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PAINTBOX/Ven: We're always partial to sitting down jazz that doesn't point it's pointer toward eggheads. While this sitting down jazz set doesn't swing, it shows ensemble chamber jazz in a very good light. Led by a guitar player that sees the music he plays as a painting, his conceptual ideas translate from his eye to your ear very nicely. Atmospheric without being background music, this is certainly nu jazz for nu ears that never veers into precious creativity just for the sake of it. Tasty stuff that sends the spirit of Pat Martino into the next generation, progressive and familiar come together here in the most delightful way. Well done.
71159 (Jazz Thing Next Generation 59)

JASPER VAN'T HOF/On the Move: We all know that jazz might not be the most remunerative of profession choices, but all too often, players don't even get the full realm of recognition they deserve. The second in this label's series of honoring under heralded jazz innovators turns its mic on this piano man that's been gently left leaning for over half a century and certainly sounds here like he's well deserving of wider recognition. More playful in his playing than outré, Van't Hof and his crew are into stylistic fusion showing a special way of mixing different sounds together in a big melting pot with just the right amount of each. With a sound here that could go toe to toe with pre-space chase Miles, jazzbo ears are going to rejoice with this find. A solid set throughout.
71314 (European Jazz Legends V. 2)

DONALD BYRD/Early Years 1955-1958 11 Complete Albums: There comes a time in every jazzbo's life when he has to confront how well he wants to eat. Byrd's time came in 1973. The sides on this set date back almost 20 years before that, long before he hooked up for a considerable run on Blue Note. Just the same, he was already much more than just another young man with a horn. Already making a name for himself as a bebopper with stellar connections, this early days set really shows his indie side. Recording mostly for labels too small to tell him which end was up, Byrd's muse is already in flight. Great blowing throughout, this fatty of a collection gives you so much bang for the buck that it's hard to pass by, even if you only know Byrd from his later works. This set is a return to the time when Byrd's Detroit stomping grounds meant as much to jazz as Kansas City.

FERRILL GIBBS/Insurmountable: Muscle Shoals doesn't mean Alabama music any more? This singer/songwriter draws his inspiration from off beat novels and poems and rocks his output up. Giving it his all for over 20 years, it's taken that long to distill it into a southern version of power pop for the young and disenchanted. He's hitting that nail on the head.

RICHARD NELSON AARDVARK JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Deep River: If Nelson was a chick we could call this art chick music but fatherhood inspired this effort so we call it....? Answering the question of ‘what kind of experimental jazz could we find in classic roots music?', Doc Watson, John Hurt and other find their works re-imagined in left leaning jazz style. It's not that this is bad, it's just that it all would have been more at home as a theatrical set piece.

LINDA RONSTADT/Party Girl: By the time of this 1982 radio concert, new wave had pretty much put an end to Ronstadt's pop commercial glories. This concert takes you right back to her mid 70s glory days in high style. A new kind of strange duck recording, this set leaves in the commercials just like old TV DVDs. You get some up close and personal time with Ronstadt but the real meat here are the great songs with her prime musicians bringing the heat. This is a dandy reminder of just how great she was with nothing to hide behind. Check it out.

JONI MITCHELL/Night in the City: Take a good look at the 47 year old cover shot. No wonder Taylor Swift was originally supposed to play Mitchell in the shelved biopic. Swift wouldn't have even needed make up. All that's missing is "Circle Game"; if that was on here it would be easy to call this set a pre-greatest hits. With a look and sound that inspired a million college girls that thought Sylvia Plath was too depressing and a million moon eyed college boys who thought she would be the ideal girl friend, Mitchell was a calming influence for a zeitgeist that could do nothing but roil. Maybe the youngsters won't get it, but if you are old enough to remember seeing stuff like the moon landing live, this is a wonderful post card from a simpler time and place that promised an amazing future ahead. Over look the rough sound and let yourself be transported back to when, whether you were there or not.

LEONARD COHEN/Back in the Motherland: A 1988 radio broadcast from Toronto in the midst of Cohen's late 80's comeback, there are obvious technical issues that must have prevented this from being part of the spate of old concert dates Cohen has been releasing on Columbia. A fine mix of comeback victories mixed with classics that can't be denied, Cohen and his crew serve up a fine show. Anyone who saw any of the shows on that tour will attest he was in fine form but he seems especially inspired as an elder statesman triumphantly returning to play for the hometown crowd. Turn the clock back to 1988 and you find yourself wondering when he became such a rocker and showman. Now that Cohen is working his way through an endless victory lap, it's easy to take him for granted again, but as a timepiece, this shows just how much he is valued. It might be a little rough around the edges but you don't have to be one of the hard core to enjoy it.

CASHEW & CLEARY/Fathers V. 2-Like a Rich Man: Their tag of western-psych-garage pretty well shows they know who they are. Noize pop in the Kinks tradition, this pretty much is what you'd expect to get when you transplant Manchester to SoCal.

Volume 38/Number 291
August 18, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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