HONOLULU JAZZ QUARTET/Straight Ahead: Sheesh. Begun in the shadow of 9/11, celebrating their 20th anni in the throes the pandemic, it's enough to make you think this crew was born under a bad star. They don't play like it. Eclectic and entertaining whether taking cues from Sergio Mendes or Glen Campbell before going their own way, they make great listening jazz that's way too forceful to be background music but goes nicely with almost any mood. A delightfully right on set with nothing to prove.
CAROL LIPNIK/Blue Forest: The pre-"Blue" Joni vibe is unmistakable, as is the multi octave voice and the personal statements. Youthful, deep thoughts are universal and Lipnik captures it properly here without moving into the tortured artist effect territory. All you get here is an ep that's almost a full album and it whets the whistle for more.
MELISSA ERRICO/Out of the Dark-The Film Noir Project: So how did all the jazz divas mining the great American songbook miss out on doing a themed album instead of a collection oldies trotted out once more? Errico finds her inner(?) femme fatale and herds the classics into a round up of after hours trouble on a generously tracked set full of trouble. A glorious jazz vocal set with a boatload of something extra.
(Ghostlight/Three Graces )
SASS JORDAN/Bitches Blues: When a blues rocker kicks ass like this 35 years in, they've earned the right to be called timeless. A roof raising blues rocker brimming with kick ass and tightly programmed to feel like a whole instead of a bunch of tracks, it just beckons you to put a cold one in one hand and fist pump with the other. Arena rock sensibility that doesn't need outsized gestures to maker it's point, this is a mighty, kick ass classic.
(Stony Plain 1450)
CIRCUS MIND/Bioluminate: A busman's holiday for a bunch of pros from various genres that have found a common ground, they take jam band to a new place as they deliver a big, bold sound that may not have what radio is looking for but is loaded with what party people are looking for. An off the clock rocker from a crew that's taken 20 years to get to their 4th album, this is the direction of nu Americana gumbo. Consider stirring that salmagundi with them.
SHOE BIRDS/...and What Not: Delta folk rockers lick their wounds after the sudden passing of a key member who managed to leave them with two records worth of new material before shuffling off. He left a nice legacy judging from what we get on this release. Once again hallmarked by smart writing and a pitch perfect performance, you wouldn't expect a folk, singer/songwriter set like this from the Delta, but surprises like this are what keeps things interesting. Solid.
DAVID BINNEY/Tomorrow's Journey: Sax man Binney's ‘don't tell me what to do' record isn't loaded with skronk for the sake of skronk. In fact, it's a muscular, hard driving set of him playing how and what he wants without any interference. Long having proven he's got the chops to go the distance, Binney and his young charges seem more like they are pushing the boundaries of their endurance rather than the boundaries of the envelope. The feel is right in step with what the young lions of 40 years ago were trying to do when things were falling apart then. Solid throughout.
(Ghost Note 1019)
PAXTON-SPANGLER SEPTET/Ugqozi: Have you ever been exposed to a crew that's been playing cutting edge African jazz/funk meets Sun Ra for 50 years? If not, you'll be amazed at how this bunch isn't playing music for moldy figs or isn't a bunch of moldy figs themselves. After reading audiences for 50 years, they know how to merge something that's been basically incomprehensible to the masses with a joyful noise sensibility that a tonic for anyone looking for under the radar music that more than holds it's own. Drawing from well sourced wells, this is solid instrumental music that goes beyond easy labels. Just call it good, ok?
PECK ALLMOND QUARTET/Live at Yoshi's 1994: And who determines what's essential anymore? A tasty palette cleanser that shines a light on the sax man coming home to the Bay area after a year in New York to whoop it up with some pals, the set card is loaded with numbers you can call off easily to avoid glitches. If you just want some solid playing from a night to remember that has long since drifted into the ether, check it out. This is a bunch of jazzbos giving it their all and the sparks really fly.
PLANET D NONET/Live at the Scarab Club-Tribute to Buddy Johnson: Are you one of those types that's intimidated by how much music and how many musicians are out there that you don't know where to start? Do you get self conscious when you find yourself liking something ‘unknown' that hipsters might not approve of? Well dig this daddio. Classic R&B influencer, Duke Robillard, puts his high sign on this set. Johnson, a band leader and composer at the nexus that created rock n roll maybe a footnote today, but on this step back in time recorded in 2018, he's alive and well and vital as ever. Meat and potatoes are basic building blocks for a reason so get hip to the jive and dig in.
May 27, 2022
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2022 Midwest Record
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