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BOB WOLFMAN/Transition: Long time New York jazz guitar session cat enlists his pal, Larry Coryell, to being objectivity to the producer's chair, as well as a host of pals to provide a solid bedrock for the set. A touch too eclectic to have been at home on GRP during their glory years, you get the drift on where the winds are blowing here. Not so smooth jazz that's always welcome when it's five o'clock, Friday afternoon, somewhere in the world. Tasty stuff for the adult listener that hasn't turned into a geezer yet. It's certainly a chopfest that delivers more than that.

KEVIN HARRIS PROJECT/Museum V. 1: So what does the preferred piano man of the hipper downtown jazzbos do when he gets the chance to step out on his own as a leader? Well, he doesn't disappoint those that know his touch for one. Certainly a left leaning but accessible date, Harris and his cronies keep it downtown with a certain 50s hipster bent that let's you know you are in for some seriously good sitting down jazz. Treating his songs as museum art pieces, he doesn't do anything to make you want to take him down a notch and put his feet back on the ground. Well conceived art jazz that delivers the goods beyond the expected.

MURALI CORYELL/Live: Yep, it runs in the family. Kicking off this cd-dvd package with a remembrance about being in the room with Jimi Hendrix (when he was three months old), it doesn't get as mawkish as Jimmy Webb recounting his meeting with Elvis and it's loaded with a lot more blues rock. With his raspy voice and penchant for shredding, Coryell walks the jazz/rock/fusion/soul/blues guitar thing like he was inoculated with AOR when he was young. One of the leading lights of the newish generation, his debut was long overdue and this follow up is long overdue as well. This is the kind of stuff that lights up the night.

OTIS TAYLOR/My World is Gone: Taylor confounds yet again. Just from the title and his track record, you'd think this is some kind of late hit about Katrina, but it isn't. It's about slavery and oppression, but it's about these subjects as they affect the Native American---and he does a mighty job of putting himself in their shoes. Certainly a million miles away from being a civics lesson, Taylor brings a pop sensibility to the matter, using his unique vision of the blues as a base, and really hits it out of the park on a lot of levels. Roots music has just been pushed to the next level of the game. Well done.

ZUILL BAILEY/Elgar Cello Concerto: You don't have to be a hard core classical fan to tell that Bailey is one of those cats that's playing at the top of his game. Resisting pop crossover ala Yo Yo Ma (at least through now), Bailey keeps it real and makes real music for people that want it real. Reteaming with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the pairing is a natural and this ‘follow up' to the pairing's Dvorak concerto keeps new classical recordings out of the doldrums bringing a freshness and excitement that leaps out of the speakers. If you're not a classical fan already but are into contemporary, instrumental music, making the jump to this is painless and you will land on your feet discovering a new treat. If you are already a classical fan, I'm just preaching to the choir and simply spreading the word that Bailey delivers again in fine style. A winning set throughout.

TIM GREEN/Songs From This Season: Here's a young sax man that's simply knocking them dead. Playing with nice clean, muscular lines, there's loads of straight ahead playing that grabs your ear with it's deceptive simplicity and doesn't let go. A solid dose of sitting down jazz that's way more than just background music, Green sounds like the player you want to keep an ear on so you don't miss something. A solid debut that tips it's hand that even better things are to come. Hot stuff.

UWE GRONAU/Visions: The German instrumentalist's latest serving is an impressionistic look at life in Paris. It's always tricky to make a statement like that, but when you look at the titles in the track list, it makes internal sense. Taking a ride well beyond ambient, this gently rolling set is a tonic for the stressed out listener in need of a sonic art film to play with while it plays with his head. Something different, accessible, and quite special.

VERMOUTH/Retrofuture Pop Exotica: The title says it all. This duo and their pals spend as much time around the mixmaster mixing drinks as they do genre blending musical styles that flow from the space age pop/exotica tangent. With a nice touch of sinister, pomo undercurrents running throughout the proceedings, this is a must for the sophisticated late 20 something looking to leave college 25 cent beer nights behind. All this and the chick singer is a vegan? What a world! Wild stuff with no use for the beaten path, Denny, Lyman, Sumac, Baxter and that bunch are smiling down on these efforts. Just what you need to turn your living room in to a Tiki bar. Well done.

Volume 36/Number 59
December 29, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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