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DAVE KOZ & FRIENDS/Summer Horns: Remember when grunge taught us that when you saw a chick on stage, she was the bass player? Well the chick on stage here is Mindi Abair with her sax, one of four in the front line of this adhoc crew turning the clock back to the golden age of tightly arranged horns serving up the funk and jazz/rock. New ground broken? Nah. Fun listening on a new spin of old faves? You bet. Basically, it's a killer presentation of smooth jazz at it's penultimate. The writers, the vocalists, the rest of the backing crew? They're all old pals as well that always seem to be welcome around the ears. It's a wonderful invitation to summer throughout. Well done.

DOUG SERTL/Beautiful Friendship: The bone man wanted to make an organ trio date back in 1998 and did so in one day in six hours. Everything felt right so after he listened to it and declared it good, he put it on the shelf until now. Actually a wise move since this feels like the kind of easy rolling jazz that can compete easier in the download world than in the brick and mortar world. With a breezy, hipster, supper club-lite vibe, the familiar tunes are comfy throughout and the playing is spot on as well. This is sure fire fun stuff that wears well and is sure to enhance any already buoyant mood with it's presence.

AARON LEBOS/Reality: This south Florida guitar slinger is well on his way to playing everything with everybody already, but the most impressive thing going on here is that he's broken the key to the algorithms of Frank Zappa's guitar solos. Lebos has the sound and fury down so right and tight, he could take the easy way out and do one man Zappa tribute shows from now until people forget who Zappa was. I'm sure Lebos would never have thought there was a Zappa homage in his contemporary south Florida sound, but there is and we like it. With time and tide providing the right leavening, he's aced out some of the ponderous stretches where Zappa was too impressed with himself but we let him go on because he was Zappa. Certainly give it a spin if this is up your alley.

EUGENIE JONES/Black Lace Blue Tears: We always give extra points to anyone putting out a debut album on their own nickel that takes the trouble to hire people we've heard of. We're not snobs, there's a lot of good people out there fighting for a chance, but when you're taking a chance on yourself, the ground shifts. This Seattle songbird brought in a bunch of Seattle jazz cats that know the ropes and know their stuff making this set the whole package. Writing them as well as singing them, Jones is another in a series of songbirds that has been through other commercial realms on the way to her real passion, and all that singing into the mirror while getting ready for real world work pays off here. With a slate of original tunes written in a smart club vein rather than a radio vein, Jones and company know how to entertain. She even takes time out from her own composing to give a solid airing to the rarely heard Carmen McRae vocal version of "Take Five". A great new find, this is a jazz vocalist sure to impress all whose ears are turned/tuned to that direction. A winner throughout.

DAVID AKE/Bridges: A bunch of downtown cats come together to create a fine acknowledgement of classic sitting down jazz doing it all without being atavistic or needing to wear Elvis Costello hats. Like the kind of sounds that flowed from hipper lofts in New York half a century ago, these cats are mixing art with pushing boundaries while keeping the groove and the pocket in the back of their minds. Capturing the back in the day modern jazz vibe nicely, this crew opens the ears for a new generation willing to believe the world wasn't created yesterday. Well done.

NICOLAS BEARDE/Visions: This is one of those records that troubles you because it sounds so familiar and good that you just aren't sure why. Bearde has this very pleasant sound that feels like Lou Rawls-lite. The backing crew has this spot on feel that you don't' expect from an indie record---until you see that the cats on board are Alphonso Johnson, Larry Batiste, Will Kennedy, Gary Meek and on and on and on. Not since the great recession of 1991 have we seen so many jazz cats playing for fun and to keep their chops up giving the indie jazz world rocket fuel to power it through outside adversity. Commercial without being bloodless, Bearde and his pals know how to serve up the jazz vocal sides in mighty fine style. This cat has hit one out of the park here. Check it out.

GENE ESS/Fractal Attraction: This award winning, jazz guitarists' resume is impeccable. This recording is impeccable as well. Even though this is a studio recording, you can hear the places an appreciative, live audience would break things up by going nuts for the passages they just heard. Even the wordless vocals don't make this feel like art jazz. A hard hitting, straight ahead session, you can put this on the shelf right next to all the classics by the greats you loved to pieces on lp and were glad to be able to replace on cd. Killer stuff.

VIEUX FARKA TOURE/Mon Pays: This record sounds like great back porch/down home music, if your home is in Mali. Sung in his native language, this is Toure's anti war album as he's telling extremists that Mali and it's native beauty is for the land's sons and daughters and not for power mad loonies. Maybe what really puts this record over if the heartfelt telling to an oppressor to get fucked no matter what language it's delivered in. Not only is this some great out of the ordinary world beat, it's a statement that needs to be made. Check it out.

Volume 37/Number 199
May 19, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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