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GRETE SKARPEID/Beyond Other Stories: When a foreign born jazz singer doesn't fall under the spell of the tortured artist effect or is a terminal art chick, the record is already off to a good start. A Norwegian singer and writer that takes her time between releases teams up with a Cuban piano man and they find a sweet spot where they can turn jazz into art without it being the product of an art chick no matter how freely and easily it colors outside the lines. A jazz vocal date with a Joni Mitchell in jazz edge, this is a bar raiser for sitting down/thinking man's jazz.
(Origin 82813)

GREG YASINITSKY YAZZ BAND/New Normal: A proven swinger rallies his troops up to the fact that the tracks they started before Covid got started will have to be finished remotely if they are to be finished at all. This is one leader that doesn't have to worry about getting fragged by friendly fire as they rise to the challenge. Sounding delightfully seamless, this hard charging crew makes it easy to say that big band is hear to stay. A real pulse pounder that feels like a throw back to when the art of the arranger was celebrated. Well done.
(Origin 82811)

RODNEY WHITAKER/Cranbrook Christmas Jazz: This is such a tour de force recording that it's hard to know where to start---and it shouldn't be enjoyed just around Christmas. The bass ace rounds up family and friends, brings in a Detroit crew that is tops at what they do, picks songs that play out the history of Christmas and play the whole thing is a most top shelf way. We need a lot more teachers like Whitaker out there and we need them in all subjects. Amazing stuff that makes it the holidays all year round--with swing.
(Origin 82814)

MEDIDIAN ODYSSEY/Second Wave: A bunch of musical pals from Seattle wind up under lock down in Alaska learning to fly planes and live streaming nu jazz when the mood strikes. With a throw back to some of the groovy stuff that came out of the Midwest in the 70s like Sweetbottom, Matrix, Ross Traut and others, it represents the easier side of fusion with the feel of Oregon, but from the streets, not from the co-op. Tasty stuff that has old enough roots to sound new, it's a different but welcome kind of after hours sound.
(Origin 82812)

MILES DONAHUE/Just Passing Thru: A multi instrumental sax man that feels like he never met a groove he didn't like leads his like minded pals through some sterling living room funk that borrows a vibe here and there from Weather Report and others of the time and makes music made for Courvoisier. The kind of groove that can make a studio apartment feel like a pent house, Donahue has got chops that can surpass admiration into envy. Well done.
(Whaling City Sound 124)

DOGON/Floater: A friend of mine used to tell me there's the right way and there's the European way. The times they are a changing. This young, Swiss jazz power trio feels like they picked up right where Jaco left off and turned things over to Stanley Clarke. Really killer fusion that doesn't feel like it was done the European way. Take this to the 7th galaxy, indeed. Right in the pocket for those who miss the sound or never heard it before.
(Double Moon 71385)

PHILLIP DORNBUSCHS PROJEKTOR/Reflex: A muscular, angular hard charging sax player likes to feel like he's painting pictures with his music. What he's really doing is looking for a way to stand out without pushing things so far the wheels fall off. Certainly, an admirable creative quest. A product of the German musical educational system, there's times he's letting Sonny roll of his tongue and there's times he's taking you to places unknown. A sizzling debut that opens the ears to great promise.
(Double Moon 71383/Jazz Thing Next Generation Vol. 86)

ENRICO PIERANUNZI & BERT JORIS/Afterglow: Take a killer jazz piano man, add a trumpeter that knows what to add and when, roll tape and let good things happen. One of those totally amazing albums where so little is really so much. Tasty adult listening by two pros that know the drill and never make you think this is being done by rote. Pure listening pleasure
(Challenge 73460)

JOHN LANG/Now Ear This: It ain't all hippies up there in the Hudson Valley. This upright bass mainstay bucks being organic and goes electric for some smoking jazz/funk that didn't leave the swing back at home. A tasty, in the moment kind of set, he's dialing in a bunch of local jazzbos that know how to make it all shine as well. Did it really take this long to get some 70s nostalgia cooking and brought into the present? Well done.
(JJM 1)

OUT TO DINNER/Play On: There's always been a strong Blue Note vibe to Posi-Tone, but this time around they really take it over the top. With a vamp on Eric Dolphy's "Out to Launch", another rounded up crew of the label's hitters band together like a real band and kick it out in an afternoon, old school style. The tunes are all originals so it's the vibe and the playing that takes you back to the day. Trust me, Alfred Lion is really smiling big now---there's no manqueing around here.
(Posi-Tone 8216)

Volume 45/Number 75
January 14, 2021
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2021 Midwest Record

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