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WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Travel Notes: University orchestras are like college football, the players are only going to be there a short time and really have only a year or two to shine. Yet, somehow, a few universities know how to keep it cohesive throughout the rolling changes and build reliable brands. This university is one of them. This band knows how to stretch out, wisely rely on tunes by John Clayton and show they know how to rival Lab Band, the young Germans and all other comers trying to leave a mark. Killer stuff freed from commercial considerations that still plays it straight and hits it out of the park without breaking a sweat. Hot stuff that just doesn't let you down.

DOWNING LEWIS OCCHIPINTI/BRISTLES: Canuck improvisers that have been jazzing it up together since 2009 issue their first as a crew. Nicely in the pocket stuff where they flex their muscles on an equal number of originals and covers, it's sweet left of center stuff improv jazzbos will dig.
GREGORY PORTER-DONALD SMITH-MANSUR SCOTT/Great Voices of Harlem: So it takes one of the biggest publishing companies in the world, located across the pond, until their recent buy out, to come out with some great indigenous American music. They don't even have the publishing on this stuff and they're making records we should be making. This is worse than all the outsourcing to China! Three heritage vocalists kick it out on legacy tunes with backing from some jazzbos that are playing this like they have been at it all their lives with no ennui set in. You probably haven't heard this glorious a version of "Moanin'" since before the song became a shadow of itself. And that's just the beginning. Just when you were wondering where Norman Granz and Alfred Lion were just when you needed them, their spirits are alive here and smiling. Simply kick ass vocals and playing where everyone gets the rightful opportunity to shine, this set is a high octane winner throughout.

TIM SLAGLE/Evolution-Best of Slagle V. 1: Take Eddie Pepitone out of New York, change his ethnicity and turn him loose on his second album in 30 years, dubbed a best of, and you have Uncle Tim apparently cleaning out his drawers and getting ready for the next 30 years of wild, left of center observations. A hardened road warrior that knows how to get the laugh, if you'd rather laugh with about 200 other people around you than a stadium that makes it hard to hear, Slagle is right up your alley. The jokes, the timing, the vibes, it'll all have your sides aching.

SCOTT SHACHTER/Outside In: So what happens when a long time Broadway sax man decides to write a ‘jazz novel"? He comes in with a music related story worthy of Kinky Friedman during his legendary run. Shachter's protagonist has an unconventional muse, wacky neighbors and makes uncommercial music that he know will keep the love of his life away. Is this why so many old school jazzbos were junkies? A great summer read in time for summer for anyone that wants some well done, unconventional story telling sure to make them wonder when the next in this series will come around. This is a totally cool book that explores madness in a new way.

Volume 38/Number 246
July 3, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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