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LAUREN WHITE & the Quinn Johnson Trio/Experiment: I've always dug those Krals and Cains and have always felt Irene Kral was under rated. White seems to feel the same way with this tribute to Kral that is going to go a long way to keep her from being forgotten. White even has Kral's daughter lending a hand on cello here to really keep the vibe real. Jazz vocal fans know Kral was one of the real things and on this set of songs her fans would identify with her, White serves up justice for all. A real find of jazz vocal fans that don't care how contemporary winds are blowing and want a taste of the real thing once more.

JUSTIN ROTHBERG GROUP/Old Business: Young ears and chops take fusion and filter it through the smooth jazz they probably grew up on and turn it back out as something you could pass off as a 70s CTI date with no one being the wiser. The leader/guitarist goes for making the ensemble made up of his long time pals comfortable enough to step out for well deserved star turns that they handle admirably. Locking into a groove like champs, these are cats you'll be hearing more from in due time simply because they have the octane that'll keep them going too strong to be contained. Quite impressive.

PAYNE-LINDAL-LIEBOWITZ: How's this for an arts council concept for you? The three players are all in different locations but this music is 100% improvised. Yep, it's Sunday afternoon egghead music rooted in that place where jazz and classical collide in ways you'd never expect.

NAREN/Sangita Yoga: Even long standing monks have to be mindful of changes in commercial directions if they want to make an impact commercially. Taking sacred Indian music to the next level of the game by adding production and atmosphere, this might be stretching meditation music, but he's crafting his own kind of yoga so he gets to make the rules. Sounding in line with what gringos might be hearing in the background at a fave contemporary, ethnic restaurant, left leaning touchy feelies can play this in their cars seamlessly but younger tastes will be quite comfortable with this as modern meditation music. A nice change of pace that's really well done.

DEUTER/Mystic Voyage: When you have a catalog as deep as Deuter's, it doesn't hurt to craft up a greatest hits package at various intervals and that's what we have going on here. Culled from 6 recent vintage albums, with an unreleased bonus track thrown in rock star style, the mediation master shows how well integrated his music has been made as you can play this feeling the different textures without feeling jolted as the gears are shifted. Nice stuff for those on the healing arts trail.

SUGARAY RAYFORD/Southside: Whoa! Want it so soulful you won't be able to take it? Mixing Stax, Muscle Shoals, gulf coast show band, west side Chicago, a little B. B. king bravado and more, this lead vocalist for Mannish Boys and a recent vintage multiple blues award nominee ties it all together and hits it out of the park, and that's just from jump! Rayford delivers classic blues with a contemporary feel that lets you know soul/blues/R&B is here to stay and in proper hands. Killer stuff that just doesn't quit and needs to have your blues ears wrap around this. Oh, yeah, keep the testifying coming!

STEVE SLAGLE & BILL O'CONNELL/Power of Two: You have to be glad there's still forums for pure music duet dates like this to blossom and thrive in. These two pros knows the moves well enough that the sax/piano setting is all that's needed to take this over the top. Even if the tracks are mostly originals, Slagle is going for a feel here, paying tribute to his fave pianists, and O'Connell is up for the task of keeping the piano chair hot, not just warm. A pairing of titans that deliver killer playing without pretense, this is a jazzbo outing mainstream fans can keep coming back to. Well done.

NILS FISCHER & TIMBAZO/Rumberos A Monton: I couldn't tell you how a Euro with a name like Nils Fischer got stung so deeply by a bug that infected him with a non-stop, infectious Latin groove, but good Lord, this boy is a bad ass when it comes to making Tito Puente sound like he came from Cuba. Putting a real load of rumble in the rumba, this is a high octane, happy party record that gets the real party started in ways Pink could have never imagined. Even gringos with two left feet will be doing to white guy dance across the floor to this without even feeling self conscious. Killer stuff!

EDSEL GOMEZ/Road to Udaipur: Smoking Latin jazz that takes the world in world jazz seriously as Gomez doesn't let any kind of borders stand in the way of his merry making. With passages that will remind you of something else flying out of the woodwork at light speed, Gomez and his wide ranging pals serves it hot and fast keeping your ears on guard to stay in the game. A delightfully dizzying date that isn't afraid to bring the caliente using peppers instead of vinegar and salt, this is some of the most fun you can have with your headphones on. Hot stuff.

MARK WEINSTEIN/In Jerusalem: Flute jazzbo Weinstein continues to confound once again as he moves the needle on world jazz in unexpected directions. Pointing his stick toward Hasidic music, he doesn't go for the easy, Klezmer way out---he finds the jazz hiding in the corners and coaxes it out like Hubert Laws would. A fine, tasty set that's kind of a bold set for these political times, Weinstein hits the right notes, brings the right pals to help and makes another set that's well worth your time to seek out. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 175
April 24, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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