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ARTHUR JAMES/Me, Myself & I: A long time guitarist of the back porch ilk, James decides it's time to step out on his own to show when he can do on his own after a quarter century of doing it. He says he's influenced by the great black blues guitarists, but we hear more Bert Jansch and Fred Neil in his work than we do Robert Johnson and Keb Mo. Of course, we didn't say we didn't like it----especially since we won't be hearing much new stuff from Jansch and Neil. A solid bet for those hippies that miss the days when music was music and you could hear stuff like this coming out of every coffee house almost all the time. Check it out.

CITY BOYS ALL STARS/Personal Thing: Alas, the last recording of jazz great Lew Soloff, this crew came roaring back a while ago after a long lay off, and we mean roaring. This time around, the roar gets even louder as they kick the set off with a rouser on "Birdland" that takes the chestnut somewhere else. Not the youngsters they were when they tried this the first time around, the crew have matured into the best session cats in New York and do they know how to deliver! With a populist streak that often makes them feel like Blood, Sweat and Tears regrouping for a casino victory lap, they keep from running off the rails into that kind of kitsch and keep the jazz rock funk fusion broiling at the highest heat. Killer stuff from pros you know, you probably just think you don't. Well done!

CYRUS CHESTNUT/A Million Colors in Your Mind: Neshui Ertegun is puking in his grave that the modern day Atlantic couldn't sustain an alumni artist like Chestnut when he's turning out sweet dates like this. In vibe and spirit, this set is a return to the classic jazz piano trio days when you just couldn't believe a trio could do so much moving and grooving. Amazingly, with all the classic jazzbos that tackled Broadway tunes over the years, I don't remember anyone ever taking the time to find the jazz in "Brotherhood of Man" which Chestnut nails as well as he does other Frank Loesser tunes. With nothing here not to like, the groove is in the art. Hot stuff.

DEBORAH LATZ/Sur L'instant: The cabaret kitty packs up her patterned fishnets and heads off to Paris to live the long time dream of cutting an intimate vocal album with a pair of Frenchies that give her the spotlight and let her shine. Covering the dreaded "Nature Boy' but balancing it with "Love Theme from Spartacus" (you've hear that how often in cabaret?), Latz keeps her record in tact delivering not only the record she wanted but one that stands tall in the vocal department. Don't call yourself a cabaret fan if you don't dig this.

ENOCH SMITH JR/Misfits II-Pop: Actually something of an ensemble effort, Smith's latest takes him deeper in the nu soul realm, but he doesn't hold back on mix mastering elements into the stew when needed to make it a total nu urban experience. Whether reaching back to refashion some classic gospel or show how much jazz he can add to the mix, the kid that felt he didn't fit in at Berklee is showing the way out of the mannered, musical morass. Well done and always challenging without being work to listen to.

COLOURS JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Home Away from Home: You think this teacher is going to serve up a program of egghead jazz, but she fools you quickly. More inspired by Carla Bley than the halls of academe, arranger Ayn Inserto takes her love and feel for big band improv to the max (but not the limit) on this set that makes you feel like you're hearing something you'd be hearing if Stan Kenton took his charges into loft jazz land and turned them loose. Wild stuff sitting down jazz fans are sure to be talking about for some time. Check it out.

TED HEFKO & THE THOUSANDAIRES/Distillations of the Blues: Just last night, I was listening to Maria Muldaur's first album again and was thinking how they just can't make records like that anymore---especially with the cast and crew that was on board. Open the mail the next day and out comes the third set by Hefko and his Nawlins crew that must have been feeling the same way. Here we have a killer set of stuff that can only be called Americana by default as it gleefully mixes up every kind of hokum like it was crafted by hippies two generations ago. A wonderfully wild ride, this is a distillation of what it is to make an underground record that somehow everyone finds out about. From the heart and the gut as well as the cerebellum, this is simply a gasser that'll keep you on board and wondering if you heard what you think you just heard. Well done.

BRAIN CHARETTE/Alphabet City: Anyone who doesn't love swinging, tight, concise B3 jazz trio sizzle and steak can just leave this site now and not come back. Charette and his pals are bumping and jumping their way through a set of originals that show there's still plenty of originality that can be enjoyed in this format. Great stuff that smokes with the heat of the street, it's a winner throughout.

JERRY BERGONZI/Rigamaroll: Bergonzi's tenth date for the label and he shows no sign of wearing out his welcome. Leading the charge with muscular, late night playing, he lines up a bunch of long time fellow travelers to kick it out once more and kick it out they do. A saxsational release throughout, hard core jazzbos with bebop in their souls will post bop the night away with this cooker in fine style. Hot stuff served just the way it should be. Check it out.

SUMARI: A new set of free jazz trio improv that sounds like downtown after dark when finger popping daddies have heavy eye lids and all the gals have gone home. This is the sound of a classic Tom Waits era band jamming after after hours. Really out there in the white boy cosmos.

Volume 38/Number 199
May 18, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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