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BETH DUNCAN/Comes the Fall: So deep into the works of Henry Mancini, this jazz singer even covers songs by one of his back up players, Royce Campbell. Seemingly a hidden treasure if you aren't conversant with the NoCal jazz scene, Duncan shows up in fine voice with some dandy off beat song choices among the standards. A solid, sweet fast ball down the middle that reawakens you to the possibilities out there honing chops as they labor in the fields. Tasty throughout with a real jazzbo heart at the core.

VINCENT LYN/Wing Sing: A most righteously right on smooth jazz piano swinger, Lyn leads his crew with an effortless command that makes it sound like this isn't just a job. A smoking set from a real pro, this is what Midwesterners want in the car in a slow rush hour in January to give the illusion that it's Malibu everywhere and it's always happy hour. A charmer and a delight, this is the real deal. Hot stuff. All this and his real passion is martial arts.

FERENC NEMETH/Triumph: Drummer Nemeth has been making his bones in fine style for a few years now. If you still haven't heard of him but are one of those people that believe you're known by the company you keep, Nemeth is joined here by Josh Redman, Kenny Werner and Lionel Loueke, all of whom he gives the chance to stretch their progressive jazz wings. A seemingly disparate gathering of jazzbos, they huddle around the fire of this internally complete work that flows like a suite of sorts. With an angular free jazz bent, art jazz lovers have the real deal here.

FOURPLAY/Esprit de Four: It's the new session from Bob James and his pals as they flex their creative wings showing how pros can do something personal with commercial appeal yet retain heart. Truly a group even though it's easy to hang this on James for marketing and info purposes, sitting down jazz just doesn't get any better than this if you appreciate the power of real professionalism. While a few clams can make something endearing, there's a lot to be said for a professional guided tour like this. Well done, as always.

DAN BLOCK/Duality: With helping hands from a slew of cats that would have been stars if the record business was still in tact and the machinery to build the trajectory was still there, Block takes a nice walk through a garden of jazz oldies and transplants tem to your fave lounge with no loss in the move. A straight ahead, easy jazz date that's so well executed that you're a fool to do anything but kick back and enjoy it, preferably without the distraction of traffic, being at the health club and all that. This is a set you want to become one with. Well done.

JOHN LEE HOOKER JR/All Hooked Up: How can you not be interested in Hooker's kid especially when he's helped out by Betty Wright, Lucky Peterson and Larry Batiste? The grooviest thing about this recording is Hooker finding the fine line where he can keep it traditional and make it contemporary. He hits it out of the park right away on the opening track where he takes something like his pop's "House Rent Boogie", takes it to the show lounge and delivers a great rave up on a bored housewife looking for some excitement. This apple didn't fall far from the tree, it's still on the branch displaying everything we loved about JLH at his best. A total killer example of traditional blues for the new century. Hot stuff throughout.

GERARD HAGAN TRIO/Song for Leslie: Before decamping for Europe, Hagan wanted to round up the gang for one last recording to hand to posterity. One of the hidden treasures of the LA jazz scene, if you haven't heard him up to now, make the effort. A piano swinger in the mode of the 50s Ramsey Lewis Trio, Hagan leads off with a few familiar numbers then segues into originals that should be familiar. Loaded with low key fire, this is a friendly record all the way through and marks a fond au revoir. Tasty stuff throughout.

TIM BEDNER/Of Light and Shadow: A follower of John Scofield's eclectic path, Bedner trods the left of center road with passion and sincerity giving his guitar debut that special sauce that is needed to standout from the pack today. Leading with well honed chops, this is right in the pocket for adventurous ears that have no concerns for smooth linearity. Something else for the open eared.

Volume 35/Number 322
September 7, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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