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ALLISON AU/The Sky Was Pale Blue, Then Grey: A sax player that nabbed a Juno nomination for this recording debut, Au shows that her dues paying the last five years was effort put forth in the right direction. Lightly progressive and never at a lack for well placed creativity, Au is a new heavy weight champ for sitting down jazz. Although financed with arts council money, this is art for art's sake, not just for the money. Well done stuff that real listeners looking for real music will flock to. Solid stuff well worth the recognition it's gathered right out of the box.

DIE GLORREICHEN SIEBEN/Keep on Rockin' in the Free World: A bunch of Dutch free jazz improvisers pay tribute to Neil Young and don't dig all that heavily into his greatest hits along the way. Is it any nuttier than when Young tried to go industrial? Nah, it even sounds like they captured that vibe. If you dig that Young is always Young, you might find this a worthy addition to a completist collection.

BACKBEAT SOUNDSYSTEM/Together Not Apart: Easy Star has done such a fine job of finding domestic reggae in out of the way places that they now turn their gaze globally finding some killer stuff in Cornwall, England. Old school in it's politics, modern in it's sound, this is almost a genre splicing set even though it remains within it's own dictates throughout. A blistering bunch well in command of their axes and modes, this is modern stylee stuff that goes the distance and opens the ears. Well done.

MARKUS JAMES/Head for the Hills: A blues/roots cat that's always charted his own course, James recently tripped across the similarities between North Mississippi music and Mali music. Rounding up a bunch of North Mississippi all stars, James bangs it out mightily for those that like post modern industrial blues. It might not be for everyone, but anyone with a taste for drum in overdrive roots/world fusion will be bobbing their head to this in no time.

PETER WHITE/Smile: The jazz guitar ace can fusionize with the best and the rest of them but he once again shows that he doesn't have to for a good time to be had by all. Joined by the crème of the moving easy jazz crop, he's takes it easy with this set of all originals that goes down easy and generally goes down slow. A tasty, laid back set that puts his picking out front while letting all the guests know they didn't show up for no reason, this is a smart, after hours set that's mellow without sounding like paint drying. Check it out.

MARIANNE SOLIVAN/Spark: Here's a jazz thrush that gives a recidivist thrill. Leading with her full throated sound and enlisting a bunch of jazzbos that capture the feel of back in the day, Solivan isn't following anybody's lead as she cuts through the dross and delivers the gold. Loading her originals with a true hipster vibe, Solivan is well on her way to being a national treasure. Killer stuff for any real fan of jazz vocal that wants the sizzle as well as the steak. Check it out.

MOSTLY OTHER PEOPLE DO THE KILLING/Blue: Is it really that surprising this bunch of all star hitters would spend ten years deconstructing deconstructionism only to put it all back together? Recreating Miles' "Kind of Blue" they capture the vibe without totally capturing all the notes. Homage? Tribute? Nope. A deconstructed madness paying tribute to vision. On paper, we don't need a recreation of "Kind of Blue", but once light hits byte, no further justification is needed. Just like you would listen to several versions of the same Mozart work...you get the idea. It's a dandy revisit without really covering the same ground twice. Check it out, this is MOPDtK's finest work yet.

CONNIE EVINGSON/All the Cats Join In: Evingson has been taking the chill out of the frozen north for quite some time now and this time around finds her making another of her examinations of the Hot Club sound, bringing all the requisite heat in tow. Working with John Jorgenson, the multi instrumentalist that widened his scope beyond his Nashville roots, the two heat it up in fine style, old school. Hitting a bunch of chestnuts that generally haven't been roasted to death, this sums up as a killer team effort with all burners burning from all involved. Old timey with au current currents, Evingson hits it out of the park once again showing why she's Minnesota's national vocal treasure.

ALMA AFROBEAT ENSEMBLE/Life No Get Dublicate: An international crew with ties to Chicago, this is Afrobeat from the cantina on Mars. As world wide as the international crew powering this sound, it's a big, bold, wild sound that doesn't recognize boundaries in the least. Killer party music for contemporary party people that like sounds that just don't quit, calling this Afrobeat is just plain putting it in a box that's too small. It's a fireball, roller coaster of a ride that snaps every one of your synapses to life. Hot stuff throughout.

EQUILIBRIUM/Liquid Light: It's not like Oregon but it gives off that post jazz kind of vibe where the music is based in jazz somewhat but it merrily veers off into that contemporary instrumental music (although vocals are employed here) no man's land where anything is possible. Fully flaunting it's Euro roots, this is even to the left of some of the more experimental ECM stuff even if it has that kind of ECM vibe flowing through it. A solid dose of head music for eggheads, it goes it's own way for sure but never leaves you stranded in it's wake.

GREG ABATE QUARTET/Motif: Look, when a white boy can replace Fathead Newman in Ray Charles' band, you don't need to explore his credentials any further, assuming this is the first you've heard or heard of this sax ace. A cat that could get away with over playing but doesn't feel the need to as the notes fly effortless from his ax, this smoking, bopping set takes you around the horn and back again, loaded with the kind of high octane blowing that hard core sax fans love. A non-stop cooker, there ain't nothing but a heady brew lurking in these grooves. Killer stuff.

Volume 38/Number 356
October 22, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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