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BOB SHEPPARD/Close Your Eyes: Whether jamming for triple scale or putting it out under his own name (probably with a bunch of his own nickels helping fund the thing), Shep knows how to bring it whether on his sax or the other reeds he knows how to coax the right sounds from. Solid, contemporary stuff to the right of lite with a lot more bite per byte, Shep and his pals play like it was 30 years ago and they were putting it out there in a crummy veg restaurant like it really meant something. Great sitting down jazz, particularly when you are sitting in your car and the traffic is moving. Hot stuff.

LUIS CONTE/En Casa de Luis: The in demand percussionist throws open the doors here as he invites you to a party at his house where it doesn't get so rowdy that anyone starts breaking up the furniture but the Latin vibe is so groovy that no one wants to leave either. Simply the stop to make when you want some jazz that just makes you smile.

OPUS 5/Introducing: A more sedate release from Criss Cross than you might expect, here we find a bunch of downtown jazzbos emailing their sound files to Copenhagen to get them released. How the ex-patriot thing has changed. Very much in tune with classic Prestige dates that set the standard for low fire heat and cool, Seamus Blake knows his stuff and leads the gang here through a load of after hours cool that can make you feel like the kind of man that reads Playboy when those ads touring same were new. Hip, but not hipper than thou, it's fun and it works well.

PONYKILLER/The Wilderness: You bet this is malcontent music. Grunge from Prague that wants to capture the states, they bring that weird vibe pre 1991 Russian rock bands brought to the fore as they tried to conquer the states. If I were a pissed off college kid, this would be striking a weird resonance with me that would probably make my heart sing as it also insure I'd never get any dates. The bio sheet says this is King Crimson meets The Melvins. Throw in some Goth overtones in the undertows and you've got it. It's not outsider music but it is a strange effort at trying not to hit the bull's-eye.

ALEX LOPEZ/We Can Take This Boat: Here's a young sax man that's been around, won all kinds of recognition, and for a guy with Wisconsin in his background, he's got that New York honking vibe well assimilated into his DNA. With a resume that seems to veer toward the underground, he's probably more of an all around guy grabbing the paying jobs that give him his chance to shine as he works his way up the ladder. If this doesn't make you feel the classic 52nd Street attitude, you need the attitude adjustment. Well done.

MATT BAKER/Underground: I was just listening to some Three Sounds reissues and this cat is gloriously in the straight ahead tradition able to hold his own with the likes of Herbie Hancock and Tony Bennett. The fourth solo outing from a piano cat that probably can play anything but prefers to serve us tasty fastballs right down the middle, this set can stand toe to toe with any jazz piano date in this genre that you've ever had any affection for. Sweet stuff throughout.

DAVID BUDWAY/A New Kiss: An all around piano cat gets the chance to do what the gals all do, follow a dream in middle age. Letting his love for modern jazz come to the fore, he rounds up a bunch of first call cats to huddle in the studio and serve up a dandy of a session that genre bends with the tension of Paul Winter/Herbie Mann face off. An active, jumping date that flows with a grace that undercuts the age of all the cats on board, this is for the middle age hipster who hates his job at the law firm, has given into easy fit jeans and is looking for something to light that spark just one more time. Suburban, top down jazz? New niches are created everyday, this might just be the launch of a new one. Check it out.
222 (Piano Series)

WILLIAM CARN'S RUN STOP RUN: Modern jazz from top, young Canadian players that aim to set the new standard in cool and bring Canadian jazz back from the hands of the divas. Grooving, angular stuff, it isn't from the church basement, but it isn't that far removed either. The next generation of cool hipsters is making it's mark now.

Volume 35/Number 12
November 12, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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