BILL COTE/Where Do You Start: There's been enough lawyers that have done a lot for jazz in the trenches, not just as managers or representatives, that we don't hold it against lawyers for getting in the studio when playing hooky from their day jobs. We'd hate to be the one to throw cold water on the aspirations of the next Mat Domber. Cote comes in on the other side of the glass. A chance meeting with Tamir Hendelman led to catching his dream of letting his jazz vocal side out. How does he do? He leads with the kind of resonant, clear phrasing that lands him somewhere between Matt Monro and Billy Eckstine and certainly acquits himself quite nicely as a balladeer. He breaks up the mood with some uptempo stuff that he's well suited to as well. With Hendelman and his hand picked pals in the room and on point, there's nothing left to chance. All told, it's a nicely unexpected jazz vocal treat from one of those rare birds these days, the male jazz vocalist.
KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD BAND/Goin' Home: 20 years in and not yet 40 years old, Shepherd is feeling old enough to retrace his steps and get back to his roots. An oldies album of the oldies that first inspired him as a tyro, Shepherd snuck off during some down time to set up this heartfelt collection that is loaded with that off the clock/after hours vibe that connects with real fans and aficionados. Just because he kept is simple doesn't mean he had a do not disturb sign on the studio door as a look at the stellar guests/admirers will attest. It's a personal good time record but the good times really roll from this Louisiana recording outpost once they get rolling. Nicely done.
CHRISTOS DC/Long Road: Don't all Greek kids growing up in Chocolate City turn into reggae freaks that work with some of the crème of the crop as well as other cultural ransackers? Such is the case here. Want some credible white reggae from a cat that brings the passion to the fore as well as his work? He skanks wid da best of dem so get flat and enjoy the vibe.
JEREMY FOX/With Love: We give a lot of lip service to the golden days of the great arrangers, but what are we doing about it? Fox comes in with a novel concept. He wrote arrangements for his fave jazz singers, then called them up and got them to show up at the studio to front his personalized works for them. With a day job as a well decorated educator giving him the security to do what he wants when school is out, he's kind of like the Crash Davis of jazz vocalists---except he's gotten more than a cup of coffee in the show along the way. He well recognized out of the classroom as well. With real jazz chops to spare, this omnibus session with generous loads of different flavors dripping off the side of the cone, really opens the ears and puts smiles on the faces of the jazz vocal fan---especially the ones that want to hear the ladies do something other than the usual chestnuts with the usual contemporary, commercial casings. Killer stuff on so many levels, this might seem out of the ordinary today but stuff like this should be closer to the norm than it is. A winner throughout.
JOSH HOYER & THE SHADOWBOXERS: Kansas City, ok, but I never thought of Lincoln, Nebraska as a blues center. Proved wrong once again. This aggregation of local white boys and girls know how to deliver the goods in classic show band fashion. Track after track they show they know how to shake it and not break it. Basically, the hottest local cats and kitties have huddled around the fire together. Instead of competing against each other, they all bring their A games to the core and come out with the kind of soul/blues/R&B/rock that would make 1950s Ike Turner smile as he was plotting his future. Killer stuff that offers a great surprise to anyone not in the greater Omaha area. Check it out.
ORAN ETKIN/Gathering Light: A world traveled jazzbo that ain't afraid to let some world beat sink into his jazz, this multi-instrumentalist knows how to blow up a storm on his wind instruments to good effect. Not only knowing the right notes, he knows the right people who all show up here to lend a hand and help with the navigation. Some of it sounds old timey and some it sounds like it's from tomorrow but all of it sounds good. Daddio without being hipster, this is solid, fun jazz that veers toward left field but never comes up against the warning track. A fun listen throughout.
RODNEY CROWELL/Tarpaper Sky: Crowell has won every award and honor there is, and a few that most people don't even think exist, and after more than 40 years in, the thoroughbred has reared back and found the steam to power a resurgence that kicked off last year and remains going strong here. Hot on the heels or successfully reuniting with Emmylou Harris, Crowell gets his 1988 "Diamonds and Dirt" band back together proving once again that they just don't make ‘em the way they used to anymore. After a long Diaspora, Crowell is a major label artist once again--and this time around he can show the young ‘uns how it's done. Killer stuff by a master that's back in top form.
KENNY ‘BLUES BOSS' WAYNE/Rollin' With the Blues Boss: The piano boogie ace hasn't been getting all those recent awards and recognition because he's a revivalist. Sure, he might revere the masters from Johnnie Johnson to Amos Milburn, but he brings something new to the table---again and again. A pure entertainer that doesn't want to send any message other than letting the good times roll, even when he's lyrically deep into the blues, his playing and vibe is the rope to pull him and you out of the depths. A showman that never makes it feel artificial, expect the praise for his new one to start flying right...about...now. Hot stuff throughout.
ANDREW HADRO/For Us, The Living: First class sitting down jazz by a rising sax man that likes to go deep and serve up music that makes you think and feel. Really, how many jazzbos have been giving you impressionistic takes on the Gettysburg Address? Told you we're talking deep. Matt Wilson's on board, Maria Schneider's in the song stack and high octane serious stuff reigns supreme. Even eggheads need some delight once in a while. Taught by Junior Mance himself, Hadro is no jazz tourist looking for some jollies on his way to his day job.
Volume 38/Number 156
April 5, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record
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