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GAZPACHO/Missa Atropos: So, if Enigma made darker records and there wasn't a chant craze going on, you have an idea what this crew is about. Add the kind of lyrics confused kids looking for a way out relate to and you have more of an idea what's going on here. We're living in such bleak times that the Euro-pessimism that fuels this set doesn't seem as out of place as old records bitching about life in Manchester. Disaffected youth that don't care about Snooki have a new fave record here.

LARS DIETRICH/Stand Alone: He's a sax man but he plays everything on this set, hence the title. As informed by Zappa, modern rock, fringy alt.sounds and anything else that reaches beyond the pale that catches his fancy, this is clearly not a set for moldy figs. The kind of instrumental set you'd probably get fs Lou Reed turned his metal machine music toward jazz and wasn't trying to break his contract, this set certainly gives you all the amphetamine rush you need with none of the side effects.

SUSIE MEISSNER/I'm Confessin': Back again with another impressive jazz vocal set, Meissner tackles chestnuts that haven't been roasted to death and the gang in tow knows how to swing. And she knows how to keep up and lead. A tasty, fun set that probably took longer to research then it did to record, this is right in the classic 50s mode of all the classics that flowed from that fount. Well done.

PABLO HELD/Glow: The jazz piano man comes in with an angular set of sitting down jazz that has crime jazz overtones in a pomo setting. Firmly in the newer end of the ECM progressive school, this set has a large crew on board and the sound reflects that. Sitting down jazz fans that like it full of twists and turns that sound like they could have come from Steve Reich after eating red meat for weeks will enjoy this restrained free jazz work out.

MARC COPLAND/Crosstalk: The piano man calls in a bunch of smart jazzbos for a straight ahead but left leaning set that finds them mixing their progressive chops with their straight ahead chops in a fine blend. Chamber jazz from a progressive chamber, the gang here is too good not to be on the money throughout. A solid session to keep you nice company on a rainy Sunday with a thick newspaper at your side.

NOAH HAIDU/Slipstream: Listen to this with good headphones because this young lion piano man brings a bunch of stars together and together they hit it right from the first byte. A killer straight ahead date that springs fully formed out of nowhere, Haidu is a real comer that's sure to turn into a bright star. It smokes. You need to check it out.

DAVID RUSSELL/Isaac Albeniz-Spanish Music on Guitar: Russell owns his spot next to the greats of classical guitar and we're glad that he feels the need to make an annual audio visit. Taking a deeper look at the canon of Albeniz than most guitarists do, this is another parade of his touch, tone and mastery of the form and his ability to pluck out something new and fresh that will knock out the most jaded ears. A solo player with enough fire power to dazzle all by his lonesome, this is absolute must hearing by any guitar fan that knows his picks from his plucks. A masterpiece.

JACK DONAHUE/Parade-Live in New York City: If this jazz/cabaret vocal set was released in the 70s, this guy would have been kicked to the curb with all deliberate speed just because the taste makers wouldn't get it. What a difference 3 decades makes. A vocalist with command of his instrument and a working knowledge of the meaning of performance, he's dug in the crates for well loved oldies that haven't been beaten to death and need a little dusting off. He also knows how to find the flow to mix the oldies from different eras seamlessly. His backing crew is right in step and a good time is had by all. Check it out.

Volume 34/Number 139
March 20, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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