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JOHN COCUZZI/Groove Merchant: This swinging vibes player is having too much fun on this date to ignore. Taking the listener for a trip of unexpected moves around the horn, whether it's the smooth opener, the long way around on "Tenderly" or simply stuff you wouldn't expect a vibe man to tackle (even if the Arbors All Stars on board know their way around all too well), this is stylish, impish and mind blowing in that low key/out of left field kind of way. An adult date throughout, kids of all ages will dig it.

MARTY GROSZ & the Hot Winds/The James P. Johnson Songbook: Leave it to a guitar man to take us back to the whore houses and gin joints where Johnson's stride piano reigned supreme until it made the transition to Broadway. This is the kind of thing real genre fans will flip for as Grosz took the pains to track down songs that have been lost to history---and there's aren't that many cats around from the 20s anymore to cry ‘foul' if they don't like it. A delightful mix of hokum and barrelhouse, the uninitiated will say this sounds like northern Dixieland but it really exists in a state all it's own---the state of fun stuff. A high water mark for sitting down jazz.

BUCKY PIZZARELLI/Challis in Wonderland: Perhaps it was affection for his son's in laws that made Pizzarelli do this loving tribute to Jewish egg bread. Loaded with easy going music that sounds like it's from decades ago and sounding like it's music associated with Bix Beiderbecke, the guitar pro and his friends and family show just how nice laid back jazz sounds from a family that was raised right. Oh, wait, Challis is Bill Challis, Beiderbecke's arranger that was something of a visionary. Well, we still stand by how good this sounds. Chalk up another win for the elder Pizzarelli who certainly doesn't play like an elder. A sweet, fun and charming recording throughout.

ANNA BORGES & BILL WARD/Receita De Samba: A diplomat's daughter winds up in Boston where she meets up with a guitarist fed up with academe and the two come together to make Brazilian music that sounds like it's from the homeland instead of just born there, in part. A super tasty, low key fire kind of date that really gives the Brazil music sweet tooth the filling it needs. Someone alert Scott Adams that this needs to be on his play list. Hot stuff that just dazzles throughout with spot on sounds from everyone involved. Check it out.

GERRY MULLIGAN SEXTET/Legends Live: I had the chance to see Mulligan do a master class at a university in the early 80s, and other than showing a degree of condescension to the students, there was no doubt Mulligan still had it. In the 70's, not even 30 years removed from his game changing moves, there were long lulls in getting anyone to write a check to get him to record. This date, from the late 70s, with a bunch of old pros joined by a young Dave Samuels, was recorded for radio and it shows he was still well on the ball. Taking his trademark cool school moves and bringing them forward, almost anticipating smooth jazz, Mulligan and the gang make sitting down jazz that will bring you to your feet at the appropriate times. Tasty stuff that shows he always knew how to hit the target. Check it out.

CANNONBALL ADDERLEY QUINTET/Legends Live: You bet this night over 40 years ago was one for the books. The Adderley Brothers were in top form and Joe Zawinul was behind the keys, but he wasn't about to be behind anything for much longer. Fresh from recording "In a Silent Way" and just a month away from starting Weather Report, Zawinul was on fire. Whether playing it straight ahead or reaching beyond the limits, this crew came to play and made a statement that stands up as a record that never was but should have been. Very hip throughout, but you don't have to be hipster to dig it. A fine look at solid players playing solidly.

BENNY GOODMAN ORCHESTRA featuring Anita O'Day: The kind of sound that grandpa and hipster lad can meet on a middle ground at Starbucks over, time has made a bunch Of the stuff Goodman was doing sound like cartoon music---which prompts the hipster to ask which came first, the cartoon or the swinging mice? A little dated but as sharp as the creases that were in pants back then, any fan of classic big bands will know what they are getting into here and will dig the live energy that couldn't be captured on studio recordings.

L & H
YELENA ECKEMOFF/Forget-Me-Not: Working in a trio setting with Marilyn Mazur, this set finds Eckemoff trying an ECM vibe on for style and fit. Very cool but a little off the mark from what Manny Eicher would put the high sign on, this is a change of pace from the new agy moves Eckemoff is more known for. Contemporary, very cool school stuff that can seamlessly bounce back and forth between background and foreground music.

Volume 35/Number 126
February 24, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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