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BILL O'CONNELL/Chang is Gonna Come: A long time piano bad boy rounds up the A team, puts a Sam Cooke tune in the heart of mostly originals tricking you into thinking this is a civil rights jazz set and proceeds to show why there's no dust on him. Passionate from his own point of view as a reaction to the time and tides going by, this is some high octane piano jazz that hits it out of the park every trip to the plate. A portrait of a real pro a the top of his powers, jazzbos can't go wrong here. Hot.
(Savant 2197)

CATHERINE RUSSELL/Send for Me: If anybody got screwed by making their debut ten mintues after the major labels decided to just become financial clearing houses, it's Russell. A dynamic, creative performer, she deserves all the stage that can be afforded her. Stepping up to the mic for her 8th release, it has the sound and feel of John Hammond coming back from the dead to showcase his latest blues belter in the best possible light. With a set of oldies you mostly won't recognize, if this set doesn't scream ‘rent party' at you, get your ears retuned. Killer stuff with so much swing and soul it's amazing it all fits on one disc. Smoking throughout.
(Dot Time 9107)

GRACE FOX BIG BAND/Eleven O Seven: Giving new meaning to girls night out, Fox rounds up all the gals she can think of that know how to make noise in tune and lets the swing get swung. A smoking debut from a new, young, leader powered by inspiration from the great Sherrie Maricle, a solid sister that knows how to do it for herself, nobody would know the girls have opened their own ‘no boys allowed' club house and are doing more than having pillow fights in their dainties from the sound of this. This is the stuff.
(Next Level 2209)

HINDA HOFFMAN MEETS SOUL MESSAGE/People: Essentially, the Deep Blue Organ Trio has let their DNA recombine, added a bold, brassy lead vocalist and let the good times continue to roll. What basically started out in Chicago 37 years ago, this crew shows why the local music keeps rolling long after the labels and most of the rooms have fled for the hills. With a familiar set list that takes a kick in the pants nicely, they come on like the show band you want to see when spirits are high and celebration is in order. Well done with loads of swing.
(Know You Know 1)

ADAM LARSON TRIO/From Chicago With Love: Looking like an Irish urchin from the 30s and rubbing elbows with two long time Chicago stalwarts, the sax man blows up a New York flavored storm that maintains a distinctly Chicago flavor. We might not be known for skronk but we are known for Ira Sullivan and Larson can follow in his footsteps admirably. A solid left of center date.
(Outside In 2207)

ROXY COSS/Disparate Parts: If you think 2 a.m. feedings and a pandemic can slow Coss down you just don't know why this saxy lady is playing at the top of her game. Back in the studio after three years, this might be an instrumental record but it couldn't be more personal and confessional if it was prime Joni Mitchell pouring her heart out in her diary. A wild ride that certainly reflects everything she and we have been through in the last few years, if you have a pulse, you'll get it. Dazzling work sure to leave you dizzy, breathless and certainly wanting more. Killer stuff.
(Outside In 2122)

EUBANKS EVANS EXPERIENCE/EEE: Not merely a duo set of piano and guitar, its Kevin Eubanks and Orrin Evans showing why the word ‘chops' was coined. An overview kind of record that shows the big scope of all the things they care capable of, one hopes it's just a teaser for future things to come. All original and all original, you can almost feel like you're in the 29th Street station even if you've never been there. Well done.
(Imani 21554)

CALVIN JOHNSON JR/Notes of a Native Son: Nawlins does it to us again. This singing sax man knows the history of his town and jazz and mixes the gumbo with a loads of hot sauce for this saucy set that keeps you guessing. A fine showcase even at it's most philosophical, Johnson is a scion of the city and knows how to take you all the places you need to be. As majestic and timeless as the city itself.

MICHAEL LEONHART ORCHESTRA/Normyn Suites: Has their been anything this unwieldy since "Escalator Over the Hill"? The Steely Dan sax man has everybody on this date and the reach extends to co-writes with Elvis Costello and Nils Cline---on the same track?!? All for an elegy inspired by the death of his 15 year old dog? If you keep the lid on long enough and tight enough, something is going to blow. Not exactly big band from a lounge on Mars but pretty damn wild and woolly nonetheless. This is the top of the play list for anyone with wide open ears that wants to feel like they don't believe what they are hearing but are glad they are hearing it. Whew!
(Sunnyside 1660)

STEW CUTLER/Blues From Another Angle: With a big enough pot and a big enough ladle, you can stir up a mess of something. Cutler takes a break from working on his studio tan to lasso Mike Stern and James Montgomery, as well as a host of others that know the moves, to join in on some white boy blues. The level of professionalism is what gives this set that certain something extra that keeps calling you back. A nice reminder that it's 5 o' clock somewhere in the world.
(Cogna 28027)

Volume 46
February 24, 2022
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2022 Midwest Record

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