DANNY FOX TRIO/Wide Eyed: Still not sounding like your father's jazz piano trio, Fox and pals keep taking chances that sometimes have you scratching your head and sometimes have you falling right in line. Not jazz for eggheads but challenging nonetheless, this might well be the sound of the church basement of tomorrow, today.
WHAT MOON THINGS: Ah Jeez, your pop thought Leonard Cohen made music to kill yourself by, huh? These dreamo kids take everything about shoegaze and emo that makes you want to drink Drano and puts it all in the mixmaster. With real studio cats on the other side of the glass keeping an eye on things, this is professionally crafted music to kill yourself by. Of course, if you really wanted to take the dirt nap, you really don't need a soundtrack---but this should help ease the razor blade into your wrist with very little effort.
IN + OUT
ZZ QUARTET/Beyond the Lines: The Euro jazzbos return for their third set under this name a bring a Euro chip on their shoulders as well. They don't want to go forward just being thought of a jazz in the American sense---they want to be seen as musical adventurers that add stuff from everywhere. Mash up is the future, huh? You can hear jazz, tango, Django and more--all of it right on sounds. Loose the chip on your shoulder. Forget about marketing, focus on the music. That's what you do best. Rhetoric aside, this is a delightful wild ride from cats that want to admirably push the limits and they are at their most hypnotic when their vision of fusion is to fuse the past with the future. Not really malcontent jazz, this is a nu sort of world fusion that has some really cool things going. Well worth checking out if you appreciate softer jazz/rock that has some real edges. This could easily become one of your left field faves.
KRIS ADAMS/Longing: Not your usual fine voiced jazz thrush, Adams wraps her throat around the Great American songbook her way. That means she's covering Steve Swallow, Ralph Towner, Abbey Lincoln and more that might just well be new to younger ears. Singing words as well as vocalese, her music almost comes across like a one woman playlet without the tortured artist effect in it's wake. Delightfully ear opening stuff, Adams is loaded with the chops that make her stand out as can be heard on a stand out release like this. A winner throughout, try not to miss it because it'll be your loss.
KROM: After a debut record produced by Arturo O'Farrill under a slightly different name, the crew comes back with their new debut and a change in their sound. The first time around, they gathered recognition, but now, they want to blaze new trails and see where it gets them. The sound feels a little more amped up but this doesn't go into the territory of jazz/rock or even Bad Plus. Fans of the piano man here needn't worry, he hasn't abandoned them, he's just made his sound more angular and modern. Tasty stuff regardless, this is contemporary sounds for newer ears that might still be a little wet in the behind areas. This set is certainly a capable guide into the tent for jazz newbies that don't want to digest mash ups.
KATHLEEN GRACE/No Place to Fall: Get over it boomers, these youngbloods can put covers of Tom Waits right next to covers of Meat Puppets and make it work. Finding her voice shifting from jazz to roots, Grace navigates the course change with more than a touch of grace and a lot of deft steering. Putting Townes Van Zandt right in there with Duke Ellington, Grace and her first call LA troupe find the sweet spot to create an engaging session that colors so far outside the lines you know it isn't even thinking about the lines. Solid stuff for those looking for out of the ordinary without dipping their toes in malcontent waters.
RACHELLE COBA/Mother Blues: And here we find a new blues mama working her way through the new apprentice system honing her chops as she goes. A classical guitarist that switched sides when she felt the hormones raging, she's been working her way through the blues cruises, the side gigs with heavy weights including being music director for Matt Murphy and anything else bluesy that can move her forward. She's got everything except the heroin tinged raspy throat. With so much other stuff going on, including a love and passion for guitar based blues, we'll deal with this dose of ‘suburban' blues nicely, thank you. All that and she does a blistering job of original writing as well. Following in the footsteps of the white boys that have been perfecting rocking blues as a show, Coba's got our vote for giving the best bang for your entertainment buck. This is a first class snapshot of an ace on the rise.
OMAR HAKIM EXPERIENCE/We Are One: This is only Hakim's third solo album in 30 years because HE'S SUCH A BAD MUTHA NOBODY WILL LEAVE HIM ALONE LONG ENOUGH TO LAY DOWN HIS OWN TRACKS FOR HIS OWN STUFF!!! You couldn't be faulted for thinking that after playing everything for everybody in every style and genre he'd have nothing left to say, but you should be faulted---and hit with a brick. With more fusion and funk that you might expect, Hakim is the pro's pro proving that by not delivering a single genre cliché anywhere in the mix. A highly ambitious set, there's so much going on here that you should sit down to take it all in. Killer stuff that just doesn't quit and will have you impatiently awaiting album four. Check it out.
HANNAH ALDRIDGE/Razor Wire: And this album is the proof that when kids that have learned well go into the family business and bring a new vision to the fore, things happen. The daughter of Muscle Shoals/Nashville royalty, Aldridge absorbed the music her parents brought as well as a heaping helping of southern Gothic, the tide of the times and a vat of special sauce of her own making that was made in a vacuum while looking out a picture window and taking it all in. A hard rocking, hard living album, this is the kind of stuff you'd expect from Hank Williams, Jr's daughters, not Walt Aldridge's. Calling her a rocking singer/songwriter doesn't fill you in enough on what's going on here. This album has serious edge and is as deep into human emotions as you can get without wielding a backhoe. The most striking thing about this set is that it's not an upbeat session by any means but it's not a fount of down mouth kvetching that has you turning it off by the 3rd track screaming ‘enough already'. Aldridge has the goods and knows how to bring them. Killer stuff.
Volume 38/Number 158
April 7, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record
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