SOREN MOLLER/Christian X Variations: A wide screen opus of sitting down jazz in the spiritual tradition of Stan Kenton. Mixing his own brew of jazz and classical in a pomo world, Moller is not static and doesn't gear his stuff to sup at the arts council fount. Listening music all the way, he's animated, spunky and adventurous, all in very good ways. A left leaning treasure trove, this is somewhat challenging music that's not for the complacent. Well done.
BRIAN LANDRUS QUARTET/Traverse: Still a relative youngster, this sax man has played with everyone and now chooses to record for his own label, probably for the sound economic reason that he can count on himself to pay himself. Choosing to lay out with some nice small group, straight ahead playing, this is a sweet date where his compatriots give him proper room to move and groove in easy going, sitting down style. A sweet bet for mainstream groovers. And he writes most of it himself.
JANE STUART/don't Look Back: The really funny thing about this album is that it sounds like the Diana Krall album that should have followed "When I Look Into Your Eyes". The music echoes the setting Tommy LiPuma fashioned for Krall and Stuart's vocals seem to be informed by all the greats that preceded Krall and gave her voice. Everything about Stuart registers as a classic thrush, but she doesn't really remind you of Conner, O'Day etc. Pulling off the balancing act of being new but familiar and still being able to pull you in, Stuart is simply going to be the new darling and heart throb of jazz vocal fans everywhere. A winner throughout.
AMIR FARID/Veiled Virtuosity: Move over Limelight and Naxos, here's a killer classical piano man on a budgie label that is anything but cheap. An accomplished award winner that probably scoops them up quite easily, Farid presents an intimate recital that veers from the well worn but will be most welcome by classical ears in search of something new. Whether hitting the classics or works by cats that are probably friends of his, Farid has got the mighty touch in those ten fingers. Treat yourself to a real treat.
DEBRA BLAQUIERE/Little Wing: So how to you feel about a jazz diva that brings the chops but leaves thee attitude at home? It's kind of nice to hear a from the heart reading of jazz standards and classics without "American Idol" over the top drama passing for emotion. With simple, sparse backing that fills the palette nicely, Blaquiere is a delightful old friend you haven't met yet. Easy and graceful, she knows her stuff and she's got the right stuff. Check it out.
AMY BLACK/One Time: Supposing Etta Baker hadn't predated Elvis Presley. Do you think what passed for Americana back then would have been rocked up and sound something like Amy Black today? She serves up Americana for the left side of the ledger and is completely unafraid to let her southern roots show. Maybe if Lucinda Williams hadn't moved to LA and sold her publishing to Madonna? Whatever, heartfelt kick ass/whup ass as delivered from the heart, this singer/songwriter stuff is real and in the moment while doing a good bit of time and place shifting. A killer set that commands and demands your attention but is prepared to reward it as well. Hot stuff.
SIMON & SCHUSTER AUDIOWORKS
DR. HENRY CLOUD/The Law of Happiness: What if you could find a Dr. Phil that wasn't a bully and didn't get in your face wanting to know how that's working fer ya? Cloud, a satellite radio host repurposes some Zen philosophy in a Biblical setting and basically tells you the road to happiness is to do more with less, unclutter your life and relationships and all that. Certainly a solid reminder for those who need to be reminded that if you can't find the answers within you most certainly will not find them without.
WARNER HOME VIDEO
DUE DATE: Basically Steve Martin and John Candy have been replaced by Robert Downey and Zach Galifianakis, the new go to guy for anyone who needs a szhlub in a low comedy. Aiming low and hitting it's target, this fish out of water buddy comedy about getting across country in all the wrong ways is a great beer and chips pic in the tradition of previous hits by the same director (The Hangover, etc). As comfortable a comedy as Rob Schneider's were in his hey day, the torch has passed and the yuks keep flowing. The blu ray package also includes a standard DVD and digital copy.
Volume 34/Number 112
February 21, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record
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