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AKUA ALLRICH/Uniquely Standard: Ok, here's why we're impressed. Allrich opens up with some Nina Simone and her and the band have the vibe right. It's not homage, tribute or copy cat, she just has the right feel. Allrich continues to traverse other period tunes with similar pleasing results that give heft to the title of the album. A nicely smoking, live vocal set that really delivers the goods you want on your door step. And classic jazzbos will note that this was recorded fairly recently at Bohemian Caverns. Hot stuff.

NICHOLL & FARQUHARSON/Della by Moonlight: Not everybody that was bit by the fusion bug tried to be Weather Report or Sypro Gyra. This duo of well traveled vets had a 90s ear out for Spyro Gyra, who was already an institution by then, and while they travel the same road, they know how to chart their own course. Always staying well above the fuzak water line, this is happy, smoothish jazz that's always welcome after hours. Tasty throughout.

MITCH WOODS/Blues Beyond Borders-Live in Istanbul: You really don't think about blues in Turkey or cats working hard here every possible night getting launched into a blues tour of Turkey, but here it is. A 99% Moslem country likes to boogie, at least with the evidence we get on this live recording and it's accompanying DVD. Woods, a piano boogie woogie bad boy would have been at home in one of Al Capone's whorehouses if the old black guy with the whisky habit who worked cheaper didn't beat him to it. A smoking, jumping set that finds the master feeding off the Turkian energy and probably making them think the west isn't so bad. Fun stuff to perk up perennially underserved blues ears.

MIKE LONGO TRIO/a Celebration of Diz and Miles: If you are doing a concert at the Dizzy concert hall, it certainly doesn't hurt to pay tribute to the cat the Bahais gave a room to. With a his pals in tow that know what to do, this isn't a run of the mill cap doffer to the fallen greats. It swings like the two honorees would want it to. Except for the established melodies, this is pretty much improved and you can feel the crackle in the tunes as they crew avoids any missteps while toeing the high wire. If digging classic Verve and Blue Note is a part of your musical taste treats, this is solid, smart jazz the way you like it. Killer stuff throughout that just smokes.

KEVIN KERN/Christmas: After you get past Schroeder ( who is one of Kern's neighbors) and Vince Guaraldi, Kern is making some of the best solo piano Christmas music you are going to come across. Tackling the classics with a healthy dose of his own special sauce, the old is new again and more than welcome. No matter what we see new in the way of Christmas music over the next two months, if you collect and enjoy the sounds of the season, this is essential music that's must hearing for any gathering of at least one. Killer stuff throughout.

LOT 50
LOUIS DURRA/Rocket Science: Covering Beatles, Bob Marley and Ian & Sylvia on the same record tip you off that you're dealing with a jazz piano man that likes to color outside the lines. He says his sound is influenced by the sound of the street but we detect a Monk meets Ramsey Lewis vibe where Lewis' 50s trio is very much in effect but the ham handed atonal stylings of Monk weave in and out like indestructible threads holding it together. After all that, the sound isn't retro. It's not futuristic for the sake of preciousness. It's just floating out there in space in it's own time zone. A fun ride for the left leaning ear, all told this is a set of nice new variations on a well loved theme by a cat that�s out to make his mark. Check it out.

JANA HERZEN/Passion of a Lonely Heart: So, Motema started out 10 years ago as a vanity label for label owner Herzen who subsequently created a juggernaut that boasts 100 releases and a load of Grammy nominations. Now, she's finally getting around to putting out her second album on the vehicle she originally started for that purpose. Ahmet Ertegun said his talent was recognizing talent. Motema has been a satisfying art first label and it appears Herzen can recognize talent because of the wealth of her own. A mystifyingly simple album that has her voice and guitar and Charnett Moffett's bass all front and center with a load of her original tunes, it's that one you didn't see coming that just blows you away. Feeling like a cabaret set but revealing itself to be so much more, it feels like there must be nothing Herzen can't do, and do well. A wonderfully winning set that stealthy moves in on you and becomes a sonic old pal in no time flat. Check it out, it's a real winner, particularly for vocal fans getting tired of lusting over reissues.

DAVID MAXWELL/Blues In Other Colors: Blues piano man Maxwell decides to take a busman's holiday as he moves the blues to Mars for one of those sets that sounds like it's from the past with the same vibe as a cat like Fred Neil doing ragas or Robbie Basho taking his ax to where ever. Mixing it up in mighty fashion with that as his starting point, Harry Manx shows up to make sure things get out of hand. The opening tracks sounds like a world jazz riff on CSN's "Chicago" so who's to say what's what as long as it's good. At the center of it all, Maxwell continues to flash the creative side of his Grammy winning ways and keep the thing from running off the rails as everyone on board is playing like they are having a grand time. A wonderful out of the ordinary musical experience that kicks dead musical taste buds in the pants and wakes them up.

Volume 35/Number 354
October 19, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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