TIN HAT/Foreign Legion: It's so tempting to call this sitting down jazz, but it isn't quite. An expansion of the Tin Hat Trio, this enlarged crew obviously has a fuller sound, while it also engages it's use of white space in a different fashion. It's not exactly church basement jazz even though you can picture a dance troupe using this as their sound track. It's inventive and creative mixing a lot of moods you know into a new space that takes you new places. I guess you could call it sitting down jazz in the same way you'd call "Kind of Blue" sitting down jazz. Just for the lack of something else. Certainly this, it's first class, adult head music that dances at the edge of so many things you just find yourself sitting back and enjoying the ride. Well done.
BEN GOLDBERG/Go Home: A clarinet player that feels like he was inspired by Coltrane kicks things off for his own label with a top shelf set surrounded by leaders as his sidemen and all are on board for a rollicking time. One of those dates that passes as listening jazz but really isn't, this is a hyper creative outing where the players stretch out in a linear way that doesn't have them wandering off the page but let's them color outside the lines when they need to. Improv meets groove and the good times flow.
KEN PEPLOWSKI/Noir Blue: I once saw this guy years ago when I was just trying to get out of the cold when there were no cabs around and he was playing some little restaurant. I've been a fan ever since. One of the current giants of clarinet and sax, Peplowski surrounds himself here with some colorful players for a swinging romp on some chestnuts and a few originals that fit the flow. A solidly classic quartet date that has Blue Note stamped all over it, this is sweet set that needs a few resident bytes on your IPod for repeat playing. A winner throughout.
DAMIAN ERSKINE/So To Speak: When they bring the kids into the family business, it can only go one of two ways. Either the kid is a waste of breath or he wants to impress his elders. Pete's nephew, who has had a front row seat to best of contemporary jazz since before he probably knew what it was, is the kid that wants to impress his elders. I guess chops can be absorbed by osmosis. A high octane contemporary jazz fusillade that has it on the ball at every turn. In case you thought Victor Wooten is as good as it gets for jazz bass, you would be right, but now Wooten has a worthy, new bookend. Hot stuff.
DICK 50/Late Show: Delbert McClinton's band goes old school and knocks off a record in one session pretty much making things up on the fly. Well, here's the reason why McClinton's shows power a career that flies under the radar, unrepentantly. These cats are smart rockers that have a lot on the ball and mostly know how to deliver the party. Fun stuff that's more than a busman's holiday.
JASON KING BAND/Blue Skies & Black Shoes: Quite frankly, I like when things get twisted around. Whitey no longer is the culprit in stealing the blues, this kid is from Philippines. He's got a really interesting voice that isn't here or there but is sure to grab you with it's uniqueness for blues. Beyond that, the kid is amazingly on the money with the sound and fury. Everything is so right in the pocket that contemporary blues is simply in good hands with him. And he's a shredder to boot. This set could easily be the left field surprise of the month. Totally solid throughout and sure to be the start of making King a household name in better blues households everywhere.
TOMOKO SUGAWARA/Along the Silk Road: What hath Yo Yo Ma wrought? Is this world? New Age? Buddhist classical? Off beat yoga music? What? Sugawara is playing a classical harp that hasn't even been seen in real time for over 300 years. Obviously recreated here by crafty luthiers, Sugawara plays solo, in an enchanting and engrossing style that uses white space as much as notes to craft a singular experience that could redefine a lot of things for a new generation of ears. How much to you want to make a bet she winds up making a fortune licensing this for background music for a movie about the Chinese mafia in a scene where the head bad guy does subtly menacing stuff to the crusading cop? An experience outside the ordinary that isn't just a slab of art that is pretty but doesn't move you. Hard to describe, easy to fall for.
WATERBUG ANTHOLOGY NINE/various: That august bastion of contemporary folk music rides with the times as this is their first anthology to come out with no traditional tunes. A fatly tracked cross section of their artists and their catalog for the budget price of $5, the artists chose their own released and unreleased efforts so the glass is all full. There's a lot of wonderful stuff to discover here, all of it showing that acoustic and singer/songwriter music is alive and well even if it's not in your face 24/7/
Volume 33/Number 129
March 10, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record
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