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ROSSANO SPORTIELLO/Lucky to Be Me: Recent vintage Arbors piano go to guy gets his own entry in the label's piano series, even if he's snuck under the wire with a trio date. An iconic player that echoes the greats like Tatum, Jones, McKenna and all the others under that penumbra, his playing isn't an homage---it's smart playing that shows he knows the difference between playing it his way and playing it the right way. An unabashed mainstream player, he knows how to burn brightly without engaging pyrotechnics. Simply a solid, sweet date with no agenda other than to spread smiles and good vibes. Check it out.

CHUCK WILSON/Echo of Spring: Looking very much like a working musician on the cd cover, if you've never heard of this sax man and wonder why Howard Alden was so intent to steward the date, Wilson has had a chair in Alden's big band for years. Right in the bag of the classic Verve/Bluenote 50's dates, this is solid, straight ahead jazz played by cats committed to the cause. It might be sitting down jazz but tapping toes and bobbing heads are guaranteed. Hot stuff.

BUZZ BROS BAND/Ppff Unk: A loping love letter to 70s funk that doesn't bother with adhering to the conventions if time and tide has changed things around. The kind of stuff a white boy would groove to, these crafty Euros are more about promoting fun than anything else. Several steps above being a soundtrack to a porno, this would be closer to garage funk if it wasn't powered by knowledgeable jazz chops at the core. Fun stuff that handily works.

CHARLIE HADEN QUARTET WEST/Sophisticated Ladies: What is it about being Jack Black's father in law that makes you go from making liberation music to making a wildly commercial, sentimental star driven date? After the well wrought, high art of his last few sessions, this date could be quite a controversial entry in his canon as long time fans will want to know what's going on, while smack dab in the middle of his 70s he might turn around and reach his largest audience yet. Haden, his pals and their guests, could have tossed this whole session off in one take and we'd be none the wiser----that's the level of the chops working out here. A solidly professional, on the money date all senior citizen jazzbos wish they could hit out of the park and ride into the sunset on a long tailed chart comet. Cool jazz but really hot stuff.

CURTIS MACDONALD/Community Immunity: A sax playing cat that sort of wears several hats in the muso/creative community, he's a recent muso college grad with one ear in 60s prog jazz and one ear cocked to the future of prog jazz. Still flexing and testing, Macdonald might not be everyone's cup of tea yet, but he has a lot on the ball and is going to be opening ears as he goes. A bright star has just begun to shine.

AVERY SHARPE/Running Man: This bass man has a special ear for civil rights jazz but he knows how to find a non-confrontational yet challenging side of it. A sitting down session with a 60s patina covering it, this is the kind of stuff that was favored by cult sized audiences that didn't have to go down to church basements to hear it. A jazzbo through and through, Shape and his first call pals are not manqué going through the motions, this is the real deal.

JOHN SAMORIAN/Out on a Limb: Veteran jazz vocalist pulls off the rare feat of turning in a bunch of originals that are catchy, clever and sound implacably familiar. Certainly a student of Dave Frishberg, this theater mainstay is keyed to making music for adults that aren't interested in teen hits and want songs that speak to them. The opening track about an old guy trying to get laid is a hoot, setting the tone but not the tenor of the set. A solidly adult, jazz flavored set that'll be a treat for non-jazzbos as well. A winner throughout.

AUDREY SILVER/Dream Awhile: After years of working in and around the music biz, Silver finally puts her business degree and resume aside to chase her love of being a jazz singer. Worried more about hitting it out of the park than making a flattened out performance that appeals to everyone but holds nothing, Silver opts for substance over style but comes in with a stylish, substantial performance of non-overdone classics and chestnuts given a contemporary, high end feel. Powered by the kind of sound that used to fill clubs, boites and cafes, Silver offers a golden opportunity to savor some intimacy. The tasty work of a killer new jazz vocalist. Check it out.

Volume 34/Number 151
April 1, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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