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JOHN CHIN/Undercover: Wonder how it would sound if Jarrett kept up his chops but didn't sound like he took himself so seriously? Chin has found that sweet spot. An improv inspired pianist, Chin adds whimsy to his arsenal. Whether tackling chestnut or original, he has that grabber going on for him that takes you along for his ride even when you might not be sure you want to go---at first. Wild, wily nu piano work that you don't have to have nu ears to appreciate, just open ears. Hot stuff.

ROB GARCIA 4/Passion of Color: Sideman to both Wynton Marsalis and Woody Allen, with many stops in between, one of the prime movers of the current New York jazz scene indulges his passion for impressionism, whether audio or visual, and turns it all into grand audio here. A drummer that writes ‘em as well as he plays ‘em, Garcia captures the spirit of impressionism, brings it to jazz without layering the art jazz on top too heavily and delivers a thinking man's jazz set that raises the bar for sitting down jazz. Hell, there's so much busy-ness going on here that your foot will get an aerobic workout from bouncing around so much. The backing crew is fully engaged and on board meaning a good time will be had by all. Hot stuff with a lot going on.

GIANNI GAGLIARDI/Nomadic Nature: The musical version of a high tech bum, Gagliardi has been on the move for years in search of the perfect chord. Here we find the sax man making his over due debut as a leader and not wasting a second of it. A real barn burner of a date, this wanderer isn't afraid to color outside the lines and open the eyes as well as the ears. He may stray too far to ever be a household name but hipper households will always have his name on the tips of their tongues. Well done.

DARREN BARRETT dB QUINTET/Live and Direct 2014: In which we find the undisputed proof this former tyro was indelibly influenced by Miles at an early age. Kicking it out Miles style without being an homage or tribute, Barrett is in full command of his own voice and charts new trails from the point where the old one ended. A must for the turn of the 60s jazzbo that doesn't feel a need to give it up, this is smashing set that delivers in fine and high style. Real jazz for real jazz ears throughout, this was recorded live in the studio with little room for error. Well done.

DARREN BARRETT ENERGY IN MOTION/Music of the Bee Gees: In which we find a set of the tyro giving back as he mentors a bunch of students from his alma mater and helps them find their voices as well. Tackling the Bee Gees might be a jive move in the ears of the jazzbo listener, but it's a starting point everyone can recognize and it gives the non jazzbo a reason to come into the tent. All is well and all visions are well acquitted. While Barrett shows a different side from his driving quintet side, nothing is lost and the trumpeter's versatility shows he's much more than a legend in his own mind---which passes through too many times in today's marketplace. Scoff if you must but this is no gift shop collection.

PETER VAN ZANDT LANE/Hackpolitik: Huh? When did Gay Fawkes go Goth and get into progressive music? Actually, the cover pic aside, if you want to talk about being cutting edge, how about an electro acoustic sound track to a ballet about Anonymous and LulzSec? The music sounds something like Bernstein would have done if he were doing it today. Wild and left leaning but not as out there as you might imagine, certainly this is progressive music in the jazz/classical vein but there's something lasting about it that you feel will toss it into the future for future generations. Not at all pots and pans music, this could even take root and thrive in the suburbs--but up market ones. A solid bet for the adventurous looking for something that's on the money in concept and execution.

PHILIP BLACKBURN/Music of the Shadows: When you are recording in a sewer to freak out people passing by with the sound emanating there from, there's no doubt you are talking about arts council music. Steampunk meets classical in an experimental explosion for the ears on this outing. And now you have a better understanding of what "Metal Machine Music" could have been if it was more than Lou Reed telling RCA to bugger off.

FORREST McDONALD BAND/Turnaround Blues: Here's the reason behind a load of records you loved that never sold and had you wondering why. This vet of the Muscle Shoals service has been picking guitar of every kind for the last 50 years and added the special sauce that made that record your record because the expertise kept your head in the mix. With nothing to prove and having his name out front, McDonald let's rip with some classic sounding blues rock that genre spliced within the genre for a really heady brew. This is the real deal throughout with no dust on it. Well done. Oh yeah, he did play on one or two records you know that are stone classics as well---and that's where the non musos know his sound and vibe from.

Volume 38/Number 219
June 6, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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