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MARLENE VERPLANCK/I Give Up, I'm in Love: Not only is the old gal still delivering the goods 60 years after her debut but she has her pal, Johnny Mandel, writing new songs for her because he wants to hear someone do them that knows how to do them right. Unclassifiably somewhere in the gulch between jazz vocal and cabaret, VerPlanck simply is a killer singer that knows how to serve up sophisticated, adult listening. A deadly, smoking vocal set like the kind they used to make, this baby is the bomb. A high stepping winner throughout that any jazz vocal fan will flip for with it's lush big band providing the proper setting for the diamond shining in the middle. Check it out.

NATSUKI TAMURA-ALEXANDER FRANGEHEIM/Nax: An album of trumpet/bass improv. I was all set to roll my eyes and make a wise crack but I was pleasantly surprised when I cracked open the case and found the sound wasn't what I thought it would crack up to be. Certainly left leaning, Sunday afternoon arts council music, they do an interesting job of working with what they have and will eave your average egghead pleasantly surprised. Out sound without resorting to pots and pans music, this is a soundtrack just waiting for you to provide the elliptical poetry.

GEORGE TAYLOR/Rain or Shine: Roots/Americana seems to be mutating a gene that opens the door to a new kind of white boy blues that isn't country, isn't blues, isn't anything you can quite put your finger on other than the blues are running through it. Taylor is one of the pilots of this new strain. A smashing singer/songwriter with a case of contemporary, white man's blues born in a nu down scale America, I guess Taylor could easily emerge as the new voice of the working man. Wild stuff that takes you for an unexpected ride down a new cut road, Taylor is on to something groundbreaking and enthralling here. You can't put your finger on why but is a stone cold winner throughout.

JASON YEAGER TRIO/Affirmation: Segueing easily from auspicious debut to snappy sophomore outing, this piano jazz man turns it up a notch as he's maturing into his role as an important statesmen of the next generation. Leading his trio with a sure hand, Yeager brings it home nicely, with a left leaning twinge pulsing throughout. With an appreciation of the old school jazzbos that opened these doors for him today, Yeager merges the past and present nicely with a hug that swings easily. Hot stuff.

JOSEPH DALEY/Portraits Wind, Thunder and Love: If George Russell were to inhale tubes full of crime jazz, this would surely be the result. The long time brass sideman has turned his attention to outré composition and contemporary composing that colors outside the lines. A long time sidekick to like mended line ignorers, Daley takes the sum total of his experiences and uses it to push the envelope for those who want to know where the Mingus', Bleys and Russells of tomorrow are going to come from. Killer, sitting down on Sunday afternoon jazz for eggheads that like a classical feeling in the mix.

SUNBEARS!/Future Sounds: Here's a heavy dose of sunshine/psych-pop with heavy thought/depressing lyrics for today's college kid in search of a Nirvana of his own. A fast ball right down the middle for today's C student wondering how he's going to get hired at Red Bull.

QUINN DeVEAUX & The Blue Beat Review/Originals: Yow, I can't take it! This sounds like some dyed in the wool, old school take it to church stuff, but DeVeaux has come up on the same sounds and times as the rest of us. Hitting you like some backwoods, gut bucket soul that went from the church to the Chicago west side to Nawlins and Memphis, this killer pre-civil rights sounding soul just plain smokes. Not retro or nostalgia, you can tell this is contemporary but damn if it doesn't take you back to the day in mega, mighty fine style. The less soul you've got, the more you need this. A winner throughout.

PETER ZAK/The Disciple: The ace piano man is back with another winning jazz piano trio date where he mixes up a bunch of left leaning and progressive composers and brings their works home in a warm, winning style. Whether hitting a classical piece, originals or bop and post bop hot stuff, his sense of swing would have you believe that he was never the recipient of arts council money---even though he was. Tasty, tasty stuff that'll keep you coming back for more. Well done.

DELFEAYO MARSALIS/Last Southern Gentlemen: The bone man does his first full length set with his pop and has John Clayton and Marvin Smith in tow. Whether kicking it out on "Sesame Street" or "Speak Low", the attitude that used to fuel Nawlins, southern hospitality, is the real vibe on display here. If a mainstream record can color outside the lines, this is a fine example of it. You want the pure listening date you've been aching for? Here it is. This is simply four cats at the top of their game digging each other's vibe and raising the bar without even trying. A real gasser in it's simplicity, this is kind of jazz that'll just stop you in your tracks no matter which flavor you like best. A winner throughout.

EXPANSIONS (THE DAVE LIEBMAN GROUP)/Samsara: Like a later day Miles, the older Liebman gets, the younger his band gets and it's hard to tell who's doing what to keep up with who. Playing with heat, passion and fire but no bombast, these forward thinking jazzbos are sure to keep Leibman's NEA award shiny for many years to come. Edgy in a Miles, pre-"Bitches Brew" kind of way, progressive jazz is here to stay again, some more. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 355
October 21, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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