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CHRIS MASSEY/Vibrainium: Here's a creative drummer well in touch with his post bop roots as he circles the rim from Art Blakey to Chick Corea with several well chosen stops in between. A solidly played set by a crew that honors throwing caution to the wind, Massey once again shows he knows his stuff and isn't afraid to try on something ‘neu'. A nice ear opener that looks forward and backward with grace all at the same time.

CYPRESS STRING QUARTET/Beethoven Late Quartets V. 2: Not wanting to give you too much of a good thing, the quartet now releases the second volume in a planned three volume set that certainly could serve to be the last word on these works for some time to come. Played with a passion and fire that makes them sound much bigger than 40 flying fingers, this bunch that became their own arts group doesn't have to cotton to any one to create their vision. Playing with the kind of clarity and focus that can only be driven by masters, even a slacker classical tourist would get this. A dazzling collection that just makes us what to hear the rest of it all that much more. Hot stuff.

CARMEN RIZZO/Looking Through Leaves: The skillful world beat genre splicer almost seems to be leaving his pop music sensibilities behind except that he keeps this mood setting set interesting as opposed to something that just wanders off the rails impressed with it's own genre splicing. A dandy ear opening set that takes you around the corner and around the world at the same time, it helps if you get down tempo in the first place but it's plenty loaded with stuff to intrigue jaded ears as well. A wild ride that won't give you whiplash.

NORMAN JOHNSON/If Time Stood Still: Anytime we get a chance to hear something new by Ali Ryerson we know the record is off to a good start. The first call flutist is on board here giving this tasty jazz guitar man some extra colors in his palette. Knowing his way around the various corners of jazz quite well makes this easy jazz date something that goes down easily as it sparkles all the while. Fun stuff for that over due audio getaway you've been promising yourself.

MIKE HOWE/Round River: For all the jokers that have claimed to pull music from nature, Howe puts them all to shame. A Welsh park ranger that really does find music in nature and nature in music draws on myths and spirits to power this set that once gain shows how deep his soul is touched by nature. Proving that his debut was no flash in the pan, this is an NAC guitarist that has chops and soul to spare and seems to be able to pull inspiration from a very deep well. This is must hearing for any serious acoustic guitar fan that wants nothing less than the real deal.

NORMAN BROWN/Sending My Love: There's no loss of face in being a right on crossover artist and Brown has got the gig down tight. Putting a little soul in even Kenny Loggins, he works his soul/jazz/vocal groove with a real guitar groove that sets a mood throughout. A solidly reliable biz jazz set that reminds you it's always 5 o'clock somewhere in the world, and adults should make time to kick back. Easy and tasty.

Volume 33/Number 223
June 12 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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