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TARA DAVIDSON/Duets: A acclaimed Canuck sax player decides to tear it up in intimate style with a bunch of other Canuck jazzbos worthy of your attention and comes in with a classy, well played set that was made with arts council money but carries none of the weight or cuteness that comes with that. Magically intimate without being claustrophobic, this is how it sounds when simpatico players get together to jam off the clock but don't leave their chops at the door. Certainly a special little treat with big implications.

NATHAN PARKER SMITH LARGE ENSEMBLE/Not Dark Yet: Can you really call yourself a jazzbo if your influences are prog rock, death metal and contemporary classical? Sure, if you're an improv hell raiser rounding up some like minded wild jazzbos for your trip off into the wild blue yonder. Powered by the alt.jazz vibe that lives in Brooklyn, this NoCal transplant has assimilated well and his tripped out marching band will take you on one of the wilder, white suburban jazz rides of your life.

OWEN HOWARD/Drum Lore V. 2-More Lore: Can a drummer sound like he was influenced by Mingus and still give everyone some from the back of the band stand without over powering the proceedings? As much a music director as player, Howard plays fluid jazz with unvarnished edges that will hit squarely with anyone that ever thought jazz should be played in smoky dives with black leotard clad waitresses full of all kinds of promise. Too white to be civil rights jazz but riding on that tip, Howard's forward to the past progressive vibe is well thought out and hits all the right notes.

SKETCHES/Volume Two: This is the kind of record that reminds you why the individual members of Oregon could thrive on ECM but the band couldn't even go there. A bunch of leaders coming together to play without the pressure of being a supergroup, their hidden concept is that one member writes the tune based on ideas of another member. Not collaboration in the writing. However, they play as an ensemble that reminds of Oregon in a lot of ways, without he new age trappings. Really solid listening jazz throughout, this is surely a welcome new kick for any sitting down jazz fan that wants to hear it done right.

CLARE FISCHER BIG BAND directed by Brent Fischer/Pacific Jazz: You have to admire a son that's so committed to preserving his father's musical legacy that pop has won two Grammys since his passing. And the music? This apple hasn't fallen far from the tree. Rounding up a bunch of first class jazzbos that understand just how wonderful the stuff they are working with is, Fischer and company play their hearts out serving up a sound that's even bigger than it really is serving Pere Fischer‘s vision well, a vision that still sounds contemporary and forward thinking today. The next best thing to the master himself being hands on, this is real music for real listeners that want real jazz served up as real as possible. Hot stuff throughout.

MICHAEL O'NEILL SEXTET featuring Kenny Washington/New Beginnings: In which a crew of Bay Area stalwarts get the itch to get the word out a little farther and a little wider. The local sax/vocal team to beat harvest the crème of the local crop, bring in Geoff Keezer to add some out of town spice and serve up a straight ahead with something extra male jazz vocal date that delivers the familiar goods in a new way throughout. First rate stuff that could almost make you say Mark Who? (Murphy, duh!), real jazz is alive and well in contemporary hands. Hot stuff powered by players who showed up ready to be smoking for a real gasser of a date.

KAORUKO PILKINGTON/Bright Side of My Life: Finally breaking the 14 year dry spell between albums, Boston's jazz vocal gem finally launches her second set with a crew of the local best providing the setting for a her wide ranging jazz vocal skills from wordless to swing. On paper it looks like kind of a cocktail set but you'd have to hit a pretty hip bar to hear sounds like this on sounds like that. A solid work throughout that should encourage her to record a little more frequently.

URBAN RENEWAL PROJECT/Local Legend: "Urban" might be an insult on "Black-ish", but there's nothing insulting about the use of urban here. Taking the sounds of the street from Tito Puente to today's hip hoppers, this fusion of jazz, soul, rock, urban, Latin and rock works in a heady way you wouldn't believe. A tasty romp through a panoply of city streets and times, there's something for everybody here and everybody is invited to the party as long as they are cool. Well done contemporary "pop" for people that have always had to hold their parties vertically in the city landscape.

Volume 38/Number 342
October 8, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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