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Did you Paul Winter's annual Winter Solstice concert doesn't celebrate the first day of winter, it celebrates the return of the sun and the days getting longer.

AKASA/Portal: Remember a long while ago all these new agy guys would go out in the woods together and drum? Time to turn the tables. The hype sheet that came with this record manages to name check every girl friend concept that's hot right now, and the performer behind it all sounds like a new age wild woman. Looks like we've come a long way from belly dance in the girl friend music department. Time to recognize a new genre, Whole Foods Music. Trendy girl friend stuff taken to the max, with the Super Bowl just around the corner and Christmas in the air, hmmm, sounds like a great gift idea. You'll thank me when you're passing the nachos.

AMPROS/We Make It Our Business: That sad truth wannabes have to face is that it takes a pro to be a pro. This is a dandy power pop trio with a dandy record on their hands and the funny thing about it is that it's something they did to take a break from their day jobs as commercial cats that can turn out anything you ask for and usually get it right on the first try. So much for the bar band ethos in the Internet age. And it doesn't have to be sloppy to be freewheeling. With a new day dawning, these pros manage not to be soulless droogs and are more than skilled at delivering the goods. Punters, take note.

DANNY PETRONI BLUE PROJECT/Blue Project: Here's one of those wonderful nutty mash up records that throws Louie Prima and Louie Jordan into the mixmaster with blues, jump blues, primal rock, jazz and who knows what else. Done as a labor of love by a bunch of Jersey cats that weren't going to let the damage from Hurricane Sandy keep them down, this is what you get when pros know how far they can push things and then push a little more. Loaded with well played sounds you love all strung together like you never heard them before, this is must listening for when you finally realize you're not too cool for school. Check it out.

FERNANDO ULIBARRI/Transform: This jazz guitar man is trying to open the doors to a nu cool school as he takes Metheny and strips his sound down to something more basic. Mix in a little space, some tips of the cap to past masters and you have a low key set of art jazz that claims it's piece of the background where it can slyly play without you realizing it---although you really do realize it. Skillful stuff well played, it's clearly a well done case of sitting down jazz that doesn't push an agenda but makes it's presence known.

FRANK WESS/Magic 201: Recorded at the same sessions for Wess' previous release, Magic 101, with a few extra welcome cats on board for this set, IPO shows why they are one of the more important of the new crop of jazz labels as they continue to do a great job of staking out their territory as keepers of the flame. Loaded with timeless but classic blowing, Wess and the gang can heat it up, bring it down and just keeping putting it across without missing a beat. Tasty jazz for the hard core jazzbo that just wants to delight in great playing, this sax date is a winner from stem to stern that's a perfect example of how they can still make killer records they way they used to. Pure joy throughout.

Volume 38/Number 51
December 21, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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