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CHRIS BIESTERFELDT/Urban Mandolin: It's not that Sam Bush and David Grisman aren't great players, it's that Biesterfeldt is the greatest mandolin player to come along since Jethro Burns. Following in the footsteps of the old country boy's love of jazz, his virtuosity and his unstudied precision, Biesterfeldt just blows all comers away. Mind blowingly great stuff that takes the jazz trio places the grand old man would have loved to. Killer stuff.

JAVIER VERCHER-FERENC NEMETH/Imaginary Realm: Stop me if you've heard this one. Two guys from across the pond migrate to America to study at Berklee and live in Brooklyn. Recombining when they go back to their home lands, they come out with a set of deep 50s jazz mostly with just sax and drums, seasoned by a smidge of piano along the way. Viola! A nice set of 50s opium jazz. Thankfully, they didn't feel the need to have some free verse spouting jerk layered over the proceedings. You've got to play this for your fave jazz egghead while it's still new. The hipper than thou will battle the jazz police mightily on this one and you can enjoy it sitting on the sidelines watching the skirmish with some tea in hand. Wink.

LISA ENGELKEN/Little Warrior: The pomo jazz vocalist is back with a set that shows her offbeat debut was no fluke. Still highly entertaining in her quirky ways and choices, Engelken knows how to push all the right hipster buttons and deliver a winning performance in the process. Melding influences from whatever interests her at the time, this crazy kaleidoscope of a journey invites you to surrender control and let her be your tour guide through the world she has created. A dandy way to expect the unexpected.

LUCIAN BAN-MAT MANERI/Transylvanian Concert: Once again we have a record that shows you don't screw around with ECM on their home turf. Here they are, doing what they do best. You'd think others would learn by now that ECM pioneered the unusual duo format. While others imitate and try to duplicate, it can't be done and all you can do is hit the poseurs over the head and tell them to go back to their day jobs. This finds a piano/viola improv flying high with so much spontaneity in the air that even on the fifth listening, you find yourself not sure what's coming next. While poseurs make you yawn, these guys hold you rapt. And then, it's topped off with that great title. It's a real combination ear opener/mind bender throughout.

TIM BERNE'S SNAKEOIL/Shadow Man: After all those live albums, who would have thought Berne was such a studio rat that was turning into a Zappa/Beefheart of jazz turning out stuff so complex he has to rehearse his crew like a nun wielding a ruler to make sure they get inside the music. Egghead, sitting down jazz all the way, this sounds like an acid trip for those who don't take acid. It's that wild.

JAZZ COMBUSTION UPRISING/Self-Immolation: I read the liner notes, I read the hype sheet, I read the inside of the cd jacket and I don't know what the hell these guys are talking about. From all the stuff they have to say, you would expect this to be dissonant, malcontent jazz but it's anything but. So, keep it real, don't read anything, sit back and enjoy. With solid doses of well played and written old man jazz melded with 50s jazz/blues, this date gives you that back in the day yet modern jazz take bottomed by some killer playing from all involved. This would be at home with all those feisty 50s labels that were eventually swallowed up by Fantasy, Blue Note and Verve. If you can let the music speak for itself, you won't be disappointed. Forget the politics, this stuff doesn't belong in the church basement anyway. Check it out.

PHIL FEST/Projeto B.F.C.: Successfully entering the family's Brazilian jazz business, fille Phil brings his guitar, his love of jazz and his Brazilian bloodlined chops and serves up a date that should make his both his mom and pop proud to pass the torch when the time comes. Innovation also seem to run in the family line as there‘s plenty of that here. Tasty, summer jazz you can enjoy anytime, this is a prime example of a contemporary take on the real deal. Well done.

MR. HO'S ORCHESTROTICA QUARTET/Where Here Meets There: So who can argue with a cat that likes the old exotica records but feels the need to chart his own course if he's going to make some new exotica records? As Lefsetz recently pointed out, in the age of Facebook, the ‘babe I gotta leave you song' is obsolete since we can be in touch with everyone we ever knew when we get bored taking a leak, I point out that making nu exotica faces similar challenges since it's no longer insulting to call the block you live on a mini-United Nations. The percussionist leader of this crew is up for the challenge, even if it means acknowledging his elders via Gershwin and Guaraldi. It ain't your father's Les Baxter/Arthur Lyman exotica since it has so many pomo touches buried in the tracks but you'll be glad to have in playing the background as you make small talk with the chick in black clothes over umbrella laced drinks. Fun stuff and off the beaten track, if that can still be done.

Volume 37/Number 341
October 8, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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