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CLARE FISCHER ORCHESTRA/Music for Strings, Percussion and the Rest: This veteran of the west coast jazz scene of more than 50 years ago still has enough on the ball to be wining Grammys now. A stone killer on anything wind driven or stringed, as good as he was then, he seems even more on top of his game now. Coming in with the kind of thing you'd expect from someone like Lalo Schifrin or Michel Legrand when they do their jazz meets classical things, this is as good as sitting down music gets, especially when there's no scent of arts council anywhere around it. Impossible to not say this is in the tradition, especially since he helped create it, this is mind blowing instrumental music no matter what tag you want to lay on it. Killer stuff that opens the ears in mighty fashion.

CLARE FISCHER/After the Rain: Just to show you how commerce works, stuff on this date was written 30 years ago, recorded 10 years and is making it's way to your ears now. In which we find the well decorated jazzbo showing his classical side to the fullest, this isn't longhair/egghead music in the slightest, this is the real deal for people that appreciate pure, good music that enchants, delights and uplifts. As it's timeless music, the only glitch in it taking so long to get here is that we could have been enjoying it all this time. Wonderful stuff that's just way to hard to beat.

ERIC VAN ARO/Obsession: Of course this cat would wind up a singer. His mom is Caterina Valente and is uncle is Sergio Franchi. Growing up around the standards, enough time has gone by that he can look at stuff from the 70s and 80s as oldies, as well as the stuff that really is oldies. Here, we find the son of a German juggler reclaiming the classic songbook turf that's been claimed by divas in recent vintage. Quite the snappy set as he breaks new ground tilling old soil. A solid set of cabaret flavored jazz vocal that does a nice job of avoiding the tortured artist effect, even when covering "Since I Fell For You". Check it out.

JAMAZE/Around the World: There really is more than death metal in the Arctic Circle and this four piece jazz crew from Finland is out to show it to anyone who has forgotten that. Originally started as a jam collective, suddenly they found themselves writing and playing their way through a world of world beat originals. Free to color outside the lines, authenticity isn't so much the rule as the right vibe is. They blaze their own trail with chops to spare and really make it work without making it sound like work. A tasty way to perk up jaded ears close to believing there just aren't any kicks left. Check it out.

BRANDON ROSS & STOMU TAKEISHI/Revealing Essence: This duo makes it very clear that new age and opium den music are very distinct creatures. Guitar and bass could easily be the bedrock of new age stylings, but here, it's clearly background music for the opium den. With a slew of undisputable jazz chops between them, this set may be well off the beaten path but it's nice they took the trouble to chart new courses for those who have left he mainstream far behind.

TRIO SHALVA/Breeza: Three Israelis on the loose in the New York jazz world come up with a way to take old Hebrew melodies and vibes, fuse it with Beatle covers and deliver interesting world beat mash ups. Quite the spirited romp, these cats are having a good time and want to spread the good times. Theatrical in their ideas, this bunch knows how to go deep in the pocket and come out with more than a bunch of lint. Spirited stuff that's sure to make and keep you smiling throughout.

ES(squared)/Algorhythms: Unpretentious jazz that is really party music, driven by keys and bones, this stuff is Mahavishnu one minute, Mingus the next and rent party throughout. It doesn't have a something for everyone vibe despite the diversity in it's musical recipe. Everyone on board is playing like they are glad to be there and there may not be a riot going on, but there's a party beckoning you to dive in. Check it out.

ARK OVRUTSKI/44:33: New York jazz is a competitive world and this Kiev native has his elbows up and isn't afraid to do what it takes to make his mark. Culling some first call cats to round out the sound, the bassist/composer kicks up his heels with the joyful noise that sounds like Nawlins on Mars and more limit pushing sounds. Fun stuff that plans to make it's way in the world, this is a must for the modern jazzbo looking for a disc full of the real deal that doesn't end when the record is over. Hot stuff.

Volume 38/Number 107
February 15, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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