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ALAN PASQUA/Twin Bill: When something interesting on paper translates into something interesting in the ear, you have a winner. Pasqua wanted to do something special to commemorate his life long love of the music of Bill Evans on a solo piano date. Ho hum, right? Well, after dropping “Waltz for Debbie” from the set card, Pasqua recorded his solos with a twist, one piano on one channel, another piano on another channel, effectively playing duets with himself but giving the music enough shading that this is the kind of set that will drive you crazy if you try to replicate that not knowing the ace up his sleeve. Gimmick or win? Win. Tasty, new views on Evans mastery and solid playing make this a special solo jazz piano date not to be missed. Check it out.

LEWIS BLACK/The Prophet: A living example of the 10,000 hours of experience theory, Black took forever to get there but he’s been riding on top the world since. What was he like 20 years ago, in his 40s? He was a pissed off old man then, and just as funny---it’s just that fewer people knew it. To some of us, 20 years doesn’t sound like that long ago and to others, this might sound like something that was recorded when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Seriously, if you like him now, you’ll like him then. Funny, angry and giving memories of 1974, Black appears to be one of the constants of the universe. A laugh riot of any time.

LITTLE WORLDS/Book One: Here’s something that’ll be lost on most of us. A trio of progressive jazzbos does their take on several of Bartok little worlds works that have become a teaching standard in the classical community since they were published in 1939. Easily 180 degrees away from the recent recasting of Bartok works as Appalachian folk music, this is stuff for the hard core muse that’ll probably find this deconstruction a riot.

SHIRLEY CRABBE/Home: Her bio sheet tells us everything about Crabbe except how old she is. It tells us that she recorded this after bouncing back from throat surgery. The chops honed by the miles she’s traveled come together here in this roaring comeback that harkens back to the classic age of supper club jazz vocalists that you had to go to clip joints to hear this kind of sound from singer and band. A reminder of the vibe but not the sound of the classic singers, Crabbe prefers the light and bouncy making this a friendly jazzbo date that’s warm, upbeat and on the money throughout. Tasty stuff well worth checking into.

HOLLI ROSS/You’ll See: With a few years under her belt in ensemble work, Ross steps out for a long over due solo debut marking her territory as a vocal talent to take seriously quite well. With an uncanny ability to make a chestnut her own, Ross attracts a a raft of first call jazzbos to her side for a set that might be marked by a lot of quiet fire, but it’s fire nonetheless. One of those old school vocalists that knows you don’t have to do car alarm imitations to convey emotion, you know most of these songs well, but you don’t know them like this. A jazzbo throughout even when drifting through some pop material, Ross is a must for the classic vocal fan bemoaning the current state of the art. Well done.

GILSON SCHACHNIK/Mozik: You see, in the end , it’s all a matter of perspective. This bunch of Brazilian cats has their pomo up and says they’re rebelling against samba and all that old school Brazilian bullshit the geezers keep cramming down their throats. Well, to gringo ears, this sounds like some upbeat Brazilian jazz that Sergio Mendes would have made if he wasn’t under the thumb of the commercial 60s dictates of A&M, who did a good job of guiding him to the good life. Not that we want to dampen this crew’s spirits, but this simply sounds like a groovy record by a bunch of young lions with chops to spare. Maybe when they leave the saudade to the Portuguese, Brazilians are only capable of producing bouncy, happy music no matter what they want to call it. This is smoking stuff, that’s what I call it.

A SKAGGS FAMILY CHRISTMAS V. 2: Six years in the making and they were never sure they were going to make a volume two in the first place, three generations of the extended Skaggs clan, as well as some well traveled bluegrass buddies, deliver the holiday goods once again. This time out, the package includes a very fatly tracked dvd that really gives you the Skaggs family holiday extravaganza front and center. A family values outing all the way, this is the kind of stuff that lights up the holidays in a special way. Picky Ricky and the gang have it all down right as rain as well. Give it a spin if you’re looking to add to your holiday music collection.

TURN AROUND NORMAN/We Turn Around: When a bunch of young jazzbos are bragging about playing with George Garzone and Dave Douglas, you know you are in for a left of center ride. Very much from the jazz/rock arena, they love to add free jazz touches to the mix but they come back to the middle in the end. Out there stuff that should be blasted down college dorm corridors where experimental sounds and left leaning jazz are the norm, the youthful energy and the edge pushing chops come together for a youthful joyous noize that works well, particularly when that extra zotch is needed around finals.

Volume 34/Number 320
September 18, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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