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UNSWORTH OLSON VANORE/Balance: If you can find it in yourself to sit down, shut up and listen, this throwback to the times when instrumental jazz was so focused it felt like it was telling you a story flows right down that trail on the natch throughout. Certainly, you can't help but listen to this and feel it's roots in Kenton/ Russo et al, the featured players capably bring their own flavors to the table. What separates this from a lot of contemporary, commercial jazz is the lead three decided to make a date for themselves but the managed to find the sweet spot where they reach the them in us. This is an utterly pleasing and satisfying date of timeless, contemporary jazz that hit's the target with such amazing precision you almost can't believe it. Killer stuff.

AARON McEVERS-M13/1 Human, Too Human: Once upon a time, Chicago was a hotbed for jazz and also for commercial work. A lot of jazzbos looked at their families and decided to do the right thing, which was play jazz when they could and go for the commercial gold hoping to find balance along the way. M13 leader Aaron McEvers is following in those footsteps, all the way down to leading a big band when not doing commercials. Since Seattle's Origin Records can't put out all the great jazz hiding in the corners in Chicago, we luckily have home grown Blujazz Records ready to step into the breach and keep the art and sound alive. Pushing large ensemble sounds forward while honoring the tradition, McEvers brings his native Detroit with him in his sax and convinces his charges to let it all fly. Music meant to be savored, this is a perfect example of the kind of deep jazz too many complain just doesn't exist anymore. Here it is and it's mighty hot stuff.

PRESTON LOVINGGOOD/Shadow Songs: There are fully grown adults out there that look at the Coen Brothers and think this is no country for old men. And for those kind of people that wonder what the big deal about Llewyn Davis is but enjoy down in the mouth lo fi singer/songwriter kind of folkie stuff, there's Lovinggood, a cat that knows how to round up a bunch of A listers even when he reaches out from his native Alabama. Every generation needs a Leonard Cohen for their soundtrack to those times they want to gargle with razor blades.

BADI ASSAD/Between Love and Luck: One of the great guitarists of our times jumped off the treadmill and onto the mommy track the better part of a decade ago and virtually disappeared. Taking her bambino to the hinterlands, she found her chops all over again and began composing like crazy. Band pieces. Vocal pieces. Whatever--she really opened up. The comeback record result is a real bag breaker that gives us a reinvigorated, whole new Assad that will charm both old and new fans a like. It's always a real treat when an old fave comes back from the wilderness stronger than before serving up a platter of hot stuff throughout where everyone is lifted to new realms. Check it out.

EAMONN KARRAN/Distant Sun: Guys like Karran are nothing but trouble. They make playing impressionistic, solo piano look and sound so easy that everyone wants to do it. And they can't. Karran is one of those piano players that feels the music. Bringing his native Irish shadings to the session, he doesn't make this a Celtic session but he does take you to all those places filled with people whose names are pronounced nothing like the way they are spelled. Delightfully enchanting throughout, this is a fine example of a very special kind of mostly solo work that doesn't need anything but your ears and attention to complete it. Most certainly a rising star in the genre.

SIMONE DINNERSTEIN/Bach Inventions & Sinfonias: Are you following the current ‘Grey's Anatomy' storyline where Meredith & Christina are fighting over mommy track vs. career track? Dinnerstein seems to have all that licked. Last decade it suddenly hit her that her career was stagnating on the mommy track and with bat out of hell fury, she raised the money to make a new album before crowd schnorring was all the rage, and channeled all that energy into proving right away that she's one of the definitive Bach interpreters of the age. With a love of Bach going back to when she was 9, Dinnerstein tackles what Bach thought of as his text book on piano playing with equal parts fire, grace, vulnerability and style that is hall marked through out as purely her own. As mind blowing as Wendy Carlos was in her day, but without the electronics and technology, classical fans that have heard it all before need to hear it one more time here. Newbies, you have no choice but to let it wash over you. This is killer stuff throughout that couldn't be any purer or heartfelt going way beyond the normal realms of show biz and performances. Clearly, this is a date not to be missed.

DAVID HELBOCKS RANDOM/CONTROL/Think of Two: This is one of those ultra nutty mash ups that makes modern tastes grin gleefully ands moldy figs reach for their guns. Take three cats, 30 instruments, the music of Hermeto Pascoal and Thelonious Monk and give the cats creative freedom to do with it what they will. So, it sounds like they take some basic Nawlins, give it some meth and fly stuff in and out on the fly. It's crazy. It's a fun house ride. It's a total gasser. It's taking the A train out of Harlem and into a Disney ride. Certainly there's jazz in it's DNA but it's really world music from out of this world. When the keys to full creative freedom are handed to the right people, boy are the results fantastic. Check it out and leave your attitude at the door---unless it's a good one.

THERESE HONEY/Summer's End: Anything in the right hands really doesn't need much to go with it other than those right hands. This solo, Celtic harpist who's chops have taken her all the way to performances with The Chieftains gets so into the music, you almost feel like this is harp music like you've never heard it. A million miles away from what you get at tea time in fancy hotels, Honey goes well above and beyond making this more of an experience than a record. With the only adornment being feelings right from the heart, Honey could single handedly usher in an new era of adult, contemporary, acoustic music not needed any flag waving genre banners to herald the arrival. Killer stuff throughout.

Volume 38/Number 44
December 14, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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