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BEARDS OF COMEDY/Cardio Mix: 30 years ago, when cable was moving from being a reception utility to a luxury, some producer would have tossed the 4 comics here in front of a brick wall telling them they were funny cats but it was time to get hot or go home/sink or swim. And the cameras would be rolling and a cable special would be born. The four cats splitting this digital only recording are all funny fellows, right in the heart of the stand up tradition, quick with the switchback and all with the kind of keen eye that peels back the layers of onion surrounding the jive of every day life. Even if they are in the same bag, omnibus sets always give someone something to bitch about, but if you like to laugh, this is a great overview of some sure bet comedy stars of tomorrow. Check it out.

KEITH JARRETT/Rio: 40 years after making his first ECM recording do we find Jarrett entering his lion in winter stage or what? Like Miles, who he was working with 40 years ago, Jarrett doesn't bother with song titles on this double cd live date. After not playing in South America for a while, he barn stormed the country and wound up his time there in Rio in front of an appreciative audience that wasn't about to let him go not knowing how long it would take to get him to come back. With the joy and abandon of a former child prodigy playing with no constraints, Jarrett serves up a mixed program with high spots pulled from all his skins, personas and interests. Playing up the storm he hasn't played in quite some time, a re-energized Jarrett is a sound to behold. A delightful collection that will probably hit most long time fans from behind, this is one of his best works in quite a while. Well done.

ENRICO RAVA QUINTET/Tribe: In which we find Rava trying to be the contemporary Miles Davis of jazz. With a band full of youngsters and Rava doing his continued run of stronger and stronger playing, he is a cat in search of his ultimate leaving a series of works to compete for penultimate. A very smart contemporary work that ready, willing and able to knock you off your pins, this is one of those fast balls right down the middle that you always hope to find.

JASON KAO HWANG-EDGE/Crossroads Unseen: So, if Steve Reich found a groove and wanted to veer into unfettered progressive jazz that seemed to give you a tour of 20th century progressive musicians that flowed from jazz, rock and classical and wound up in the same eddy, you have a sense of where Hwang is taking you here. Genre blending everything from across the world as well as across the genres, this set will have a distinct charm and appeal to the left leaning ear. Not malcontent or dissonant, this is just well played wild stuff that might not be for everyone but is made with a particular audience in mind. If your spirit of adventure is rising, this is a fine stopping point to hear the view.

FRETWORK/Goldberg Variations: With a set arranged for viol, this Bach work that has been transposed for every instrument except a backward looking one is now fully in it's element in these good hands. Simply a gorgeous date that authentically takes you to another time and place, you can't do this recording justice unless you block out the time to fully immerse yourself in this double cd. The kind of crew that knows how to break it down to the 32nd note without missing a step, you will find your self delightfully lost in the proceedings here, and glad to be so. A wonderful work that goes the distance and invites you back for more.

FREIBURGER BAROCKORCHESTER/Bach-Orchestral Suites: This covers a mere four pieces and it covers them so well. A well prepared crew that knows their Bach inside and out, backwards and forward, knowing how to land squarely in the heart of the baroque period. A total immersion experience in the grandness of these works, even the novice will feel like they are witnessing the last word on the subject. An absolute must for anyone into Bach that thinks they've heard it all.

JASON KAO HWANG-SPONTANEOUS RIVER/Symphony of Souls: 37 string players and a drummer gather round the mic for a date that doesn't bother with song titles because it's a quasi classical affair and it's more about the circle of life than anything else anyway. A clear choice to be a hit among the arts council set, this is music for the mind, but not the head, if you know what I mean. A sonic journey in to realms of great beyonds, let the party for the minimalists begin.

BRIAN ATKINSON/I'll Be Here in the Morning: To be published in conjunction with the 15th anniversary of Townes Van Zandt's death, who would have ever thought that Van Zandt would be the subject of a bathroom book. Filled with remembrances of those who knew and loved him, and even put up with him long after they were fed up--- but did it for the sake of a song, Van Zandt was certainly an enigmatic figure who wrote some of the greatest musical literature ever, even so acknowledged by some of the greatest song writers ever. You can pick it up and put it down anywhere and it doesn't change the emerging picture of the man. To think his enigmaticness all began with a teacher telling the class the sun was going to burn out. After that, he never felt the need to toe the line since it was all coming to a screeching halt anyway. Anyone who was ever a fan will dig the digging and enjoy doing their part in keeping the legend alive.

Volume 35/Number 14
November 14, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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