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SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK-A Tribute Live Jazz at Lincoln Center: When this crew debuted on Flying Fish in the pre-disco years, unless you were Paul Simon looking 14 years down the road or a dyed in the wool world folkie, you really didn't know what to make of this female, vocal troupe that wasn't anything like the Supremes. They sounded good but to a generation that was in the midst of enjoying arena rock---throw backs to Miriam Makeba? Well, many chops and production values later, a generation that grew up on world beat can eat this twofer up with a spoon. A theatrical piece that shows the love to their influences, this African/world beat/jazz vocal outing is one for the senses. You don't have to be an NPR/armchair traveler to fall under it's spell but since your kids have long opened your ears to the soundtrack of Lion King, it's time for you to claim some of that real estate for your own. Simply smashing adult listening for receptive, adventurous ears.

MARK WINKLER/The Laura Nyro Project: Winkler's music is well known as the sound of cocktails after hours at a beach side bar. He's also a writer with a pen that never seems to run out of ink from the ink well brimming with the right stuff. This project, where he tackles the work of Laura Nyro, is a wild ride outside his comfort zone. Lyrically outside his comfort zone, written in keys generally locking him out, Winkler channels his admiration for Nyro into a project that casts her in a new light, a result that lands a world away from his tribute to Bobby Troup which was a prime cut of his métier. Finding the jazz in Nyro's New York street roots, Winkler does a mighty job of crafting something that would have been jive in lesser hands. Anyone that loved Nyro's classics will not be bellyaching about anything after a spin here. Hot stuff throughout.

DAVE LALAMA BIG BAND/Hofstra Project: The classic big band vibe is swinging in full swing here as family and friends gather around the musical doctor and let the chops fly. Always a treat all the way through, jazzbos that aren't too cool for school will love the groove laid down here as all these cats get high marks showing they have no missing class. A winner throughout.

NILSON MATTA/Black Orpheus: For every revival of Porgy and Bess, there isn't a revival of Black Orpheus. This cat, who has been loving the score for 50 years sets out to right this wrong with help from a wide swath of jazzbos whether downtown, old school or anywhere in between, all on board as long as they love the music a much as he does. Primo Sunday afternoon sitting down/listening jazz, this set needed to find a home on a music first label like Motema where it can be properly allowed to shine. The funny thing about the source material being 50 years old is that Matta gives this is classic feel of Leonard Bernstein dipping his back in the day toe in jazz waters. A stone cold winner and a reminder of why bossa nova is still vital today.

NEW YORK VOICES/Live: The venerable vocal crew traipses off to Germany for some love to do their first live set with the WDR big band in tow. Mostly hard swinging stuff with a few breathers in between so everyone, including the listener, can catch their breath, this crew celebrates their 25th anniversary in fine style. More rocked up than Manhattan Transfer and less vocalese than Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, they have staked out their territory well and their delightful sound is unmistakable. Recorded 5 years ago but always timeless as time and tide doesn't effect their sound, this is an absolute mainstream groover's paradise. Just the kind of stuff the adult listener that isn't concerned about over paying for a victory lap tour by some 70s geezers will go nuts for. Fun stuff throughout that could bring a bunch of new fans into the tent even this far along in their career. Check it out.

ACT RIGHTS/Sweat Equity: Believe it or not, we haven't heard garage rock like this since the golden days of Sundog Summit or Crème Soda.

TROY ROBERTS/Nu Jive 5: In which we find the new generation bringing mash up headache music to jazz. Roberts is certainly charting his own course but his more mainstream efforts ring truer than his flights of fancy. Certainly one from the drawing board from a cat with an eye toward tomorrow who can't be faulted for trying to break down walls that stand in the way of the future.

JAY WILLIE BLUES BAND/New York Minute: A Connecticut white blues boy influenced by Johnny Winter who found his Holland living chick singer via You Tube. So much for honing your chops on the west side. With the energy of youth that can rock a club all night, Willie and his pals open the doors to a new, young crowd of roots enthusiasts who are probably afraid of Muddy Waters. More heart felt than a lot of other honkies with a taste for the blues, that's the razor's edge that makes this set stand a cut above. These guys understand finding the fun in blues ala George Thorogood. Check it out.

Volume 37/Number 101
February 10, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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