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ARTHUR KELL QUARTET/Jester: A favored New York progressive bass man serves up his latest left of center release of sitting down jazz that pushes the envelop lightly but never veers into ars gratia artis territory with the precious on overload. Walking a fine line between driving and laid back, Kell and his bunch are an expressive crew that have a way with thinking man's jazz. This is what you need playing near by when you're banging away on your computer late into the night, it'll make your coffee smell and taste better.

BROOKLYN JAZZ UNDERGROUND/A Portrait of Brooklyn: Give this bunch from Brooklyn big props for succeeding to work as a collective long after others have tried and given up. And they produce new, vital music by the bushel as they go along. An original commission that doesn't sound like it was made with arts council money, this is progressive without taking a trip to the church basement. Someone has been playing their old progressive and free jazz records late into the night for inspiration. AACM, AEC, you name it, you'll hear echoes of it here and this bunch knows how to go for it and make it accessible. Power to the jazzbo people.

JAMIE REYNOLDS TRIO/Time With People: Reynolds has an interesting piano lineage in his bloodstream, but as we often see, that doesn't guarantee positive results. This time around it does. Reynolds brings some original ideas and visions to the ivories making for a tantalizing début that adds to the piano trio vocabulary. Focusing on jazz while giving you the feeling he can go in any direction he wants, you can almost tell that his mother was a page turner
for Keith Jarrett while pregnant with little Jamie (look it up---it was at a Jarrett classical concert no less). More accomplished and mature than a debut from a 30 year old should be, this is first class sitting down jazz that really goes the distance, as well as the extra mile. Check it out.

CAROL ROBBINS/Moraga: With a sound and style distinct from the Conants, the Lynnes, the Ramoses etc, Robbins brings a pop sensibility to the work and underpins it all with a fluid touch that sets up her own page in the jazz book. Putting the accent on fun, this sprightly outing even manages to glide nicely over downbeat tunes. The harp is unique enough in jazz recordings that when a sweet set like this comes along, it's well worth latching on to. Well-done.

BOB MINTZER BIG BAND/For the Moment: Mintzer has the chops and flying time that you just don't argue with him. If he says it's time to take the big band down to nu Brazil, you go. And so the crew went. Putting some new songs in the canon, this skillful old hand sets his sax on fire and the crew follows suit. A cleanly recorded set where the sonics are the sixth man on the court, jazzy adults have a winner here---just in time for summer. It all fits nicely and it's going to wear well for a long time.

PAT GUADAGNO/New Jersey Material: Every region has one of these local folk rock heroes that everyone knows and loves---in that region. Guadagno fills that bill in Jersey. With an interesting mix of writers and pals on board, this no slouch cat has rubbed shoulders with some of the most august presences, a few of which show up here. Singer/songwriter (although he didn‘t write any here), folk/rock, call it what you will along those lines, this cat knows how to deliver 3A/adult pop in an engaging fashion that works well throughout. Tasty, zesty and full flavored, ages first condo and up will find this a handy disc to have around. Well done.

RAY PARKER/Swingin; Never Hurt Nobody: Bass, guitar and violin. A small group and there's something about it that reminds one of Vassar Clements "Hillbilly Jazz". Those cats on that record were unabashed fans of the Hot Club and the two elements echo here throughout. A collection of well chosen covers, this will sit well with adults who are overdue for a little shaking up of the status quo.

BRUCE KAPHAN QUARTET: Not quite minimalist, not quite jazz but certainly jazz in the sense of ECM or Windham Hill, Kaphan and his crew make sitting down music that you don't have to strap yourself in for. Oddly enough, he does all this with pedal steel as the lead instrument. He makes it work for jazz, he makes it work for classic Allman Brothers, where it sounds right at home. A creative, outside the lines set for those that don't mind some lightly challenging listening.

Volume 35/Number 230
June 8, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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