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CHRIS DONNELLY/Solo: One of those rare cats that's really at one with his instrument, Donnelly's solo piano is a very intimate event where you feel like you're eavesdropping into something you shouldn't be but you know you can't turn away. He kicks his debut off with some Bill Evans, but there's really no way to compare the two since both are real originals. Sure it's sitting down jazz, but this is the stuff you want to have when you're sitting down and the quiet is too quiet but noise is unwelcome. Quite the smashing debut.

CLAYTON BROTHERS/The New Song and Dance: There's no two ways about it, the Clayton Brothers are masters of modern jazz. For a date inspired by dance, this is certainly a paragon of sitting down jazz at it's best. With the kind of verve you get from a 50 year old Jimmy Heath date that's still sounding in the moment, the Claytons and their pals serve it up hot on this fan funded date that shows patrons don't demand the lowest common denominator in tier entertainment. By communicating directly with the listener, the muso and fan are on the same page and genuine, timeless ars gratia artis results here. Killer stuff that's highbrow and high minded without being sanctimonious and pedant. Adult ears are in for a first class jazzbo treat here.

JON & ROY/Homes: Folk music for the new century where Afropop replaces Spanish and Hawaiian moves and cannibalism replaces murder ballads. Powered easily by a hipster/folkie/stoner vibe, this duo from Vancouver draws upon the junkie capitol of Canada for down market weirdo inspiration that genre bends up a nutty brew for the college kid in all of us. Deceptive, wacky fun that's merrily left of center, especially when it slides in there under the radar.

DAN ADLER/Back to the Bridge: You simply don't fill voids overnight but for anyone thinking the void Joe Pass left in his wake will never be filled, the wait is over. Adler has the spirit and romp that powered the best of Pass and working out here with an organ trio, we hear a sprightliness we didn't from all those Pass solo dates that had a lot on the ball but can only show so much when one cat is on his own. The simpatico is running wild here and this is one date you should be sure not to Pass on. Or over. Simply killer jazz guitar front and center that makes you put on a happy face. A real burner that's well done.

BRYAN LEE/My Lady Don't Love My Lady: Whew. Produced by Duke Robillard, played on by Buddy Guy, Dave Maxwell, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and more, looks like John Stewart was right when he said blind boys and gamblers invented the blues. A killer, soulful blues vocalist and blistering guitarist, this white boy delivers the goods. Gritty, soulful and bursting with the blues, this is solid, contemporary roadhouse stuff that any frat boy worth his hangover has to checkout. Well done and winning throughout.

BOBBY WATSON/The Gates BBQ Suite: So, when Watson left New York to return to Kansas City, he must have tucked it away in the corner of his mind that he could get free bbq for life if he wrote a whole suite about one of the city's top bbq establishments, even if it wasn't one his own grandparents ran. Always one to throw himself into his work, he enlisted his charges at the UMKC into carrying out his plot. A New York tasting jazz opus covered in KC bbq sauce, this is a fun romp of a big band date by some kids that are really showing themselves to have what it takes to be stars of tomorrow. Kansas City, a home to all things jazz and all things bbq, struts it's stuff here on a set that really doesn't have anything to do with bbq except for the aside dropped in. With a Bernstein meets Marty Paich flair (flare?), this is a real delight of a well played set where all the licks are tasty. You can't go wrong checking this out, its first class all the way.

PAUL WINTER CONSORT/Miho-Journey to the Mountain: It always seems like you need to be a granola eater to appreciate Winter's music when you read the hype that comes with it, but Winter and his merry band manage to cut through all that to find the meat on the plate and deliver music that's mind blowing, mind bending and always different. Here we find him recording his impressions of a museum based on Shangri-la, designed by I.M. Pei when he specifically came out of retirement to do so. So what can we expect from the man that gave us the music of the wolf? How about some more great new stuff from an old guy with a relentless spirit that doesn't seem to be giving any thought toward retirement. Kicking it off with a familiar feeling sax riff that ought to be in any world jazzer's DNA by now, Winter brings his Grand Canyon to Shangri-la and creates a work in line with all of his top stuff of the last 30 years. We might not have heard from him in a while, but this cat is the Reggie Jackson of world jazz. Well done.

COLIN STRANAHAN/Life Condition: The solid drummer has since become a well traveled solid drummer having toured the world with august jazz personages participating in august events. This third set has the reflections on these events. It's a low key, close ensemble work that evidences a restless spirit meeting the world on it's own terms. With some civil rights jazz that he couldn't have experienced the first time around seeding the event, Stranahan is more concerned with art and chops that anything else and delivers smoky basement, sitting down jazz that deserves all hipsters' stamp of approval. Lots of angular, modern jazz is on tap here and the tap pours true. Good stuff throughout.

Volume 33/Number 326
September 24, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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