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D.J. SPARR/21207: In which we find arts council money being put to good use. A guitarist making his first foray into contemporary classical music, Sparr is on the money throughout with is choice of players and original works. Far from being pots and pans music, this is a delightful chamber work featuring compositions Sparr has written over the last 15 years. Sterling Sunday afternoon listening that's appropriate anytime at all, this is a new, genre defining high water mark that follows in the footsteps of the greats without dipping heavily into homage (wink). Newbies and vets are sure to boast big grins when checking this winning set out. Well done.

DAVID MICHAEL MILLER/Poisons Sipped: White boys with gospel backgrounds get the shredding guitar blues in Buffalo, probably because it's so cold so much of the year. Stuff like this brings the heat. Highly amped up electric blues rock, this set plays out like he's got a pack of Cerberuses on his tail. Pure high power headbang without mythic pretensions, this is the sound raging young hormones require until the can find release in other ways. Hot stuff.

GATO LIBRE/DuDu: And the band carries on after the death of a founding member that had the remaining members wondering what to do. So, think about Herb Alpert not wanting to make commercial records and hooking up with Astor Piazzolla for a set of Carla Bley arrangements of her own back catalog from the early 70s. That's what this feels like. Adventurous stuff for the firmly left leaning tastes that want progressive stuff without compromise, as wild as the descriptor sounds, this is Gato Libre's most accessible date yet. The world keeps turning in weird ways, huh?

SATOKO FUJII ORCHESTRA NEW YORK/Shiki: Under the assumption of one of her many guises, Fujii turns the clock back to the time when a bunch of 60s jazzbos found that ohm chord as they journeyed to the center of their navels. While this work instrumentally celebrates the life cycle, 70s ears might think the only thing missing here is some chanting by Sri Chinmoy. If you liked the stuff when cats like Paul Horn let their freak flags fly, you'll get this the next time you fire one up. Not exactly space is the place music, it's pretty far out there nonetheless.

DAVID WEISS/When Words Fail: The trumpeter, a musical spark plug in the big apple, got the old gang back together after a ten year lay off to propel the feelings of loss surrounding him out of the realm and back into the far reaches where they belong. A sharp, clear, well recorded set, Weiss calls upon his horn to be the exorcist and he's out front, playing like someone trying to beat the devil. A perfect example of how something beautiful can come out of pain, jazzbos needing the wax blown out of their ears with revel in this high octane outing that really delivers the goods. Well done.

WALT WEISKOPF/Overdrive: Delightful. A modern day cat that can deliver the daddio without the pretension. A driving, swinging straight ahead sax led session, this cat can blow and wail up a storm of late night oomph that makes you wonder where all the energy comes from. The back up crew is right in step making this a winner throughout. By all means, check it out.

ITAMAR BOROCHOV QUARTET/Outset: Once again we come across a cat that can embrace the tradition without using it as a crutch and beating it to death. Sounding very much like Miles in his pre-fusion 60s world beat stage, this trumpeter approaches things from a different angle. Raised in Jaffa with an affinity for Arab and Pan-African sensibilities, this sounds like Miles might have if he actually recorded in the souks with indigenous cats while keeping one foot on US soil. Compelling, interesting stuff that resides firmly in it's own time zone, this is grandly innovative stuff that isn't envelope pushing just for the sake of it. This is a young lion you better pay attention to. Well done.

ANDREW RATHBUN/Numbers & Letters: The sax man may have exiled himself from Brooklyn to the wilds of Michigan to teach but he hasn't lost his swing or daddio sensibilities. A swinging, modern jazz date with roots in the post bop early 60s, Rathbun takes you on a righteous trip that's always interesting and compelling. High octane stuff supported by a bunch that knows the right moves, this is a solid set that finds it's way to coolsville by bringing the heat. Check it out.

Volume 38/Number 203
May 21, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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