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ORBERT DAVIS' CHICAGO JAZZ PHILHARMONIC CHAMBER ENSEMBLE/Sketches of Span Revisited: Yeah, we know you know we love it when arts council supported music doesn't sound like arts council music. You know we love it when someone ventures the path of real art to create a masterwork that doesn't fit the format. You know we love when someone sets out to climb the highest mountain and succeeds. Orbert Davis has done all that and more by reconceptualizing "Sketches of Spain" without derogating the original to leave his own fingerprints on it, yet he's reconceptualized it to make it a contemporary, living breathing work new ears can appreciate. Today's cynic would probably shrug it off as a commentary on their work that nobody would write a check for Miles Davis and Gil Evans to ever work together again, and boy would they be missing the point of what these two were up to. A killer work based on a killer work, this is a contemporary masterpiece that awards the vision of all involved with high marks throughout. Not to be missed by any true jazzbo.

MICHAEL LAKE-GERRY PAGANO/Roads Less Traveled: A white guy from Arizona gets a music scholarship to study with cats from Art Ensemble of Chicago and you think he won't have way out creative ideas? Farther along down life's trail than he was back then, he still hasn't lost his restless spirit to push the boundaries. With his multi instrument abilities and multi track recorder, he's created his own old school sounding trombone orchestra and it's a gasser. The set list doesn't stray too far from straight ahead jazz, but you don't mind the diversions no matter how much of a jazzbo you are. Playing it straight but with a certain, palpable winking askewness, Lake, with coloration from Pagano, serves up the goods in just the right fashion. There's no way a mainstreamer can't love this.

JAZZHOLE/Blue 72: One of the original acid jazz crews is still together after 20 years, bringing some young downtown cats into the fold for the greater purpose of which they turn the clock back 42 years to tackle an acid jazz take on the pop hits of the day. While I'm sure you never wanted to hear "Alone Again (Naturally)" or "Brandy" ever again, when you go around turning things on their heads, adding Portuguese vocals here and there and other touches the really smudge things up nicely, even the hoariest kitsch turns around and delivers some redeeming value. This is a wonderful after hours session that goes the distance.

CHRIS GRECO/Standards V. 1: The second volume of a trilogy actually recorded in the mid 90s, Greco and his pals took a wide open approach to standards and delightfully turned them all on their heads in a way that still sounds fresh today. A west coat multi wind player that has made his bones in the field over and over, he's not just blowing smoke with his claims, especially since the tracks were laid down 20 years ago. If you're really up for a great sonic journey that takes the familiar and opens it up as wide as it will go to make something new, this is a trip to take. Well done throughout.

LAURA DUBIN TRIO/Introducing: A piano tyro that's been through the jazz program at Western Michigan is now ready to face the world and she does a fine job of it. With a devouring appetite that has her appreciating everyone from Brubeck to Peterson to Coltrane to 20s whorehouse playing and more, her playing is right at home with anyone that grooves to the kind of stuff the clubs were hosting as the 50s turned into the 60s. Clearly a sure handed player that's right on the money throughout right from the start, we can only hope she doesn't want to run off and have babies anytime too soon. This is the start of a wonderful career that can reach it's mind blowing ultimate with the kind of perseverance you have to put into raising a kid. Just for selfish reasons, we need more playing like this, rug rats can wait. Well done.

BILL WARFIELD BIG BAND featuring Randy Brecker/Trumpet Story: A boomer that grew up on all the same stuff as the rest of us but knows how to play a mean trumpet decides to pay musical tribute to all the trumpet players that inspired him. Once again we find that arts council music is no longer sounding like arts council music. A swinging date loaded with originals that hit the mark, Warfield even brings in Randy Brecker to blow a few notes, and he's one of the cats Warfield is paying tribute to. Edgy big band stuff, it's high water mark sitting down jazz that's an unabashed roller coaster ride for your ears. You can feel all the care that went into all facets of the execution from concept to finish and listening to this kind of detail is a real treat. Check it out.

Volume 38/Number 265
July 22 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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