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TOM GUARNA/Rush: Exactly what you would expect from a hipster post bop guitarist with chops to spare trotting them out in fine style with his downtown pals in tow. A modern after hours date, this cat can play anything and is one of those players that merit's the tag ‘guitarist's guitarist'. Never too hip for the room for precious for the sake of it, Guarna is on the money throughout taking jazz guitar into tomorrow. Well done.

MATT SLOCUM/Black Elk's Dream: What's the deal? If you want to be a hip, New York drummer your first name has to be Matt? Slocum is on the rise behind Wilson and gets some serious telepathy going here with Gerald Clayton making for a real off the clock set that has it's roots in the native American's struggle. Jazz is certainly heading off in new directions. A thoughtful set you don't have to be an egghead to enjoy, this is sitting down jazz that raises the bar.

HARVEY MASON/Chameleon: A little bit of a "Headhunters" reunion, one of the cats that helped write the book on back in the day funk in many of it's forms rolls the clock back for a date full of the easy rolling, crossover funk you could count on Antista Music or the Stuff gang to turn out. Do you have to be an arthritic yuppie that has mastered the comb over to enjoy this? Nah, the funk is timeless and it doesn't always have to be delivered by a night train. It is giving me a taste for some T.J. Swann though. Simply a good example of why old timers grouse so much of today's music sucks and has no soul---the soul is hiding out back in the day. Check it out.

PEDRO LUIS FERRER/Final: Coming on like the anti-Ricky Ricardo, this Cuban music vet delivers a folk sounding set where the sound might be spare but the vibe is expansive. A warm, personal recording, the title is a bit perplexing since he's only 63 and not dead but there's no question the music is wonderful. Killer stuff for the armchair traveler that loves the feel of a Cuba Libre in his hand more often than not. Check it out.

MACHINE MASS/Inti: A delightful mash up of the old and new coming together with an eye toward the future and respect for the past. A modern hell raiser hooks up with a "Bitches Brew" period Miles co-conspirator (Dave Liebman) and the result feels like Teo Macero was digging around in his closet and found some period Miles stuff he forgot to edit back in the day. Capturing the "Bitches Brew" vibe without embarrassing itself, this set could have easily have been recorded on the corner or at the philharmonic without feeling at all like a Miles rip-off. If you've ever been stuck in traffic and found hell raising early 70s jazz soothing, you'll know exactly what I mean when heaping on the praise. Badass stuff like they don't make anymore but should. Well done.

SUSAN CLYNES/Life Is...: Jacques Brel had a unique way to bringing Bruges dourness to the world in a way that found mass acceptance with the fils of the generation that was raised by WWII era Americans that had a steady diet of dour pop songs that gave rise to the rock rebellion. Clynes is a brooding, Bruges art chick all the way through. For those who think Tori Amos sold out when she learned to read, this set is right up their alley. In a long, circuitous way, this is Kurt Weill for today's pissed off college grrrll.

JOHN ZIPPERER/Full Circle: He looks country on the cover but he's pure singer/songwriter with soaked up influences from the places he's lived giving him a mix of Jimmy Buffett and southern blues in his kit bag. A pleasant sort of chap, Zipperer makes laid back stuff on the whole with some detours into some bluesy moments that reminds you life isn't all a bowl of cherries. He's certainly a troubadour that goes well with a cool one and laid back times.

Volume 38/Number 118
February 26, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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