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11/08/10 (original missing in action?)

JOHN SHERIDAN'S DREAM BAND/Hooray for Christmas: This has been a great year for new Christmas albums and the train keeps rolling here. Sheridan digs deep into the classic song bag for overlooked gems from a raft of different composers and brings it all together righteously with his band of all stars that don't have to be told once what to do. With the orchestration of a classic recording and songs and performances that hit the mark throughout, this is the mainstream jazz Christmas set that will knock your socks off. It almost feels like a network special from the 50s but it's right in the moment. A really welcome recording for holiday music fans.

JANET CARROLL/Lady Be Good: A little too much of a jazzy soul to be really at home on one of the leading cabaret labels, the pairing of Carroll and Arbors is a natch because it gives her access to the Arbors all stars who know how to give Carroll a most proper setting for her vocal work. A solidly straight ahead set that cuts to the chase and just lets the chops shine with nothing to distract from them. Maybe it's her acting chops but Carroll knows how to deliver the classic super club sound for adult ears that want meat as much as their stomachs do. A winner of a jazz vocal date.

BOB WILBER/Is Here: The vet sax and clarinet ace shows there's no dust, as well as no emphysema, on him as he blows up a storm in the company of the Arbors all stars. Whether kicking it up a notch or slowing it down for a breather, the gang's all here and smoking throughout. With Dixieland overtones, this often sounds like cartoon music and if that doesn't bring a smile to your face, nothing will. Tasty stuff that seems like a diversion but is really a main course in itself. Nobody here would steer you wrong so you owe it to yourself to check out what's wildly happening here. Well done.

JENNY DAVIS/Inside: We liked her before, we like her again. With a simple, subtle background, jazz vocalist Davis takes center stage with her voice and all the pluck she can put into and behind it. Tackling another set of mostly classics and chestnuts, Davis takes it back to the original jazz diva days before the current crop of manufactured ones with manufactured attitudes. Rolling it back to the day when talent was enough, Davis shows she has more than enough. A sweet set for adult ears that want it straight and uncut, if she's just going to insist on getting better each time out, we're enjoying this and already looking forward to the next. Hot stuff.

JOHN HOLMES/The Holmes Stretch: Doe this Holmes realize the porno fire he's playing with here? John Holmes? The Holmes Stretch? Lucky thing this long time guitar man has the chops to get around all that. Serving up a gringo Latin flavored jazz date that merrily perks along with a good vibe and flow, this is tasty, yuppie party music that adds flair and flavor to any proceedings where fun is in the air. Recorded in a no pressure setting, it hinges on vacation music and let's you just fall into it's good times cocoon. Sweet.

LUTALO "SWEET LU' OLUTOSIN/Tribute to Greatness: Debut recording from a male jazz vocalist that already knows it's a hard row to hoe for the males of the ilk. Looking to make a mark quickly, he covers the classics to get you into the tent and uses a bunch of bytes to mix in his originals which are a fun lot with some clever lyrics. He's been a good student of the form but knows how to leave his own stamp on the proceedings. Preferring to be the 10th best swordsman in all of France, he isn't reined in by the pas de deux the second best must follow and he swash buckles his way across and solid and compelling debut that takes things seriously without taking itself too seriously. Check it out.

PETE LEVIN/Jump!: Levin probably should have called this "Burner" instead of "Jump" but certainly he has his reasons. Once again taking the jazz organ trio to places you've only heard in dreams, it's deceptively simple hypnotic charms draw you in and keep you in. The on board fusion aces know what to do and how to get it done and this is a date that doesn't make you do anything more than sit back, get into the groove and enjoy it. Tasty, smoking stuff that sounds bigger in your ears that it looks on paper, this is top shelf adult listening throughout.

JACQUI SUTTON/Billie & Dolly: And now for something completely different. Sutton is a jazz vocalist that really likes to genre bend, comparing herself as a vocalist to what Bela Fleck does as an instrumentalist. While this might look like a tribute to Billie Holliday and Dolly Parton, there's actually only two songs really identified with those two disparate vocalists and the rest are chestnuts that fall somewhere in the middle. Genre bending, with an ear toward Hot Club, Jethro Burns and Joe Venuti, this is cocktail music for the 21st Century where today's kids finding themselves getting tired of being hipsters want some sophistication and don't know how to get it or find it. Just when you think we don't need another interpretation of "God Bless the Child", Sutton kicks off this set with it and removes the tortured artist effect turning it into a roller coaster of a show stopper---and that's how things get started. Sutton is an innovator and knows how to put her ear to good use. A sweet set that takes something familiar and makes it new and different without falling too far from the original tree. Check it out.

Volume 34/Number 8
November 8, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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