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VIRGINIA SCHENCK/Interior Notions: An art chick with jazz leanings that likes to add exotic elements to the standards does her thing with loads of the Florida sunshine she soaked up as a kid flowing through the proceedings. The more left of center you like it, the more you'll dig this.

ERNESTO CERVINI/Turboprop: Jazz has been product and the bastard step child of the major labels for so long that went cats with old school hearts come along, it's not exciting that they have a back in the day ethos, it's exciting the have a feeling for pushing the limits like back in the day and doing it right. High octane swinging stuff, this is a drummer that knows how to give everyone some and keep the pace moving in a bright fashion. Style, flair and no artifice power this set to skilled and dazzling heights. Well done.

THEO/Game of Ouroboros: So, you take a jazz organist, turn him loose to indulge in his prog side and steep the mixture in a contemporary, paranoid version of "The Wall", what do you think will happen? Well, how about quite the interesting mash up that can galvanize the fellow travelers of the ‘occupy' movement and it's various off shoots. These days, we know big brother is watching, this is a guide to how to react, prog style. Wild stuff for restless young ears.

BRIAN PARESCHI & the BP Express: What is it about Rochester, NY and stellar Italian trumpet players? A smoking, first call side man that's finally stepping out in his own, this bigish band date has a distinctly New York flavor that puts you right on 52nd Street when killer sounds were pouring out of every club door. Armed with undeniable chops, Pareschi delivers straight ahead jazz that cooks and is all fire with no smoke. Great sounds for jazz ears looking for that new kick.

LIFEFORCE JAZZDAWAN MUHAMMAD-BILLY HIGGINS SEXTET/Smoke Signal: A 1993 session that had much more in common with what came before than what was going on at the time, this double look over the shoulder proves how much gold there is in the old. Sounding like something Art Blakey would have produced in his down time, this set was originally released into what would prove to be a void and it's reissue is quite welcome. Simply a killer date for mainstream ears that want the good stuff, you can't help but enjoy this set and everything it has to offer. Well done.

CALVIN KEYS/Close Enough for Love: If George Benson hadn't been seduced by stardom, this might be a glimpse of what he would have sounded like. With tracks assembled from the last 20 years, this guitarist's guitarist delivers such spectacular playing without any histrionics, you might not believe any of this is possible. Modes and melodies may shift, but there's nothing here to jar the good vibes that flow throughout. Quite an impressive set throughout.

EAMONN KARRAN/Forgotten Road: This Celt piano man's special secret sauce is that he plays his melodies on a real piano rather than relying on voltage to get his message across. Sounding like a Jim Brickman that never doubled in commercials, Karran delivers lovely music that takes you away and feels like it frees your mind from the traumas of the day. Real music as opposed to noodling, this well constructed, well played and well written session takes you back to the days when the bedrock new age labels were right in the sweet spot between noodling and selling out when they were creating the mass market for new age. Simply gorgeous contemporary instrumental music from a cat that has the gift. Check it out.

THE ONE-DERFUL COLLECTION-MAR-V-LUS RECORDS/various: I know the label is breaking up the One-derful Records output into six collection but I didn't think the second would appear so soon after the first. If this clip is going to continue, it's going to be one soulful year for deep Chicago classic soul fans. A label you have to love for their go for it attitude, this package is as dandy as anything Rhino or Hip-O would have put out in their glory days. This collection focuses on the Leaner's ‘teen' label. I guess they knew something we didn't because this sounds like what any self-respecting frat boy in the 60s would have been jamming to and I don't associate any of the soul shouters and belters here with teen music. An utterly great collection loaded with unreleased tracks from a Chicago soul label that had real record pros at the helm but was proudly from the wrong side of the tracks. There's plenty of cats here that went on to greater glories, but you have to understand the the Leaner family wasn't running a second tier label, they were the leading lights of the Chicago soul underground. A killer collection that sure to blow your soul ears wide open, especially if you've never been exposed to this before. Hot stuff.

LISA PARROTT/Round Tripper: A Downbeat rising star for her sax work, I was looking forward to checking this out because Matt Wilson was on the date. I wouldn't have needed that much prompting if I knew she was Nicki Parrott's sister. Adapting well to big apple skronk, Parrott plays her improvs as muscularly as the boys she has to elbow out of the way to get some shelf space in New York clubs. If nothing else, you have to give her a lot of credit for turning "Waltzing Matilda" on it's head, but there's so much more to give her credit for than being that kind of one trick pony. Improv that hits the sweet spot, check out some of the rest of the talent that runs in the family.

D. A. FOSTER/The Real Thing: When Mike Finnigan takes the time to produce and play on an outside artist, you know you have to lend an ear. We find Finnigan going old school for this club owner that had ears and finally became a band leader. With a set card pulled from the orchard of soul classics and chestnuts, Foster has the right voice for the material and the backing crew knows how to give it flight like this came directly from the 60s chitlin circuit to you. Smoking soul that cuts to the chase in a mighty way. This set is a contender that going to go the distance. Yeah!

Volume 38/Number 81
January 20, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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