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ALLISON ADAMS TUCKER/April in Paris: Hooking up a bunch of SoCal jazzbos that know how to playing summery jazz with a Brazilian undercurrent vibe, this crisp set does a really fine job of showcasing jazz vocalist Adams who is one thrush who knows how to swing. Honoring the chestnuts but roasting them in a way that delightfully adds her own special sauce, going so far to include one of the first new Brel covers we've heard in a long time and moving it off the dime from it's original Flemish to Italian. An adventurous singer that isn't shy about leaving her own stamp on the proceedings, this is a real treat for jazz vocal fans looking for an energetic romp from a top shelf pro. Hot stuff.

COLLEEN RENNISON/See the Sky About the Rain: Talk about a change of pace. A hard driving, 25 year old Canuck rocker decides to hit the back catalog of fellow travelers like Young, Cohen, Robertson as well as Americana others like Booker T., Van Zandt and more, adds a solid dose of southern, white soul and the result is a real bag breaker. Making these well worn covers her own throughout, producer Steve Dawson brings the Muscle Shoals to the frozen north with great aplomb complimenting and showcasing the heart felt vocals that make you give this an audio va va va voom! A killer ‘Americana' set that's organic throughout and hits all the high notes there are along the way. Hell, this is like the Americana version of a jazz diva date digging into the great American songbag. Well done throughout.

HELLMULLER SISERA RENOLD/Roots: Amazing. There's no piano here but these three Swiss jazzbos have captured the vibe of a Jarrett trio ECM date where they tackle the oldies with their own special sauce. With Jarrett and his pals all well passed the age of collecting social security, it's reassuring there's a crew ready to pick up where they might leave off and carry on in fine form---even without the piano! Completely tasty and always a treat, this is a fine example of how to lead rather than copy cat. Check it out.

JOSCHA ARNOLD QUINTET/Twist: A young sax man with the soul of a big band leader, Arnold charts his trajectory with his debut recording showing that he plans on being here for quite a while. A mature, professional work that has room for soul, this date gives everyone some and the result is a high water mark for sitting down/listening jazz. Solid stuff throughout, Arnold may veer toward egghead jazz at times but there's loads of swing in his soul. Quite the auspicious debut.

PAUL MARINARO/Without a Song: For the past so many seasons, male jazz vocalists have been few and far between, often veering closer to the cabaret line than not. The son of a would be singer (who's DIY 78 rpm introduces this set) quite organically places himself in the mainstream, finger popping daddio cool of Bobby Darin and the Rat Pack without leaning at all on ‘homage' (cough, cough) or finding himself swinging from the manquéy bars (insert smiley face here, that was a good one). It sounds like a pretty brazen claim, but Marinaro is one of the coolest cats to come this way since Mark Murphy. With a solid voice, a cool attitude and a swinging swagger that doesn't quit even on ballads, this is a shining example of male jazz vocal at the top of it's game. A winner throughout that'll leave you glad to hear these classics yet again.

TRINITY RIVER BAND/Better than Blue: If you aren't familiar with this family bluegrass/country band, you better expand your horizons. They have it going on so well that they have endorsements on everything down to their picks and instrument straps. Fear not, the sound lives up to all expectations. The playing and the vibe acknowledge that in contemporary times, there's a life beyond the Walmart parking lot for organic music but this set has it's soul and core in tact. Not exactly fitting the traditional parameters of the broad country format, satellite and internet radio can bring these fine back porch sounds to all the far corners it deserves. Simply a gorgeous set of organic Americana music that will become best pals with the music playback device of your choice in no time flat. Killer stuff.

RONNIE EARL and the Broadcasters/Good News: Fresh off another win at the Blues Music Awards for best guitarist, the Stratocaster master and his pals are up to their old tricks--shredding, blazing, bending notes and sharing the joy that fast phalanges can fill a room with time and time again. His eighth tasty romp for the label, Earl show no sign of slowing down after all these years and all these miles making adult music for discerning tastes that are more concerned with it coming from the heart than a demographic study. Hot stuff throughout, as always.

SWING SET WITH ALEX COOK/Casino Music: First off, Cook and pals deserve points for not coming off as a bunch of JAFO JAMFs as it's a lot easier to come off as Bill Murray's lounge singer than not when trying to recreate Vegas show lounge music. Hell, if you aren't Louis Prima, that genre has plenty of room for self parody that can make anyone fall on their face. While the genre has a lot of room for mockery, those that love it know how to bring the love and get listeners to feel it. We'd come out and see this bunch anytime, they play it for real. This bunch might be from DC but they have enough juice to drive the young douche bags out of Vegas and restore the real luster. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 205
May 23, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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