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JUDE JOHNSTONE/Quiet Girl: One of the most august songwriters in contemporary music returns with her fifth album of under the radar music loaded with guest turns by her august pals who want to see her stop being under the radar and in the background. Returning to the Americana roots of her first two sets, sure this is loaded with a preview of the hits of tomorrow, but it makes a statement all on it's own. In the past, her solo sets were extravaganzas for songwriting fans. This set might be a turning point for Johnstone fans who may soon find themselves with less elbow room around them.

MARTY WILLIAMS/Long time Comin': If you aren't from the Bay area where this cat holds forth to great acclaim, you may wonder what this album of covers is all about. A soul singing piano man, he finds his footing in Curtis Mayfield's early 70s vibe after leaving the Impressions when political and Paul Williams found their way to wax, side by side. He's a solid entertainer reminding you about the works of Oscar Brown, Zawinul, Duke, Les McCann as well as Marlene Dietrich and Cole Porter. He's earned his spurs and honed his chops and knows how to lead a right on journey through the past that is relevant to the present.

GRAHAM REYNOLDS/Duke! Three Portraits of Ellington: So here we are 12 years after all the centennial tsimmis and there's a new spate of Ellingtonia appreciation coming down the pike. This set started out as a busman's holiday but Reynolds and his genre bending pals from various disciplines had too much fun to let it go. This set focuses on 7 Ellington standards and presents them three different ways from classic progressive to next week modern. Did you know Ellington is timeless and boundary less? Not for moldy figs but a positive recommendation for just about anybody else, from belly dance to hip hop. It's a wild ride that keeps going even after you pass Harlem.

FRED HO & the Green Monster Band/Year of the Dragon: So, where do you go after a jazz rave up of "Inna Godda Divida"? How about "Prelude to a Kiss Off"? Ho is one of the great mind benders of our times and his excursion through ‘jazz' this time around has takes on "Johnny Quest" , Michael Jackson, Hendrix, Ellington? and more. About as linear as Carla Bley was 40 years ago, this is avant garde big band, with some arts council financing, that doesn't sound anything like arts council music. It certainly isn't grandpa's big band music but it sure as hell takes you some place electronics and samples can't. Wild stuff that open eared listeners have to hear to believe---and enjoy. Check it out.

MARK WEINSTEIN/Jazz Brasil: Flutes, Brazil and jazz seem like such a natural combination and Weinstein has found the corner to turn to make Herbie Mann smile down upon his efforts. With a different touch of special sauce this time around, adding the coloration of fellow Monk devotee Kenny Barron on piano, the cross cultural cross currents never turn into a rip tide but they draw you in big time. Slightly to the left of being a commercial recording, this is simply a set of heartfelt, buoyant and bubbling playing that's played and heard for the fun of it. A great set to change your mood if it needs some lifting fast. Well done.

JONATHAN KREISBERG/Shadowless: A little bit fusion, a little bit modern and a lotta bit chopful. The guitar man leading this date has progressive genes in his DNA and they are well tempered with experience from around the jazz horn. A nice set for guitar fans that don't like it lite but don't like it impenetrable either. Solid stuff for when the moving needs to be just a bit less easy. Meaty stuff for ears ready to dig in.

JERRY LEAKE & RANDY ROOS/Cubist Live: The crew calls their music world-rock-fusion. We hear the world and fusion more than the rock and we hear players that know their stuff and are passionate about presenting it full force with the chops flashing front and center. Certainly, it's a genre skipping date that is all about the audio journey, which really doesn't fit comfortably under any labels but does kick ass. A sweet set for the open eared and arm chair traveler in need of some great, new kicks.

ROXY COSS: How come it never gets old calling a lady sax player a saxy lady? Where Candy Dulfer knows how to rock a commercial groove and make it seem deep, Coss is a deep dyed jazzbo that can be radio friendly but plays it old school when commercial dates were ones that challenged the listener. Deep stuff that doesn't wander off into the deep end, she's putting in her 10,000 hours and it shows with every note. A killer player that's here to make her mark and stick around impressing us for quite a while.

Volume 34/Number 75
January 15, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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