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RICCARDO FASSI/Sitting in a Song: An Italian piano jazzbo that has an affinity for putting together different New York crews strikes again with his New York Pocket Orchestra where he and they do a fine job of taking it downtown. Heavy on sitting down jazz, this set is inspired by Carla Bley's later early 70s works when she began making her progressive jazz friendlier. You don't have to be an egghead to enjoy it to the fullest but having left leaning tastes is the spoonful of sugar that makes the non-medicine go down. If you like your jazz angular, you'll know the drill here.

OLIVER NELSON/The Blues and the Abstract Truth: As much as people rightfully point to "Kind of Blue" as a landmark album of it's period, they should point the same finger at this fairly contemporaneous set that kicks the same ass in the same way but does it through the ear of an arranger/sax man with pals comprising some of Davis's prime sidemen of the time. The thing that ties this landmark date to the bonus tracks is it encompasses the bulk of the work Nelson and Eric Dolphy did together. A career maker of an album, it's still as fresh and vital today as anything from the period by cats whose names trip off your tongue a little faster. A must hear/must have for anyone that calls themselves a jazzbo. Hot stuff.

DARREN JAY & the Delta Souls/Drink My Wine: In which we find a guitar shredder heading up some smoking, Memphis sounds that serves as a reminder of the great instrumental tracks and great instrumentalists that came from there. With a strong southern show band element threading through the tunes, Jay and his pack deliver the goods in fine party style. White boy blues that takes itself seriously, this streamlined outing has what it takes to bring home the awards and recognition, always separating itself from the pack. Well done.

MATTHEW SILBERMAN/Questionable Creatures: Time for a trip back to the church basement as this progressive jazzbo lets his ensembles run wild into eclectic realms once only the domain of civil rights jazzbos. If you like it way out in left field, pull up a lawn chair and some dive bar beer because the fun is just beginning.

DREW PARALIC/Wintertime Songs: A grown up that knows how to make grown up jazz, this piano man hangs back as the producer letting other similarly inclined jazzbos carry out his vision. A shorty of a set at 25 minutes, it fills the bill nicely for those that don't know where their fave piano lounge has vanished to.

TED HEFKO & the Thousandaires/If I Walked on Water: One of those off beat records that'll either drive you nuts in a good way or a bad way as jazz gets mixmastered through various modes and into other various modes with hokum being the frosting that covers the whole cake. Off beat in every sense of the word except time signatures, they serve up a hot platter of that crazy thang for those that adore marching to their own drummers.

DONALD VEGA/Spiritual Nature: Even if you don't know what you are getting into, would you, as a real jazzbo, pass up the chance to hear a date that features McBride, Wilson and Nash prominently in the credits? Ron Carter's piano man brings his native Latin edge to the proceedings as the group shape shifts from track to track with high quality being the only consistent. A delightfully in the pocket date full of old man jazz atavistic genes that have been brought into the present, Vega knows how to hit to all fields with vigor and style. The frippery isn't needed when the talent is in the grooves and this date has talent dripping from the grooves. A winner throughout.

ERIC VAUGHN/Minor Relocation: With AARP card in hand and Social Security looming, a hard bop piano man moves back to the Bay area from Seattle and serves up is national debut that's so in the pocket it's almost scary. A solid player that knows the history of jazz well but plays it his way, Vaughn is the ear opener that jaded ears are always on the prowl for. You know where he's spent his misspent youth (and more) with the dedication to craft making this something really special. Piano jazz fans, take note and check it out.

Volume 35/Number 291
August 7, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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