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JOHN WEEKS BAND/Dark Angel: A blues rock crew with a varied international background and fronted by a no nonsense white gal with the blues serves up an infectious groove that you can party to all night long and still have it rattling around in your head the next morning when you just can't pay attention to the normal bla bla bla. Certainly sounding like a bunch that honed their sound as road warriors, this bunch knows how to grab you right out of the box and not let go. Well done.

MADS TOLLING & the Mads Men/Playing the 60s: In which we have a foreigner born in the 80s that cut his teeth on classical violin when everyone his age was shaking it to Madonna giving into his love for sounds from the 60s. Since he brings no baggage to the fore, we're as free to indulge in his vision as he is---and it's a good time. The only thing missing from this collection of pop tunes and TV themes is his take on "Sunny". The perfect kind of instrumental set for when you just want to kick back and have a good time with new variations on old, familiar themes, this set sets the new standard for good time jazz. Well done.

STU HARRISON/Volume 1: The way this piano trio plays Great American Song book songs that have been brushed aside with swing, style and verve, you could almost picture this set being recorded in the 50s when white covers of black music were frequent and plentiful and accessible to new, suburban rec rooms. You could almost picture this being recorded in the studio next door to where the young, original Ramsey Lewis Trio was recording while being buttoned up and buttoned down by the Chess brothers and Daddio Dailey for consumption by white America before Berry Gordy really got the formula down. Meanwhile, all that said, this is some killer jazz piano trio work on some really great songs that shouldn't be forgotten. Top shelf throughout.

MAMUTRIO/Primal Existence: From Belgium it came, a new sax trio that fuses art jazz with Euro sensibilities making for some grand egghead jazz in the way that ECM did it in their younger days. Angular sounds that are carefully plotted in their execution, these three have it going on and manage to fuse jazz from different trio modes in to one, well done whole. A must for sitting down jazz fans.

TOM COLLIER/Impulsive Illuminations: Celebrating his recent retirement after thirty years as a jazz educator, Collier let's the improv drive him rather than the other way around as he transposes ideas and adds Bill Frisell to the mix. Very George Russell in reminisce vibes are going on here as Collier weaves his vibes throughout, this is a set for eggheads that wear their mortar boards proudly. Deceptively simple, there's a lot going on here for those that want to dig in.

CLAY GIBERSON/Pastures: A top flight piano man can do no wrong when he surrounds himself with Matt Wilson, Drew Gress and Donny McCaslin. The result is a straight ahead date with improv touches and lots of jazz that just plain dances in your hears and head. Not afraid of left turns and whimsy in the music, this crew takes the expected and twists it into the unexpected without the results rolling off the rails. If you like easygoing jazz with some pepper in the mix, this is the taste treat you've been waiting for. Check it out.

DAVID FRIESEN CIRCLE 3 TRIO/Triple Exposure: The bass ace leads his piano trio through a tight, solid set that leaves plenty to the imagination but leaves no room for mucking around. On point as only an experienced pro can be, this atmospheric set takes you to the lighter side where it seems only natural a cocktail should be in your hand at sunset. Breezy and airy, the trio commands the sunny side of life with great style. A winner throughout.

IAN CHRISTIANSEN/Finding: Work with me here. The young sax man debuts here with a full band but something about it's vibe sounds like a stripped down version of Pete Christlieb's Warne Marsh duets. Kind of like when James Brown first redefined soul. Clearly a talent that on the rise to a host of good things, he makes the most of this impressive debut that was a long time coming as he wanted to gestate it properly. Any sax fan worth his appreciation of the skronk will want to say they here her first. Check it out.

POPA CHUBBY/Catfish: While Chubby is always entertaining, he does the unexpected here. He made the record the Butterfield Band probably always wanted to make. While their ain't a drop of harmonica anywhere on this, it has all the other elements that drove Butterfield in it's glory days. No need for an appropriation of commercial moves like "Love March" needed here, this set cuts to the chase and raised the roof all at once. Loaded with more blues (rock) than a white boy should be able to muster, Chubby kicks this through the middle of the uprights as truly as possible. Killer stuff throughout.

SWISS YOUTH JAZZ ORCHESTRA/Heaven Help Us All: Everyone once in a while you come across a young big band that isn't the Texas Lab Band that has it going on so well you shake your ears in disbelieve. For their third set, this crew tackles soul jazz from the prime era with a bunch of prime era cuts and romps through it all without making it sound corny. With a few very skilled hands helping in the background to keep things on point, this is a mighty set that sure to give thrills and spills to fans of the era that don't mind it being turned on it's head a touch. Well worth your attention. Check it out.

STEVE GRAVES/Captain Soul: Gather round kiddies. Once upon a time there was this thing called FM and bands that didn't want to sell out but had something to say could go there and be championed. Of course, this was when dinosaurs still ruled the earth. Now it's about play lists. Meh. Graves, a folk rocker with a jam band ethic gets rockier this time, puts a message in his music without hitting you over the head with it and comes up with a spiritually aware set for these rocky times. Music for a reawakened consciousness, Graves has a sound that could lead the way to tomorrow and bring back the importance of lyrics as well. A challenging, wild sound that might help to turn things around. Well done.

Volume 40/Number 11
November 11, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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