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LAURA HARRISON/Now...Here: Our kind of gal. She scats like a first waver even though she's far away from it and digs Ralph Towner as much as she digs Sting. Even if we give Sting high marks for meh, we dig her spirit and diversity. From the opening shoo bee doos, you know you are in for an upbeat good time. Dividing the set between two jazzbo trios, whether she's delivering on originals that are artsy but hit the mark or doing the classic workouts of her mentors, while putting her own stamp to them, this is a right on jazz vocal find by a comer that's going to be leaving her mark in the wake of this auspicious, self-funded debut. Tasty all the way,

OREGON/In Stride: I can't believe it either, this crew has been at it for 40 years and has come along way from hippie tree hugger stuff to Grammy nominations and recognition beyond all belief. Each of the four members is a proven virtuoso, they all have healthy solo careers, they all went on Medicare when I wasn't looking and they all know how to blend their chops and instrumental voices together to keep it one glorious whole. This set is more about a welcome visit from an old friend that brought some hot chops over to show off his new stuff with. A great adult listening date, I never would have expected something this right on from those earnest young men on Vanguard all that time ago. Cheers, gents, take a bow.

BENJAMIN HERMAN/Hypochristmastreefuzz Special Edition: Not all old man hipster jazz coming out of Holland has to be from Sir Dulfer. Herman took up the cause of Misha Mengelberg, a godfather of Dutch progressive jazz who we might never heard of because he might not have a hot daughter, and has blown his way up the hipster jazz charts as a result. Sounding very much like some hipsters in a 50s wild lifestyle movie, this expanded edition includes live work from the North Sea Jazz Festival. Infusing the 50s vibe with contemporary punk rock energy, this is wild blowing for those who like it free form but not head ache forming. A high octane dose of solidly nutty stuff the left leaning will champion.

MARGIE BAKER/Live at Rasselas: You mean there were hipsters in San Francisco's Fillmore district before the hippies were there? Baker takes us back to the 40s, when she lived there as a kid, and hipster jazz was pouring out of all the windows and doors. With a smoking band of her own hipsters behind her, this well traveled vocalist tears it up, without wallowing in nostalgia. She's just out to share a meaningful good time with discerning jazzbo ears. A fatly tracked set of familiar classics and chestnuts, Baker delivers the goods on the night train at just the right speed. This is the corner where jazz, soul and blues intersect in fine style.

LUIS BONILLA/Twilight: I can't believe it's been a year since Bonilla's last audio visit. Where last time he was making a sort of tribute to his pop, this time we find him in the classic bone bag, slowing it down and going more modal and impressionistic. In Bonilla's hands, laid back doesn't mean less powerful. A spiritual step child of "Kind of Blue", this is first class sitting down jazz that you don't have to be an egghead to get behind. Solid ensemble playing throughout gives this a special vibe that really carries the day well.

TOM CULVER/Sings Johnny Mercer--I Remember You: We don't know much about Culver other than he likes Johnny Mercer and knows how to swing it in proper fashion. A sweet album to stake a claim on, Culver could turn into the Mercer standard bearer. This set lays out a healthy dose of the classics and greatest hits, but you can't merely scratch the surface of the Mercer catalog with one cd. Anyone out for some grown up pleasures has come to the right place here.

HARMONIE ENSEMBLE NEW YORK/Sketches of Spain: Yeah, that "Sketches of Spain". When you're screwing with classics that have lives of their own, it's hard to know where to start and strop and why to go where angels fear to tread. Then you have Grammy nominated, well decorated crews like this one that also have access to gifted soloists that can make or break something as well. Adding Lew Soloff to the mix, this new visioning of the classic is something a lot deeper than Marlo Thomas remaking "It's a Wonderful Life" They didn't just slap a new coat of paint on the old house here. In 50 years, the players on board have had the time to love this music and breathe new breath into it, even if it's something hard to improve upon as it was a high water mark for two giants. Well worth the new sight seeing trip this new destination gives.

ANNIE GALLUP/Weather: Warner Music Group really has nothing going on so they are trying to make a big deal out of the anniversary of Elektra Records without understanding the music or the era that led them to do some classic risk taking. Gallup sounds like one of those acts the label supported with Doors profits and let them make some wonderful experimental stuff that seems like it never sold but is still vital and talked about 40 years later. While Gallup might have been right at home in that singer/songwriter class, this is a real bag breaker for Waterbug as it takes them to art music places they haven't really explored. Don't be surprised if this becomes and underground fave of depressed college girls that want to listen to something of their own when their boyfriends aren't around. This is the kind of confessional art/folk so many try and only walk away with an A for effort. Gallup gets it right.

Volume 33/Number 352
October 20, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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