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RUDRESH MAHANTHAPPA/Gamak: This sax man knows his ax but he uses it to chop his way through punk jazz that sounds more suited to listening to on ecstasy than in a moldy fig arm chair. Too crazy for church basement free jazz, this is next wave, fourth stream stuff that's too hip for a lot of rooms.

MYRIAD 3/Tell: One of the great things about Alma is they continually find the means and energy to make and release records that need to be made with quality and invention being the guiding lights. Here we find them releasing three young, Canadian road/studio warriors who have come together with a sound that goes off like a low key explosion that makes you watch the endless replays on cable news. Probably having feasted on records by Holland, DeJohnette and Jarrett in their salad days instead of Ramen noodles, this is the stuff. The right stuff. A smoking jazz trio with arty leanings that aren't off putting in any way, they land somewhere between 50s Ramsey Lewis and 70s ECM in such a delightful way that it's irresistible, even when you don't feel in the mood for some ‘brainy' jazz. Great sitting down jazz to feed your head with.

BRAND NEW TRASH: From Zuzu's Petals and Indiana they came, finally landing in San Francisco, bringing punk energy to the rap classics of their youth. The new teeth grinding sound of the suburbs, this is music to hate your parents by, showing your contempt by turning it up to eleven and letting the neighbors know you hate them as well.

CHRIS HOPKINS & BERND LHOTZKY/Partners in Crime: How can two cats take a pair of Steinway grands to the whorehouse? Probably because it's the kind of upscale whorehouse the Everleigh's ran back in the day, not the fly by night stuff that gets you in the tabloids these days as the madam sells her address book to the highest bidder. With a set card that would have been right at home in the Everleigh's parlor a few years after they closed up, this piano duo lights sparks again on this delightful journey through the past that makes you sad that what passes for classy, hotel piano bars these days is nothing more than fondue made with Velveeta. Released a hair too late to be considered for the Grammys in February, this is one solidly smoking piano duo that knows how to be sophisticated and swing, brewing up quite the heady concoction. Old without being retro or dated, this is purely a gasser. Check it out.

GREGG AUGUST/Four by Six: You might have to be an uber hipster to recognize this big apple bass player's name without prompting, but when he goes on tour in Europe, Brad Mehldau is part of his band. Surrounding himself with a bunch of other big apple free thinkers, they sound kind of like Miles jamming with JCOA in a loft, shunning the church basement because none of the hipper players could sneak their goodies past the priest. Not exactly a free jazz throw back, there is the snap, crackle and pop of skilled carts playing off each other in the moment while still coloring inside the lines---mostly. Left leaning jazzbo tastes will find a taste treat here.

YELENA ECKEMOFF TRIO/Glass Song: What started out as a Russian transplant doing solo, new age piano has now morphed into something else completely as she now fronts a trio with Peter Erskine and Arild Andersen. While being true to it's ECM art jazz roots, it's also true to it's Russian bleakness roots yet the listening experience never veers off into being a downer. Not music to cut yourself to when you're bored, this is sitting down jazz for a Sunday afternoon when the Keurig keeps calling you and you really don't care if you finish the crossword puzzle or not. Nice stuff that much more engaging then challenging, it's kind of a nifty art jazz oasis.

EMY TSENG/Sonho: Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems like the last generation of tiger mom's turned all their daughters into hot looking, classical violinists. Born at the wrong time, Tseng's resume and background reads like the stereotypical one for the eastern/Oriental kid that perennially screwed up the curve in class and had a tiger mom that really kicked her ass. Not getting a chance to rebel until hitting New York as an adult where she fell in love with Brazilian jazz and studied under Jay Clayton, Tseng did her usual quick study thing and can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of her influences like Claudia Acuna or Luciana Souza--and she probably used those old Sergio Mendes albums as a jumping off point to get into Wanda deSuh, Gal Costa and others. First class nu Brazil vocals all the way with a backing crew of DC players that should have reputations spread out from the nation's capitol, where Tseng currently has a day job of bringing Internet to the under privileged. Give up the day job already!

JACKIE RYAN/Listen Here: I put ‘not getting older, getting better' into the Wikipedia search engine and it redirected me to Ryan's page. Nuff said? With chops that are ever deepening and a reach that is ever expanding, Ryan teams with John Clayton (who brought pals from his various aggregations) and the two of them cooked up one of the most major label sounding indy releases of all time. With passion being overused into being a cliché these days, I wish I had a better word to toss in here but there's so much passion in the delivery and execution that you could bottle and sell the run off. This is a jazz vocal date that deserves to take it's place in line with any and all of the classics. Hot stuff throughout!

JEROME KERN-THE LAND WHERE THE GOOD SONGS GO A New Revue: So we know producer Tommy Krasker can do no wrong when working with Sondheim. We also know he's heir to the Lieberson/Sheppard mantle when doing a Broadway revival album. Now, how does he fare when stewarding an original work? If you want to bet against him, I'll be happy to take your money. When the rubber meets the road, Krasker is at one with Broadway/show music. An original work using known and unknown works from Kern's back pages to delineate the life cycle of a relationship, the cast is right in the moment, all the way down to the proper placement of an off handed giggle. With music that still has a fresh crackle and lyrics from a diverse crop of some of the best of the era, this performance makes it almost easy to say Kern never had it so good. It's an essential recording for any devotee of classic American show music. As an added feature, Sondheim updates his 1957 appreciation of Kern in the booklet here. A non-stop winning package throughout.

STEVIE DUPREE & THE DELTA FLYERS/Dr. Dupree's Love Shop: So what's the hottest, new "mainstream" thing to come out of Texas lately? Are you hip to Dupree and his gang? Flavored by a hefty dose of blues/roots ala CCR by way of Texas/Nawlins, this is a party rock rocket that hits the targets when it drops it's missiles. Not reverentially retro or cool in conformity with what tastemakers think is cool right now, these guys play up a storm and simply deliver the goods, like a runaway freight train. Like a heartland version of British Northern Soul, this the kind of stuff that can freely mix the beer and sweat all night long with no complaint in the air. Hot stuff that's first class all the way.

Volume 36/Number 38
December 8, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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