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AS IS featuring ALAN & STACEY SCHULMAN/Here's to Life: Tasty, swinging jazz vocals with help from some solid downtown cats that you wouldn't think of as having the daddio chops to tie this all together. The song set is leaning heavily on chestnuts but they are all made new. Solid swing that doesn't quit, this is the kind of high octane set that's always a real treat.

KEVIN KASTNING-SANDOR SZABO/Ethereal 1: Two great guitar innovators team up again for their 8th outing, in which they don't repeat themselves from past efforts, and explore further realms in further depth. Setting the bar high for any experimenters that think this looks too easy, this one of a kind cerebral set is clearing a date for the mind looking for expansion. Wild stuff that goes deep within, this pair of non traditionalists forge some new traditions here. Hot stuff.

HARLEY CARD/Greatest Invention: A Canadian jazz guitarist that has muscular chops keeps things angular and moving forward on his latest that's sure to garner more of the attention he knows how to get. Tasty stuff sure to please left leaning ears, this is simply the work of an innovator continuing to push the limits and succeeding.

MARE WAKEFIELD & NOMAD/Time to Fly: In the old days, you would have called this duo folkies and then some. Now we call them organic and eclectic. Buoyant and bouncy, this is a tasty, taste treat that is much more than a confection and doesn't come with empty calories. Simply smart throughout, this bunch is on point and in the moment and it should be no surprise they have trouble lugging home all the awards they rack up. A winner throughout we could use more of.

MARIA SCHAFER/To Know Love: What are they putting in the water in the Glenn Miller tour bus. Schafer takes a break from the Miller crew and comes in with a wildly swinging set that reminds you thrushes can walk the daddio line as well. Swinging, cool daddio lounge jazz, this Downbeat darling is just the right tonic for jaded jazz ears. Killer stuff throughout that righteously brings the chestnuts back into sharp focus!

WALI ALI/To Be: A deliciously fluid jazz guitar player shows that he's walked the walk as well as talked the talk. Masterfully showing he knows the language of jazz, you've probably heard a load of him over the years and just never knew it as he made a career of bringing up the rear and letting the light shine on the front person. Wonderful tasty stuff throughout, this is just what you need when you want to hear some killer jazz guitar. Hot stuff.

MUSIQUE NOIRE/Reflections-We Breathe: High minded, high end world jazz by a crew of jazzy gals that don't want to be called gals as they honor the women warriors of music with this Nina Simone inflected date that gives you the primal sound of passion through pain as it plays on. Not a set to be taken lightly, this is what you get when a large swath of the population starts rising up angry. Not exactly egghead music but deep, passionate stuff nonetheless.

JEFF BAKER/Phrases: A jazz vocalist that took a long time off returns in fine style with an impeccable crew and deep lyrics backed by deep playing. A high water mark for sitting down semi-egghead jazz, there's a lot of jazz mash up going on here and this is not a set for listeners that let grass grown under their feet. A solid ear openers throughout.

LEX GREY & the Urban Pioneers/Usual Suspects: A top notch boozy, slurry, bawdy broad, Grey brings it all to the blues with four on the floor. She might be a white girl, but she's has the blues in her blood. Almost a counter part to Tom Waits, this is a sonic walk on the wild side that'll leave you feeling like you just experienced the real thing. Killer stuff for those who want to cuts loose and leave no stone unturned. Hot.

HART SCONE & ALBIN/Leading the British Invasion: A swinging B3 trio, this bunch is looking for a hook and a gimmick and they've found one in celebrating the British invasion but not by retreading Beatles but by going distaff and doing tunes from Blighty either written by the gals or made famous by them. Look a hit is a hit and chops are chops so there isn't much room for misfires here. A new look at old faves from across the generations, with B3 at the core, how can it not be a gasser? Well done throughout.

Volume 41/Number 80
January 19, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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