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ALEX LEVIN TRIO/New York Portraits: Smart piano man in the original Ramsey Lewis Trio tradition swings through a set of classics that aren't all New York themed but have that up market super club sound that oozes sophisticated swing. A deceptively easy sounding player, Levin is more than skilled at hitting all the right notes and serves up a real straight ahead steamer that's hard to resist. First class all the way.

ROOTS OF CHICHA 2/various: Another set of a delightful archeological dig through Peru's back pages to unearth local sounds that were recorded prior to 1981 but sound so fresh and happy that you wouldn't know if we didn't tell you. A well stocked companion to the first volume of a few years ago, this is a killer world beat find for all party people. People's music from some real back waters, not all folk music has to come from Woody Guthrie and not all of it has to be about bitching about how bad things are. Check it out, it's first class all the way.

ROSEHILL/White Lines and Stars: If Frey and Henley stayed in Texas and got produced by Lloyd Maines, this is what Eagles would have sounded like. Instead, they weren't born when Eagles first took flight and they got Radney Foster behind the controls. And they don't sound anything like all the yucky sounding bands that tried to replicate Eagles in the wake of their flight. Eagles + 40 and not at all a bad thing. Alt.country adds the rock and it cooks.

JOAN JEANRENAUD-PC MUNOZ/Pop-Pop: Jeanrenaud always seemed like the kind of gal that you can't tell what to do and if are expecting her to still be that arts council kind of neo-classical player, she's got all kinds of electronics and progressive ideas flowing mightily here that will take arts councils a lot of catching up before they write grants here automatically in the near future. The most striking thing about this set is that Jeanrenaud could give lessons to other classical singers and musicians about how not to do it wrong when they want to go contemporary. Clearly a left leaning date that might be sampled in clubs but not played, she doesn't try to be something she‘s not and adjusting her image for TMZ. Varese, Cage and all you other guys, your legacy is safe.

DUAL RHYTHM/Big Band: A keyboard man, a percussionist and a few ringers along for various stages of the ride. It adds up nicely. The core has been together for a while and they have the latitude to shake things up and shape them up anyway they want at any given time. This sounds an awful lot like hipster crime jazz. A nutty diversion that's on the money throughout.

TAKE 6/The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: It was only a matter of time before Andy Williams got around to being revered and Take 6 steps up by doing right by Williams' signature holiday classic. This is a Take 6 holiday album so don't go looking for "Moon River" and "Happy Heart"---but I wouldn't mind hearing their take on "Under Paris Skies" using their acapella vision on Quincy Jones charts---but that's another idea for another time. These pros know how to go for the gold and I'll betcha this is one of the few Christmas albums that gets remembered around Grammy nomination time. They do a flock of standards and breathe nice, new life into them making this is the new Christmas album you are looking for,.

JAY GAUNT/Harmonicopia: The few that even under took to make the harmonica the lead instrument had to know what they were doing lest they sound like folk singer coloration and it takes a lot of be a Toots Thielemans or a Little Walter. Gaunt knows what he's doing and how he wants to get there and this set of mostly originals shows a real southern side to this New Jersey kid. Probably conceived as a resume showing off how he can adapt to different styles and sounds, as a resume piece he's assured himself a calling card that will get him first call status. As a record, this ain't chopped liver. He's the kind of cat that loves his work so much that you can't help but to follow his lead. This is a full on recording as well. Well done.

RICH HALLEY QUARTET/Live at the Penofin Jazz Festival: Solid, under the radar cat shows what he can do with his sax and his pals in a live setting, which is where he spends most of his time with one of this other aggregations. A freight train of non stop energy, Halley and his crew simply hit it out of the park.

Volume 33/Number 313
September 11, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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