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YOUN SUN NAH/Lento: If she wasn't really doing something new and you weren't listening closely, you would make the mistake of writing Nah off as an art chick but this Korean alt.jazz vocalist is anything but and goes the extra mile. Making her own mixmaster fusion from various times and mode of world sounds from classical to chanson, whatever the Korean version of cabaret is, Nah is setting the pace for nu Korean cabaret. Wild stuff for nu ears to call their own.

CHRISTINA BRAGA/Samba, Jazz and Love: Crazy in the head might mean crazy in bed but Braga's voice and instrumentation on this set exemplify the languid sexuality that can keep vanilla sex quite satisfying with merely the occasional addition of some sprinkles. Sounding at one with her vibes player, this Portuguese set of Brazilian tunes by some of the land's most august composers hums along nicely since gringo's don't know most of the songs. Even when a familiar Jobim tune is tossed in, it's been reconfigured in such a way that it's familiarity doesn't ruin any moods that might have been building if you are using this for any enjoyment other than listening in your car. Thoughtful without over thinking itself, this is a sexy set that doesn't need pyrotechnics to kindle a fire. Hot stuff, Brazilian style.

CAROL DUBOC/Smile: Just because you've heard of Jeff Lorber and might not be as familiar with Duboc unless you read the writer's credits on hit albums doesn't mean this isn't a rematch of equals that had solid creative chemistry over a decade back. Calling in the crème of his lite jazz pals, the result is a jazzy take on a mature woman album in which the singer looks back at the ups and downs and the final emergence. Even though she knows how to swing for the fences, she doesn't try to do that here, making it a personal statement kind of set, but the ball is heading over the fence just the same. Check it out.

M & M
DIANE MARINO/Loads of Love: Houston Person doesn't just honk his sax here, he shows up as producer as well, and his first hand knowledge of the old days lends some special sauce to this piano bar set of classics. Knowing how to frame the songs and Marino's piano playing vocals, the result is a high octane example of a classic piano bar thrush of a certain age delivering the goods with the kind of flair that keeps bringing you back night after night. A killer set for when you're in the mood for some sophistication with bounce, this is first class, solid, adult listening that connects. Well done.

THISBE VOS/Under Your Spell: This Dutch born transplant to SoCal shows us there's more to Dutch jazz than the Dulfers and Saskia Laroo. A vocalist with an incredible reverence for singers and days gone by, you could put this in a blind fold test with all the 50s thrush reissues coming out of Japan these days and totally fool the listener. Honoring the past without being mired in it, Vos does that thing where she takes something old and somehow makes it totally new and totally beguiling. Easily a poster girl for nu traditionalism, her originals have the classic sound and feel. The insouciant edge she gives the classics makes them custom made for keeping your finger on the repeat button. And then there's the backing crew that has a sheaf of jazzbo credits that could choke a horse. Winning stuff that is on the money throughout and a definite rising star.

LINDA VALORI/Days Like This: Here's a big, tattooed white girl that can belt it out like a big, black girl. Recorded in Chicago with a backing crew that sounds like the original Blues Brothers band trying to sound like an indigenous chitlin circuit show band, this set of white and black soul/R&B that mixes covers from the pens of Van Morrison and Bobby Charles comfortably with those from Ike Turner and Don Robey, this is simply a mighty throw back to fun records with loads of soul a and lots of bounce to the ounce. Showing enough soul to bowl over two popes in multiple appearances, she's setting her sights on these shores where the right amount of promotion and support will make her the talk of every town she stops at. Hot stuff throughout.

MIKI PURNELL/Swingin' to the Sea: Some doctors like to sing and can afford to indulge their fantasies, even if it means writing some big checks to buy some cred. Some are chasing a second career. This physician has probably spend more time singing in the shower than in smoky clubs, but putting in your 10,000 hours is putting in your 10,000 hours and you can tell right away this record is no mere mid life crisis. Bringing in Dave McKay, Tamir Hendelman, Lori Bell and other well traveled hitters to provide the proper jazz backing for her jazz vocal debut, like any Asian born over achiever, Purnell hits it out of the park with her first trip to the plate. Attempting tunes that have a lot of baggage, she brings in a freshness that makes them work all over again. A jazz vocalist with affection or attitude, she's swingingly here in service to the song and really shows she knows how to put it across. A ripe, new pick for any traditional vocal fan.

GINA SICILIA/It Wasn't Real: After exploding with an auspicious debut that would need rocket fuel to beat, Sicilia's fourth album is an auspicious rebirth where she replaces her producer/boy friend with a Grammy wining cat that draws out her original love for R&B. Sounding like a Petri dish mixture of mature Maria Muldaur and mature Bonnie Raitt, this mostly original set is going to force the blues world to take notice of Sicilia all over again as she adds the rhythm to the blues and brings on the soul. A solid set from a vocalist with real chops that just keep getting honed sharper, contemporary blues vocal fans will find this set indispensable. Killer stuff throughout.

Volume 37/Number 162
April 12, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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