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DANA MARCINE/Crossing Lights: It's not that often you get a new jazz diva that writes her own rather than dip into the chestnuts but Marcine is out to break the mold. A sophisticated kind of singer, she has the background and chops to assure that she's going to hit all the right notes and she puts it all into the service of bringing her original art songs home. She's the kind of singer that keeps you coming back to your fave up market lounge. This is a nice set of satisfying adult listening that works well throughout.

HEAVY TIN/Fused Jazz: A fun to listen to jazz session that strips the piano/bass down to the basics and serves a solid background music for when you need a little space and a little more signal to noise. Just two cats with a load of chops kicking out the jams in a first class way.

FITZWILLIAM STRING QUARTET/Composes par Mr. Hayden: This chamber music crew has been at it for over 40 years and this set was recorded almost a decade ago but it could have easily been a nice addition to any Haydn anniversary celebration of recent vintage. Focusing on exploring three string quartets to the fullest, this is lively, charming music that feels like it could add class and elegance to any set of speakers it touches. A delightfully up market recording, this is something adult listeners that aren't necessarily into classical music might find to be a gateway drug. Of course, if any listeners are already fans, they will find this quite hard to resist. Well done.

MURRAY McLACHLAN/Erik Chisholm-Music for Piano V. 6: The piano great, McLachlan, strays from his romance with Russian piano masters to tackle the sounds of other spaces in checking out this collection of miniatures from a contemporary, classical composer. Mostly broken in to 5 suites, this is almost moldy fig music that gets saved from that fate once McLachlan kicks it into gear. One of our great musical sherpas, McLachlan is always worth checking out once he gets a new journey going.

KENNETH SMITH & PAUL RHODES/Song Without Words-The legacy of Paul Taffanel: We like this duo since they have a knack for making two instruments fill the room with sound. Paying tribute to a popular performer that had all sort of composing royalty writing for him, he was at his best before recording had begun and except for the efforts of duos like this, he might be needlessly forgotten. A three cd set divided by themes, this set of mostly world premiere recordings is a real treat for chamber music fans. With each disc packed to the gills with music, there's plenty here that's loaded with deceptively simple chops and charm. A tasty collection from stem to stern.

MACROSCOPIA: Chamber jazz that lies to the left of classic left leaning ECM and free jazz. Exploring the sound of sound as well as the texture of sound, this is head music for the open eared looking for music that takes them within without it being new age. Certain discerning listeners will get it right away, but you have to have your ears cocked toward arts council music to really get it.

YO YO MA Live at Ravinia: Did you know that in a addition to being a good sport about us calling him Yo Ma Ma for the last 30 years, Ma is also a magnificent and triumphant leader, composer, instrumentalist and player? This century has found Ma adding a real international scope to his repertoire but this night at Ravinia found him celebrating the tenth anniversary of The Silk Road Ensemble, as well as letting his international flag fly. This crew was concerned with more than bringing water up the hill for the good of the collective as they hit tarantellas and other decidedly non-Oriental themes. Whether Ma was leading the gang or being part of the crew, it was an evening of musicians celebrating the joy of playing. They must have had some rain dance music in the mix as well as the skies opened up with a storm that had been long promised but was slow in arriving. The people on the lawn couldn't have been too happy, but the park was packed wall to wall and no one was running for the exits. This is the kind of program that keeps classical music fresh bringing new ears into the tent without alienating old school listeners. For all the talk about gloom and doom that seems to be dogging our every step these days, this was high quality evening that a thunderstorm and a bad economy couldn't dampen.

Volume 33/Number 296
August 25, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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