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BOB SZAJNER TRIAD II/Live at Montreux Detroit International Jazz Festival: Unless you are a real hipster, you probably never heard of this could-have-been jazz piano man from Detroit who has a back story that's well worth looking up on Google or Wiki. Recorded live 30 years ago, this is among the very few recordings of this cat extant. A Detroit cat that came up when white guys were trying to play black, he and his trio hit that sweet spot the original Ramsey Lewis Trio were in after they stopped playing intellectually and starting riding the wave that took them to "In Crowd". A delightfully swinging set of all originals, this non-record is a great find. While the sound quality is lacking at times, the sound never is and that carries the day for this snazzy jazz piano trio that really delivers the goods. A treat well worth not missing, it's time for this underground/off the radar jazzbo to enjoy some spotlight. Hot stuff.

JOHNNY GRIFFIN/Live at Ronnie Scott's: While we were recently enjoying James Moody's late career renaissance, we now get to enjoy Griffin's last date which found him in the company of Roy Hargrove and Billy Cobham with everyone on stage sending up a joyful noise. Still able to peel off licks at 200 mph, Griffin was playing with his characteristic vigor on this date. Celebrating his 80th birthday around the time of this session, we should keep that under our hats as they might use this as proof they should raise the age you are eligible for social security. Hot stuff the mainstream jazzbo will flip for.

RATKO ZJACA/Continental Talk: Wisely co-billing cats like John Patitucci, Steve Gadd and Randy Brecker on the front cover, this guitar man will catch the attention of contemporary jazzbos who might otherwise pass this heartfelt date by for no other reason than not knowing Zjaca. A free flowing date that has hipster written all over it, the players are in synch and turn in a solid, after hours date that you want in the car when facing the traffic jams on the ride home after work. Solid stuff from a guitarist that you have to keep an ear out for.

SUN RA ARKESTRA (under the direction of Marshall Allen)/Live at the Paradox: Face it, if Basie, Ellington and everyone else can have tribute and legacy bands, why shouldn't the inventor of space jazz have one too? The funny thing is, to keep the music alive, they haven't watered it down, but they have made it accessible to more ears. Very much in synch with something the average Zappa fan would feel free to venture into, this live date is true to the spirit and substance of Ra and you still have to have sensibilities that are really out there to love it. Just when you think you can be too hip for the room, along comes a date like this and puts you in your place.

DANILO PEREZ/Providencia: Danny Perez and Claus Ogerman could have been a good idea. Danny Perez back on his own musical home court is a great idea. The jazz piano man that never met a frontier he didn't want to take on steps up once again and delivers a creative date that opens the ears and is easily accessible at the same time. The new colors Perez is adding to his palette this time around is a cinematic sweep that makes this music sound like a panorama. Drawing on the past with an ear toward the future, Perez always did have a talent for sitting down jazz but he really brings a new depth to it this time around. Certainly a classy date that doesn't wear out it's welcome.

ENDO-OKIMOTO-TABA/Rhythm Summit: Talk about world beat, here we have three world wise, vet jazzbos that really have nothing in common except coming of musical age in the 70s when jazz was going through a real sea change and keeping that vibe never further from arms reach as they grew older and in stature. There's a vibe here that's a real throwback to when cats like Keith Jarrett, Jack deJohnette and Gary Burton was in their real flowering and it wears well, not wearing out it's welcome in these capable hands. Contemporary and not at all dusty, this is what alt.jazz should sound like, and this sounds mighty fine.

SURESH SINGARATNAM/Lost in New York: Remember when Wynton Marsalis was in his young lion/uber hipster phase before he found that sweet spot that let's you merge commercial instincts with chops for something that ears on both sides of the fence can enjoy? This trumpeter is probably most likely to follow in Marsalis' footsteps. Still the young lion with something to prove, Singaratnam can play in jazz and classical modes with ease, but this set is all about putting the chops first, front and center. A solid set for fans of sitting down jazz, this is the kind of set that spreads the word well.

BRITTNI PAIVA/Four Strings: The Fire Within: If Jake Shimabukuro is the Jimi Hendrix of the uke, then Paiva is the instrument's Muriel Anderson. At 21, she's every inch the over achiever with an arm load of awards already under her belt and playing at the top of her game even as she continues to raise the bar. Clearly a master of her instrument, as well as a few others she can dazzle with, this is a classic NAC date that easily veers between new flamenco, smooth jazz, instrumental prowess and more. A first class listening date that really gets the blood flowing and the ears open, this plucky Hawaiian is what we need more of stateside. Hot stuff.

Volume 33/Number 243
July 3, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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