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DANA LANDRY QUARTET/Standard Elevation: You might have to be of a certain age to know these songs but you don't have to be of a certain age to appreciate what jazz piano man Landry and his pals are doing with them. Swinging the classics with a modern edge that blows all the dust off the hoariest entry, this is a mouth watering, streaming slab of musical comfort food curated by chefs that know their onions. Yes, it's tasty throughout and a real pleaser and mind easier specially blended for when the pressures of the day need to be alleviated in a way that won't land you in jail. By all means, check it out.

DAVID FETTMANN TRIO/Ruby Project: The hard blowing sax man leads his trio through a cutting edge session that is loaded with free jazz and other progressive jazz elements that come together in a post bop way that has you waiting for the wheels to roll off the track, but they never do. High octane and loaded with energy, this set puts it all together at times making you think that this is a rejuvenated Brain Auger at the wheel when organist Guillaume Naud takes over. No matter, there's a strong influence of early fusion running wild here even if Fettmann wasn't old enough to dig it the first time around. Solid.

AXEL SCHLOSSER & HR BIGBAND/In the Mackerel Sky: Trumpeter Schlosser has got the big band thing down so righteously that his sound has me continually waiting for a mature Dee Dee Bridgewater to jump in with some left of center, bopping lyrics to round things out. Regardless, there's bop that just won't stop and Schlosser knows how to capture the daddio sound without being retro about it. On the money throughout, the live audience should dispel any doubts you could have about whether this is the real deal or not. Well done throughout.

MEECO/Souvenirs of Love: Once upon a time, labels actually encouraged musos to make artistic statements that cut through everything and across all lines that may or may not be appreciated in their own time. Didn't happen that often of course. This artsy statement is a throwback to those times. If someone gave you a blank check and said spare no expense on making that best jazz/art statement you can, the first thing you'd flop at is assembling the line up of first call jazz/soul/R&B hitters that Meeco has pulled together. A killer, mature, after hours record in the vein of the 50s Sinatra classics, you'll really get this in the wee small hours of the morning when your lover is gone and you need one for the road. You ought to pick this up just for the guest list to hear how Meeco has them working sublimely out of what you thought were their comfort zones. Killer stuff.

MICHAEL DULIN/My Beloved: Jim Brickman half jokingly calls himself the most romantic piano player in the world. There are a lot of career similarities between Brickman and Dulin but to say that Dulin is Pepsi to Brickman's Coke is a place we can leave things and have everyone go home happy. This solo piano set is simply first call instrumental music with an accent on romance that comes across nicely. If you've got room in your fridge for both flavors, they actually compliment each other nicely.

DAVID ARKENSTONE-CHARLEE BROOKS/Inamorata: Arkenstone has worn a slew of musical skins over the years. This new set with his new partner finds the two of them making in roads on the PBS market with a killer set of mature, adult contemporary originals that really makes a move on the turfs of the established titans of the genre. Anyone who thinks they know Arkenstone will get their ears opened here, and in a funny way, this might be a way to keep in touch with his core audience as muso and listener both age gracefully. Brooks is certainly going to charm you if you're a fan of Sarah Brightman but think she's been repeating herself too much. Certainly something delightful that's out of the ordinary.

MEGAN WILDE/Wildfire: A white Chicago gal packs it up for classically minded Interlochen and winds up in Seattle using Willie Dixon to channel Tina Turner. A real belter in the Janis zone, Wilde takes industrial blues and brings a pomo edge that would be emo if it was low energy and not nearly so primal. A high octane gal that isn't afraid to lose her mind in performance, Wilde is the wild woman sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

UNHINGED SEXTET/Clarity: A bunch of musical pals that have scattered to the four winds reconvene in Phoenix to bake up some fun over last 4th of July weekend. The results are the kind of thing you get when everyone has everyone else's back, nobody's looking to smash mouth any of the others and nobody is telling them what they can and can't do. A progressively swinging big band sound rolls along mightily here with just six guys providing the joyful noise. Exactly the right stuff at the right time for jaded adult jazz ears that really need something with some sparkle. First class all the way.

MICHAEL WALDROP BIG BAND/Time Within Itself: A vet of the Texas Lab Band, you don't argue with Waldrop's chops. Leading a modern big band like it was something he was born to do, Waldrop has his eye and ear on the proceedings like a mother hawk watching over her young ‘uns making sure everything stays straight and true for them. Disregarding any elements that made big band corny in the 50s and 60s as it tried to stay hip, this is first call instrumental music no matter what you want to call it. Tasty stuff that just doesn't let you down.

TOM COLLIER/Alone in the Studio: One of the most eclectic multi-instrumentalists you are ever going to run across, Collier pulls the sum total of 50 years at this gig together with a set that has you rapt by things like vibe solos played with such an innocence and lack of guile you almost forget where you are. It's the chops---they're well done. Smart and sly jazz that takes you from classics to originals, he's been everywhere with everyone and it's easy to see why. Sly stuff that'll really hit open adult ears majestically with it's subtlety. A winner.

Volume 38/Number 136
March 16, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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