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DAVID COOK/Scenic Design: As you may well ask, what's the piano man/music director for acts like Taylor Swift, N'Sync, Natasha Bedingfield and others like that doing in Brooklyn being a jazz hipster and playing with bubbling under, jazz stars of tomorrow playing stuff that feels Keith Jarrett inspired? Oh, don't be so narrow minded, some players just have chops too big to be contained or pigeon holed. Just be glad he can make a decent enough living that he can explore his creative side---which he shows here to be much more than a busman's holiday. Inspired more by Jarrett's Miles side than his ECM side, Cook takes it back to that pre-fusion moment in jazz when those with real vision were able to withstand the Beatles tsunami. A solid set for those progressive, left leaning ears that like well wrought sitting down jazz that almost gets you up and moving around. Well done.

DAVID SMITH QUINTET/Impetus: Almost coming across like a self contained suite, this is laid back jazz with the trumpet man providing a lot of simple, elegant blowing that gives you that late night feeling. Conveying the feeling of all being well, Smith and company sound like this is a well trod groove for them. Nicely done throughout.

HENRY GRAY-BOB CORRITORE/Sessions V. 1-Blues Won't Let me Take My Rest: First the tote board: Howlin' Wolf's piano player and the harp ace have been recording together for 19 years; most of these tracks are previously unreleased tracks from the vault; Gray recently turned 90; the guests herein can't be overlooked. The question must be posed: how can out takes be such motherfuckers and feel like a cohesive album? This is a solid set of post war, industrial blues that's as close to the real time, real thing as we can ever come again. Simply put, if you love the blues, you have to own this set and play it often.

BOB MINTZER BIG BAND/Get Up: Mintzer and his pals, including ringers from Yellowjackets, come around to serve up some big band funk just in time to heat up the summer just so. Making sure big band is contemporary instead of corny, Mintzer corrals his formidable chops that have been powering A list projects for longer than he should put on his resume and serves up a smoking platter of the real deal whether on his originals or tunes of his youth he can't get out of his system. Hot stuff throughout.

MITTENFIELDS/Optimists: Crunchy, old school guitar rock with new school feelings and emotions that don't wallow in emo. Back after basically a four year lay off, they've re-energized nicely and know the college kid moves well making them a sure bet to be more than underground darlings as time rushes on. Check it out.

JEFF MIGUEL/Perseverance: I don't know what Harold Hill is bitching about in River City but let me tell you, there's jazz in Iowa City and recent MA grad Miguel is doing a solid job of finding and leading it. A mainstream sax man that brings some new chops and ideas to the forum, this is music from someone that has learned his lessons well in the classroom and is now fully ready to add some real world special sauce to the mix for all to savor. A well done auspicious debut by a cat that makes you wish the major labels weren't going around saying "Jazz? What's jazz?" Hot stuff.

JD ALLEN/Graffiti: A tenor sax trio that tears it up in classic New York fashion, you'd almost think Allen learned to play listening to Sonny Rollins blowing under the bridge back in the day. Muscular blowing to the right of pure skronk, Allen makes first class creative music for well turned creative ears to appreciate. Primal and hard hitting, it's a tonic for hipster ears that like some edge and outré in their mix.

SOLITARE MILES/Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas: Just when you think gals are becoming an endangered species, a well pedigreed jazz singer goes looking for some new challenges and finds western swing right around the next corner. Recruiting some of the crème of the crop of contemporary Chicago, these new interpretations of western swing classics hit's the target with room to spare. A tasty set of retro neuvo vibes, Miles and company might be working outside the current mainstream here but they don't make something you need obscure taste to enjoy and appreciate. Chops are chops are they are here by the truck load. Well done.

LASZLO GARDONY/Life in Real Time: So what happens when you've been building up a great solo and jazz piano trio discography over the last 25 years and want to branch out to shake off the dust? How about adding three right on sax players to the mix and take it everywhere from Nawlins to Birdland and everywhere else in between? A killer date, made all the more potent by being recorded live in front of a home campus audience, Gardony reasserts his pre-eminence and puts fun smack in the middle of the heart of jazz. Killer stuff from a pro that wants to keep pushing and all to good effect.

Volume 38/Number 224
June 12, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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