ENRICO RAVA/Edizione Speciale: A 2019 concert by Rava and his gang sounds like it's the closest ECM has ever come to making a fashion statement. Playing around with some electronics, just once in a while, they add some spice to the mix---as if their improv skills weren't enough to spice things up. A bit more of a break neck romp than is usually thought of in the oeuvre of ECM's pastoral pictures of Norway series ™, it's a dandy ear opener that shows what happens when the Italians want the Germans to snap to attention. Step up for another tasty flavor of fusion.
EBERHARD WEBER/Once Upon a Time: The economical and reliable Weber shows how a solitary bass man can put on a solo show and hold the audience rapt. Using God given talent to pull it together, Weber makes timeless music which makes the release of this 1994 date something that could have come out anytime and remained artistically valid and muscular. A perfect example of less is more as he gives you everything you need. A wild excursion throughout.
ROSSY LANDFERMANN BALLARD/Puerta: The vibe man and his trio go the classic jazzbo minimalist route hedging toward the thinking man's jazz territory. Not quite recital and not quite egghead, the leader's vibes might be the focal point but the rhythm section gets just as much play. Low key and angular, this could pass for modern mood music.
HELEN SUNG/Quartet +: Augmenting her own piano quartet with the Harlem Quartet, Sung swings hard and fine. Whether doing originals or an incredibly interesting choice of covers, this is a fantastic artistic statement that doesn't hit you over the head about being art. Tasty throughout, it mixes reaching back with reaching forward and plays through all too quickly. One of those master classes that's just a gasser to hear.
SHUBH SARAN/Inglish: A set that closes the gulf between prog jazz and prog rock, there's enough electronics firing to keep jazzbos and prog rockers happy. Forward thinking, urban flavored music, there's an almost cinematic feel that seems to make this a candidate for left leaning pic soundtracks in the future. Tasty stuff left leaning tastes will love.
JOE FARNSWORTH/City of Sounds: The drummer might be an adopted New Yorker that loves it like a native, but what he does here is let Kenny Barron run it t like a piano trio that didn't know Norby Walters and Birdland shut down. Pete Washington on bass rounds this out nicely as well. Killer piano trio stuff that's as right in the pocket as three pros can make, sit back and enjoy. Catch your breath and hit replay. Killer stuff.
(Smoke Sessions 2105)
RENEE ROSNES/Kinds of Love: Backed by a can't miss crew of all stars, this is one of those dates that's made so much better by all the songs being recent tracks by the leader. It's like there's so much here to discover. Swinging hard throughout, this is the kind of driving jazz that you always want to show up for. Even when laying out, there's a new surprise around every turn. Still going strong since being a tyro in late night Vancouver clubs, Rosnes must have dexterous, steel finger tips to keep pounding it out so well for so long. Hot stuff.
(Smoke Sessions 2104)
BRASUKA/A Vida Com Paixao: A bunch of long time pals with musical simpatico get together for a round of contemporary, original Brazilian jazz. Do you want to work harder to find something better when this gets dropped in your lap? Sweet stuff that's just right for after hours or any old time. Anchored by a great vibe and sweet energy, it makes you want to grab the nearest raco raco and start jamming along. Well done.
(Outside In 2132)
DAN SIEGEL/Faraway Place: What's there to say when a modern jazz pro rounds up a slew of modern jazz and fusion all stars and gets everything right all the way down to spending extra to have Bernie Grundman do the mastering? Not repeating himself and making sure the cats he called really wanted to play, this modern/contemporary set isn't just something you toss out there to sell at the merch table on your latest tour. Solid throughout, Siegel brings it like he's Aaron Rodgers playing against the Bears.
RELIEF/various: A project of Jazz Foundation of America's Musicians‘ Emergency Fund, this various artist/various label collection of tracks by all stars was put together to aid musos impacted by Covid. It's not something slapped together knee jerk style. With some deep cats on board doing tunes that make you feel, this is one way you can do some good from your easy chair while flipping pages at Amazon. Well programmed and loaded with established cats you know and love, hit the sound pegs and give your credit card a reason to rack up some new points.
(Mack Avenue 1185)
JOEY DeFRANCESCO/More Music: Of course, we'd rather have one of our fave B3 bad boys kicking it out on B3 rather than honking a sax, he acquits himself well on his other axes. The members of the trio do some interesting positional trade offs but in the end, it all comes back to being a smoky, late night good time when you just want to tour the cosmos a little bit. Pros will out.
(Mack Avenue 1186)
KENNY GARRETT/Sounds from the Ancestors: Looks like Garrett didn't go to public school. He might have played with Miles at the end but he can't be old enough to remember civil rights jazz, skull caps and dashikis. Knowing his Coltrane well, it's reflected on this set of all originals with a smoking band keeping step with his fiery output. It might have elements of throwback, but is it really so bad, in these whitewash/cancel everything times, to know where it is you came from? This is the real deal.
(Mack Avenue 1180)
KIRK WHALUM/How Does Christmas Sound?: A soulful, jazzy Christmas from the sax man that hit's the mark. Tasty stuff that could easily have the legs to become a new, perennial classic, it's really sweet throughout whether covering hymns from the 1700s or Mariah Carey. Certainly deserving of a pat on the back and a thumbs up.
Volume 45/Number 347
October 18 , 2021
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2021 Midwest Record
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