CHRIS ROTTMAYER/Sunday at Pilars: A cheese head that knows how to swing shows the rest of the world how to be a protean jazzbo that can go from Hoagy Carmichael to Charles Mingus with stops at his own notebook along the way. A high octane outing with Jack Wilkins along to make sure this date isn't short on sax appeal, any jazzbo with that unquenchable thirst for more piano combos that know their stuff will want to add this to their collection. Drivingly hot stuff.
ALEXANDER McCABE/I'D Prefer: This was recorded in an afternoon at the end of August so it's basically hot off the press but it has the feel of a swinging, 50s jazz vocal date, appropriately moody thrush included. Loaded with jazz pedigrees that you'll have to Google on your own, this studio rat and his pals have delivered well over the years when you didn't know their names---this is just icing on that cake. Think of a sophisticated New York sax date and this will come to mind once you get a taste. Just plain smoking.
JEFF BENEDICT BIG BIG BAND/Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful: Kind of a tribute to the 70s when movies and TV were using a lot of big bands, the only real throwback here beside the vibe is Q's "Hikky Burr" (see if you can remember what that's from, I don't even think they are showing the repeats any more). Other than that, it's a well played program with enough swing and groove to keep you going for quite a while. Smoothly solid, this is a great date to kick back with when you want to put your feet up and let someone else expand the energy. Betcha no one in this gang was goofing off when they were taking music lessons back in the day.
(Groovy Panda 19001)
JUSTIN ROTHBERG GROUP/Hurricane Mouse: A funky cat with a Fender, Rothberg has swung around the horn with everything from world to classical and he drops elements of all that here with this crew serving up loads of modern funky jazz and more. A real Friday afternoon mood enhancer, this is actually th winter version of summer jazz, with a different vibe and taste but an effect that's no less effective. Everyone's cooking and the date is a gasser.
LARRY NEWCOMB QUARTET/Love, Dad: A former guitar student of Bucky Pizzarelli that learned well from master is now bringing his kid into the family business. A real straight ahead swinger that would have been a classic mainstay recording before the record business decentralized into the Tower of Babel, this relentlessly driving date gives you that jolt you get when a totally top flight combo has it in gear. Mostly originals that seem like standards, jazz guitar is alive and well here. Well done.
(Essential Messenger 32021)
GRASSO RAVITA JAZZ ENSEMBLE/Jagged Spaces: A guitar/bass led crew that puts the sax up front and center delivers a modern sound that has roots in fusion--but the roots go deep. With a sound that sounds like it was burnished on the road and in the clubs, this is a smoking crew that knows how to pack them in. Add a bunch of cigarette smoke and some waitresses dressed in black and you have the whole package. Smart stuff.
GAYELYNN McKINNEY & McKinney Zone/Zoot Suit Funk: A Detroit drummer that's been an MVP in the background for too many for too long delivers a delightfully 70s funky set that pays tribute to herself veering form the tribute to her late jazzbo pop on the last outing. With the kind of chops that give her free reign to show off when the mood strikes, this delightfully expert date is loaded with fire on all fronts. Step up for a dose of this rejuvenating tonic.
PAT FLYNN/reNew: Oh, just jump out of the way and let one of the masters do his thing. The guitar ace that can keep in step with everyone from Grateful Dead to Garth Brooks and probably everyone in between, serves up a date that reMinds you that he hasn't lost a step in the 30 since New Grass Revival broke up. A certified hall of famer, Flynn is a combo hurricane/tornado as he skillfully tears his way from Hendrix to the Irish country side. Killer stuff from a cat with no dust on him.
ROSSANO SPORTIELLO/That's It: Over the last 30 years, Sportiello has shown us he can play anything. This solo piano date really underscores that with a history of a century of piano going from "Fine & Dandy" and "Sheik of Araby" to his own stuff, all of which is played with recital like quality. An up close and personal master class, it's easy to get lost in this, sitting in rapt attention like you are there in real time. This cat gets a chance to really show you how it's really done and makes the most of it. That's it!
PROFESSOR CUNNINGHAM & HIS OLD SCHOOL/Lockdown Blues: When the good professor rings the bell and calls class to order, you go. With a personality that has him imitating a hot pepper when he's in slow mode, the lockdown tried to slow him down but was no match. Rounding up the crew via Zoom, he's got everyone swinging through a set of originals, improving and swinging as they go. Real jazz from the heart and the gut with loads of whimsy added along the way, this is music made for and through the new reality. He rings the bell, and hit's the bulls eye, once again.
Volume 45/Number 41
December 11, 2020
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2020 Midwest Record
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