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890 WEST
JAMBALAYA BRASS BAND/On the Funky Side: The New Yorkers that think they're from Nawlins have played for everyone from Ritz Crackers to Britney Spears and high profile half time parties in between leaving everybody blown away in their wake and with loads more opportunities to impress littering thier smart phones. A mighty, spirit lifting party crew that seems to make everything into Mardi Gras, they might seem like the marching band from the University of Mars but that's just more of their party spirit rolling on. A dazzling set of mostly originals that never fail to impress, I'm going to be sure to have a load of beads on hand when I play this with the windows open and that cute neighbor girl is outside, y'know what I mean. Hot stuff throughout.

STRANAHAN ZALESKI ROSATO/Limitless: This free thinking piano trio is back with their second album, two years after the first (we're searching for symmetry in an asymmetrical world). Progressive, left leaning stuff more suited for clubs than piano bars, this is a sitting down jazz tour de force. The three young cats on board have paid their dues and you can hear the proof. Exciting stuff that titillates just fine without Miley Cyrus acting out to grab your attention, you can feel free to wear your maturity on your sleeve as you sit back and let these pros dazzle. One of those crews that respects jazz's past while hungering to make a mark of their own, there's still time to get in on the ground floor of this jazz colossus in the making.

GARY SMULYAN-DOMINIC CHIASNESE/Bella Napoli: Is Capri trying to become the Motion Pictures Retirement Home now that the union is trying to curtail it? Here we have Johnny Ola/Uncle Junior (following on the heels of Wilfred Brimley's label debut) kicking it out on some Italian classics, but the kick ass jazzbos on board don‘t let this be a jive ethnic/tourist collection as they find the funk in the old time classics. Very much a great set of sounds for a modern Italian restaurant with an eye toward keeping it real, Smulyan makes it very clear why he's the new sax top dog in town and the album as whole is a gasser. The concept is fueled by much more than good intentions. Check it out.

ENRICO GRANAFEIL/Alone & Together: This record is perfect storm for schmucks to scoff at without even listening to---and they deserve all the mid and muck that falls on them as a result. A harmonica playing jazz club owner, Granafeil has access to some of the best jazzbos around. They show up here to answer his call, playing in various configurations, and they didn't show up just to kiss his butt. A former student of Toots Thielemans's, the lessons were learned well as this easy going, charming set is loaded with an old world craftsmanship and an attention to detail that never seems forced or contrived. Clearly a good to record to play when you want to feel like a grown up, this is real music from real players that is in the pocket and on the money throughout.

NEW YORK VOICES/Let It Snow: This group is celebrating 25 years together by issuing their first Christmas set. Now they are at a crossroads. This set is loaded with the kind of holiday magnificence that Mannheim Steamroller and Jim Brickman have made their calling cards. I don't know what they would do the rest of the year, but they could trade off this new holiday classic for some time to come. Jazz vocals on holiday classics/standards is nothing new but NYV's special sauce liberally applied to the basics here make it all into something special and wonderful. I can't predict how the youngsters will cotton to this, but listeners of a certain age will say this record sounds like home and get misty over it. You saw it here first, this is a new holiday classic. (Bed Bath & Beyond just had their first all night holiday stocker two nights ago. Even though this isn't available until October 29th, you might as well get with everyone‘s holiday marketing spirit and put it in your Amazon shopping cart now).

IVERSON KONITZ GRENADIER ROSSY/Costumes are Mandatory: The jazz piano man wanted to show his affection for Lee Konitz and wrote the opening track to showcase Konitz's bopping side. It's a killer piece of daddio jazz and we'd like Iverson to explore that side of himself on future releases as it makes the angular takes on his journey through the past pale in comparison---not that they are weak links in any chain. With so much attention turned to piano trios these days, it's nice to encounter a piano quartet, made up of all solid cookers, that aren't content play it safe and chase non-existent radio play. With the exception of the opening track, they rest of the set has a delightful, and skewed, after hours stamp all over it. Check it tout.

KENNY BURRELL/Special Requests (and Other Favorites): When you've played with Billie Holliday and were admired by Jimi Hendrix and are still here to tell about it, there's certainly nothing wrong with revisiting your back pages-especially when you do it with oomph! Opening with "Killer Joe", closing with "Chitlins Con Carne" and fitting crowd and personal faves in between done live at an essential west coast jazz spot, Burrell could teach young players, who want to learn, a thing or two. Burrell might be older than anyone you know but he's not playing like it here. Still the bar raising, trend setting jazz guitar ace he always was. Killer stuff, Joe.

TED ROSENTHAL TRIO/Wonderland: It's hard to compare someone to someone else even when you're being complimentary without risking offending them----but here goes. Rosenthal, who has proved time and again that he's not just chopped liver, has served up the best pairing of piano jazz and holiday classics since Vince Guaraldi invented the style. So there. Instead of choosing between this and the Guaraldi‘s ‘Snoopy's Doghouse Edition ‘, get ‘em both and let the good times roll. It's hard to say it enough these days. With all the bullshit going on in the world these days, at least you can be a NIMBY for the holidays. Draw the shades, only invite over people you'd want to spend time in a bomb shelter with and enjoy the holidays from within if the rest of the world doesn't get with the program. And be sure to have this on your play list as Jesus' birthday gets closer. Well done.

Volume 37/Number 337
October 4, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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