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MICHAEL TRENI BIG BAND/Boy's Night Out: A trombone player that got sidetracked over 30 years ago has been chasing his dream of hanging out with cool players and letting the fur fly for the last few years, and his latest recoding under that aegis is a winner. Writing for big band like it's no effort at all, the gang enjoys the hang and the jazzbo vibes are flowing from the top shelf. Tasty, contemporary big band that is note perfect throughout and a real wake up call for genre fans looking for the real deal. Check it out.

KATIE GUTHORN/Why Not Smile?: When your marriage ends because your long time spouse dies of brain cancer, we applaud anyone who can come out of the box with a Latin version of "Call Me" and fill out the rest of the album with songs that really don't go together but she makes her own anyway. Beginning again the middle, and bringing a good attitude with her, as well as finding some sympathetic pros to help her along, this long time vocalist, not known for being a jazzbo, reaches down and finds it. A winner of a record by someone that isn't a survivor but is a prevailor. Check it out.

JOSH RZEPKA/Into the Night: One of the hidden highlights of being in the Cleveland jazz scene is getting to work with a lot of behind the scenes Telarc cats that have been displaced in it's various label mergers. A trumpet player that can play on either the jazz or classical sides of the street, Rzepka knows how to shine as a jazzbo as this set makes it clear Cleveland is only going to be able to claim him for only so much longer. A solid player that knows how to be a driving leader, this is smoking date that never strays from being right in the pocket. A solid winner throughout.

MAD BUFFALO/Red and Blue: And now for something completely different, heartland music from Montana recorded in Nashville. Not your standard singer/songwriter stuff but with a heavy accent on roots off shoots, the main wheel behind the name has got his finger on the pulse of the times and comes in with amped up folkie tunes that hit the bulls eye. A real home run of an under the radar record.

RICK DRUMM AND FATTY NECROSES/Return from the Unknown: Recovering from cancer at midlife, this drummer whose day job is the head of string company (go figure) finally figured it was time to make his debut recording. Rounding up some like minded jazzbos that prefer to keep it mellow, Drumm and his pals keep it easy without keeping lite and serve up the kind of sitting down jazz debut that you can tell has been bubbling under since he first decided to be a muso many long years ago. Tasty stuff that might be more from left field than the unknown, it's certainly a must for in the car listening on the way home from work. Solid stuff throughout.

JIMMY EARL: Well, it certainly doesn't hurt to be the bass player in Jimmy Kimmel's show band. It gets your 1995 all star fusion date re-released. With helping hands from a slew of first call fusion hitters, there seems to be no dust on this adult, after hours date where the groove and vibe are front and center in fine style. Tasty stuff from some one that you certainly know now who gets the second chance to show you he knew what he was doing all along. Tasty.

JIMMY EARL/Stratosphere: For a date a few years later, Earl took it down tempo with computers, and while the experiment was noteworthy, compared to the real feel of the earlier date with real players you really get the difference between skin and bytes. A different record for a different audience, chill fans will be able to ease into this with no problem. If you know Earl from the Kimmel show, you better make sure which Earl you know before you plunk down the cake.

GENE ESS/A Thousand Summers: On the guitarist's fifth album, we find him putting aside the originals and featuring Nicki Parrott as the vocalist, not letting her touch the bass, and doing the kind of set that Parrott is certainly comfortable with from her long tenure with Les Paul. A killer cocktail/after-hours jazz set where the oldies are easy and comfy as opposed to just another war horse workout, this is a first rate adult listening date, particularly when you need that zone to mellow out in. Well done.

Volume 35/Number 125
February 23, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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