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BRENDA NAVARRETE/Mi Mundo: A jazzy Cuban vocalist keeps it real, so much so that some of this sounds like it came from the Cuba in "Godfather II". A delightful indigenous set recorded in Cuba as a dream come true for Navarrete, the energy and passion that flows with a labor of love is here in full force. Tasty stuff the armchair traveler will relish, this is a side of Latin jazz that often exposed but not like it is here. A winner throughout.

DOLORES SCOZZESI/Here Comes the Sun: When producer Mark Winkler is working with a new act or an act you don't know, he should put his name on the front cover so those in the know will just take the chance that he won't let them down this time either. A real swinging jazz vocalist, Scozzesi take the chestnuts and roasts them finely making them taste and smell all new. You can tell everybody on board is relishing their chance to dig down into some creative wells that aren't often tapped in the one take commercial/studio world where you play what's written because you were hired because you can sight read and play it in one take. Tasty throughout, this is the kind of fun set you'll find your self returning to, often.

DAFNIS PRIETO BIG BAND/Back to the Sunset: With a genius grant in his back pocket, the jazzy drummer puts the money to good use by debuting his big band in an extravaganza that leaves no expense spared. Hot, hard hitting and smoking throughout, his Cuban roots are showing and his love of jazz powers the whole thing mightily. Big band fans have a real show piece on their hands here.

KAIROS SEXTET/Transition: A bunch of swift youngbloods emerge from Dafnis Prieto's penumbra to chase their own muses and kick things off with a Raymond Scott homage that sounds and feels like it came from Scott's back pages. A well seasoned crew that plays wise beyond their years, they rollick like a big band and serve up one of the most joyful noises you are going to hear. Winning stuff that raises the roof beams on high.

GHOST TOWN BLUES BAND/Backstage Pass: This bunch of rocked up white boys with the blues take Beatles to places you've never heard in all the incarnations of Beatles reconfigurations that have gone down over the years. And that's just the kick off to this package live recordings culled from the last few festival circuit runs. Utterly wild stuff every step of the way, this is how bands you never heard of survive until you do hear of them. One of the top musical high wire acts of our time to emerge from the back 40.

ECHO BLOOM/Green: Leonard Cohen for the generation raised on EDM, this mild electro set dazzles with it's many textures and piercing lyrics. The group's most polished effort yet, the professionalism doesn't blunt the raw edges of the past, only enhancing them. As essential to college kids as cold pizza the morning after.

GONG EXPRESSO/Decadence: With a vibe that echoes Velvet Underground the morning after, there's a lightly sinister, minimalist feel to this atmospheric set. If you dug the Gong of the past, this might be a modern extension you can easily live with.

ANDREW & CASEY CALHOUN/Skeins: The best family folkie band since the Armstrongs ruled the roost, father and daughter combine in a way that only shared DNA can make happen. With a song set that travels so far beyond the tried and true into corners that make you go ‘huh?' when you realize what you are listening to, this is the sound of traditional sounds facing forward into tomorrow. This is the proverbial ‘if you only buy one traditional folk record this year' kind of record. It's time to start the campaign for next year's traditional folk record Grammy. Killer stuff.

JEFF WILLIAMS/Lifelike: Left leaning UK jazz straight from the listening room, this bunch plays it pro and plays it for the progressive taste. Not pandering to the pots and pans crowd, you can just picture the hipsters nodding their heads approvingly to the beat.

FERNANDO GARCIA/Guasabara Puerto Rico: Caliente sounds for both gringo and hombre, this Saturday night special can be heard in a New York restaurant but it's a sound that needs to escape farther out. Poly rhythmic, percolating sounds of the street from the barrio, this set comes at you from so many directions at once, you have a hard time keeping with it all. Smoking Latin jazz from a drummer that knows how to give everyone some, this is the next party on a platter that you need to RSVP for. Hot!

Volume 41/Number 95
February 3, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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