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TYRONE BIRKETT/Emancipation: For all our talk about civil rights jazz and church basement jazz, here's a cat that's taken up the call to arms with modern church basement jazz updating the concepts of freedom songs and Negro spirituals for today. A jazz vet of styles and times, sax man Birkett colors wildly outside the lines for a unique jazz set that keeps you guessing as to what's coming next. Will people who never paid the black tax be able to get it? They will if they realize that whoever is trying to screw (fill in the blank, your way) today will be trying to screw you tomorrow. Hard hitting stuff that doesn't need Western Union to send it's message.

JASON VIVONE & THE BILLY BATS/Eddie Ate Dynamite: Vivone and his crew didn't save it all up for their debut set. This one is even wilder showing us that this is a bunch here for the long haul. Carefully traversing a minefield that's loaded with comparisons to funny/50s Frank Zappa and Kansas City Count Basie, this wonderfully crazy set is almost like a bunch of mini movies because there's so much going. It's like Vivone didn't want to leave a speck of tape unrecorded on. A must have for anyone that reveres a real party on a platter, this baby is smoking throughout and knows how to deliver a first class good time.

TIM HEGARTY/Tribute: This is such a groovy record that I don't want to go harshing anyone's mellow, but... The sax man says this is a tribute to all the players that taught or influenced him. Cool, but there's one thing he left out in his tribute list. This set was recorded in one day in Jersey, just like all the groovy jazz emanating from tyro gadget freak Rudy Van Gelder's parent's living room in Jersey. Yep, this set is that good. With some crack jazzbos bringing up the rear, Hegarty shows himself a worthy link in the chain as he can go from skronk to heavenly with just a slip of the tongue. Straight ahead jazz just the way you like it. Well done.

JOE SULLIVAN/Whiskey Jack Waltz: One thing we've noticed about the bulk of the solid records that come from Canada, no matter the genre, is that they come to play. They just let the music do the speaking which any music fan that grew up in the 70s can appreciate. Here we have a fine example of some Canada jazz where the players know their stuff and just plain put it out there. A straight ahead, mainstream session that wears it's mainstreamity proudly, this is wonderful set to just kick back with and let the vibes flow. Several cuts above being musical comfort food, Sullivan and his crew are a bunch of old friends you just haven't met yet. Dig it.

BOSSACUCANOVA/Our Kind of Bossa: This crew has always sounded like Sergio Mendes gone to Mars, but they never sound that same way twice. Riding the tip of next week, this crew remains way too hip for a bunch that's been together for 15 years. A genre busting set of electro bossa with enough guests to put a rapper to shame, these Brazilians show they really know how to throw a party. As more attention focuses on Brazil later this year, you'll be able to spot the cool cats right away as this will be coming for their car stereo. Killer stuff that takes bossa to tomorrow.

JENNY LIN/Stravinsky Solo Piano Works: A classical musician with a pop heart, pianist Lin tackles a set of works Stravinsky wrote for solo piano. Generally regarded as his lesser known works, they might be miniatures for him but they have no less drama, strum and drang than his warhorses. With a perfect touch that's hard to describe, Lin let's her fingers dance and glide across the keyboard with just the right mix of everything making this the kind of classical record you don't have to be a classical fan to enjoy. With an inviting openness innate in Lin's style, she's the kind of artist the genre needs right now as she has what it takes to bring new listeners into the tent. Quite a wonderful recording from top to bottom.

ANDERSON & ROE/An Amadeus Affair: Obviously a composer that will perennially appeal to malcontents and envelope pushers, this duo dives right into the romance Mozart loved to pack into his works. Forever remembered as the horny devil depicted in the pic "Amadeus", Mozart used what ever social media was available back in the day to get the word across to the honeys. These kids don't look like malcontents so they must be envelope pushers. Adding their own fingerprints to some works here. they don't mess around when it comes to the set's showstopper, "Sonata for 2 Pianos in D Major". Way too hot to be background music, this duo commands and demands your attention as they ultimately make it worth your while. This is one of those great pairings of the right players with the right music. Well done.

TRI FI/Staring Into the Sun: Some stuff is just plain right. Originally meeting as Curtis Stigers back up band, this crew has taken on a life of it's own and is now on it's fifth album in 10 years. Simply a with it, happening piano jazz trio, they don't pander but they play to please. Echoing any or all of your fave straight ahead piano trios of the past, these are all solid players that don't need to go for pyrotechnics as their quiet fire lights the way well past the usual pas de trios. Tasty to the point of savory, this is where your ears want to be at the end of a long, noisy day. Solid stuff throughout.

Volume 38/Number 92
February 1, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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