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BRAD REIMAN/Walking in the Unknown: Personal singer/songwriter with a rocking edge gives you a travelogue of his life that college kids trapped on campus will relate to as they wish to break out of the ivy covered jail and hit the real world.

DON ALIQUO-CLAY JENKINS QUINTET/New Ties and Binds: A bunch of cats that came up working through the old school bands come together and serve up an old school sounding date that almost comes complete with smoke and basement club ambience. A modern, back in the day set of jazzbo blowing, you almost feel obliged to politely clap after each cat takes his solo. Fun stuff that's loaded with real jazz for real jazzbos. Now bring on the kitties in their black clothes to make it all complete.

DONNA DEUSSEN & THE PAUL WEITZ TRIO/On the Street Where You Live: Better keep an eye on your comfort zone, torches are being passed and the age of being an old fogey is being lowered. A degreed jazz singer in her own right, when Deussen left the classroom, she turned to Tierney Sutton to teach her the rest of the moves needed fro the real world. For a jazz diva, she's made the oldies a more recent vintage while keeping the 40s/50s chestnuts on board so as not to make the comfort zone too uncomfortable. You can feel the Sutton moves in the vocals and the set card and that's not a bad thing since those moves come from sincerity imparted by the real deal. You can bet this super thrush is a star that's going to be shining quite brightly quite soon.

TINSLEY ELLIS/Tough Love: The Georgia cat whose national break out came via Alligator and played with such west side vigor we thought he was a local shows he still knows how to keep the choogling brewing after all these years. Blowing up a hurricane with just six strings, this road warrior knows blues ax inside out as he writes lyrics that just plain cut to the chase. Killer stuff from the kind of cat that inspired the rest of us to get into music. Check it out.

IAN SIMS & DIVERGENT PATHS/Conundrum: What happens when you take someone with the linear mind of someone steeped deep in electronics and put him in performance where he gets to let his 50s/60s Blue Note fantasies run while? Well, if you give him and his sax some very nice resume points, you get a set that sounds like it escaped from the back in the day vaults from when the label recorded profusely but only had so much means to release platters. A post bop set whose only relation to post is Toasties, Sims delivers like to the manner born. This is one fine set for sax fans to start off the year with.

SIMAK DIALOG/Live at Orion: The world jazz of Weather Report and John McLaughlin played so well in the suburbs because it was music made in Alpine chalets and Riviera villas by cats that flew first class. This bunch grabs the Weather Report vibe with both hands, but this is made by cats from Indonesia that get in the van and breathe music which is why it will never be tagged as derivative. Two discs of high octane world jazz rock and mightily hits all the right notes and does it with generous helpings of it's own special sauce. Well done.

TESLA MANIF: In which we find an ace, young guitarist acting out. Refusing to play it straight, he surrounds himself with all kinds of malcontent moves that younger tastes will equate with rebellion as filtered through a Zappa prism. Pomo or weird for the sake of weird? You decide.

YAGULL/Kai: Kind of a Moonjune All Star date as the core band is backed by those who know the label ethos well in the service of fleshing out the sound. A crew that makes soundtracks for imaginary movies, they are hard to peg and pin down with anything other than they make creative music with accessible, commercial sensibilities. Utterly solid contemporary instrumental music, there's nothing here that's really far a field but the most welcome echoes of Mancini, Morricone and others of the greats takes on a new dimension. Killer stuff the adult ears can't help but love. Hot stuff.

PETER LIU/Bamboo Groove: Work with me here. Liu is a Chinese cat born in Brooklyn who moved to Canada after getting his degree in head shrinkery. He's following in Jack Jones 60s swinging footsteps, with a set card that shows that, but he mixes in modern, jazzy versions of traditional Chinese songs. What happens? It works. No matter what his intentions were, this is the direction it took, sounding like Jones right before the 60s forced him to hit the wall when it looked like he otherwise would have gone the distance. A great way to turn your ear buds into a lounge, Liu is really bringing the heat and Canada. Now if he could just use it to chase away these polar vortexes!

ALEX CONDE/Descarga for Monk: You can always use another Monk tribute when the special sauce is freely flowing. Flamenco Monk? It works, check it out. Gong with the stuff Conde thought had the most adaptability from one form to the other, the choices might not always be the obvious commercial choices, but they are the right choices. Dazzling stuff that's sure to make your ears sit up and take notice. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 74
January 13, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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