PEPPER ADAMS with the Tommy Banks Trio/Live at the Room at the Top: Always more than a little pissed that the never really got his chance in the spotlight since he was such a stellar sideman to many of the jazz greats, this double disc of a 50 year old show he played for college kids in Canada can finally right some of those wrongs even if he's no longer around to enjoy the vindication. A rare recording with him as a leader, the sax man is blowing his brains out here on a load of post bop/improv that finds him stretching out and going from there. A wonderfully important piece of the full jazz mosaic for the real jazzbo that knows his apples.
(Reel to Reel 8)
DAVE BRUBECK TRIO/Live From Vienna 1967: I am of the age that I never really got what it was the jazz police had against Brubeck. He swung, he was groovy, he just looked like a dork to those of us on the other side of the generation gap. He didn't play like one here on these recently unearthed and forgotten tapes. Recorded on an evening when Paul Desmond went missing, the rest of the trio soldiers on here without missing a step. Since it's a rare outing of such, like minded geeks will be surely pleased to make it's acquaintance. On top of that, it kicks ass, even without another rendition of "Take Five". Even after tastes had been changing, nothing stopped this trio of jazzbos from leaving it all on the stage. Smoking.
(Brubeck Editions 301)
BEN MARKLEY BIG BAND with Ari Hoenig/Ari's Fun House: In which we find further proof that we're entering a new golden age of the arranger as the piano man goes to town on a set of drummer Ari Hoenig's works that finds them becoming collaborators of a new sort along the way. Since a drummer had a heavy hand in the writing here, I guess it took a piano man to find the extra musicality to make it all really soar. For those who like it brassy, this is really gassy (in a good way, of course).
DAN BRUCE'S :BETA COLLECTIVE/Time to Mind the Mystics: You know what forward thinking jazzbos in Ohio are up to? They're finding the sweet spot where Zappa meets Crimson mixing it all up between acoustic and electric instruments. You wonder what we'd be hearing if Billy Strayhorn interpreted the music of traffic jams instead of subway rides? Take the Van Wyck to the 405---it's all here.
(Shifting Paradigm 172)
MIKE ALLEMANA/Vonology: In another aspect of the big week in Chicago for the Freeman family, the guitar man takes a look at Von Freeman's interest in astrology in a set recorded over the last few years that shows the cutting edge sax master's spiritual legacy in good hands. Feeling like something a bunch of San Francisco hippies could have cooked up while grooving to Sun Ra, this is for the progressive jazzbo that knows who he is.
(Ears & Eyes 140)
KATHERINE KOSTOFF/It Happens Like That: In an age where the approval of gate keepers helps cut through the morass, if a songwriting thrush from Vienna with a little girl voice can attract Gil Goldstein and Steve Rodby to the producer's chairs, maybe you should take notice of what they were noticing. An utterly nu album in that there's a vague old world setting to these songs that don't mine the classic songbook yet one more time that comes out as collusion rather than collision. The palpable sense of discovery that really makes this set come alive is going to give you a real kick repeatedly.
SYLVIA BROOKS/Signature: When last we met Brooks, she had our vote for femme fatale of the year (any year). This time around, she's toned down her look on the front cover, not disguising her maturity but not reveling in it either. Inside the jacket, you get the lady in red looking as dangerous as ever surrounding herself with the crème of SoCal jazz and displaying a world wiseness without a Marlena Dietrich world weariness. It's ain't an easy trick to pull off music as cinema but she does it again here. Well done throughout.
NIKOS CHATZITSAKOS TINY BIG BAND: Take pre big band swing tunes and bring them into a skewed vision of the present. Make it shaken and stirred. This is a date that's at once familiar with foreign with a load of unexpected twists and turns to keep you hopping. A wild date that could be a home run with younger tastes while moldy figs will have what to scoff about.
FREDERIC HAND/Across Time: Unless you are a committed New York, long hair guitar fan, Hand is one of the most protean guitarists of our age that you've heard plenty of but probably have never heard of. His main shot a the mainstream was a new age group that was so progressive the genre couldn't keep up with it. Other than that, this student of Julian Bream's that can easily rub elbows with John Williams has caught his breath long enough to look back over the last 40 years here---a voyage you should join him on. Elegant and accessible, this is some of the loveliest solo guitar you are ever going to hear. Easily a rare treat from a master.
DEANNE MATLEY/Alberta Lounge: Unde3rpinned by a finger popping, early Tom Waits daddio vibe, this off center kind of tribute to Oscar Peterson by a swinging vocalist is a pure hipster delight made to turn suburban rec rooms into hipster tea pads. Turning some of Montreal's top jazzbos loose to really swing, this vocalist takes you places you'd never expect and is nothing but the hostess with the mostest. Fun stuff that rates high as a party on a platter, one real take away here is how Madonna is going about it all wrong in her efforts to be a sexy senior (not that we‘re calling Matley a senior). Hot stuff.
MARCO PIGNATARO'S DREAM ALLIANCE/Awakening: Changing flavors for his second outing, sax man Pignataro brings in a different crew and goes for art soul and jazz delightfully leaving the tortured artist effect no where in sight. Sounding fresh as today but still like something that could have sprung from the civil rights era (hmm, maybe I should reconsider that time line?), the sound of freedom and hope spring eternal. A solid listening date tailor made for when you feel like going deep.
DENNIS JOHNSON/Revelation: In today's world, even if you know how to mine a niche to the max, you still have to swing for the fences. Slide blues rock pro Johnson does just that here. Stripping down his sound and upping the ante, this set might not compete with rappers and beats but it will set the roots world on fire. Crisp and sharp throughout, the slide ace and his crew of pros play like they mean it leaving clichés on the cutting room floor and delivering nothing but pure third cut prime rib. Now this is a statement!
CHRIS STANDRING/Simple things: The essential west coast smooth jazz guitarist wasn't inspired by Covid on this set----he was inspired by a heart attack. Taking all the clichés to heart and refocusing his thought and feelings, he delivers some tasty, easy going funky licks that could inspire all of us to enjoy the fun in slowing down. He may have lost a few beats but he hasn't lost a step.
(Ultimate Vibe 14)
HOMER & JETHRO /Kings of Country Comedy-the Collection 1949-62: Twas ever thus; no matter how good you are, if you aren't hooked up, you ain't going no where. Chet Atkins was the Carter Family guitarist, Jethro was Chet's brother in law, June Carter was America's sweetheart and so we got the initial track on this set that kicked off one of the great multi faceted country music careers. This twofer does a fine job of showing off the early years of master instrumentalists that could deliver cornball humor that flew under and over your radar. And the nice thing about these ‘collection' collections is that they usually precede the ‘8 essential album' collections which is no less than this duo who were caught in the country music purge of 1972 when countrypolitan was in. Allen Sherman? Weird Al? This is where it all began. Check out the wonders these two created. The quality is assured as these are all RCA sides with none of the substandard, early King sides on board.
April 8, 2022
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Edi tor and Publisher
Copyright 2022 Midwest Record
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