ACCIDENTAL TOURISTS/The L.A. Sessions: Take a piano jazzbo in his 40s that's been around long enough to pay his dues and get well seasoned. Put his love for Bill Evans front and center, surround him with Evans' drummer and Art Pepper's bass player and what happens? Probably the album Evans would have made if he didn't drop dead after he cleaned up. Originally being from Germany, there's some 70s/80s ECM flavored special sauce in the mix as well making this quite the tasty treat for those who want to hear from a real jazz piano trio music that has no gimmick or come on other than quality. A winning set throughout that jaded ears will embrace.
PHILIP LASSER/Colors of Feelings: He could stand to ditch that drippy new age title of this album, but other than that, Lasser continues his assent in the world of contemporary classical vocal works in fine style. A very French tasting chamber work, parlor music fans will love these world premiere recordings and will be sure to pass the word.
STILLNESS-A Collection/various: In an increasingly noisy world, can a collection called "Stillness" be over looked? Probably not. A meditative album with cuts pulled from artists new and vintage at the label, it's a well tracked, themed showcase that has audio getaway stamped all over it. Never drippy or exploitative, this is a set for people serious about getting their equilibrium back after one too many hits in the head, psychic or otherwise. Yep, it's a spa afternoon for your head.
EGYPTIAN PROJECT/Ya Amar: A French producer that's been into Arabic music since before Arab Spring came into vogue seizes the opportunity to put together an Egyptian version of Backstreet Boys (complete with them being older and ethnic) and sets sail into his dreams of making traditional Arabic music contemporary without losing a step in the cross pollination. The result? Probably too ethnic for mainstream and lightly left leaning tastes. Well produced and well conceived, it's a pretty solid bet for those that like to get out of their arm chair and go a little deeper into the world beat.
ANTONIO ZAMBUJO/Quinto: He says he's a fado singer, but we normally associate fado with women and there's nothing feminine about this vocalist that brings a world edge to what he's calling fado. With simple instrumentation and backing, and a bunch of songs in which we don't know what he's talking about, Zambujo captures the tourist music experience and moves it to the next level of the game. A lot deeper than the stuff the guy standing in the corner of your fave Mediterranean restaurant on weekends does, you don't have to know the language to feel what's going on. Speaking as a gringo, this is a first rate intimate foreign language recording. Check it out.
FRANK ZAPPA/Thing Fish: With the Barking Pumpkin in full swing and no overlords other than CBS distribution to give Zappa a headache, he moved the dada into the realm of biting satire and at the time it seemed like none but the true believers would follow him here when in retrospect and actuality Zappa was gearing up for things to come. Foretelling his battles with the man when he really got into locking horns over freedom of expression, this multi layered Swiftian opus really took things to task. All that and he didn't neglect the music. Often crossing over from biting satire to outright ball whacking, Zappa turned a corner that he would never look back from, even when recycling old songs for new purposes and spring boarding on old concepts from Hollywood Blvd as a lift off to Mars and beyond. A clear cut high water mark, this is where the rock opera headed once it left Broadway in the dust.
FRANK ZAPPA/Shut Up and Play Your Guitar: In which we find several discs worth of Zappa guitar solos culled from here and there from the top of the 80s. Another set from a particularly fertile period, this is Zappa front and center delivering one blistering guitar solo after another, swinging for the fences and hitting to all fields. Certainly enough meat here to answer those that just wanted to hear his compositional/instrumental side, this is right up there with any of the all time guitar tour de force records. Certainly not for his fans of the funny stuff--but other than that...
FRANK ZAPPA/The Man From Utopia: Who wouldn't like a Zappa comedy heavy record from the 80s where it kicks it off taking the record business to task? This is the place where we call bullshit on the normally pretty reliable All Music Guide. They say this is Zappa's worst record. Take that with a grain of salt. It's like 2012 Beavis & Butthead not having the punch of 1993 B&B because stuff they would have successfully skewered back then are now mainstream. Times change, Zappa did a fine job of changing with them. His lancing humor was often a tent pole, a lighthouse and a talisman and the humor here isn�t really dated. And Steve Vai is here making his bones to boot with licks that would cement a reputation. Check it out.
Volume 35/Number 350
October 15, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record
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