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CHARLIE WOOD/Lush Life: This hip cat has been at it long enough not to be called a young hipster, but he has the sound and fury of one. A blazing album of chestnut covers with just him and his piano making such room filling sounds you lose sight of the fact that this is just one cat and one piano. With Memphis soul instead of Vegas schmaltz, Wood fires up a killer saloon set simply sets the new gold standard. High octane throughout, this is a grown up record that doesn't chide you to sit up straight. Check it out.

ARI EREV/A Handful of Changes: One of the top jazz piano men in Israel trades it in for a shot at the big apple and it's clear he doesn't have dentures because his new session finds him taking a solid bite. A dandy, straight ahead date where everyone locks into a fine groove, this is a bar raiser of a kind of date you want breezing in your headphones at the end of a long day on the business treadmill. A player/leader/writer that knows his stuff, you're always in good hands here. Check it out.

CRISTINA MORRISON/I Love: Morrison is down with the concept of old school dames but she has a pomo sensibility all the way. Probably hiding a restless artist behind a cool fašade, Morrison ditches her last persona but doesn't leave it too far behind as crime jazz mixes with after hours mixes with just about everything else that could be smoky. A cinematic musical experience, this almost a nu kind of cabaret in the making. Check it out.

CONGO SANCHEZ/Vol. 1: One of the real MVPs of the DC club music scene, drummer and more Sanchez finally gets his own spotlight where he gets to do his trademark world meets electronica on a teaser taster ep that bottles up the sound of the streets, brings it inside without really taming it much and let's the fur fly. Riding the down tempo tip pretty hard, Sanchez is clearly making his mark now for tomorrow.

JOE LOCKE/GEOFFREY KEEZER GROUP/Signing: Locke and Keezer reunite for a sweet date with an ECM feel that's a touch too heady for a typical ECM release. Smart cool school jazz that takes you for a nice ride, this smoking little groover hits all the right notes in the right order. Tasty stuff by real pros that you should not pass by. Well done.

SARA LEIB/Secret Love: And sometimes everything lines up just right. Matt Pierson found a bunch of contemporary swingers eager to kick it out behind a fresh new vocalist looking to really kick it out for her second album. The result is a dandy, straight up jazz vocal date that's hard to resist. There's nothing about these classic numbers from different quadrants that's done by the numbers. Lieb is a smart new vocalist whose arrival is overdue. Check it out.

JENS WENDELBOE BIG BAND/Fresh heat: Sometimes you just have to step outside your role with the current version of Blood, Sweat & Tears to do your own big band thing, which Wendelboe does once again and proves that he doesn't have to sit in anybody's chair he doesn't want to. Adding a swinging vocalist this time out, this is such a high octane session that grandpa will get out of his rocker and top bitching about young whippersnappers. A smoking set that rolls right down the lineage of brassy big bands and not pausing for breath when it hits today, this is a real show stopper that has plenty of brass in it's pocket. Hard charging stuff that gives you what you really want from a big band.

LISA HILTON/American Impressions: Don't you hate it when piano players just noodle and call it impressionistic? So do I. So does Lisa Hilton. Rounding up some of her real jazzbo pals for another outing together, they do some cool school, low key sitting down jazz that doesn't qualify as parlor or egghead, and it certainly doesn't qualify as noodling. A well thought out and well played date, it's a fine example of how that certain something a player can bring to a session makes it stand out even when it doesn't seem to be trying to. Solid stuff and another diverse win for Hilton.

Volume 35/Number 157
March 26, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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