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VINCENT LYN/Live in New York City: I love this guy's bio. Do yourself a favor and Google it. And you might as well stream some of his piano jazz in the background as well. To prove what a bad ass he is, he's only half Asian and he screws up the curve so hard that slackers can't even waste the energy being pissed off. A combination of that killer guy you didn't expect to be playing at the hotel bar and Vladimir Horowitz overdosing on jazz, Lyn recorded this at Carnegie Hall and wrapped it all together with an Oriental take on Mucha art. You like piano quartet music that goes way beyond the pale? This is the real deal. Well done throughout.

GARY GRAY/Shades of Gray: After three classical albums and over 1,000 film and TV scores, Gray decides to shake it up a bit with one of those albums that just doesn't fit the format and doesn't have to. Sure to spur the is classical or is it jazz debates, it just doesn't matter because this cat breaks all the rules. Leading with his clarinet on tracks that have been recorded over the last 20 years, you can be sure he's going to take you places you've only heard in dreams. Killer stuff that's in a genre all it's own.

CITY BOY ALL STARS/Blinded by the Night: Someone had the fore sight to run tape when the band that had Blue Lou, Lew Soloff and Bones Malone among it members got back together for their first gig in 17 years. Ah, the upside of tech! Get the Letterman band, the SNL band and let them get back in touch with their inner white boy funk that networks probably asked them to hem in and you get a killer show band set that peels it all back to when music was music instead of merchandise. This bunch has way too many chops to not kick ass so why fight it? Killer stuff by a killer crew that kills throughout. You might have to be a listener of a certain age to fully appreciate it, but brother, this stuff is infectious for all ages.

DONNA SINGER/Destiny, Moment of Jazz: Singer and co-hort Doug Richards are at it again. This time, they set the time machine to go backward and forward and we really love what she's doing here when the needle is set for backward. Easily finding new sweet spots in beloved chestnuts like "Where or When", "Time After Time" and "What a Difference a Day Made" is what sets Singer apart from most other oldies jazz divas. Richard and his bunch know how to bring it in just the right measure, measure for measure, making this the whole package. Don't call yourself a jazz vocal fan if you don't dig this. Hot stuff.

STEVEN RICHMAN/Music for Peter Gunn: Well, kids, I'm down with the program. Rather than lionizing pots and pans music, it's time we recognize Hank Mancini's "Peter Gunn" as contemporary, American classical music and give it a new look away from college marching bands. Richman and the Harmonie Ensemble, New York are just the cats to do it. Reviving the original orchestrations without sounding like an old record, it shows they didn't need to breathe life into these old staffs since the stuff is as timeless as grandpa tells you it is. This is ground breaking jazz that never outdated itself. Hats off maestro!

HENDRIK MEURKENS-MISHA TSIGANOV/Junity: No, smarty pants, Meurkens didn't come up with a quip here to get him in good with Seth McFarlane, it's a Spanglish word he made up. Meanwhile, back at the grooves, Meurkens has nothing left to prove about his chops and abilities so he did the only thing a virtuoso harmonica player can do in that situation, he channeled his inner Toots Thielemans and let fly with a killer set of duo and quartet tracks that you could hang on the wall as art. Utterly gorgeous playing that starts in jazz and proceeds to let the sky be the limit, all fueled by quiet, dignified fire. The kind of set you need to play when you need to feel like a grown up, Meurkens has really raised the bar here giving his canon quite the topper. A real one of a kind, pure musical experience that goes the distance throughout.

TERRY MARSHALL/Arrival: In which we face the bane of today's working musician. This cat is putting in the time and miles, but if you aren't in DC, you probably never heard of him. A killer piano man that knows how to set up a real easy grooving set, whether the focus is on instrumentals or vocals, this set is kind of a throwback to the cool jazz records that were kind of omnibus showcases in the 70s, often made when the over seers at the major label weren't watching too closely. A mainstream delight, this is smoking, after work jazz that let's you wash off the day and get ready for fun to come. Here's a cat well worth some wider recognition. Hot stuff.

TONY KADLECK BIG BAND/Around the Horn: Another example of how you have to be your own patron of the arts if you want to do anything in music today. It's also another example of how the rules don't apply and music might be just a bunch of notes but it can't be reduced to a bunch of lines on a bar code. A 30 year vet of New York big band with everyone form Maria Schneider to Buddy Rich, trumpet man Kadleck wanted to do his own charts, his own way, and on his own nickel so no one could tell him what the rules are. He knows his stuff. Assembling a bunch of first call New York jazzbos to lend a hand, Kadleck has put out a set that can rival anything the majors would have had on the plate if they knew which end was up anymore. Straight ahead stuff with more white boy funk that you would expect from an old guy, this set cooks in the finest fashion. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 251
July 8, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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