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CLARICE ASSAD/Home: Another talented member of the musical Assad family, she proves that just because you go into the family business, you better have more than nepotism going for you if you want to be more than the someone that gets to come to the party but never gets to sit at the table. Known more for her classical résumé than jazz and vocals, this Assad cuts loose with a passionate jazzy/vocal set that mixes originals with repurposed Brazilian mainstays for an independent recording that goes it's own way without help from the church basement or the arts council. You don't' have to know what she's singing about to get caught up in her passion and flow---almost like Eddie Murphy gets swept along by James Brown without understanding a word he's saying. Recorded in a day after months of honing, the energy knocks you off your chair and makes itself a welcome resident of your choice of music device. Hot stuff that just doesn't know when to quit.

PHILIPPE BADEN POWELL/Adventure Music Piano Masters Series V. 2: So, Adventure Music takes Concord's Maybeck series down to Brazil and let's the current jazz piano masters do a solo set on what ever tickles their fancy. Mainstay of the Adventure "house band", Powell tackles everything from Monk to his pop, in one session, and the energy is evident. With adrenaline flowing, Powell shows just how much of a joyful racket one player can raise making so much sound you lost sight of it being just one guy in the spotlight. Not everyone loves solo piano but this is a winner for those that do.

PEGGY SEEGER/Live: Restricting her touring to the UK from now on because of the rigors of navigating the airports and highways in her late 70s, this live set coincides with Seeger's last American tour. The other folk singing Seeger on social security is still raising hell mixing new stories with her feminist classics and other goodies from her own classic American songbook at this date recorded live in New Zealand at a fundraiser for a women's center. For those of you that don't remember, this is what live albums that aren't recorded at Budakan sound like. She might have been doing these songs for 60 years, but she still makes them sound fresh. This is a real bar raiser of a folk record by one of the last real remaining links to the tradition. A must hear if you call yourself a folkie.

STEVE TURRE/Wood's Delight: Turre spent the tail end of his misspent youth in the bands of some of the hippest cats of the 50s and 60s. By the time he was an adult and hooking up with Woody Shaw's crew, he had so much on the ball that Shaw knew it could only be a plus to let Turre do whatever he wanted. It worked out well for all. This is one of those looking forward/looking back dates where Turre tips his cap to Shaw and the Shaw years but he also seems to be grooming some of the next generation as the tape gets it all down. The vibe has a real nod to the Jay and Kai records making a lot of in the pocket old man jazz while not having any dust on it. A sweet, swinging, groover that fires at you right down the middle. Hot stuff.

JEREMY PELT/Soul: Ah, Jeremy, why'd you have to come along at the end of the major label era? You'd have shoved it up the butt of everyone who ever said ‘jazz doesn't sell'. Showing himself here as a sitting down jazz/art cat of the first order, this is first rank listening music that might be the opposite of summertime jazz but isn't dark and foreboding either. A pensive, first class set all the way, ballad fans will know that Pelt has delivered a classic here.

LISA MARIE BARATTA/Summertime Jazz: Sometimes it's good not to over think things, not to demand too much and enjoy the simple pleasures and gifts. Sax/flute player Baratta has marshaled up the sum total of honing her chops for years and made a record that's easy to listen to (not easy listening) and a great deal of fun to have around. Possessed with that ‘certain something' that separates this work out on the chestnuts from a gift shop record, Baratta knows how to play up a storm. She keeps it sophisticated without being stiff making quiet fire a new subset of quiet storm. She's worked long and hard to make it sound this easy, and now that's she done all the work, it's time for everyone to sit back and enjoy. Well done.

WES MONTGOMERY/Echoes of Indiana Avenue: What a great missing link recording. Before Montgomery finally left Naptown for a shot at the big time, the Montgomery Brothers were very much the big fish in a small pond as these early live and studio recordings show. Never before released, this shows Montgomery to be a fully formed player that didn't really need helping finding it commercially as these bouncy, fun, straight ahead recordings might not have the commercial edge that Creed Taylor could apply, but Wes and his brothers knew how to please a crowd and make music that touched you. Killer stuff from as far back a 1957 that must have been recorded right because even with the remastering, there's no need for apologizing about the age of the source tapes. If you really want to hear how right something can be when it comes from the heart right out of the box, this is a pure and good as it gets. On the money throughout.

JW JONES/Seventh Hour: On this set, Jones sounds like a well traveled, smart blues rocker that just can't dumb it down enough to make the jump from clubs and bars to arenas. He has to work a little harder and stay out on the road a little longer, but he doesn't have the over head and the headaches that come with the bigger shows--and we can still see him live and enjoy the show from no more than 100 feet away. Always a first class guitar man, he shows here that he also has what it takes to be a first class guitar slinger as well. This'll probably ping any boomer back to his college days and make a millennial or two think they should start filling out applications so they don't miss this fun when it comes to their town. Killer stuff throughout.

Volume 35/Number 154
March 23, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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