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THE NORTH/Slow Down (This Isn't the Mainland): Ever wonder what Hawaiian jazz inspired some of the world's greatest surfing spots would sound like? Got your answer right here. Fusing piano jazz with new age and classical elements, this is easy rolling stuff with an under current. These cats have a lot on the ball and are sure to have a hand in the future of jazz. First class sitting down jazz that really fills the bill. Check it out.

JEREMY PELT/Face Forward, Jeremy: Pretty heady stuff. Pelt's opening statement here feels like when Miles was changing the direction of jazz at the end of the 60s. Inspired by it but not aping it, Pelt is certainly facing forward as he takes jazz in new directions with a very capable hand on the wheel. Consistently paying dues and consistently raising the bar, you can bet your booty that this is the future of jazz, and it's so bright you gotta wear shades. Hot stuff for contemporary ears ready to make a move.

GEORGE CABLES/Icons & Influences: Here's one killer of a lion in winter recording as jazz piano man Cables look s back at a life that had him being a sidekick a lot of the time, but he looks back by looking forward with a lot of new compositions that got their genesis in time and tides past. This is one sweet sounding record that is a mainstream groover sending it's fastball smoke right down the middle for a perfect strike. The kind of solid playing you don't hear everyday, this is a sure bet to wake up tired ears that have been in search of more. First class.

PUPPETEERS: It's kind of a Brooklyn thing. One member of the group used to have a club in Brooklyn where the rest of the band hung out. The club is gone but the jazzbo vibe lives on. Powered by a bunch of cats you know even if you aren't in Brooklyn, the quartet plays a nifty hybrid of modern jazz that is post bop as well as somewhat post modern. It's hard to point to a leader here as they are all leaders and all get a turn to shine out front. One thing is for sure, it's time to get the word out of the boroughs. This is hot, happening stuff that's as caffeinated as a jolt of Newman's poured through the small setting on your Keurig. A real wake up call for jazzbos with an ear toward tomorrow.

REBEL TUMBAO: Well of course this crew comes out of the box like a runaway train, they've been together in various forms for 11 years getting to the place they are now. Coming with a Cuba/Jamaican/African/Gil Scott Heron fusion that comes together in a mind blowing way that might not float the boats of the mired mortgage crowd but their kids will flip their wigger lids with one taste of this. Hot stuff that's as different as the makers want you to feel it is. Well done.

MITCH KATZ/Out of the Blue: Not only is there no sophomore jinx hanging anywhere around this folkie but he seems like he could assume the mantle of being this generation's non-topical Tom Paxton. Completely tasty, easy rolling stuff that continually sounds like a head's up from an old pal, you really don't have to be listener of a certain age to appreciate what's going on here. Killer stuff throughout.

HENRIK OTTO DONNER & TUMO/And It Happened: Recorded shortly before Donner died, this recording found him kicking his modern Finnish jazz out with a 33 piece orchestra giving him a fine Viking send off over all. A hard to define recording as it mixes west coast cool with modern improv and who knows what else, it's certainly a milestone for progressive ears. Structured free jazz? Doesn't sound right but the music does. Now, if you could just imagine Stan Kenton taking Stan Getz to Mars and having Shorty Rogers hit the record button...

JUHANI AALTONEN/To Future Memories: Just because we didn't know about it doesn't mean it didn't happen. The 80 year old sax man decides to take a stroll down his own personal memory lane by reliving soundtrack work he did by Antii Hytti for pics in the 80s and 90s. With a raft of joint Finnish soundtracks under their shared belts, Aaltonen knows how to do that atmospheric thing you have to be willing to do when working under the baton of another. Certainly a must for way left leaning film fans who can be sure to say they know the pics these tunes came from even if they don't, the vibe is reminiscent of Miles' soundtrack work in the 80s. For those so minded, this is a free jazz extravaganza.

Volume 38/Number 125
March 5, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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