Best Local Jazz Album
It's hard enough to be a working jazzman in South Florida, let alone one who treads the avant-garde side of the tracks. So rather than worry about pleasing club owners searching for nothing more than background noise, saxophonist Keshavan Maslak (a.k.a. Kenny Millions, a tongue-in-cheek nod to the local success-crazed vibe) devotes most of his live appearances to European music festivals. And rather than deal with record-company pressures, Maslak has recently taken to recording in his own living room, setting up the microphones himself and issuing the results on his own Hum Ha label. On his latest outing, he's invited noted pianist Burton Greene -- a fellow exiled veteran of the downtown NYC jazz scene -- for a series of forceful duets titled simply Detroit Meets Chicago, a reference to each performer's hometown and musical roots. Both men skip back and forth between traditional riffs and free jazz, with Maslak effortlessly shifting from a tender melodic line to some truly wigged-out honking. Likewise Greene is a master at both gentle ivory tickling and a jarring attack that could give even Cecil Taylor shivers. Yet as heady as the music gets, Maslak never lets listeners forget the point of it all. As he growls out loud in one song: "C'mon and have some serious fun/Don't worry about who's dead and gone!"
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