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LENNY WHITE/Live: You had to be there and you probably weren't since this was recorded in Japan in 1997. White had a bunch of stellar cats on board with him, and there wasn't even a recession going on---they wanted to be there and they played like it. Super sweet funk/soul/jazz/fusion where everything is cooking with the burners on high, jazz from all quadrants comes together from these Miles/Hancock/Weather Report alumni as they pull together to pull together the sum total of their reach and grasp from the years of experience between them. This set grabs you right from the start and just doesn't let go. A solid look at winning ways that were planted a long time ago.

RICHARD LANHAM/Thou Swell: Here's a record with an interesting back story. It was recorded 15 years ago and forgotten about. It was the record Lanham always wanted to make and it's a good thing he was persistent. A member of the Inkspots as well as a front vocalist for Miles Davis' Paul Chambers era rhythm section among many, many, many other stops along the way, Lanham always fancied himself a jazz singer. With a set card and a vibe that could have had it standing toe to toe with any of the great male vocal jazz sets of the 50s, Lanham more than knows how to keep it in the pocket---deep. Tasty as all get out, this is the set you need to keep handy when the grown up in your is trying to escape and show how sophisticated, yet swinging, you really are. Killer stuff.

LENNY MARCUS TRIO/Peace for Beethoven: Simply put, Marcus has a gift for invention. Sounding nothing like the jazz into classical records of the 50s, this second outing where Marcus faces off against Beethoven and brings out the jazz is a mind blower. Sounding nothing at all like something that's good for you, if you're a classical music tourist, your almost won't recognize these melodies as springing from the classics, Beethoven or otherwise. First class all the way, it tastes good and it's good for you. A winner throughout, this is music you want around for when you are looking for a groove that takes you someplace else. Well done.

LENNY MARCUS TRIO/Tonk-A Tribute to Ray Bryant V. 2: One of the unexpected treats of last year's mail bag was Marcus' tribute to his late piano teacher, Ray Bryant. Expected or not, this follow up where he once again explores Bryant's many high spots is another treat. Played with the sincerity and passion that can only come from being a student, friend and ‘nephew', Marcus pours that something extra into this set that's loaded with so much soul, funk and joy that it's the kind of stuff that brings the house down. With everybody cooking and swinging their way through the program, this is the kind of set that sets the standard for anything to come. Killer stuff throughout.

JOE LOCKE/Lay Down My Heart-Blues & Ballads V. 1: Unless it's the part about getting screwed in the divorce, I don't know why "Makin' Whoopee" fits in with "Ain't No Sunshine" in a program about blues, but Locke makes sure it does and this is his album. His third for the label is different from the first two as this is almost an after hours set and it's loaded with way more funk and soul than a white boy with gray hair should have. Always making sure his vibes are giving off the right vibes, this small group outing with it's tightly knit sound is the gateway to weekends and alcohol. Smoking stuff that hits it out of the park every time out, contemporary jazzbo have a winner here to kick back with in a big way. Hot stuff.
RICH HALLEY 4/Crossing the Passes: Think maybe the second hand smoke from all that legal pot up in Oregon had something to do with the sound of this set? The muscular sax man and his brother hiked across the Oregon mountains for the inspiration for this set but it sounds more like civil rights jazz than a hike through the mountains. From the church basement to the mountain tops in one easy leap? Hmmmm. Always having an avant garde edge to his music, this stuff here isn't so far from his mainstay sound, I just wonder what in the mountains inspired this. As always, anyone with left leaning taste knows Halley is one solid, contemporary sherpa that might lead them astray during the journey but will never leave them lost. Wild stuff for wild listeners.

KEN FOWSER-BEHN GILLECE/Top Shelf: Ah, this review should have written itself but the record company made a point of using all the premium alcohol references in the hype sheet. This sax/vibe duo and their pals live up to the title and all the clever hype that goes with it. On a set of all originals, they serve up a mainstream groovers paradise of killer sounds powered by smart, timeless jazz. We don't bother with year end and top ten lists because we know, you, our dedicated readers don't care about them, but trust me, this set will be hugging the tops of the lists of every jazzbo writer that makes one. Totally in the pocket throughout, this is the spot you land on after commercial jazz has given you the impetus to go deeper. Well done.

NOAH HAIDU/Momentum: Sometimes you just have to step back and admire the elegance of the basics. Haidu and his pals deliver solid piano trio jazz that could have been at home on Argo/Cadet or any of the non Bluenote/Verve labels that were around making killer piano trio jazz back in the day. This crew might owe a debt to the masters but they know how to swing righteously on their own. Taking it back to the time before this came to be more background music than not, the players are on point giving you your moneys worth in thrills with every note. Tasty stuff that works throughout.

Volume 37/Number 156
April 6, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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