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ANNE SAJDERA/Azul: An integral part of the Bay area Brazilian jazz scene, as copious as jazz is around the Bay, the Brazilian tangent is just a small part of it and you really have to get hot or go home because word will travel quickly either way. A piano ace throughout, Sajdera's long awaited debut has finally ended the wait and made it worthwhile. Breezy and energetic, as much Brazilian in spirit as in music, Sajdera makes it all seem so easy but you can tell she's put in Gladwell's 10,000 hours or more. With music that's anything but blue, Sajdera puts you in the right mood to enjoy summer and warm weather all that much more. Killer stuff jazzbos should not miss.

THE DEBUSY ENSEMBLE/Terzetti: The title means a collection trios for harp, flute and viola and you get what they play for in taking on the works of five fairly contemporary composers, including namesake Debussy, and giving those works a fine ride. Sounding more like a soundtrack studio orchestra than only three pieces giving their best and their all, this is a classical record like the kind they used to make, when they put the music first no matter how important the money was in the bean counter room. The group plays like a dream, making this a top notch audio getaway just perfect for when you need to check out from the noise the world has to offer. A winner throughout.

AFROLICIOUS/Pleasuretime: Those economical groundbreakers at ESL come with the second Afrolicious ep in recent memory and they turn up the funk and turn it out a little harder. With a host of sounds and textures running behind the beats and bumps, this is a youthful, contemporary, world beat romp through the islands with an Afro connection. Get skanking, get flat and everything will be eire no matter how dire it is now. As long as you don't lose sight of the dictate to lively up yourself, everything will be fine. Check it out, Thievery Corporation is behind it all.

ELIN FURUBOTN/Heilt Nye Vei: Inhabiting a rarified spot somewhere between Edith Piaf, Rickie Lee Jones and Lisa Ekdahl, Furubotn finds her first international release appropriately named (in English) "New Path" as it takes her astray from the sounds that made her reputation in her native Norway. A singer/songwriter that will remind people of Joni Mitchell from her fourth album on through the 70s, college girls and sensitive boys will have syncs of this residing in their mp3 players no matter what gets put on and taken off. It might feel like filigree often throughout the ride but it has moments that come through letting you know for sure it's not delicate.

ERISA REI/Black Ball: A delightfully smart roots rocker that pulls off the trick of giving you equal parts Janis and Stevie while keeping herself in the mix. She seems arena ready and manages to dance on the edge of the clichés while not falling into the cauldron, keeping it wholly original. Rei is simply a wonderful two fisted rocker chick that knows how to hit hard and keep you coming back for more. First class all the way.

BRANDON WRIGHT/Journeyman: A busman's holiday for members of The Mingus Big Band, Wright has blown his sax for everyone from Chuck Mangione to Fred Wesley, and if that doesn't present a pedigree in everything from bop to funk and back around through the middle, what does? A hard blower that knows his stuff, he openly professes his love for 50s Blue Note, but he's had his ear glued to the radio during the grunge years when he was growing up as well and shows he knows how to make all music into music. Not a session of retro old man jazz, Wright is blowing for right now and he's doing it the right way. With this being only his second session as a leader, you have to conclude his future looks bright and the future is now. Well done.

TOM TALLITSCH/Heads or Tales: Not only a jazzbo but a bleeding heart liberal as well since he uses music to cut through autism at his various school and clinic work. He's also one killer, mainstream sax man as well. Here we find Posi-Tone working on developing their house sound as label mate Jared Gold is heating up the B3 chair doing his part to keep this quartet working in overdrive. Tasty stuff throughout that is going to push Tallitsch into that spot where he has to decide between teaching and touring. Hot stuff that's going to find him less and less of a well kept secret every day. Check it out.

SPIKE WILLNER/La Tendresse: First drawn to piano when bitten by the ragtime bug as a teen, piano man Wilner takes his trio on a wild ride through impressionistic to straight ahead jazz, original and cover, putting his own stamp on the whole proceeding. A known quantity to the hard core jazzbo, Wilner is extending his reach here with a feisty but friendly set that isn't moving easy but certainly isn't hard to take. Clearly a meaty outing, it's well worth sinking your teeth into.

Volume 35/Number 169
April 7, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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