ICARUS QUARTET/Big Things: Experimental music from a piano/percussion crew that colors things with electronics in a most whimsical fashion. Probably best appreciated by eggheads that can listen to this in a properly critical way, the crew behind it are no slouches in the egghead department themselves. Whether a birds of a feather kind of thing or not, it makes great science fiction music for people that don't want the future to have too dark a view.
(Furious Artisans 6829)
BERGAMOT QUARTET/In the Brink: In which we find string quartet music taking a well measured leap in to the future with a set of premiere pieces that respect the tradition while expanding the future. A progressive set that's not so cutting edge that it alienates the old timers, this is how to be ground breaking in a very good way. Solid and skillful, this is the classical music of the future.
(New Focus 316)
TOM FLAHERTY/Mixed Messages: A set where new age meets contemporary classical meets outer space, this electro acoustic mover even brings toys into the mix as he follows Allen Toussaint's view that there's music everywhere. The kind of stuff you can hear playing at an installation and buy impulsively on the way out, you can bet that at the very least, your kids will be fascinated by a grown up playing toy piano. Wild in it's own way.
(New Focus 326)
AL GROMER KHAN/Ambient Religion: Khan once against expands and explodes tropes as he approaches ambient music from a different direction with a different mindset. Using Eno's pomo esthetic as a jumping off point and eschewing trying to make it have pop sensibilities, he ventures off into other realms that early new age music only hinted at. Bringing the environment to his instruments, Khan finds inner space being a place that needs further exploration. All it takes is headphones and an aversion to noise to get this set to send you on your way.
DON HANSON/Echoes of Light: A sax man whose love of Jesus was kick started by hanging around with Sonny Stitt (after Sonny saw the light) finds a place to meld the spirit with the word hitting you over the head with light and easy grooves that don't need words to send their message of getting grounded and seeing things as they should be seen. Aside from that, a solid smooth jazz cat as well, Hanson's long over due debut hits the mark throughout.
KIRK EDWARDS/AKA Project: If the Airmen of Note has given you a taste of good things the military can do with our tax money, take a spin with this cat who was with the Coast Guard band for 20 years and knows what to do with a sax. Surrounded by first call cats that know the score and recording at Van Gelder's, this straight ahead jazz quartet is so in the pocket you hope they find the time and tide to go out as a real band sometime. Tight and solid, these guys blow up a most righteous storm. Well done.
ALBARE & CO./Freedom: Hanging with the Brecker family and other old pals, the masterful smooth jazz guitarist wants to remind us that jazz has long been protest music potent enough to be suppressed and that freedom is more that just another word for nothing left to lose. Super tasty smooth jazz, this is certainly music needed to free you from the torrent of bulloney that swirls about us way too much. Check it out.
MY LAI: The Kronos Quartet presents a premiere recording about a time when massacres of children weren't committed by domestic terrorists and their apologizers. Back when the powers that be approved of nuking who ever wasn't like us in the name of stopping communism, this was one of the dark periods in American history. An appropriate dramatic work, the quartet's music captures the miasma surrounding it all, pushing things far but never actually going-over the top. A dramatic work that could only have been properly presented in a non-commercial setting, it's time to listen and learn at a lot of levels.
(Smithsonian Folkways 40251)
GEORGE DeLANCEY/Swing Springs: A delightful, straight ahead swinger with an almost big band making the kind of moves that recall celebrating the arranger, this is the perfect bookend for Friday after work jazz to be played when the weekend is slipping away and you don't want it to end. Well done.
LORELEI ENSEMBLE/Antigone: A specially commissioned work by and for this modern choral group that has nothing to do with the ancient Greeks. Focused on the works and words of the anti Nazi White Rose resistance movement, this deep and timely work takes a lot of focus to get the most out of. Committed to making new works for the ages, they deliver on their promise here pretty mightily.
(New Focus 333)
JOSH TATSUO CULLEN/Scenes in Tin Can Alley: Florence Price, a ground breaking black woman composer who was all but forgotten by the time she was rediscovered in 2009, was a contemporary of Scott Joplin but she could cover the water front from rags to classical. A piano man right in step with her vibe brings some long lost or never before recorded manuscripts to the fore in a program that's sure to fry your brain. Killer stuff that still sounds unique today, whether into jazz or classical, you're sure to find plenty about this set to like. Solid throughout.
(Blue Griffin 615)
June 1, 2022
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
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