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IAN HENDRICKSON-SMITH/Tonight is Now: Bringing his Nawlins heritage to Canada where the multi wind player has regally set up shop, this is killer daddio jazz loaded with feel good music that doesn't pander. Easily in the classic Blue Note/Verve swinging groove session vibe, Hendrickson-Smith leads his crew like a master without being a task master letting everyone have some, contributing to the whole and delivering it all in fine style. Tasty stuff with an after hours feel that doesn't go off the clock, this set is very much a groovers paradise of cool jazz with just the right amount of heat. Check it out.

GIOVANCA/Satellite Love: Nu soul meets 70s church basement soul/jazz/funk with delightful results. With none of the self consciousness that often scars and mars mash ups like this, the Dutch element in Giovanca's back pages brings the Euro element to the fore making this mash up one that successfully fuses a bunch of the old into a solid piece of the new. A new generation act that any generation can enjoy if they were ever into the soul/jazz/funk in the first place, this is a pop record with anti-pop leanings making it a must for anyone that would like a deviation from same old same old. Hot stuff that's sexy and sassy throughout.

STEPHANIE BLYTHE/As Long as There Are Songs: This record is most certainly a strange duck. Produced by a Grammy winning audio cat that wants to show off his newest audio stuff, the result is a strange cabaret record that feels like a tribute to Sophie Tucker. A big voiced gal that knows how to emote the songbook classics and piano man with a flair for theatrical playing serve up a nu audio test record that certainly delivers on the chops but it shows off chops the casual listener probably won't know what to do with. Nu pomo cabaret?

LES GRANT/Way Froward Way Back: A genial, vocal swinger, Grant is a cat that likes to roast the chestnuts one more time. He doesn't take them far from their source, but he does add his own brand of special sauce that makes this more than just another romp through the classic songbook. The combination of his voice, phrasing and sense of swing makes this a super sweet piece of ear candy that manages to avoid all the clichés that brings journeys through the past like this down a notch or two. A nice, solidly driving set that resides easily on the top shelf. Check it out.

NINA HENNESSEY/With a Song: The better half in a New York jazz household, Hennessey makes the leap from Broadway and "Law and Order" repeats to jazz singer, center stage. Focusing on the oldies, she recalls the great jazz thrushes without emulating them. Pretty much turning off her song radar at the mid 60s, Hennessey goes up against pieces that cast a long shadow but manages to claim her piece of the sun therein quite handily. Just because you're a pomo cat doesn't mean you don't need a swinging thrush of your own no matter how striking Ella, Peggy and all the rest that set the style were. A solid collection the jazz police won't be stopping at the border anytime soon, her Broadway and acting chops serve her well here as she can belt without being overbearing.

PHILIP CHAFFIN/Somethin' Real Special: You just don't mess with PS Classics when they do what they do best. Producer Tommy Krasker was the archivist for the Fields family in the early 80s so you can bet no one alive knows the works of Dorothy Fields better than he does. He uses that knowledge to find songs never released from the Fields canon over the 50 years this collection covers. And vocalist Chaffin loves the material as well as Krasker knows it. Broadway major domo, Maury Yeston, puts the high sign on this perfect recording in which all involved on both sides of the studio glass serve up a bold but intimate set that goes way beyond being a typical vocal/show music/cabaret/etc set. Certainly a tent pole release for vocal music in general, this instant classic happily tosses Fields' lyrical DNA forward into generations yet to come. Well done throughout.

MUMPBEAK: Bill Laswell rounds up pals from King Crimson and other spots to put forth a bass orchestra with obvious roots in prog rock, jazz and noize pop. Often sounding like Zappa at half way to his most sinister, these angular grooves are in the hands of pros that could teach young malcontents a thing or two.

SHEBA/Butter on My Rolls: A totally for real, Southern, dues paying R&B mama that knows from cotton fields and sawdust joints. With help from George Perry and modern recording techniques, Sheba serves up a killer set that's so in the pocket that it's power would be undeniable to a deaf person. If you love classic soul but want something in the car to give Aretha, Koko, Etta and the others a break, this will make your commute a little more rollicking with it's hard charging forward to the past energy. Killer stuff that would have kept Stax in business 40 years ago.

Volume 38/Number 6
November 6, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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