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FLORENCIA RUIZ/Light of the Night: Adventure Music journeys out of it's Brazilian comfort zone to pick up an Argentinean vocal star that has been surrounded with some of the internationally known musicians from the area and comes across like a south of the equator Bjork. Utterly wild stuff that certainly is for the art music crowd, this certainly isn't the kind of pop fluff that people who like their music pre-digested will cotton to.

TAN PING/Paradise: Jumping off an 11 year run on the mommy track, this typically over achieving Asian wants her music career back and jumps back on that track with an equal vengeance. Laid back but not lite jazz, she shows her stuff as a top notch vocalist that writes from the heart and makes music that sounds like what a coy pond probably sounds like to the fish. Sweet stuff that works throughout and will even get moldy figs to sit up and pay attention.

CEDAR WALTON/The Bouncer: Here's a piano man that doesn't get as much mention outside jazz circles as other piano men, but he stands toe to toe with any and all of them as an innovator and creative force as his 45 year career, and still counting, career will attest. Here, we find him instructing the crew that swing is the thing, and his well heeled sidemen are down with the cause. Tasty, solid stuff throughout, this is piano jazz that's second to none and the fire never dies down. Check it out, a good time will be had by all.

CHINMAYA DUNSTER/Gaia's Garden: The current economic climate has made new age music raise the bar to get people to pay up for something pleasant in these stressful times. Dunster brings it a long way from those old relaxation tapes that were cheesy when they first came out but were pretty much the first and only stop for earth related sounds and music. A delightfully laid back set with easy instrumentals that wend along gracefully and have a beginning, middle and end as opposed to pretty noodling. Impressionistic without having to get inside Dunster's head, this is on the new age money throughout.

JAMES ASHER/Return of the Tiger: The master drummer ups his game once again with a set that has that ‘journey into the jungle' feel kicking off this audio safari in fine style. An adult record you can share with your kids in the car when you get tired of that goddamned "High School Glee" stuff, there's a great deal of well realized creativity running rampant here that's going to grab your attention and make you smile. Check it out, this is the real deal.

ALEX BROWN/Paquito D'Rivera Presents: Reflecting the realities of the economic life of the contemporary jazzbo, Brown leads his own band and plays with a few cats you might have heard about-Wynton, D'Rivera, Zenon, and he always seems to bring some special sauce to the proceedings. Playing here with a spicy, populist edge, he's right in the pocket with feel good, Latin edged jazz that cooks throughout. A smart player that has it all on the ball, Brown makes it seem so deceptively simple that it isn't until later you realize how much work went into making those riffs just roll by. Well done.

GIACOMO GATES/The Revolution Will Be Jazz: A 60 year old pissed off white man must have loved Gil Scott-Heron's canon as much as the rest of us crazy white boys because this tribute/homage has him capturing the spirit without compromising the soul and obviously, realizing the jazz that Brian Jackson brought out of Scott-Heron. To those of us who never forgot Scott-Heron across the years, we can tell you that this is a fine jumping off point for tasting more than the obvious stuff he left behind. The singer and the band come together for a killer set that really puts it all together. Must hearing for everyone that finally realized the revolution was televised.

PAMELA HINES TRIO/Lucky's Boy: This jazz piano lady is never afraid to up her game and push the envelope, and she continues to do so with out losing her footing or her grip. Adding a vocalist to her program of all originals, her touch, tone, style and taste continue to amaze and engross. Playing with the abandon that comes with really being in the music as opposed to merely into the music, this is a jazzbo dream date that turns your headphones into the club you'd like to hang out at every night. Top shelf piano jazz once again from one of the contemporary leading lights of the genre. Hot stuff.

Volume 34/Number 312
September 10, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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