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DAN WILLIS & Velvet Gentlemen/The Satie Project: MVP Broadway/NYC jazzbo Willis points his crew and his multi instrumental assault in the direction of composer Erik Satie turning Satie's often minimalized works into a full bodied set of sitting down jazz that's heavily into the art vibe but is certainly no still life. This could easily pass as a fusion/NAC date to the uninitiated, Willis has the touch and the chops to bring anything home for any ears and fool them into listening to something that's good for them. With some fearless genre splicing executed with great subtly, this set is a great ear opener that isn't afraid to be up market and classy throughout. If you've got urbane tastes, check it out; if not, give it a spin anyway, you'll at least be enchanted and swept up in it all.

ANTHONY GOLDSTONE/Piano at the Carnival (25076); A Night at the Opera (25067); The Piano at the Ballet (25073): An initial impulse is to decry the foul economy and say that in a perfect world this would have been a mighty box set. On second thought, who needs that cleverness? The only unifying factor on these three sets is that Goldstone proves he can play anything with such absolute mastery, subtly and style. Taking his piano wizardry to familiar themes in the various genres he presents, each one is just such a joy that you could put them on your Ipod shuffle and not miss a beat as they play randomly. A great talent at the top of his stride, there is simply nothing on any of these three sets that isn't enjoyable, probably by anyone. This is great music to just sit back and let it wash over you.

FEUFOLLET/En Couleurs: We told you before, this bunch of Cajun's ain't cooking up your daddy's gumbo. Kicking off with the kind of riff that was at home on the first record Tom Waits made after leaving Elektra for Island, this is a homebrew of contemporary Cajun pop where the language barrier is surmountable as the lead singer has a passion that connects with you and the backing is as far from Folkways Explorer records as you can get. Yeah, the accordions and fiddles are there but so is a bunch of other stuff that makes these death ballads and other tales of downers sound like anything but. A shining example of the world beat that exists within our own borders.

NOBUYUKI TSUJII/Chopin Piano Concerto no. 1: This is one marvelous star turn for the young piano man. With a most sympathetic backing led by Ravinia's own James Conlon leading the Ft. Worth Symphony, Tsujii brings a youthful vigor to the readings of the Chopin works here, whether they were originally heavy or light. A young award winner that we really have to keep an ear on in the future, he brings to bear a whole history of piano artistry under his touch. An enchanting player that invites you to get lost in the music, this set is a must hear for any serious classical fan that appreciates a grand soloist. Well done throughout by all.

LISA HILTON/Nuance: An interesting musical journey for the piano ace Hilton in that she tackles a session solo and takes a look back some of her oldies from long gone old records she did when starting out. While she's been doing some interesting and diverse band dates over the last few years, this one takes it back to the beginning and shows how she would have been right at home at Windham Hill or Narada if the labels hadn't gotten so insular and calcified by the time she came along in 1997. Certainly the kind of stuff that NPR would have eaten with a spoon back then. If you aren't familiar with the jazzy Hilton and miss the old granola vibe, have we got a ‘new' artist for you. With nary a noodling in ear shot, this is probably the last, great solo piano new age record you're going to hear. Check it out.

BILL CARROTHERS/Joy Spring: When a piano man wants to pay tribute to a trumpeter, he better have his stuff tight or he's going to hear about it. Carrothers is up for the task of paying tribute to Clifford Brown via his keys, and Drew Gress and Bill Stewart are up to the task of keeping time in time. Simply a delightful, swinging trio in action, preserving the 50s vibe while bringing it into the present, this is a straight ahead good time. Impeccably played throughout, there's not a false note in the bunch. Hot stuff that doesn't miss.

ANNA QUINDLEN (read by Hope Davis)/Every Last One: June Cleaver is dead and the desperate housewives rule the roost as the former journalist turns her ear for how people speak and how they observe into a domestic novel about June's dysfunctional heirs where everything is all right on the surface but everything sucks underneath. Finding a proper franchise reader in Hope Davis, who brings such a lived in world weariness to the work, this dynamic duo knows how to deliver it for any reader looking validation that their life sucks. The violent ending gives it just the right special sauce to be a must hear piece of summer chick lit.

EDGE OF DARKNESS: Hey, buddy, it's been 15 years since Mel Gibson was hollering ‘give me back my son', and 8 since he last had a starring role, so it's back to the payback well as he can't holler about getting his daughter back since she was clipped by the bullet every one thinks was meant for his veteran cop character---until he starts to dig into why someone might want her dead on her own, without any revenge on him. Dipping back into the "Conspiracy Theory" well, this almost plays like a Gibson greatest hits reel as everything but tastes of "Maverick" seem to be in this stew. Classic Gibson laden with behind the scenes talent that knows how to deliver a thriller, the blu ray pops in all the right places adding to the tension as well as alternate scenes. Included in a DVD and digital copy as well as a dandy bunch of chair gripping thrill ride. You wanna forgive the big lug for his transgressions? Spending some time with Riggs, Jr. is a good way for everyone to kiss and make up.

Volume 33/Number 189
May98, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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