CHUCK OWEN & the Jazz Surge/Within Us: As the crew celebrates it's 25th anniversary with a bunch of the original members still in tow, some cool guests are added to the mix and the art of the arranger is alive and well. Often Grammy nominated, this bunch exists in a space where you play, you aren't a brand. Real jazzbos delivering real jazz, this time around they get the trophy. Betcha. Well done.
JIM YANDA/A Silent Way: Two discs of time and space recordings that would be at home in a contemporary classical setting where the pots and pans are allowed to fly freely. Eggheads and uber hipsters would give this 4 stars.
(Corner Store Jazz 126/127)
G'RAPH/Happily Ever Now: Something about this hippie's vibe make it seem like he's channeling kiddie music Pete Seeger into the here and now, which is what his over riding vibe is about anyway. His songs are insidious lessons in how to become a person, something today's little people desparately need. He's loaded with loads of kumbiya with none of the drippiness replacing it with easy rolling funk, folk and other styles that you get drawn into hearing. A really terrific variation on a well worn theme.
ALEX LEFAIVRE QUARTET/Naufrages: The bass player that's a real spark plug on the Montreal jazz scene, multi tasking like his life depended on it, he's got the protean that it takes to power through such a heady regimen. Not being one to repeat himself, in this current guise, he dishes up a delightful program of head jazz that goes back to the groovy side of the seventh galaxy, by way of Miles and Zep, and invites you to fire up another legal doob--for the road. Super smooth and well honed chops guide you on your way and never let you down.
Q'D UP/Going Places: Because this bunch had nice day jobs as professors at Brigham Young University, they never had to slug it out in clubs and on the road and that's why as the original line up hangs it up after 40 years, you're just hearing about them now. When you do hear them, it'll be one of those where have you been all my life moments. Actually, they recorded before but with finals to grade and all that.... Anyway, make up for lost time with these jazzbos that play it straight and give it a royal treatment along the way. Real jazzbos from when and where you'd least expect it, maybe they were just ahead of the curve in not having to play in smoky clubs A fine cap to this stage of their career ending and the next one beginning.
LAWSON ROLLINS/Rise: Look out, hot stuff coming through. Rollins is just part of that class of guitarist like John Williams, Sharon Isbin, Muriel Anderson and a few others that just keep getting better with each subsequent release. Supplementing his regular band with a few ringers that always add something to what ever proceeding they are proceeding into, this is not some acoustic guitarist carefully munching on some granola. A bouncy, almost world lite session, you can't go wrong letting this master do this thing.
JOSU DE SOLAUN/PanDEMiCity: And this is why I like to encourage the major labels of tomorrow. A live concert recorded last March in Spain in that brief window when it looked like everything was going to be alright, this is a solo piano concert by an improv cat that idolized Keith Jarrett and has to have both lobes of his brain cooking on high all the time to real it off so seemingly effortlessly like this. Pure fire, gusto and mad invention and not a Jarrett manqué at all, he's picked up the piano improv crown and run with it in a mad dash. This is the stuff.
STEVE MILLION/Jazz Words: A 2015 session from the mighty Million that doesn't fit in with the rest of his ouveur, he's brought in a hipster vocalist and the mix has a real 50s thrush lp feel to it. Pulsing with the kind of post bop swing suburbanites weren't afraid to bring home to rec rooms in nascent suburbs, Million comes to this sound organically via his award winning ways and makes the most of it here. This is how you daddio it in coolsville.
TONY HOLIDAY'S PORCH SESSIONS V. 2/various: In which we find Holiday continuing o stakeout his turf as the master of the off the clock recording. Basically a collection of ‘field' recordings that are loose jams recorded in ad hoc settings with everyone from superstars to journeymen to background cats any blues fan should get to know better, the sound quality may be uneven but the performances are uniquely one of a kind and uniformly hot. It all feel s like that twilight zone spot where Alan Lomax meets Leonard Chess. This is the smoking kind of set that gets you thinking about a pilgrimage to the crossroads.
(Blue Heart 17)
APOLLO CHAMBER PLAYERS/With Malice Toward None: Will somebody tell these kids that if they say they're going to play folk music they should have plenty of granola on hand? Playing folk music for 21st Century folk, this is more like avant garde/contemporary classical than anything we think of as folk. A collection of badass, leading edge work, this is going to resonate big time with the open minded and open eared. Adventurous stuff skillfully played, this is the kind of new stuff that brings new ears into the tent.
BENJAMIN SCHNAKE ENSEMBLE/Joy of Playing: A South American guitarist that plays with a distinctive S.A. feel but shows us there's more to it than samba, this cat leads his crew through a dandy ear opener where great attention is paid to detail and nuance but not to the extent of it ruining the vibe. Tasty stuff with the kind of zest that wakes you up and grabs your attention, stellar compositional flow just makes this a snazzier jazz outing than normal. A solid find.
TED HEFKO & the Thousandaires/Down Below: The urban poet strikes again with another striking set of tales from the dark side of Nawlins and more. If you can imagine a Tom Waits without the growl and adopting a home other than LA, where there's something other than nighthawks at the diner to fill the night, turn him loose on roots rock rather than jazz and there you go. Enticing stuff to take you away from the tried & true.
(CSB Roxy Music)
KRIS GRUEN/Welcome Farewell: The alt.folkie moves to a bigger back porch to accommodate the band sound he's going for this time. A nu breed confessional songwriter, his feelings are personal in nature but universal in scope making this accessible as opposed to a voyage through mush mouthism. Hitting on all 8 throughout, this guy knows his way around a genre and how to rise to the top of it.
Volume 45/Number 294
August 21, 2021
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2021 Midwest Record
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