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WOODY WITT/Pots & Kettles: A Texas tenor with native abilities and chops honed by the North Texas Jazz Program, this in demand session cat capably steps out on is own with a bunch of Houston fellow travelers that use the platform to make this a real showcase for all involved. A sax man with a sense of tradition as well as an ear toward the future of mainstream jazz, Witt knows his stuff and knows how to deliver a solid, good time. Captivating originals lead the way and you can tell he's hitting on all eight. , Well done.

IMELDA MAY/Mayhem: The rest of the world has May fever and it looks like it's time we got on the trolley. Part retro, part new wave, part riot grrrl and all pomo pin up girl for deconstruction and genre bending reassembly, this vixen with a dangerous edge is out to let off steam hitting the ball to all corners of the field, keeping you guessing which part of the party is going to pop next. Very much the anti-Katy Perry, May isn't interested in being a teenaged dream, she wants to carry on over on the wrong side of town all night. Wild stuff that blows the ears wide open.

JANICE FABER/Carried Away: There's a few too many churchy moms that know how to tickle the ivories and think they have something to add to the canon. Thankfully, Faber isn't one of them. She travels the lite new age solo piano route quite nicely and this date of original music was 30 years in coming. She used the time wisely and productively. A gracious and flowing set that has a beginning, a middle and an end rather than "inspired" noodling, Faber paints her sonic pictures just the way you'd like them done. This is a great companion for when quiet times are in order.

JOCELYN MEDINA/We Are Water: There seems to be a lot of 40 year ago nostalgia in the air lately and 40 years ago, art chicks came in three main flavors, the Joni Mitchell wannabe, the Victoria schmata queen and the world/jazz genre bender. Medina is right in step with the jazzbo of yesteryear, who would probably be her grandmother these days. Church basement coffeehouses, clingy black clothes and a little tea passed around when the fuzz wasn't around---the vibe is all coming back on this set. You can almost hear Walter Cronkite saying Ďand that's the way it was".

STEVE LIPMAN/There is a Song in My Heart: So what does a successful dentist do when he can run his practice on remote control and he wants to revisit all the pop classics his mom was blasting around the house? He makes work for some solid players and plays out his Sinatra fantasies on an album of mostly Capitol period Sinatra. Does he embarrass himself? No, he's having a good time. This is music he loves but he doesn't try to ape Sinatra, he's Lipman kicking out the jams. Obviously the Sinatra originals cast a long shadow that many who have come before Lipman weren't able to shake, but Lipman isn't trying to out do the master, he's having a good time. Cut well above a karaoke/vanity album, he won't make you forget Sinatra but he won't invite comparisons to Jerry Aldini (or whatever the lounge singer Bill Murray used to do was named). Go on, have a good time along with Lipman.

ARMEN DONELIAN/Leapfrog: Hold on to your hat. This is Donalian's 9th set for Sunnyside, and even after a four decade career where he played with all the jazzbos that matter, he still might be the heaviest cat you never heard of. A New Yorker that likes to explore his Armenian roots, he is a piano improv player of the first order. This is an angular set of sitting down jazz that certainly doesn't take things lightly. Certainly the kind of cat that knows how to keep a foot in each of the past and the future, he's captured that vortex where moldy figs and progressives can meet and each be right about what they hear, even if they can't convince the other. Donelian and his crew know how to work up a sweat.

JACQUES LOUSSIER TRIO/Schumann-Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood): Loussier is one of those august cats that's earned the right to do whatever he wants because the results spring from his head fully formed and never seem to miss the target. Here he presents some works of Schumann as they would have been realized by Vince Guaraldi. It's certainly not a kids record but is certainly can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. Sprightly and light hearted throughout, this is a charming departure from Loussier's usual jazz and classical fare that tickles you as much as he tickles the ivories. A stone cold winner.

LARRY VUCKOVICH/Somethin' Special: All that's missing is Rudy Van Gelder to complete the classic Blue Note vibe going on here. The bebop pianist calls in sax man Scott Hamilton and they round up a Blue Note heavy set card for some dandy rave ups that just don't quit. Still playing with the energy of cats half his age, Vuckovich sounds way more New York than he does Bay area showing the power of his jazz to cut across geographic lines. As usual, a tasty treat from the old pro.

Volume 34/Number 270
July 30, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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