHNEIDER ORCHESTRA/Data Lords: Always having been that DIY kind of gal, usually out of necessity, it's no surprise that Schneider is making her fifth album for Artistshare. What is surprising how dark much of the music is and how political she is in the accompanying booklet. And she's basically rallying against the death of the individual and how manipulated we are. With the passion Carla Bley brought to projects like this 50 years ago in much the same manner, Schneider hit's the nail on the head and drives it home with gale force. A double cd with a disc each to the digital side and the natural side, she handles her position so eloquently that you just don't want to get into an argument with her. Wonderful progressive music for thirsty progressive ears.
(Artistshare 176)

GREG COPELAND/Tango Bar: You've heard this story before--a muso says screw it and becomes a lawyer only to get the bug again a million years later in his emeritus years. The curve ball here? This cat had a few hits under his belt, was very much a part of the Laurel Canyon scene and was a running mate of Jackson Browne. Now stepping up with his third album in 40 years, nearly 60 years into his career, this sounds like something that could have been frozen in amber under Billy James laundry room all this time. With the young ‘uns rediscovering the Laurel Canyon vibe, this set could have amazing legs to it as it's loaded with pros coming by to tip the cap and plays like it should have been the follow up to his 1982 debut. You had to be there but this is actually a great balm if you weren't.
(Paraply 34)

BETTE SMITH/the Good The Bad The Bette: A personal soul album from a Brooklyn soul queen in the making that that enlisted some southern rockers to produce her interpretation of childhood trauma. How is it these things that aren't supposed to work manage to work? To top it off, it's released by a German label that might have thought they were getting a Betty Davis or a Betty Lavette but got the next Aretha instead. A smashing slice of modern soul that really goes deep, the new bar has been raised and firmly put in place.
(Ruf 1284)

Volume 44/Number 276
July 31, 2020
MIDWEST RECORD
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2020 Midwest Record


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