SARA SERPE-RAN BLAKE/Aurora: 21st century beatniks of a pair of cross generational, like minded malcontents enjoying the latitude and fruits of being awarded a genius grant that let's them do anything they want. Musically constructed for a cabaret on the moon, this piano/vocal duo seem to enjoy just screwing with your heads and doing it with chops. With a few ringers, they screw around with the American song bag, sometimes reaching into the far corners of the wrinkles in the bag, but when was the last time you heard "Fine & Dandy"? (Even better, check it out and have an a-ha moment because you probably didn't know the name of the tune or even that it had a name). For the cognoscenti of the malcontent contingent.
VINX/Little Drummer Boy: We haven't heard from this guy since yuppies first discovered world beat and he was being primed to be the next big thing. We still haven't heard from him, this was first released in 2002. How well has it stood up? It's a world beat Christmas record with a percussive slant. Evocatively vocalizing on standards, Vinx's special sauce certainly makes this an Afro pop flavored tour of the holidays with loads of soul and feeling. This is a dandy find for the Christmas music shelf if you are looking for something completely different that won't clear the room when you play it.
EMPRESARIOS/El Sonido Magico: You know, when an act is trying to call attention to itself by creating a new name for a genre, you can roll your eyes most of the time. Not so here. Tropicaliente is what's going on here and these contemporary genre benders deftly fuse the sounds of the streets from New York, Kingston and San Juan into something a street kid with too many tats can enjoy easily as can the yuppie that thinks he can relate. High octane party stuff that defies expectations at every turn, this throws a ton of stuff at you all at once so you always find something new in the mix to blow your ears wide open. With the Wally Wood inspired cover leading the way, this set is the door way to another dimension. Check it out.
IN THE CLOSET PRODUCTIONS
INGRID D. JOHNSON/What About Love?: Oscar Brown would be proud. With a vibe that finds it's roots in 60s message music, Johnson moves the sound from the church basement up to the main sanctuary and rocks up a soulful message of hope through despair. Certainly not everyone's cup of tea, anyone grappling with the messes reality can make might just find this a welcome musical rope offering some light at the end of the tunnel that isn't an on coming train.
SUSIE ARIOLI/Christmas Dreaming: You know time is marching on when the title track is referred to as a last minute find recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1947. A nice home fire's burning of a record for the holidays that covers pretty much standard fare with a few curve balls from the country/bluegrass side of the ledger. Arioli has a nice delivery with a sound that feels like an old pal hanging out for the holidays. Fun stuff that's as homey as egg nog.
KNOXVILLE JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Christmas Time is Here: The arrangements of the classics are all original to this band but they sound like something that could have come from Marty Paich or Billy May, back when record companies did Christmas records as obligations but not as throwaways. Mining the classic vibe to the max, sometimes the comfort zone is a cozy thing, especially when bringing it home for the holidays. Warm without flinging schmaltz in all directions, this is one of the dandiest jazz Christmases you can celebrate. Well done.
PRODUCT OF IMAGINATION
FRANCISCO PAIS/Raise Your Vibration: So, if you're into yogi guitarists like Johannes Linstadt, this world/jazz/downtown mash up will turn your head in a completely different direction. A cat with chops to spare, he brings in the A team to craft a dense whirlwind of a set that comes at you from so many directions at once, unless you are a left leaning, cutting edge jazzbo, you might not be able to take it all in at once, if at all. Creative and energetic, this could make a moldy fig out of someone who's taste is as current as last week. Letting some like minded cats wail in like minded form, this might just be jazz for the fourth or fifth stream.
Volume 35/Number 363
October 28, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record
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