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HILARY GARDNER/The Great City: A delightfully enigmatic debut, this transplanted Alaskan has really taken a bite out of her adopted home, the Big Apple. With a sound and vibe that makes you think she's the secret love child of Peggy Lee and Tom Waits, she brings a well crafted insouciance to her jazz vocals no matter who she's interpreting or finding the jazz in with her unconventional set list. An auspicious debut by a sonic minx that'll have you wrapped around her finger in no time. Check it out.

JIMMY McINTOSH/And...: This guitar man has a wild back story with a lot of the kind of show biz stuff you hear in bars from people you think are full of beans. Notwithstanding, he's invested the proceed from his day jobs playing in "Mamma Mia" and "Jersey Boys" in a second album on his own label (named for his uncle's bar---the first permanent structure in Las Vegas) and hired his fave guitar slingers to come sling with him, Ivan Neville and a bunch of other well traveled jazzbos. The result? Well, let's just get a quote from Al Pacino. "Hoo ah!" Yep, Al has it. This is a solid dose of the stuff you don't get to hear when real players get together to jam after hours and get so into the music that they make ‘those' faces as notes fly and chords bend. This what happens when you live in Vegas and you aren't a faux hipster. Hot.

CHRIS DUNDAS/Oslo Odyssey: Taking 14 years to make his second album, Dundas wound up heading to Norway and winding up raiding the ECM phalanx of the great north to do Jarrett's Norway stuff with his own stamp. Recording a double album in three days, there's a little more swing here than what you would expect from a Manny Goes To Norway set, but this ain't on ECM. Right in the egghead pocket anyway, sitting down jazz fans will be glad that Dundas finally delivered a set that's a worthy follow up to his auspicious debut.

HURRICANE RUTH/Born on the River: With enough miles on her odometer to have been complimented by Willie Dixon, Ruth is a white blues mama that means business. Coming from Central Illinois, which isn't that far from St. Louis, Ruth and company are blues in that neck of the woods. Knowing there's more to it than following in Joplin's footsteps, Ruth brings her own flavor and knows how to make sure to get a real taste of tit. Solid stuff that fills the bill for any genre fan looking to rock out with a good ol' gal that knows how to deliver.

CHRIS WALDEN BIG BAND/Full On!: Walden is a throw back to the days when cats like Hank Jones and Benny Carter had ‘day jobs' keeping them busy in the studios but they never lost their edge and chops which they were happy to put on display when the chance arose. With a fat enough rolodex that he can put Carol Welsman and Tierney Sutton on the same record with a full crew of swinging jazzbos that's as deep as the Tonight Show band in it's glory days, Walden knows and loves big band with the kind of fervor that makes us happy/sad he only has time to exercise these chops every seven years or so. A killer mainstream date that never lets you down, this is another of those dates that gives mainstream a good name no matter what the hipsters say. A winner throughout.

WADADA LEO SMITH/Red Hill: Whether it's Billy Joe Shaver or Daddy Wadada, it's always fun to hear these old hell raisers who never got the memo that their hell raising days are behind them. A journey to the center of finding out what happens when old school AACM meets downtown on today's street corner, AACM teaches the youngbloods a thing or two and the future of improv jazz that doesn't kow tow is in good hands, alive and well in the here and now. Eggheads, grab a chair and sit down to dig some sitting down jazz that don't need no help from no stinking arts councils. Wild rides await.

BROOKLYN SHANTI/Bedstuyle: Hipster alert. Here's the pre-eminent Hindi hip hopper going all atmospheric and Leonard Cohen on you. Global, one world fusion stuff that melds it all together in the kitchen sink, along with the kitchen sink, this is the sound of being young, hip and hanging around ground zero.

DUKE ROBILLARD BAND/Calling All Blues: When the new Duke Robillard record comes to town, it's always a good idea to stop what you're doing and check it out. Throwing away more ideas than most players come up with in a career, Robillard indulges his Stax/Malaco southern blues show band fantasies and they arrive as much more than a busman's holiday. Chuggling, churning, wild and woolly, this set of mostly originals sounds like they were found laying in wait along the other end of highway 61 for the right interpreter. As always, the Duke delivers royally. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 309
September 5, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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