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BUCKY PIZZARELLI/Renaissance: Pere Pizzarelli might be showing his age on the cover but he isn't showing it in the grooves. Playing everything from classical to jazz (in that order), this set kind of feels like when they would try to make Julian Bream make commercial records, to wit, in some places he's got a real crew behind him. In some places, duets are on display and in all cases, Pizzarelli leaves no doubt about why calling him a master is only feint praise. Where's this guy's NEA recognition already? While his records find him following his muse, this one is even out of the ordinary for Pizzarelli, but only in it's classical side. Wonderful stuff from a cat that's had us hanging on every note for years.

BECKY KILGORE-NICKI PARROTT/Two Songbirds of a Feather: When you spend your career often playing in boites and jazz rooms, it's no big trick that you master playing for those crowds. Since these two are long time Arbors mainstays, it's long over due that they would find themselves in the studio with some other Arbors stalwarts and really kick out the jams on a vocal duet set that might be heavy on oldies but is too hip for the average cabaret set and swings too hard to have any traces of the tortured artist effect. Just two swinging gals having a good time and in such synch that their good time is infectious. This is such a hot set you want them to bring this act to a jazz room near you soon. Well done.

CORTE/Seasoned Soul: A cat that's been in and around music all his life finally steps to the fore with a southern soul show band date loaded with a bunch of covers that either are your faves or should be. Touching on works by all the greats even when they aren't signature tunes, the good time roll nicely. Sounds like this might be too down home to hit the top of the charts but they are the stuff of what keeps the party going all night. Check it out.

JACOB SZEKELY/JS 3: That cat that's reinventing the language of cello has already played everything with everybody but now he's charting his own course bringing his vision of rock chamber jazz to the fore. Certainly it's sitting down music but it's as faraway from arts council music as you can get. With chops that have touched upon all kinds of music being front and center, this restless creative type feeds it all back showing where he's been, what he can do and how easy it is to wrap your ears around his little finger. Smoking stuff that starts out in jazz and winds up in the land of anybody's guess. One seriously wild ride well worth taking.

BRENT BEST/Your Dog, Champ: Back in the day, the Prines, Kristoffersons and Springsteens et al couldn't just be the Prines, Kristoffersons and Springsteens et al, they had to be tagged the new Dylans. You could tag this Slobberbone front man as one of the new McMurtrys, but he's right in that new Dylan pocket. Hallmarked by meaty, left of center and sometimes uncomfortable song smithery, Best just blows you away. An utterly amazing set that makes your ears stand on end, this cat is the crème of the crop of nu southern songwriters that are going out of their way to keep it real. Hot stuff.

ELECTRIC SQUEEZEBOX ORCHESTRA/Cheap Rent: Damn that economy of scale. It took a Kickstarter campaign to get this record into existence. How are they going to afford to leave their confines of Frisco and go on the road when there's a jillion players in this big band and all of them are required to add their own special sauce? Listeners in North Beach don't know how good they have it that they can just saunter down to the local watering hole once a week and revel in this contemporary big band goodness by a crew that knows how to chart their own courses and bring the funk, swing and everything else. Never playing by the numbers, this crew kicks it out like nobodies business. If this isn't big band the way you like it, gets your ears checks. Killer stuff,

JULI WARD QUARTET/Synkka Metsa: With an overview that would make you think this set has an ECM vibe to it, this collection of jazz meeting Finnish folk songs is way more daddio than you might imagine. Inspired by Art Farmer's original expatriot forays, Wood and her pals travel into the dark forest ( that's what the title translates to) (unless you'd rather have her travel into the dark woods--something that matches her tone) for a quasi-impressionistic date that isn't really for eggheads. Solid sitting down jazz with stellar work turned in from all players, this is how daddio jazz plays in the land of death metal. Check It out.

TAD BRITTON/Cicada: Oh sure, Britton and his pals are now some of the most creative cats on the west coast, but what were they doing 25 years ago in Oklahoma? If you want to find out, put on this progressive session that doesn't sound dated. Released for the first time, it's a solid set of that angular, boundary pushing jazz playing that comes when just a few cats get together to see just how far they can take it. One of those nice looks back at what might have once was.

CLAY GILBERSON/Minga Minga: Improv solo piano recorded and written in honor of his newly born daughter, Gilberson stride that jazz/new age/contemporary instrumental line with great aplomb and shows that he can satisfy the ears quite by his lonesome. A sitting down date that requires your attention without demanding it, this is some pretty top shelf solo piano work.

TOM TEASLEY/Dreams of India: It's taken a while but I've finally figured out how this multi-instrumentalist drummer can make these Arabic sounding records that sound like something that emanates from the last of the souks that doesn't track it's inventory on it's Ipads sound so authentic while being gringo relatable. It's because he doesn't give up his gringoness. There, I've said it. As authentic as if this was something you bought from a street vendor in New York, Teasley might turn his gaze to India, but to us gringos, it all sounds like opium den music. No reason not to pass the pipe and do some armchair traveling with this as your sherpa. And John McLaughlin hasn't added him to his band because...? By all means, check it out, this will take you for a real ride.

Volume 38/Number 287
August 14, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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