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RETO SUHNER-FABIAN M. MUELLER/Schattenspiel: A sax/piano improv duo that focuses on miniatures, this is art house jazz all the way for the Sunday afternoon wine and cheese crowd. With lots of angular stuff at it's core, this is arty music not for an arty crowd.

PAUL DIETRICH QUINTET/We Always Get There: A young Chicago trumpet player that would have benefited by being born earlier so he could have cashed in the formerly thriving commercial jingle scene in Chicago that kept lots of talented Chicago jazzbos well fed, Dietrich sounds like he shrugs that off and ventures forward no matter how multi faceted he has to be. A young progressive with an old soul, he can go daddio with the best of them. If you like it right in the traditional pocket, you can't help but to hear this as a winner throughout.

RAPHAEL WALSERS GANGART/Wolfgang: Here's a bunch of still youngish jazzbos out to explore the inner rim of the outer edges making free jazz for those who don't like it too far out. The hallmarks are there without resorting to pots and pans music placing this somewhere between free jazz and contemporary classical. For those whose ears lean firmly to the left, this is sure to be a real treat.

AXEL KUHN TRIO/Open Minded: For anyone with modern jazz ears than have been around the block, this bass led trio is going to be very easy to get into. Charting a course that feels like what ECM would be sounding like today if Eicher brought his kid into the business, the compositions mesh succinctly with the improv and the soundscaping giving this trio a bigger and bolder sound than you would expect from three cats. Well on his way to being one of the leading lights in contemporary German jazz, Kuhn and his pals know how to deliver the goods right on the mark. Killer stuff.

SILENT JAZZ ENSEMBLE/Nightwalker: Take a stellar sax player, fill him with Paul Winter's love of the exotic and left leaning, add water and let sit over night. This crew, born out of the political upheaval of the 80s continues to expand and grow even past the point of needing to. A very classy set of sitting down jazz, there's nothing to be ashamed here if playing this makes you feel like an egghead. Hell, who do you think is making all the money in computers these days? Restless stuff sure to have a great effect on the armchair traveler.

MANUEL VALERA SR./Recuerdos: The Cuban sax man wants to remember some of his fave boleros but also wants to leave a little of his own fingerprints on them as well. A contemporary recording more than a trip down memory lane, this buoyant, bouncy set is about good time listening, preferably with a Cuba Libre and flowing breeze in accompaniment. Tasty stuff that really works well, this set isn't out to change the world, just out to make it a more pleasant place to be. Easy going jazz done just right.

DANA FUCHS/Songs From the Road: Many are called but few are chosen and this is an up close and personal look at one of the few women who would be Janis. Pairing a cd and DVD in a single cover, this is a full blast of hard rocking, white blues mama Fuchs serving it hard and hot. You haven't heard carrying on like this since the 70s when arenas weren't yet in full bloom and bar bard par excellence was something to aspire to. If you haven't had a dose of Fuchs in the last decade she's been honing this act, boy, are you in for a full finish treat. It's like you get both Wilson sisters rolled into one. A killer set throughout.

MIKE ZITO & The Wheel/Songs From the Road: Stepping away from the Royal Southern Brotherhood to focus on his own account, Zito and his hard charging blues rocking pals take it to the streets where cats like this shine the brightest. Pairing cd and DVD together giving all you could want from this road warrior, he cuts to the bone of his last ten years with a veritable greatest hits set running through this. Interacting with a hometown crowd of sorts, Zito shows he's one of those heartland rockers for whom the night never ends. High octane stuff that serves up a good time for all.

ERIC BIBB/Blues People: With a formidable bunch of pals at his finger tips, Bibb hit up his contact list to make this a real extravaganza of a set. Focusing on real down home blues and letting that end of his roots flag fly, this is a political set looking at the path from slavery to citizenship. Heavy stuff but very palatable, even to whitey. One killer of an audio documentary, Bibb puts back some of the stuff that's been missing from the blues with so many white people getting on the bus. Hot stuff throughout.

DEANNA WITKOWSKI/Rain Drop: It takes a lot of fingers to successfully merge Chopin, jazz and Brazilian music into a seamless mix, but Chicago's treasure did it three years ago and has had it hiding in the vaults just waiting to escape. A solo piano set with a lot of depth, Witkowski is a modern soloist that's out to set new standards. An artistic set that never turns artsy, this is just one of those subtle gems that grabs hold and doesn't let go. After one listen, this will feel like one of your fave pianists playing just for you. Well done.

Volume 37/Number 3
November 3, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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