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JUA/Colors of Life: This jazz vocalist was realist enough to see that artist development and apprenticeship were things of the past and ‘invested in his own brand' enough to come up with an interesting debut. Realizing he wasn't too cool for school, especially when receiving the school's first Mark Murphy Scholarship, he went back to refine under the aegis of some jazz masters. Changing direction upon graduation, Jua now finds himself with a dandy case of sophomore jinx repellant with this this breezy, deceptively simple second outing. Assimilating SoCal jazz as much as an NC cat can, he's now firmly exploring the pocket of the great male jazz vocalists of the past. With elements of everyone from Joe Williams to Al Jarreau on board, this is smoking stuff throughout. A tasty ear opener that's really firing on all eight.

ALAN CHAN JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Shrimp Tale: A classical pianist bitten by the big band bug and already being one of those spunky Asians with the kind of can do attitude that drives them to be better than everyone else is the spark plug behind this hand picked crew of west coast jazzbos that turn in a sound that can stand toe to toe with any of the classic west coast big band jazz that still stands up solidly today. With a case of old-school-but-really-not, Chan has got it way too together turning in a not to be missed session that is always cooking. Hot stuff that goes above and beyond, he knows how to craft a first class, must hear date. Well done

ELLYNNE REY/A Little Bit of Moonlight: The funny thing about today's crop of ladies of a certain age is that when they dip into the song bag for songs they grew up with, it takes on a different meaning. These are the songs they grew up on hearing them in their parent's rec room when the soundtracks were new and still ruling the charts and the pop standards were the ones the parents grew up and hadn't let go of yet. With some first class New York jazzbos in tow, the setting is right and the performances shine appropriately. Not just another romp through the chestnuts, Rey delivers the goods in the kind of tour de force that makes it all worth while again and again. Well done and a solid treat for jazz vocal fans.

CASCADA de FLORES/Radio Flor: What do you think? Only gringos can do the retro-nuevo refashioning of the stuff they loved growing up that reflects their heritage? This Mexican crew does a mighty job of digging into their heritage and bringing back those evenings the family gathered around the radio into such sharp focus that even gringos will want to run out for a case of Jarritos and Mexican Coca Cola. Listen to this and know where Leonard Cohen got his "Dance Me to the End of Love" vibe from---it wasn't eastern Europe. Listening to this is like walking across the border at Matamoros and stepping back into the 30s as you walk the narrow streets away from the downtown. Hot stuff throughout that'll just blow you away.

JASON PAUL CURTIS/Faux Bourgeois Café: As much as we dug his debut, the Brel inspired title and the cover of the "Godfather" helped move this to the top of our listening pile faster than anything. Happy to report this ‘summer' album shows the singing trumpeter's debut was no fluke and now stands as more than a happy discovery accident from an unexpected place. Handily falling somewhere in that sweet spot triangulated by Michael Franks, Mark Murphy and that cool café in your mind, Curtis's originals take you to someplace you are sure you know but probably only know from dreams. The kind of stuff that has a familiar originality that really draws you in, this is a must male jazz vocal date for everyone that's bitching about how hard it is to find something new and cool. Check it out.

JEFFERSON ROSE BAND/Feel Like Dancing: Looking for some world beat for gringos that isn't work to listen to but doesn't sound jive or like vacation music either? This Seattle based bunch with loads of frequent flyer miles under their belts serves up world beat party music like the stuff in "Romancing the Stone" when they were playing the up beat stuff. A set that makes you smile and can make the armchair traveler bounce in his seat, this is the kind of set you are looking for when you want something new that feels new and hits you right in the right spot. Tasty stuff by a bunch of up and coming pros that know the ropes and won't let you down. A winner throughout.

INDIGO MIST/That the Days Go By and Never Come Again: Ok, so the improviser and the academic get together for a tribute to Ellington/Strayhorn but only cover four of their songs in the program of ten and a lot of it sounds like a fun house ride through hell. Are we getting too old to appreciate the avant garde?

THORBJORN RISAGER & the Black Tornado/Too Many Roads: Ruf has done a fine job of establishing itself as the ex-patriot home away form home for American blues acts that need a home away from home, but with this release, it's taking a more indigenous, closer to home look at the blues. This release shines a light on a Danish blues singer that looks like Sinatra but tears it up like Waters. Pulling a rollicking spin on post war industrial/electric blues, he's more of an Austin howler than a west side cat and he's a hard traveling Euro road warrior. The sound is a giddy mixmaster of all kinds of regional blues along side 60's purloined Brit blues/rock where can you can hear as much ZZ Top as you can Led Zep in the mix. Wild stuff that charts the electric blues road to tomorrow in fine style.

Volume 38/Number 239
June 26, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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