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MIKE MARSHALL & THE TURTLE ISLAND QUARTET: We like Marshall, we like the Turtles and they like each other. These cats invented NAC 30 years ago and rather than try to fit today's format, they're inventing something new here as well. Taking their passion for stringed things to new extremes, this is one of those sets where sitting down listening is in order as they find the sweet spot where chamber music, world beat, classical, jazz, NAC and 3A come together to show the kids how to do a real mash up. Adult listening all the way, this is the kind of set that makes you carve out a niche in your Sunday afternoon to let the world go by and let this take over. Killer stuff for adult ears that need a break and want something to sink their teeth into. Hot stuff.

ARIEL ALEXANDER & JON BREMEN/Street Cries: You know how some sessions sound like the musicians weren't recording together? They weren't here. All the players got to record their own part on their own time. Sometimes it works and some times it sounds like just what it is. Certainly a noble experiment, experimental ears will be more at home with this than moldy figs and that jazzbo ilk..

HUTCHINSON ANDREW TRIO/Prairie Modern: These guys have been bringing the jazz to western Canada for over 20 years and have swum as far as big fishes in a small pond can swim. An acoustic jazz piano trio, they have taken some arts council money to expand their horizons but they aren't making arts council music by a long shot. Thoughtful, sitting down jazz, you can dig it background or foreground but you'll dig it either, or both, ways. Solid stuff by a crew the world needs to hear more from.

ULYSSES OWNES JR/Onward & Upward: He could rely on his boss, Christian McBride, to pull strings for him, but when Owens is doing his own thing, he wants to do his own thing. Surrounding himself with the crème of the up and coming jazzbos, Owens steps up with some uptown funk and jazz getting to feel like he's calling the shots for real on his third outing. Dandy, well pedigreed contemporary jazz, it's age appropriate throughout for the young Wall Streeters that want to decompress over some cocktails with a sound from someone they can relate to. There's a torch being passed here. Solid stuff from a cat that continues to turn tomorrow into today.

EDDIE ALLEN/Push: Here's a trumpet ace that makes it sound too easy. With a smart bunch of jazzbo pals culled from his vast experiences in the New York jazz world, he shows he know show to fashion a blowing session in the classic Blue Note/Verve mold without relying on warhorses. This mostly original set never fails to impress loaded with a vibe that just grabs you the right way. Solid stuff that doesn't pave new roads but fulfills it's agenda to be fun to hear. Well done and totally on it's target.

HANNAH GILL: Right now everyone wants their own Lorde or Adele and who can blame them. Brad Hammonds found Gill, got swept up in her energy and passion as you will too. Only 16 but old by "Glee' standards, this latest young lady to come from the well of old souls packs a punch that's sure to land on a few jaws and noses. You already know the drill, here's your chance to check out this bit. (C'mon, that was a good one).

GARLAND JEFFREYS/True Confessions-The Epic Sessions: One of the great, neglected singer songwriters of the 70s continues to get his overdue due in Australia as Raven moves on from his A&M years into his Epic years that found him recording with Brinsley Schwarz and the Blues Brothers band--to little avail. Bringing along a great bag of songs no matter what hole they tried to fit his peg into, brother, the songs survive. Having rounded the bend hitting 70 years old last year, these songs remain as timeless as he does. When you're playing with the players he was, does time and tide really matter? Actually more accessible than his earlier stuff, Jeffreys was doomed to being a cult hero by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. For all those who bitch how today's music sucks, this is a dandy place to roll the clock back 30 years and find out why your parents say things were so much better back in the day. Check it out.

DAVE STRYKER/Eight Track: Well, boomers, here's where guitarist supreme Stryker lets you know he's one of you. Rounding up three of his cool jazzbo pals, he offers up a set card of 70s tunes he loved, when listening to on his 8 track player while driving around in the 70s, that should resonate a solid 80% approval across the board from all listeners that came out of the same time and place. A tricky kind of album to pull off since the well worn tunes have a lot of baggage and he's adding his own special sauce to the mix, he pulls it off just like the old time jazzbos did when they were doing albums of pop covers and made it work. A sure fingered, behind the scenes MVP, Stryker should connect here with jazz stations looking to broaden their audiences who will subsequently spread the word. Tasty stuff that avoids every pitfall imaginable, even when backing up Break with Pink Floyd. Solid, jumping stuff throughout.

Volume 38/Number 98
February 7, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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