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WILLIE WATSON/Folk Singer V. 1: The advance cd came with no info on this artist so I can't tell if he's a sincere recidivist folkie or a very sophisticated and elaborate pomo joke. I'd like to go with sincere. With a nasal, folk music scare voice leading the way, Watson tackles Leadbelly, Utah Phillips, John Herald and the rest of the bunch that first got clean cut, post war suburban kids smoking pot. Which ever way this cat is pointed to, it's a fun retro folkie set whether it's winking at you or not. Check it out.

SPORTIELLO METZ PARROTT/It's a Good Day: And we say it with love when we say Mat Domber lives. This set is the perfect example of what Arbors does, and has always done, so well. With a trio of Arbors all stars making up this trio, the simpatico they've shown each other in the past in various groupings, including a past set with this one, is pure straight ahead heaven. With some adventurous and inventive song choices on board passing over the usual suspect old hats, this piano trio delivers the goods with all due haste and dispatch. A killer set for ears looking for a mainstream, sophisticated set that doesn't miss a beat or drop a false note. Well done.

RIK WRIGHT'S FUNDAMENTAL FORCES/Blue: With a vibe that harkens back to when the line between jazz/rock became extremely blurred, Wright's debut for this crew takes you back to when head music was the vibe that counted when the riffs began to fly. A solid left leaning jazz date where the influences and modes flow freely, Wright can fool you into thinking world one minute, rock the next, a touch of new age and back to the core of jazz---where there is no fooling around. Nicely done, this set has a nice magic that works throughout.

SARA SERPA & ANDRE MATOS/Primavera: Blurring the line between home and office, these married jazzbos bring their voice and guitar to the office to turn out a set that feels like Spring with a heavy dose of Brazilian vibe in the mix. They achieved their stated goal of making this sound like Spring quite handily. A free thinking release that never rolls off the rails with creativity for the sake of preciousness, the simpatico this couple brings to the table works well when it hits the bytes. If you dig vocalese, you can't afford to pass this set by. While genre fans might appreciate it the most, anyone looking for something out of the ordinary that doesn't require any head scratching to get should have a good time here.

JEREMY WILMS/Diamond People: Admirably busy as a no shit, Sherlock, really working musician, Wilms hasn't had time to focus on his own career under his own name as he's literally and virtually played everything with everyone since landing in New York in the 90s. While there are many facets to his solo side to be explored, Wilms kicks it off here with his jazzbo side at the fore with his guitar leading the charge. Straight ahead stuff where he steps aside often and generously enough to give everyone on board some, this set shows that it's well overdue that Wilms put his name out front and center. Solid stuff you certainly want to hear once you're off the clock for the day and need the proper lubricant to shift gears. Check it out.

ANI CORDERO/Recordar: It looks like one of the by products of the Occupy movement is the resurgence of protest music, but not from college campuses. With a pretty stellar cast backing her up, Cordero's album of Latin American songs of love and protest is pretty heady stuff on all fronts. Focusing on songs from the 30s through the 70s kicking it off with one by Victor Jara, even if you don't speak the language, you wouldn't mistake this for a set by Vikki Carr. Loaded with fire and passion, this set can't pass as gringo party music, it's more like Joan Baez showing her roots. A dandy ear opener that offers something different on a lot of levels that's well worth your time, this set is one of those ones that show what you can do with Kickstarter when you really set your mind to it.

KEITH DAVIS TRIO/Still: Apparently the title refers to the jazz piano man still being who he is after 30 years of pounding the keys as opposed to calm and quiet--even if the cover pic makes you think otherwise. A solid, straight ahead piano trio recording, Davis has been a pro over 30 years and currently has a day gig teaching at the university, but it's clear he doesn't let classroom theory reign him in. Who knew so much solid 52nd St jazz was hiding out in Greenville, SC? This recording might be loaded with a ton of Davis' personal moments, but he opens the door wide enough for everyone to share. Solid stuff that works throughout.

SAM BOSHNACK QUINTET/Exploding Syndrome: In which we find Seattle's jazz trumpet ace stepping away from her role as leader of B'shnorkestra and debuting her quintet, this set shows that she might have gotten her jazz education at Bard but heading off for Seattle instead of downtown gives her music a different flavor. Loaded with the kind of switchbacks you find in 70s era Carla Bley works, Boshnack's unconventionality gives left leaning and progressive jazz new voicings that work well. Proving she has it on the ball to be a triple threat as a writer/player/leader, Boshnack is easily the poster girl for solid, nu modern jazz. This is a wonderful ride through not too distant left field. Check it out.

SEAN CHEN/La Valse: A piano tyro with as much personality as talent, this 25 year old award winner makes his label debut showing his love for pre WWI classical music when world tensions and generational tensions were tearing at the fabric of known classical music forcing it to change with the times. With young people like Chen coming into the tent with so much skill, it bodes well for listeners bored with what they know to enter the classical tent with him and get turned on to new, hidden musical treasures. A killer of a solo recital, Chen sounds like he's here to stay and we should all be glad. It might strike you as a Sunday afternoon chamber recording at first blush but be sure to stick around for the second blush. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 146
March 26, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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