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MAUREEN KENNEDY/Out of the Shadows: Not one to drop albums too frequently, Kennedy's second set took a decade to gestate as she dug through the major writers of the past to find worthy tracks that haven't been beaten to death. A classic jazz singer with the black clothes 50s vibe running through her work, Kennedy brings enough heat to her native Canada to keep them from having more below zero days than they do. You like your thrushes classic and classy? Kennedy is on the money throughout. Now, why did she let this linger in the can for 5 years? It needed to escape a lot sooner.

YITZHAK YEDID/Visions, Fantasies and Dances: So, you like klezmer music? How do you think you can handle the works of this Syrian Jew who studied under Paul Bley, cites John Zorn as an influence and pals around here with some top Israeli classical cats, all of which he did after winning some top honors in Israeli music circles? The violin might strike you as klez music running far a field but once it breaks loose, you're all on your own. Musically, Yedid sounds like the closest thing we have to a contemporary Leonard Bernstein with all the stuff he has going on here. This is certainly not music to be taken lightly, but it's not music that's work to listen to either, even if you do have to bring some commitment to these bytes to get the most out of them. Well done stuff for high brow listeners.

ANNE CZICHOWSKY QUINTET/The Truth and the Abstract Blues: She goofs on Oliver Nelson, does a solid riff on Toots Thielemans and is an over all swinging jazz vocalist that knows how to hit all the right notes. A jazz thrush in the classic mode, even when she's kicking it out on originals with slyly contemporary lyrics, Czichowsky is easy on the ears but more than musical comfort food. Tasty throughout nonetheless, this band swings with easy sophistication and Czichowsky has more of a handle on vocalese than too many of her contemporaries that try their hands at it. Solidly cooking throughout.

ANDREAS KURZ QUARTET/Caught into Something Turning: Time to widen your horizons as this defacto super group of Germany jazzbos show you how it sounds when the top players get together to play at the top of their respective games. Working together in various configurations over the last 20 years, the musical simpatico runs deep on this bar raising, sitting down jazz, listening set. Masterful stuff that never feels like it's in your face, these players might have had to name a leader for the record but they play like an ensemble that plays as one. Skillful and impossible not to like, this is straight up jazz that'll make your day. Well done.

KIEWETTERS GAMMARAMA/For the Cats: The label's Next Generation series does itself proud presenting this young sax man that has the chops to wonderfully lead a jazzbo quartet that delivers killer straight ahead playing that works throughout. Never failing to be on the money, if you have ears of a certain age, there's plenty here that's going to remind you of your fave stuff from the past, but after close listening, you'll hear this is a statement of it's own unto itself. Utterly tasty, this is a wining set that's sure to blow your ears wide open with it's deceptive simplicity. Check it out.

DOUGLAS DETRICK'S ANYWHEN ENSEMBLE/Bright and Rushing World: We've certainly got nothing against art jazz--when it's done right, and this is certainly done right. This work was commissioned by an arts council after winning a very competitive grant and if anything, it sounds like envelope pushing jazz that might have come from the minds of Shorty Rogers or Jimmy Guiffre when they were making off the clock music that resonated even when it didn't fit the format. It doesn't sound like arts council music. With it's classical and chamber music leanings, it goes far a field from general expectations but it keeps you riveted throughout. Almost like a musical version of the art house movie you weren't sure you were going to like but wound up raving about to anyone that would listen, this set invites you to sit down, shut up and be dazzled by all it has on the ball. Detrick and his crew can win any cut throat competition any place, any time. Killer stuff.

NELDA SWIGGETT STRINGTET/Blue Eyed Painted Lady: A jazzbo trio mixes it up with a couple of local (Seattle) classical luminaries for a rolling thunder of a set that smokes along mightily with elements of pop and progressive rock in it's grooves as well as it's jazz base. Delightfully left of center, this is a fearless set that pushes boundaries and keeps on going. Smart stuff for smart listeners that like music that really takes them places.

DOMINIC J MARSHALL TRIO/Spirit Speech: Sitting down jazz piano trio work from a tyro that's showing how he's maturing right in the public eye without a trace a self consciousness. Smoking stuff that doesn't live up to the hippie vibe you might think the title is throwing off. Solid stuff that takes it's roots and heritage seriously with an ear cocked toward the future, Marshall and his pals play like a crew that's here to stay. Very much a contemporary jazz winner throughout.

Volume 38/Number 134
March 14, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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