BWB: A throwback to smooth jazz from before the advertising community killed it and turned it to wall paper, the three all stars on board here making up this all star session have saxes, trumpets and guitars all in tune and full of soul and funk. Braun, Whalum and Brown knew how to make this music fun before the powers that be showed up with their notes pads telling them which end was up. With no one looking over their shoulders now, the fun has returned. Smoking stuff that even brings soul and gusto to commercial music. A winner throughout.
DARRYL PURPOSE/Still the Birds: A modern day busker that spent a long time playing for tips (and honing his act) he is unintentionally going to draw a slew of comparisons to James Taylor, but for good cause. Not sounding forced or intentional, Purpose just harbors that classic Taylor vibe as a writer and a singer and serves it up with just the right laid back vibe. Way too accomplished an album for the indie world, if this roustabout can wrangle and corral the audience this set deserves, fireworks will ensue. Well done.
JUKE ROCKETS BLUES BAND/Hungry Soul: White people in Maine have the blues and this bunch is as white as their hair is. Led by a blues mama with swagger, they are the leading blues crew in that area and this set shows how easily they can hold all comers at bay. Even stealing a riff from Martin Mull, they leaven their blues with just the right amount of high octane all the while underplaying the overkill. Hitting the bulls eye without any pretense, you gotta love a crew that loves their work and knows how to score. Well done and a sassy good time.
DONALD EDWARDS/Prelude to Real Life: He's only been around since 1987 but he really sounds like he was schlepping gear for Bernard Purdie back in the day---way back. A drummer with a very personal ear in his compositions, if he doesn't make you want to rediscover some Prestige and Flying Dutchman date, you are a millennial with no sense of history. Having great fellow travelers on board to make this a real ensemble kind of jazz date, it's a killer after hours set that delivers throughout. Check it out.
LOUIS HERIVEAUX/Triadic Episode: A jazz piano man that's been a pro since high school finally gets the chance to step out as a solo. Leading a smart trio here, the piano man recalls the grandness of Oscar Peterson with no manqueing around in the mix. Almost a throwback to classy, supper club jazz, Heriveaux has just the right feel and touch to give him standing to line up toe to toe with all the piano greats we already know and love. Smoking stuff that's a fastball right down the middle, you'd be hard pressed to find a piano trio date that flies higher than this. Hot stuff throughout that's tailor made for jazzbo that want something new that works.
RESTROY/Saturn Return: Oh, we can be a sucker for something that sounds like it's coming out a pop up storefront long after all the other neighborhood business have shut down for the night. Progressive jazz mashed up by players with a vision, this sounds like a careening ride down every back alley you ever wanted to hit after midnight. Just suppose Steve Reich was playing to real hipsters instead of arts councils and you might be able to put your finger on what's going on here. A real ear opener, anyone up for a really wild ride is going to love this. Hot stuff.
MARK MANDEVILLE & RAIANNE RICHARDS/Grain by Grain: Leading with Mandeville's weathered John Prine type voice, recidivist folkies will be taken in right away by this folk/Americana duo that trods the ground with just the right footfall. Borrowing just a tad from an earlier time when folk was flirting with art, this home spun heartfelt music is totally engaging. I don't hear the comparisons to Ian & Sylvia but I do hear something that could have some from that era with a distinct vibe all it's own. Organic music that gets it right throughout by a duo you just have to hear.
DARIA/Strawberry Fields Forever: After a decade with Dan Hicks, Daria has reinvented herself as a gal. Mixing jazz with southern hemisphere jazz/world and a bunch of swing, Daria comes across as our kind of gal. Do the Beatles need another set of reinvention? Only if it's as smart and sassy as this set. Putting you on the edge of your seat to expect the unexpected, the most hardened Beatles purist will find nothing to carp about here. A winner throughout by a pro who cares---and it shows.
MATTHEW FRIES/Parallel States: An in demand piano jazzbo accompanist, Fries shakes off the big city dust and returns to his solo roots for a well composed and played set that shows how solo piano records should be made. Challenging himself as an artist, the chances he takes are well placed bets making this the kind of date you can just fall back into and let it wash over you. Loaded with chops to spare that he doesn't feel the need to roll out all at once, this is one of those sets that raises the bar and sets the gold standard for it's genre. Killer stuff loaded with just the right vibe that never wears out it's welcome.
PHIL PALOMBI/Detroit Lean: A solid throwback to the times where there were a lot of regional fusion band that weren't trying to imitate Weather Report, this time out Palombi's only theme is the things going through his head when he moved to New York back in the late 90s. With a sweet vibe that goes back farther than that, the bass ace shakes off his tribute mindedness and let's his own flag fly freely here all to good effect. Smart, angular stuff almost with that under the radar vibe that the hipper than thou love, this is the real deal for contemporary jazz fans that want some meat on the bone.
Volume 39/Number 169
April 18, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record
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