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VOLGA/Kumushki Pjut: When Communism ended and the wall fell, we were inundated with Russian and eastern European bands that were trying to rock but had bad haircuts and lyrics that didn't quite hit the mark. Now we find alt has landed deeply in Russia. Doing their own version of mix mastering, which includes parsing 1,000 year old folk songs into the mix, the Russians sound as punk rock as any of our most pissed off teenagers. This mélange music reflects that. The Russian population in America is probably big enough that Russian youth could support this release and the band could do quite well for themselves without even a second thought of crossing over. Hell, the title of this record means ‘gossiping ladies having a drink'. Well, matey, the world continues to get smaller and beats seems to be a major force in uniting the young.

JEREMY MANASIA/Pixel Queen: Coming into jazz piano long after the original daddio era passed, Manasia is a former tyro that stuck with it. Steeped in daddio piano jazz without hipster affectation, Manasia and pals hit that groove the cool piano trios hit back in the day--particularly when the record label chiefs let them do an off the clock record and they really got to swing. This is tasty, super stuff that any fan of classic piano jazz is just going to flip for. Well done.

WESTERN JAZZ QUARTET/Freefall: Four teachers from the music department at Western Michigan University don't let geography hold them back. They can swing and they can do arts council music and they do it with the kind of aplomb you generally associate with jazz from the coasts. Coming with a set of all originals, these cats, who make up the latest edition of this squad, might play for those with egghead leanings, but they play for anyone who likes sitting jazz and is willing to sit still for some tony stuff.

JERRY VIVINO/Back East: Giving him the kind of freedom and security it would take a Pete Christlieb to explain to you, Vivino's sax has been part of Conan's show band for 20 years and it really lets him explore jazz. However, he's a New Yorker and the one thing a secure west coast job doesn't give him is New York---until he gets to take his busman's holidays. This set is as New York as 52nd Street and it's a real breath of fresh air in a vastly polluted world. Not trying to be retro or nuevo, Vivino is just kicking it the way he feels it, and you're going to feel it too. Killer stuff.

JIM GAFIGAN/Obsession: You know you've made it when Comedy Central sells your cd and DVD separately instead of in their super combo packs. I was late to the Gaffigan party because of sensory overload. I mistook his clean comic thing for Jesus comic thing what with his graphics and look and all. Wrong! He is a clean comic and can do an hour on food, household products, going to Victoria's Secret and not acting turned on and a bunch of stuff that shouldn't be funny, but is in his hands. Substantially the same as his concurrent cd from the same special this sprung from, the visuals add something to those that want to sit back and be entertained as opposed to those that can multitask humor and other things. This guy brings the mainstream laughs in fine style and know his stuff. Fun times.
80677 (available in dvd and blu-ray)

Volume 38/Number 170
April 19, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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