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HAMILTON DE HOLANDA & ANDRE MEHMERI/Gismontipascoal: Even though they are modern keepers of the flame of Brazilian music, you generally don't think of Egberto Gismonti and Hermeto Pascoal in the same thought---but if Brazil's musical go to guy, de Holanda lays it down, it's worth paying attention to. Period. Teaming up in a mandolin/piano duo with one off appearances by Gismonti and Pascoal, these two proceed to produce a mind blowing session full of dazzle and sparkle that takes these two composers to a whole new place. More a voyage than a record, set aside any preconceived notions about Brazilian music before you turn this on. This is music music on a par with all those off the radar indie instrumental records that took on legendary status over time. Breath taking stuff for anyone that wants to sit down and be served some real chops, piping hot.

BENJAMIN TAUBKIN + ADRIANO ADEWALE/Vortex Sessions: When most people think of improv jazz, they either picture a bunch of hop heads bashing and blowing their brains out in a cacophony that always seems ready to roll off the rails but somehow doesn't or they picture a bunch of angular nerds looking like Talking Heads bleeting out egghead sounds. Then there something in the middle, like this set. This piano/percussion duo didn't discuss what they were going to do for the next forty minutes with their improv ability growing out of a mutual simpatico. They do good stuff, but it's very specialized stuff. This is Sunday afternoon, library arts society music. All that's missing is the wine and cheese afterwards.

BWB/Human Nature: Like him or not, Michael Jackson swung for the fences to be the Big Mac of music. He rounded up a bunch of funky, cool, hip cats to write, play and produce and somehow, Quincy got all these hipsters to put their commercial foot forward to break all known sales records. And that's why this smooth jazz super group can reunite after a decade and celebrate all facets of Jackson's music. Fusing their commercial chops with Jackson's commercial template, this sounds like smooth jazz veering into easy listening country, but so did Miles Davis 20 years ago attempting the same thing. Give everyone past and present credit for trying to make something that would appeal to everyone, and succeeding at it. Whether you hear this as a Jackson roll off project or a welcome return of Braun, Whalum and Brown tearing it up on a bunch of songs you know by heart, it's a killer summer record that'll lighten and levitate any mood. Fun stuff made for fun listening in fun times sure to bring toe tapping smiles to anyone that hears Jackson's music with nostalgic ears.

CLIPPER ANDERSON/Ballad of the Sad Young Men: In which we find the piano jazz trio amiably recreated as a cabaret act with the singing bass payer at the wheel. Digging into the oldies vocal canon and blowing off all the obvious choices for some more daring and overlooked picks, the sum total is a grand set of sophisticated listening by one of those rare male vocalists that doesn't feel the need to ape Robert Goulet or Tony Bennett. There isn't a false note in the bunch and this set almost puts the cocktail in your hand before you know how it got there.

MARC BERNSTEIN & GOOD PEOPLE/Hymn for Life: There's quite a bit of subtle mix mastering here as the New York sax man relocates to Denmark, brings old pal, Bob Moses, in for the session, has a former student of his drafted into being the crew's vocalist and finally rounding out the gang with some well skilled locals we aren't familiar with. Bernstein has developed his sense of Euro jazz but still hasn't left his left leaning Big Apple skronk behind. Tailored for those who like it left leaning but with more heat than the usual ECM cool school sounds, this is certainly smart sitting down jazz for coffee shop habitués that think Starbucks is too commercial.

GEOF BRADFIELD/Melba: Armed with some arts council money, curiosity and a good attitude, Bradfield set about digging into the works of Melba Liston, an arranger from back in the day who has generally been overlooked because she was a girl despite her contributions to jazz, Motown and island music. Bradfield composed all the sitting down jazz on board here trying to serve as a tour guide into the spirit of her sounds. Clearly one of those records that demanded to be made even if only to be appreciated by listeners with attention spans and like sitting down jazz, listening to this kind of gives you the feeling of what "Take the A Train" would sound like if it was expanded from a song to an album length statement with it's highlights given the chance to stretch out and shine. Quality stuff for enlightened listeners.

NOAH PREMINGER/Haymaker: Left leaning sax jazzbo furthers his reputation in the legacy of past left leaning cats that would shrug off their ‘day' jobs at night to push the envelop. Downtown all the way, Preminger and his pals never head down to the church basement but they aren't playing the straight and narrow either.

THOMAS GANSCH/GEORG BREINSCHMID/Live at Weiner Konzerthaus: These guys are hot shots in Europe but I never heard of them and didn't knew what to expect. A trumpet bass duo. They dropped out of classical music at the same time and became pals because they both love Monty Python. And they play like it. When you have chops like Spike Jones, you can screw around like Spike Jones. That's the vibe here in a long range sense. A lot of these odd pairing duos go pretty far on good intentions but these guys are a gas. Doing something totally different and unexpected, they grew into an act because the mothership they were working for didn't do encores so the band manager asked them to bring the house down for the nightly finale. Worlds are turned on such thoughts. Eventually, they went off on their own serving up musical madness that will blow your mind. Killer stuff that really perks up jaded ears.

LASZLO GARDONY/Clarity: Solo, improv jazz piano recorded in one continuous take. As much as he's a working jazzbo, he's also an educator and this set is certainly for his egg headed fans as he gives it his all to make this compelling listening in a forum that makes it pretty hard to to.

Volume 37/Number 163
April 13, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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