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THE VERGE/Introducing: Three cats with a taste for fusion that hasn't been sated yet offer up a nice take on the form. With new songs and new energy, they let the past meet the present on covers that have their own stamp on them. Easy going stuff that won't change the world but will make it a little nicer place every time you put it on. Check it out.

HALIE LOREN & MATT TREDER/Many Times, Many Ways: Last year saw the release of some nifty new holiday packages and this year might be off to the same start. Loren's album is actually a re-release of a set she put out four years ago, but it's just her and cocktail pianist with more than that on the ball, so it doesn‘t sound at all dated. She does the standards, does them right and offers up a great set for after the guests have left, the fire is still burning (aren't those gas logs wonderful?) and the two of you are still too keyed up to call it a night---yet. Soft, sensual and right in the pocket throughout, the least you can do is enjoy this after the kids have gone to bed and you don't feel like cleaning up the mess yet. Well done.

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS/various: With 20 years of recording under their belts, the gang up at Justin Time put together a Christmas comp of tracks by artists old and new to the label that are tied together by nothing more than Jim West's ear for quality. Whether august personages or newbies that will be august one day, this set is a dandy, top shelf holiday package that you don't have to be a jazzbo to dig. Tasty, in the pocket work throughout, this is a killer stand alone set that adds some fine accent to the holiday music shelf. Check it out.

TIANNA HALL/Two for the Road: Hall crossed the border for some cultural exchange and met up with the Mexico City Jazz Trio, ran tape and came up with one of the great jazz lounge records of the year. You know most of the tunes. She does a nice job of inhabiting them. The trio swings with nary a hint of Latin jazz, just playing it straight ahead. Simply one of those records you just put on and enjoy. Fun stuff throughout.

KAYLE BRECHER/Spirals and Lines: A well pedigreed jazz vocalist/arranger promises that this won't be the usual jazz vocal album, and she delivers on the promise. Running her own show, she's free to color within and without the lines at will. Opening up with some crime jazz filtered through Nawlins, she proceeds to mix Dylan with Harburg with Robinson with originals with 1800s anti war songs---yep, it's different, but not just for the sake of different. With a distinctly New York sounding big band in tow, this is the free 60s brought into the 10s with a load of hippie cross cultural pollination sprinkled over everything. A little Carla Bley meets the Saturday Night Live Band is the underpinning that makes this set fire on all of it's cylinders. Wild stuff that takes you far away from the usual jazz diva fare.

WORLD YOGA/various: It's Putumayo, it's yoga music. Do you need anything else to let you know unequivocally that this is girl friend music? If you didn't know otherwise, you'd think this is a world beat chill collection as Putumayo took the pains to seek out stuff from around the world that fit the format and is anything but cheesy noodling on a synth. It feels like a yoga class, so for anyone that likes to pay lip service to the idea of getting sweaty and stretchy without actually doing it, this is the perfect soundtrack for one of those easy chair yoga session. This company really doesn't know how to get it wrong as they haven't yet.

JUSTIN HORN/Hornology: If this sounds like a record with a lot of thinking behind it, that might be because Horn is from Idaho but he's currently in New Zealand working on a doctorate. With a taste for bizjazz that doesn't like to be background music, this is one of those out of the ordinary sets that can generate some rabid fans looking for entertainment deeper than usual mass market fare.

JACQUI SUTTON/Notes From the Frontier: Here's an interesting concept and conceit, Sutton wants to be sure to be remembered in the future so she rounds up some cats in her new home town of Houston and they bring Texas music to classic jazz vocal material and keep it jazz---just maybe jazz for a cocktail lounge on Mars. Well, the Frontier Orchestra certainly freshens things up. With everything from Texas vibes to middle eastern flourishes, this set keeps you guessing and would be easily at home on the same shelf as recent vintage Leonard Cohen material. Not work to listen to or different for the sake of being different, this is some solid sitting down jazz for the adventurous listener that doesn't want to fly too far afield but is on the prowl for something different.

Volume 35/Number 350
October 5, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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