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MONDAY MICHIRU/Portraits in Time 2002-2013: The always fascinating Michiru finally gets a long overdue retrospective that might not take her back to the beginning of her career but does turn the clock back to the beginning of the century. Focusing on material she controls, she got to cherry pick her back pages to highly complimentary effect. Always left leaning no matter what flavor she scoops up, she manages progressive and traditional moves hitting it out of the park best when she's got her jazz vocal chops front and center. A tasty set the uninitiated will be wondering why to took so long for them to jump in. Solid stuff.

TURN/Waiting for Fred: A young jazz piano trio that's pretty traditional all the way through except for the angular, lightly left leaning tunes that parade on by. Smart stuff that is loaded with ear opening moves that keep you on the edge of your chair to hear what's coming next, it's such a treat when you run into a bunch of young bloods that aren't displaying creativity just for the sake of creativity and have something behind it to really make a statement with. Well done.
71168 (Jazzthing Next Generation #62)

BIRGITTA FLICK QUARTET/Dalarna: Hey, radio programmers, shrug off the art chick opening riffs and get down to business with Flick at around the 3 minute mark when she kicks some progressive, left leaning jazz stuff into gear taking you back to the good old days of ESP, WATT, BYG, JCOA and other labels when you thought the cats were just acting out but later listenings made you hear they were on to something. Flick brings together some cross cultural Artic Circle elements and she shows us there's more than death metal going on up there. Boundary pushers like Flick need your ears because they usually come up with something mind blowing as their chops deepen. Check it out.

FREDDY COLE/He Was the King: As if there's a way to say anything bad about a set by Nat's brother in which he lines up Houston Person and a crack crew of jazzbos to sing his brother's song in his own way but making them shine nonetheless. Perhaps the vocal event of the season, this is a non stop smoking set of smoking songs by smoking players. Take that all you contemporary goofs that have to run your stuff by focus groups. This was all originally music made by heart and soul directed by gut instinct----and that's why it sounds so righteous still today. A winner throughout.

RUSSELL MALONE/All About Melody: Certainly with nothing left to prove at this stage of his career, the tasteful swinger knows how to make commercial moves without making them feel hollow allowing the tunes to stick with you long after the record is over. In a class by himself, Malone leads the rest of the crew through a romping workout and a good time is had by all. This is sitting down jazz that'll have you bouncing in your chair and keep the blood flowing. Hot stuff throughout.

HENRI TEXIER/Dakota Mab: The latest entry in this jazz legends series sounds like it's focusing on the sax players on the date but the driving force is the 70 year old bass player at the center of it all that's plucking those strings with the ferocity of a youngster, much like Eldee Young was still doing in his 70s. While the bunch on display here might have been hell raisers in their younger days, this is a straight ahead, forward thinking set that has them banded together for the joy of kicking out the jams. While they certainly and expectedly bring a bit of a 50s vibe to the date, it feels genuine and natural giving the date a lived in feel that makes you sure you're listening to some long time greats. Killer stuff that doesn't quit.
71317 (European Jazz Legends 5)

DAVE LIEBMAN-RICHIE BEIRACH/Balladscapes: The two jazzbo pals, friends since their teens and vets of Liebman's debut set with the help of Jack deJohnette and Dave Holland, they pair it down to the duo essence of sax and piano and show just how strong and flawless the power of two can be. Liebman, who's been doing a series of late career killer dates, each showing a different side of his vibe, seems to be channeling his inner, non-Brazil, non new age Paul Winter here adding yet another color to his palette since the final sound is unmistakably Lieb. While these two probably only slow down long enough to make sure their Medicare part B is paid and current, not only is there no dust on them but their finger joints sound more spry than mine. Real, pure playing by a pair of cats that have survived all the changes and are here to tell the story to anyone hip enough to know to dig it. Killer stuff throughout.

MARTY ELKINS/Walkin' By the River: You might be tempted to pick this up because of the 50s gal vibe that hosts the cover of this jazz set. Surprise, the set card might be full of oldies but Marty is the gal on the cover exercising the vibe. Totally giving it the thrush rush, Elkins delivers these tunes as if she reached into a wormhole in time and pulled them back here for today. The oldies album Maria Muldaur should have made in the mid 70s, this is the bomb by real vocal bombshell. Tasty stuff throughout that really makes you grin merrily.

PAT TRAVERS-CARMINE APPICE/Balls Album: These two hard rock brand names are a lot more fun when they get together then revival versions of same era bands where half the band is younger than the fans. Pure rock warriors that never copped out and took days jobs, this is a pure hard rock gasser. Get those fists pumping, fire up a doob and remember what it was to be young and wild. These cats do! Even if this is a reissue of some 12 year old stuff, you know they probably still sound like this today. Killer stuff.

TAEKO OTA/Walk My Way: A business major smitten with the Frank Sinatra bug found it more fun to study jazz vocal than marketing algorithms and hied it off to the studio to show the world how much fun it is to play hooky. A nice slice of club flavored jazz/funk, Ota knows how to make you feel her original lyrics and delivers them in fine form. Quite a nifty debut.

Volume 39/Number 149
March 29, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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