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ORLANO LeFLEMING/From Brooklyn With Love: Before landing smack in the middle of downtown with his bass, this Brit was the bass ace of choice for anyone coming to Blighty to make some jazz. Relocating to New York, he was quickly gobbled up by Jane Monheit, Billy Cobham and Jimmy Cobb. This deep walker of a bass ace decided to give his fingers a rest downtown where the pressure isn't as intense and you can really bring focus to bear. Recorded live at Freddy's, this set goes right for the lighter side of the 60s with a quartet that sounds like it really knows about blue smoke circling the air. Tasty, not really retro and left leaning throughout.

JANAKA SELECTA/Pushing Air: Gringos always have an easier time with Asian music when it doesn't sound like Asian music and this world traveled sound scaper knows how to fuse and genre splice with the best of them. An ambient college kid/divorcee special, this is head trip music that doesn't force you to go within so much as it asks you to take another look at what is with out. Fire up a doob and you'll be right in the moment with it.

JACKSON GARRETT/Speechless: When you write but you don't play, there's nothing stopping you from surrounding yourself with cats that can play and letting them bring your works to life. Such is the journey of composer Garrett who knows some cats with funky, smooth jazz moves that know how to make a point, breath life into an iconic sound or simply kick out the jams. A tasty after hours biz jazz date, the cats are having a good time throughout and there's nothing about this that doesn't say Friday evening/weekend. A nice bit of fun that goes the distance.

JENNIFER ZARINE/Fresh Made Cuppa Tea: With things so miserable these days, the best way to be subversive is to have fun. Zarine has a playful voice that knows how to make the most of it. A trained performer, Zarine knows how to give a classic song a super supper club reading that just makes everything feel rosy. A real mood lifter of a date, this is for those playful cocktail hours that are touch retro but made for lightness. Tasty, offbeat and a real gasser throughout.

STONEHONEY:/Cedar Creek Sessions: The thing about a tsunami is that it really washes away everything that isn't standing the tallest. Before Eagles really jelled into Eagles, there were a lot of good and worthy bands that were working the same trough and vying for the same attention. Stonehoney sounds like they could have been the band you were betting on while Eagles were screwing around in England trying to find the right pieces for the right places. Buoyed by Austin energy, this country rock crew is right on the money and might even have you thinking thoughts about Winslow, Arizona, if you know what I mean. Certainly not pretenders to the throne.

HIROE SEKINE/A-Me: Hiromi has it going on but a lot of you write into say you feel there's something missing amid the pyrotechnics. Maybe Sekine is what you are looking for. A Young Japanese jazz pianist, she has surrounded herself with the crème of the classic fusion cats for her debut and it all sounds like a stone cold natural without being dated or lighting fuses for the fun of it. In a psychic gulf that resides somewhere post-"Kind of Blue" and post-Weather Report", this straight ahead meets fusion session delivers the goods in such quantity that failing smooth jazz stations should cast an ear in this direction. A sterling set that doesn't let you down.

MITCH WOODS/Gumbo Blues: Nawlins jump blues from a cat that appreciates Smiley Lewis and thinks it's time we take a look back at him. A proven hit maker in his time and the progenitor of a sound that is stamped on Nawlins jump blues and R&B, Lewis needs no explanation. Woods isn't here to raise the dead or linger in the masters shadow, he just want s to preserve something without having it cast in amber and continue to let the good times roll. Certainly a killer party record for yupsters of a certain age. Well done.
8808 (Club 88)

CATHY LEMONS & JOHNNY ACE/Lemonace: Individually, this pair has loads of flying time under their belts. Having paid some serious dues over the last 30 years, they are the new breed of chitlin circuit blues show with Ike & Tina front loaded over a load of John Lee Hooker, Stevie Ray Vaughn and all the blues and rock influences that are in the ears of the white yupsters who will be blown away by this. Not trying to imitate anyone that's come before, the strictures of the form make it hard to do anything new, but they renovate as hard as they innovate and know how to cook up a good time first and foremost. Delightfully hot stuff.

CAROL WELSMAN/I Like Men: The Juno winning jazz vocalist who isn't Diana Krall veers off into a different territory by doing an appreciation of Peggy Lee as opposed to a tribute or homage. What makes this set different from sets by Maria Muldaur, Bette Midler and others is that Welsman isn't afraid to cross the spiritual divide between herself and Lee making this a personal project infused with Welsman's own personality while keeping mindful of the roots of the project. Doing all the songs a proper contemporary justice, this jazz vocalist simple steps up and hits it out of the park, just like she usually does. For any contemporary ears that have shied away from Lee because "Latin Ala Lee" is one of the gayest records ever made, feel free ordering this on Amazon without fear of having your bytes exposed. A total treat throughout.

Volume 33/Number 222
June 11 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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