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Recent Recordings of Area Musicians


Dream DancingApparently, Meri Slaven's Dream Dancing is a first album. Her website doesn't give much information about her except that she plays in clubs north of Detroit. However, the singer and the instrumental backing on this album are worthy of further listening.

I like her better on the slow tracks rather than the up-tempo items. Her voice just seems better suited to tunes like "Close Your Eyes" or the two Jobim tunes "Meditation" and "Quiet Nights." (On the former she sings easily and impressively in Portuguese; at least I think it's Portuguese!) She gives these numbers a throaty, sensual treatment that's charming. I just didn't like her as well on tunes like "Destination Moon" and "I'm Beginning to See The Light."

The arranging (by Scott Gwinnell) and instrumental accompaniment (by Dennis Horvath on bass, Scott Kretzer on drums and Gwinnell on piano) is first-class. Carl Cafagna plays sax and flute on a few tracks and Molly Hughes plays an electronically-multiplied violin on four. (I assume she's multiplied; she's the only violin credited but you can hear a whole section.)

All in all, this is a most pleasant CD with a good singer handling eleven good songs.

AMatt Michaels, recipient of this year's Ron Brooks Award from SEMJA, needs no introduction to jazz buffs in this area. His education and performance credits are impeccable. Put him together with a venue like the Kerrytown Concert House and its magnificent piano and you can't miss. A special credit also to Tom Court who did the engineering.

On An Evening with Matt Michaels, Live At Kerrytown Concert House, all the tracks are wonderful. But the highlight is the 19-minute Gershwin medley of "Fascinatin' Rhythm," "Summertime," "Someone To Watch Over Me," and "I Got Rhythm" — each played with a different approach.

Michaels is an extremely skilled and thoughtful pianist. As the liner notes to this CD point out, Michaels recalls many styles in his playing. The excellent liner notes, by Michaels' Wayne State colleague Dennis Tini, credit the pianist with recalling Gershwin's own piano style, that of Fats Waller, Bill Evans and others. Tini also notes Michaels' "reverence to the Masters" with touches of Bach, Brahms, Rachmaninov and others.

This is a jazz CD which can both be listened to intently or just put on for a superb background.

AMore Interpretationpril Tini's More Interpretation finds Michaels back to work again, this time in a predominately Portuguese setting. (Ten of the eleven selections are Portuguese, seven of them by Antonio Carlos Jobim.) The leader here is bassist Dan Jordan with Rob Pipho on Vibes, David Taylor on Percussion and April Tini on vocals. The whole project is a follow-up to their first Interpretation CD.

In the liner notes, Jordan refers to his group as "straight-ahead Americans" but they certainly sound native on the up-tempo Portuguese items just as though they were out of Lisbon or Rio. In fact, the only defect on the disk is some of the rather awkward English translations of Portuguese songs, e.g., "Luiza."

For some reason or another, this first-class jazz combo turns away from the Portuguese on the last track and plays the great standard, "The Night We Called It A Day." It reminds us that they are indeed a group of "straight-ahead Americans" capable of playing all kinds of great jazz.

Reedin'Sax Alive's Reedin' is absolutely delightful from beginning to end! This group of five saxophonists in their late 70s (formerly called "The World's Oldest Living Sax Section") plays sixteen diverse numbers with great verve. Their inspirations are many — Basie's "Shiny Stockings" and "Lil Darlin';" Ellington's "Caravan" and "Prelude To A Kiss;" Woody Herman's "Four Brothers;" even Elvis Costello, plus others.

This is Sax Alive's third album and we can hope for more. The sax players are Larry Teal, Jr., on alto, Norm Gladstone on alto and clarinet, Earl DeForest and Nick Seiler on tenor and Fred Boldt on baritone. They are backed by Tim Teal on guitar, Ernie Daunter on bass, and Chris Teal on drums. They all solo and also helped with adaptations and arrangements.

Their unison work can be both beautiful and swinging and the solos are outstanding. They obviously had a great time making this CD and you'll have a ball listening to it. As for me, I'm a sucker for sax sections as it is and this disk is a musical chocolate éclair.

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