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FEDERICO BRITOS PRESENTS HOT CLUB OF THE AMERICAS/When Grappelli Meets Latin America: Can an old guy from Uruguay now heating things up in Miami find the Latin spirit in Stephane Grappelli? Please. You'll never listen to "Sheik of Araby" the same way again after you give this a spin. Taking one of those ‘what if...' scenarios to the max, we now have a damn good idea of what the Hot Club would have sounded like if they were Latin. And it works. And I love this stuff. Such a cool record that you won't believe your ears, the guest list alone is going to knock you out. This is one of those left field sets that just hits it out of the park. Killer stuff.

PATRICK BATTSTONE/Beyond the Horizon: This guy is no youngster but this piano man will catch your fancy because no matter what he did for a paycheck, he never lost his progressive edge. You'll like him because his solo piano improv has a very Denny Zeitlin feel without aping the master. Sure it's sitting down jazz, but it's first class all the way and tell me who can't use a break in the action these days. A winner throughout.

STEVE CROMITY/All My Tomorrows: Anybody got a problem with a vocalist swinging out on standards and chestnuts? Talk to our complaint manager, Helen Waite. That's right go to Helen Waite. Cromity is only trying to change the world by making it a more swinging place. Sets like this are tricky. We can always point to the originals but stuff like this is like a tasty desert---and who doesn't like that? Like you can find fault with adding some new swing to Benny Carter and Yip Harburg. Humph. This is a nicely laid back sophisticated set that you can enjoy in a bar that welcomes you in your jeans.

YNGVIL VATN GUTTU/On the Crosswalk: A Norwegian lass who was attracted to trumpet before nail polish heads over to Ornette Coleman's old studio to make a set of contemporary jazz sure to open your ears. Coloring way outside the lines while retaining qualities from other quadrants (like, see how long it takes you to place the opening track which feels like a Stray Cats out take), this is left leaning modern stuff but it's also loaded with a lot of 50s hipster grooves and moves making for an intriguing mash up in good hands. A wild ride throughout this is a fine, young player with a lot to say. Well done.

NAZ/Time After: Not ethnic in the way you would think, this tasty singer prefers bossa to Bolly. From Indiana instead of India, Naz covers the jazz vocal bases well with in this set card as it moves from Sinatra to Sao Paulo with grace and ease. Tasty stuff for any one that just wants to dig into a jazz vocal set like they used to make ‘em when they didn't release ‘em unless they were first call, top shelf. Well done.

CHAD McCULLOUGH & BRAM WEIJTERS/Abstract Quantities: It's kind of funny to think in these terms but this crew has been around so long that emusic used to sing their praises. I mean it's funny to think that's so long ago but nanoseconds count in particle world. But the music? Emusic was right then and if they were still around, they'd be right today. This bunch continues to grow, thrive and feed off each others vibes and energy in fine style. Playing with the spirit of a crew like Oregon without playing like Oregon, this bunch knows the inside out of sitting down jazz and how to play it in the highest dimension. Tasty, well woven playing that just won't let you down.

H2 BIG BAND/It Could Happen: It does happen! Who doesn't like contemporary big band when it's played right and tight with all the top LA jazz cats on board? Grabbing you right out of the gate, this super sweet session comes on like a self contained show with vocalist Rene Marie dropping by to lend a few trademark touches of her own. An air tight and water tight date that has no cracks that have to be sealed, this is as sweet as these sweet sounds get. Check it out.

SCOTT HESSE TRIO/Stillness of Motion: Another jazz educator that hasn't let the classroom go to his head, this Chicago string bender sounds like he came from Indianapolis, if you know what I mean. Seamlessly sweet stuff by a cat that gets around but should still get out more, this is some of the best hands jazz guitar can be in. Loaded with chops that never go overboard even when ringing out the most wild lines, this set makes you feel like some CTI stuff just leapt over the decades and made a safe landing. A delightful ear opener throughout.

DOUG MacLEOD/Exactly Like This: One of the highest flying under the radar cats you are ever going to hear, MacLeod is no stranger to blues awards, other players and good times in general. Almost like his own version of a one man band, this singer/songwriter/storyteller just doesn't know how to not keep kicking it out in high octane fashion. Threatening to never play the same song the same way twice, he is the most captivating of musical entertainers with a seemingly endless river of rabbits he can pull out of any number of hats. Killer stuff that just doesn't quit and recorded with a sound like he's playing right in front of you, just for you. Check it out.

SWEET LU OLUTOSIN/Sweet Lou's Blues: Looking for some old school Joe Henderson type stuff? Here it is. Olutosin has a vibe that comes across like Joe Henderson meets Oscar Brown Jr just as the fur begins to fly. Church basements, civil rights and more back in the day striving is on tap here. Quite the wild look back at grand dad's day.

Volume 38/Number 105
February 13, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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