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MIKE MARSHALL/An Adventure 1999-2009: Marshall was so all over this label when it first started it seemed like he had set up his own shop in the wake of BMG finally eating Windham Hill alive. One of the few things you can count on in this musical world is that Marshall still finds ways to push the boundaries and play virtuoso style throughout. This collection grafts together what would otherwise be called a greatest hits if there was a mass radio outlet for NAC. Culled from 9 albums that found him going around the world and back again, this NAC pioneer/new age stalwart let's his instrumental genius fly freely, again and again, making this decade worth of distillation a magic carpet ride. Never what you expect, this is how gator music started out and look where it wound up. A dead, solid perfect collection of killer instrumental music.

JOVINO SANTOS NETO/Veja O Som See the Sound: Neto is one of those cats that keeps flying higher under the radar with each new outing and this set finds the instrumentalist really making his mark. A value priced double cd, recorded half in the US and half in Brazil with a killer slate of duet partners, this collection of duets that covers as many musical quadrants as possible is a first class showcase of sitting down jazz/world music. Each track simply shines and it rises to the top of a short list of sitting down jazz classics that are not to be missed. Hot stuff throughout.

ROY GAINES and His Orchestra/Tuxedo Blues: Children, step up and get to know a geezer that will do wonderful things for your musical education. Plying his trade across seven decades, we find him fronting a jazz big band here with membership including his fellow Texans Joe Sample and Wilton Felder. Sounding very much like jazz from the golden age of Central Avenue LA jazz, this doesn't sound dated even it captures the vibe and he doesn't sound old. And his contemporary look at old vibed blues is something else. In the spirit of the down home side of Ray Charles big bands, this set is a mover and a groover and the real deal throughout. A shining example of how cats sounded when they really knew how to play and rock it out. Well done.

ANN LICATER/Doorway to a Dream: Here's one of those records you won't be able to put your finger on what it is and you really won't care why. A Native American/world flute player, Licater takes you places you thought only Terry Oldfield could, but she does it more organically with generally with a lot less of a palette to work with. Gentle stuff that lays to waste those budgie priced new age collections with the nice covers that interest you but never deliver, Licater is a musician and an artist in touch with her art. You can easily write it off as music for a walk in the woods but that would be selling your own sensibilities short. Simply lovely adult listening that seems like the perfect soundtrack for when quiet times are in order. Expertly played and paced, this is soulful, new age adult listening that goes the distance.

CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO/Andromeda: Give props where they're due. This trio and their progressive jazz/rock pals celebrate 20 years together by coming up with a bag breaker that sounds nothing like what has come before in their generous discography. They may have started out as the back bone of the League of Crafty Guitarists but they have moved on from the Fripp/Crimson vibe in a big way while still respecting their roots. A dazzling instrumental set that doesn't come within a mile of a cliché, it's one of those magical sets that blows progressive ears wide open to the new possibilities. Hot stuff throughout.

LAUREN HOOKER/Life of the Music: A spiritual descendant to Anita O'Day, this risk taking jazz vocalist took her time between releases, but she will serve no performance before it's time. Smoky, basement music whether she's serving up Joni Mitchell, Leonard Bernstein or something that comes from a smoky shadow, Hooker is the main event after the main event. A delightful hipster who's after midnight vibe will make you late for work, with a smile on your face, Hooker is a gas. Certainly left of center jazz vocalizing, this is one groovy chick from start to finish.

MATT WILSON'S CHRISTMAS TREE-O: This sounds like a bunch of your groovy pals convening in your living room to give the holiday classics a spin for your holiday party and make it a hipster Yule in the process. All the cats are in synch and jamming live and Wilson leads the festivities in a way that make you think it's time for a set featuring him and Grant Geissman as a fantasy dream team. The holidays may have swung in the past but they certainly never sounded this groovy. If you want to make it a real hipster Christmas, forget those remix collections and go right to this source, it certainly stands the holidays on their ear. Well done.

COLIN DEAN/Shiwasu: This cat grew up in music and you can tell how it is infused in his fibers. This bass player is a young jazzbo that can do it all with grace and chops to spare crafting a solid date that burns with a low key fire that doesn't quit. Lightly left leaning, on the progressive edge of mainstream, this is solid sitting down jazz ensemble work that keeps you in it's groove throughout. Tasty stuff from a cat you might as well get to know now since you are going to be hearing a lot from him in the future.

Volume 33/Number 334
October 2, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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