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CHRIS CONNOR/Sings Lullabys for Lovers: It wasn't just the teens that went nuts in the 50s. Here we have a popular vocalist carrying on about being a drunken hoor and calling it lullabys for lovers. Not all the songs on here are so down mouth, but what the hell was it with so many grown up albums being filled with depressive songs in that era? Connor could teach emos and Adeles a thing or two about being bummed, and sounding so nice doing it. Jazz vocal that's not exactly cabaret, Connor knew how to swing but she shows a different side here that long time fans won't find out of the ordinary but revivalists might be somewhat taken aback or a side by. Never has being so bummed sounded so good?

DEXTER GORDON/Daddy Plays the Horn: Young Gordon shows how to be a daddio in six easy lessons without even breaking a sweat. Complete with edgy 50s cover art, Gordon and his crew blew up a heavy duty storm before your parents were even born. Leading a four piece combo that lets him stand out front and center, this isn't skronk sax, this is sweet, sublime playing. Even if this isn't a landmark date in Gordon's canon, it's a damned solid high water mark featuring killer blowing that too many others could only hope to emulate. Hot stuff that's still just as hot now as it was then.

BOOKER ERVIN/The Book Cooks: Back when "Night Train" was pouring out of every strip club door, this sultry kind of stuff would come wafting out when the hours were getting wee and the b girls hadn't made their quotas yet. Elegant, ensemble whorehouse playing, this set finds twin sax leads between Ervin and Zoot Sims while Tommy Flanagan and the others take off their from their respectable day gigs to have some grins as they stood behind single moms and lesbians hard at work milking the straights while said ladies were sitting in upholstered booths non-chalantly with their tops off. What a sight it must have been from the bandstand. Whew, this set takes you right back there. This is what "Back to the Future" should have shown in the first one, giving McFly a chance to hang in the strip club with his grandfather and dig after hours jazz. Killer stuff throughout.

CHARLES MINGUS/The Jazz Experiments: It was the early 50s when this was recorded and that's probably why the angriest man in jazz sounds so friendly and merrily off the cuff. With Teo Macero long before he was Miles Davis' producer and Thad Jones still light years away from his big band, this sextet isn't making waves so much as spreading grins in quite a pleasant way. Maybe it was wild and over the top 60 years ago but it just sounds delightfully groovy now. Check it out.

NINA SIMONE/Little Girl Blue: "My Baby Just Cares for Me" is on here but it's not the iconic version that came later and makes a lot of people wonder what the big deal was. You have to reel it back to here to understand what the big deal was. Here we find Simone leading a piano trio and being a real swinger and be bopper with anything but that mopey delivery that would come later. With a lot of youth and a lack of excess, hopefully there's a bunch more of this period stuff in the Bethlehem vaults just waiting to escape, this is like a Simone that we never knew and want to hear more of. Tune in for a real ear opener that'll spin your head around.

OSCAR PETTIFORD/Modern Quintet: With a different flavor of edgy 50s art on the cover and Julius Watkins, Charlie Rouse, Duke Jordan and Ron Jefferson in the grooves, the result is a hard driving bopping and grooving set that smokes throughout. They can turn it up or they can turn it loose but whatever they do, this bunch is playing as one setting the standards that others would have a hard time matching. It's sitting down jazz all the way, but it's the kind of jazz you need to sit down to really savor to enjoy fully. A wonderfully sweet set that can easily be a go to set for all occasions.

JIM BRICKMAN/Yesterday Once More: It takes a certain amount of sensitivity and acuity mixed into the special sauce to separate the concert pianist from the cocktail pianist. That special sauce makes it easy to believe that Ohio kid, Jim Brickman, could ease into the middle class, middle American angst the Carpenters sold so well when he was teenager finding his voice. And they say the music you love best was the stuff you loved in high school. Tipping his cap to the Carps in their prime with songs that were as heartland as anything Bob Seger was pounding out, this lovely set captures the times and tides in a way that brings it all back into focus--even if it's through misty, water colored memories. Lovely stuff that hits all the right notes, as always.

JIM BRICKMAN/Romanza: No gift shop baloney for our boy Brickman. The world's most romantic pianist turns his attention to an Italian getaway and rather than rely on the chestnuts, he comes in with a mostly all original program that has a contemporary focus rather than a hoary retread. Sparing no expense to offer a full sonic experience rather than a minimalist, expressionistic experience, this ain't your grandparents Italian getaway. Lush, full and of course, romantic, this is another winner in a catalog full of winners.

Volume 37/Number 331
September 28, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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