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KYLE NASSER/Restive Soul: A guy studying economics at Harvard gets his head turned around at a Hank Jones concert and changes course deviating himself to sax. You would have thought piano, but I get it. With a passion for a side of Jones that existed outside the studio gigs and crime jazz, Nasser honks up an angular, muscular storm leading a crew that knows to make the center piece shine. Tasty, left leaning jazz that doesn't raise a ruckus but isn't for mellow moments either. Well done.

HAILEY NISWANGER/PDX Soul: We've been saying it since we first laid eyes and ears on Candy Dulfer, we like saxy young ladies. Here's the newest gal to swing a sax loaded with funk, easy rolling vibes and all the stuff that makes for killer summer flavored jazz. Playing with more than her good looks behind it, Niswanger has power and control and tons of smarts. A highly enjoyable date that's just what the doctor ordered when you need something to ward off over loads of negativity swirling around you that you just don't know how to dispel. She's got plenty on the ball for putting a smile back in your life.

MAGICAL MYSTERY PSYCH OUT-Tribute to the Beatles/various: In which a bunch of players with credentials bring out the psych rock of the Beatles to it's fullest extent. Well, it's actually more creative than another jazz tribute to their legacy. Since this gang was around for the birth of psych rock, it's only fitting that this tangent is explored. Certainly a sure bet for kids looking to expand their consciousness to the contemporary rock classics. Wild stuff.

TROYKA/Ornithophobia: For their first set in five years, this Brit jazz power trio breaks the ice by making fun of one of the group's members fear of birds. Working in a very left of center mode, this is progressive jazz, of a sort, for progressive jazz ears. Taking B3 to places it probably never considered going, younger tastes that don't get old man jazz will dig this is their idea of old man jazz is something along the lines of King Crimson. Wild stuff that's subtle but certainly not for moldy figs.

NOBUKI TAKAMEN/Solo Guitar: A plucky veteran guitarist decides to make his 5th album a real solo set with him in the spotlight with nothing else but his ax. A spiritual throwback to the golden days of John Fahey and his pals not trying to pull off any pyrotechnics, this is a lovely and subtle set in the tradition of Tom Jobim trying to show how quiet an album he could make. Close to being an intimate solo recital in your living room, Takamen has a minimalist's knack for doing so much with very little. A most wining set that really shines after sundown. Well done.

RAY GOREN/Save My Soul: A white boy with the blues that's a youngster just as influenced by rock as blues turns the amp up to 11 and makes a lot more than just noise. With a vibe and an attack that tears down the walls, this little wild man is showing how it's going to be tomorrow and beyond. Hot stuff.

DAVE STRYKER/Messin' With Mister T.: Guitar man Stryker does it again. Having toured with Stanley Turrentine for a decade, he didn't just pull this tribute to Turrentine out of his hat thinking it might be a good idea. Augmenting his organ trio, which already has Jered Gold on B3, with ten killer sax men, each getting a chance t o step up to the mic, you have his give Stryker a load of credit for nothing else than writing the checks to pull this off. Loaded with one smoking track after another, this set leaves you wondering why nobody at the major labels is playing attention to the hot bed of creativity going on in jazz. Hot stuff that just doesn't quit. Sheesh, what better way to kick off a record than with Jered Gold and Houston Person working up a sweat?

STEVE JOHNS/Family: Taking 30 years to finally make his debut as a leader, the drummer rounds up other members of his musical family with some help from some ax men he considers family, and serves up a mainstream delight. Swinging easily with a great vibe throughout, the Johns clan knows jazz and they aren't shy about sharing the knowledge. This is top of the line sitting down jazz that was made for getting heads bobbing.

RACHEL CASWELL/All I Know: In a set of duets with only guitar or bass behind her, Caswell digs deeper into the classic songs than the average jazz diva working with a big budget and lush orchestration does. Approaching the songs as a jazzbo rather than a vocalist, the color and depth of the tunes go to a different place. Any fan of any thrush that ever pushed the envelope will find this a winner of a jazz vocal date.

BREEZY RODIO/So Close To It: How many white boys with the blues are fond of telling us they got the blues and they paid their dues only to be the punch line for those of us who get into a touch of snark here and there? Lost count? Check out Rodio, a white boy from New York that transplanted him and his guitar to Chicago where some west side blues and his initial love for Stevie Ray have enabled him to hit it out of the park. Joined here by local Chicago cats that are as authentic as you can get, you almost think you are dealing with another one of Muddy Waters' kids here. A killer dose of straight ahead, post war stuff that's simply killer throughout.

Volume 38/Number 126
March 6, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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