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BENJAMIN TAUBKIN/Piano Masters Series V. 1: In which we find this label the latest to get into the multiple benefits of kicking off a solo piano series to highlight it's label stalwarts. A master pianist that makes it seem all too easy, this is a world venture that oft times doesn't seem to travel much farther than your fave cocktail lounge when things are slow and easy. A solid dose of music for the heart and mind, this soulful playing is sure to touch anyone with a heart.

MARCOS AMORIM TRIO/Portraits: The chop savvy Brazilian guitar man comes in with something a little meatier than the usual smooth jazz date and offers up the kind of easy, light jazz that makes it feel like summer in your headphones all year long. Bahia easy grooving leads the way here as this gentle session feels just so right all the way through. Check it out.

LONELY DRIFTER KAREN/Fall of Spring: Ah, the wan beauty and the two hipsters. A pomo vision of Peter Paul and Mary or what? Take some boldly seasoned Joanna Newsom with soundscape/wash backing, add some college kid dissatisfaction and jagged time signatures and you have some vaguely profound observations that have dorm hallways stamped all over them. Fun stuff sure to be fully appreciated by the young and restless.

H2/Flights V. 1: While on tour in Japan, these two cats crossed paths and promised to bring their guitar and flugelhorn home to the states to tear it up at a later date. You can tell something clicked between the two as they know how to dance around each other in a sprightly fashion that underplays the vibe and smarts running between them. A zesty, upbeat combo that works well throughout, these guys ought to stick around a keep doing this, the results really work.

DAVE LIEBMAN BIG BAND/Live As Always: At long last, this is the year of the Liebman as the awards and recognition is going to be flying out of the woodwork. This tribute set that has him on board is one of his more friendly records and the sax man gets to be out front with the crew delighted to be bringing up the rear. First class sitting down jazz, this is what it is to have music as art all the way. A top shelf recording for ears mature enough to handle it.

MERCURY FALLS/Quadrangle: In some quarters, ECM is celebrating it's 40th anniversary. In other quarters, it's getting it's own nostalgia invented for it. With a crew whose day jobs take them from Joanna Newsom to Tom Waits to Chicago Symphony, the two year gestation time of this recording doesn't seem so long. If you were a fan of the left leaning ambient jazz that welcomed you to get high, this is a fine reminder of things that were. This is a salute to pre-Windham Hill era ECM when they really were adept at swimming against the current and still managing to bring it all home.

LIVIA DEVEREUX/Night Winds Whisper: Good thing this lady has the pipes. She's got the kind of name and the kind of looks that could easily find her at the center of a sex scandal that topples a corporate exec and if she wasn't putting these pipes to the good use she does, it would really be a waste for all of us. A total atavistic throwback to the big, bold, brassy belters that knew how to be heard in the cheap seats, her sense of swing and groove are top notch throughout. The set list is pretty much right down the middle but the delivery from everyone involved makes it fine to hear them all one more time. Hot stuff that wakes up adult ears quite nicely.

JUNKO ONISHI/Baroque: After taking a powder for the better part the decade, this snazzy piano player is back with a thunder you knew was brewing 20 years ago but has really come to bear. Letting fly a barrage of crime jazz meets civil right jazz meets strap yourself in jazz, Onishi makes her long over due major label debut and will probably turn the ailing major label system on it's ear in the process. If you really want to hear what the next stage of Miles' elephant funk probably would have sounded like, this is the place to tune in. This is a clear cut wild ride.

Volume 33/Number 280
August 9, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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