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DANIEL SZABO/A Song From There: One of those heavy duty cats that you might not have heard of unless you are a really hard core jazzbo, this Hungarian piano transplant has now released his first trio album in the states. While it is a model of streamlined simplicity, having Peter Erskine and Edwin Livingston keep it from being a walk in the park. Recalling the playing of a raft of ‘how did he do that' kind of cats, this jazz trio date has a lot of back in the day essence but it's certainly not for moldy figs only. The playing here continually takes you somewhere else with it's mix of killer playing, sly humor and a general sense of good vibes. It's sitting down jazz that has your toe tapping long before you realize such tapping is being performed. Well done.

ALANA AMRAM & the Rough Gems/Spring River: You should take a minute to Google or Wiki Amram. With her father being David and her second album a tribute to Vince Martin, she had us at hello. However, she's even more of a multitasking hydra than her mop of curly hair would suggest. One of these tireless types that's done everything with everybody, she now settles into a "Clouds" period Joni Mitchell vibe, but it's as filtered through a punk/DIY prism presented through such a wide lens that the grey and balding won't feel left out. Amram proves herself here to be a major talent keeping fruitfully busy until she lands on that corner where preparation meets opportunity. Hot stuff.

SCENES/...But Not Heard: With 12 years together under this trio's belt, they came along just to late to be the crew that would have made BMG extend the deal on Windham Hill Jazz. Cerebral jazz with a warmer edge than ECM cool school cerebral jazz, this is wonderful set of thoughtful jazz that doesn't make you work to listen to it. The kind of in the pocket music that you can easily mistake for background music until it slowly surprises you by taking center stage, these fellows really know their Holland/deJohnette stuff well and take it to the next level of the game. Well done throughout.

MARC SEALES/American Music V. 2-Blues & Jazz: Talk about being in the right place at the right time...! Why do you know the opening track on this set by the long time mainstay of Seattle jazz? Because it's a music file in Windows XP making it one of the most listened to pieces of jazz this side of Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown themes. With more meat on it's bones than Eno's ta da wave, he knowingly rolls out a set of mostly originals with a little reliance on Miles and Trane for a piano jazz quartet set that takes it to the limit. A left leaning mainstream date that doesn't need to get far out to set itself apart, this is a sure fire winner for the serious listener looking for a date that really gets him. Hot stuff.

TOM TALLITSCH/Ride: As we sail deeper into the age of multi-tasking, do we even have to wonder if it's a conflict of interest for a working muso to host a radio show? Like there isn't bigger things to fret over. This sax man has got it all on the ball. Leading a hard hitting, swinging set, Tallitsch feels like a classic jazzbo but there's no dust on him. Tallitsch does all the work for you just leaving you free to sit back and enjoy the jamming on this set of mostly originals where the band is completely on the same page and cooking with gas on high throughout. This is sure to get your blood moving better and faster than any blood thinner on the market. Dig it!

DAVID IAN/Valentine's Day: The recession wiped out hotel piano bars mush like disco wiped out rock clubs 40 years ago. David Ian to the rescue. While Jim Brickman might be the world's most romantic piano player, Ian is staking his claim on being the world's best date night piano player. The perfect music for accompanying cocktails early enough in the evening that you aren't breaking out the Marvin Gaye yet, maybe this will get the youngbloods who are just coming of age now to demand the restoration of what they will be missing. Killer stuff that sets the stage for Barry White to take over from.

PROFESSOR LOUIE & THE CROWMATIX/Soul Blues: The bar band with the arena chops made this set for their recent trip aboard the blues cruise and now they are letting you landlubbers get in on the kicks as well. Not recycling standards like you would expect most bands to do in that situation, this set is loaded with as many originals as it is covers you probably aren't familiar with. These honkies have soul and they go so far as to back it up with the Rock of Ages Horns on board as well. This is the sound of how it once was when you could go to a bar somewhere in the American night that set aside 10 feet for a ‘bandstand' and hear a band for $5 on a Wednesday night that would blow your socks off. Don't miss out on this good time.

Volume 38/Number 88
January 28, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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