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GREG WARD'S FITTED SHARDS/South side Story: Aspiring to be a master of sitting down jazz, Ward knows how to score commissions from all kinds of art groups, shows he can play with anyone and can soak up influences like a sponge but manages to make them all uniquely his own. This is a careening, way out set that knows how to combine the Ferris wheel with the roller coaster and then send the carny at the wheel off for a break while the ride is still going. All while you're sitting down! There's a game certainly a foot here as this cat should not be allowed to sneak up behind you. Left leaning hot stuff.

TP & COMPANY/Steppe Forward: Vet vibe player that's been a long time mainstay of George Shearing's crew comes in with a set of almost all originals and his own crew and they deliver a good time of solid, sitting down jazz. Like bizjazz with some edge, this set cuts a path of it's own being familiar and new at the same time. Tasty players that know how to mix jazz and world in just the right quantities, this is a fine weekend set to have playing when a lazy weekend is in order.

MATT GARRISON/Familiar Faces: Why should you pay attention to this young sax man? How about an appreciation by Jimmy Heath and gratuitous Claudio Roditi, Sharel Cassity, Don Braden, Mark Whitfield and others? How about this boy just knows how to blow and can deliver a mainstream/post bop date that has it all? Simply an auspicious debut as a leader that will simply leave you wanting more. First class jazz throughout.

FIERY BLUE: Ok, so here's a group that really couldn't have existed before the internet as all the players are in different cities and send things back and forth to get them done but sound more like a band that those that are in the same time zone frequently at the same time. Moody college kid stuff done right, this has the classic fly under the radar feel that percolates on college radio and in college dorms. Irresistibly catchy in a left field way, this is a special treat that just keeps surprising you with more. Well done.

HENRY DARRAGH/Tell Her For Me: This swinging jazzbo was born in Texas after Jerry Jeff Walker and Willie Nelson rewrote the rules, so he missed it and followed the great Texas honkers into jazz that cooks. A multi-instrumentalist that sings, he has the feel of all the post Sinatra singers from Connick to Buble, but he will remind you of only him after you swing through "Hey There" with him as this date kicks off righteously. Solid jazz vocal date from a non-diva that knows how to cook with the best of them.

PIANO RED/The Lost Atlanta Tapes: The last recording of Atlanta music legend was made nearly 30 years ago but there was more than met the ear on the original release of this material. Expanded with 8 tracks that have been hidden away all this time, this is the old time blues man playing it up as always and not realizing he was leaving us smiling. Down home blues with a city edge, this is how it used to be, young uns, back in the day. Hard to believe that blues was once a show, huh? Fine stuff and nice to have it escape from the vaults.

ROBERT BRANCH/Courage to Be: A pre-eminent sideman that's sure to become a household name in due course, delivers an intense date that makes sense when you realize this date is an outpouring of his anger over the death of his mother to cancer. This jazz/rock date will make sense to anyone who's ever been in that position and they will hear what's going on here under the patina of Branch channeling John McLaughlin. Sounding very much like the kind of cat that can play anything that involves electric guitar, hearing is believing and you owe it to yourself to check this one out.

TURTLE ISLAND QUARTET/Have You Ever Been...? In which we find this organic crew turning their attention to the works of Hendrix with some side trips for John McLaughlin and Dylan as well as the works of Turtle mainstay David Balakrishnan. One of those adventurous kind of dates where they try to push the boundaries, covering Hendrix isn't so radical anymore, as seen by having Mike Marshall tear it up on "All Along the Watchtower". This chamber Hendrix is a nice bookend to Gil Evans' big band Hendrix. Guess he's just not so scary to the mainstream anymore.

Volume 33/Number 284
August 13, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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