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SCHIZOPHONIA/Cantorial Recordings Reimagined: Ain't this just a different kind of world beat set? Going back to a time when cantors like Jan Pierce was treated like rock stars within the community, a hipster guitarist with Brooklyn sensibilities takes the old sounds and brings them forward with contemporary vibes. Heavy metal Jewish prayers? You could do worse.

MIKAELA KAHN/Milk & Honey: A white gal from Austin that was so influenced by Aaliyah that she wound up opening for R. Kelly? This after getting recognition at all kind of white people stuff like Mountain Stage, Telluride and Kerrville? Checking in with a set that feels very personal, Kahn feels like she's pretty far from what out of towners might think of as the Austin sound. She feels like the kind of contemporary gal that can easily and handily reach out to all the other contemporary gals that want to sip their angst out of mason jars with some sweetening' added.

THANA ALEXA/Ode to Heroes: Alexa is an immensely talented artist that is going to one day take a right turn into commercial gold and disappoint all her early adopters that are digging her now--but one thing at a time. Her debut set finds her putting her art chick vocals over angular jazz that left leaning tastes will find irresistible. The kind of set that I liked her first' types will flaunt and cherish, if you know who you are, dig your digging while the digging is good because it won't be that long until she belongs to all of us.

JONATHAN FRITZEN/Fritzenized!: It's still February but we might have already stumbled over the feel good fuzak release of the year. With no pretension and no filler, Fritzen reminds us why we tuned in to all those smooth jazz stations before the ad sales department took over the playlists and started ringing the bell that began the demise of the sound, the format, the whole shebang. A smoking tribute to fun, good vibes and an endless summer evening where the temperature and humidity are just right, this is what the Carter Family was asking for when they were begging hard times to stay away from their door. Killer stuff that is the perfect guest who never wears out his welcome.

ITAMAR ZORMAN/Portrait: This is your grand dad's kind of classical album. A multi award winner makes his violin recording debut with a set that has no bells and whistles and needs none. Tackling the works of a nice mix of classical composers, Zorman shows up with his violin and little else yet manages to covey a big sound and a full range of emotions that give the hard core classical fan a perfect Sunday afternoon recital record that flows with power and passion marking Zorman as one to really keep an ear on. Tasty, riveting stuff that really hits hard with the lightest and nimblest of touches. Well done.

REGGIE QUINERLY/Invictus: If this set hits you with a stunningly Blue Note feel right from the start, it might be because Quinerly's opening track is a tribute to Horace Silver. Firmly committed to continuing to create no matter what the state of the business is around him, it's this commitment to his art that drives his second album as a leader so mightily. Doubling down on his commitment to the future of self-determination, everyone on board sounds full of resolve to keep the swing swinging and the vibe running on high octane. Another fine example of a drummer that knows how to give everyone some. Well done.

MIKKO INNANEN with William Parker & Andrew Cyrille/Song for a New Decade: Maybe it's the influence of movies like "Selma", but this Finnish sax cat that wasn't even born until 1978 rounded up some cats that were there in the first and second generation of civil rights jazzbos. Whether stepped in the church basement or the loft, this feels like a time travel back to the early days of AACM when free jazz was still building it's own vocabulary. With two discs of sounds to play in the background while you solve the world's problems, the vibe of hipsters and clove ciggies are filling the air.

MILFORD GRAVES & BILL LASWELL/Space-Time-Redemption: It takes serious chops for a drummer and a bass player to make a compelling recording as a duo, and that's exactly what you have here. An associate of Albert Ayler and an associate of everybody, these two find the sweet spot where improv jazz that should sound like pots and pans music simply just doesn't. For ears that aren't looking for a ride on the top 40 train and want some outsider sounds that go their merry way without rolling off the rails, this duo has a real treat in store for you. You can even trick your new age friends into thinking this is a set they missed out on for meditation and relaxation.

NILSON MATTA/East Side Rio Drive: If the marketing department had their way, every
Brazilian record would still sound like Stan Getz and acts like Milton Nascimento, Joyce, Ivan Linz would remain cult acts forever. Bass man Matta is working outside the system and can do whatever he wants, and does. Bossa might have 50 years under it's belt and not be so Nova anymore, but that doesn't mean it can't be refurbished and modernized---especially in the right hands. Pictured for a new generation that doesn't need to take it's samba sitting down, this date isn't a radical reconceptualization, just an acknowledgment that you can like steak, but you can like it just as well at Ruth's Chris prepared 50 different ways. And this steak is well done but certainly not over done. Check it out.

Volume 38/Number 120
February 28, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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