Granted, smooth jazz is not exactly a staple of your friendly neighborhood Reverb column. But when it comes to top-flight Colorado Springs jazz musician Tony Exum Jr., even our most hard-edged punk, metal and hip-hop friends would have to acknowledge that the man is a consummate musician. And for those who retain a soft spot for fusion-era Grover Washington Jr. and Ronnie Laws recordings, a new album from the local saxman is surely an event worth celebrating.
Which is just what will happen this Friday at Stargazers, where Exum and company will celebrate the release of The One. Co-produced by Exum and Opie Gone Bad drummer Tarell Martin, the new album also features guitarist Tim Bowman and saxophonist Marcus Anderson performing a set of the saxophonist's seductively soulful originals. There's also a mellifluous cover of New Edition's late-'80s ballad "Can You Stand the Rain," featuring Terrill Paul (aka Rellion), who sang backup vocals, appropriately enough, on Bobby Brown's new album, The Masterpiece. Admission for the 8 p.m. concert is free, which means you'll have plenty of money to pick up the album, right?
The coming week also marks the arrival of two more significant local releases, albeit of a more under-the-radar variety. On July 22, look for the debut of Lingua Franca, a chamber-pop solo project by the Flumps' Alex Koshak that, based on the advance track "Dynamo," has an appealingly plaintive aesthetic similar to the one that's made the Florence-born indie-rock band so popular up this way. From what I'm told, Alex spent a lot of time with a well-worn copy of The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (as well as the venerable British band's subsequent "Victoria" single) while working on the record, which can't be a bad thing. You can look up Lingua Franca on bandcamp.com for more info.
And while you're there, head over to Inaiah Lujan's bandcamp page to check out his new EP. Captured on his sister Chela's old four-track recorder, it's a lot more stripped-down than what we've come to expect from recent Haunted Windchimes recordings, which only adds to the charm. If the Windchimes' sound is rooted in the traditions of Woody Guthrie, Bill Monroe and Huddie Ledbetter, Lujan's seven-track Dog Days EP has a more pronounced Beatles influence, especially on the opening "Nothing as It Seems," which sounds a bit like "Across the Universe" on a morphine drip. There's even an ode to the late Mal Evans, the Beatles' friend and road manager who, among other things, set off the alarm clock in the middle of "A Day in the Life" and also struck one of the five simultaneous piano chords at the song's conclusion.
And finally, while we're on the subject, here's an early heads-up that both the Flumps and the Windchimes will be among the more than two dozen acts playing the Americana Music and Art Festival, which will take place in Florence's Pioneer Park from Aug. 3 through 5. (Info at americanamusicandart.com.) The eclectic lineup ranges from Willy Tea Taylor's band the Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit to El Toro de la Muerte and Edith Makes a Paper Chain, but we'll save the rest for another column.
In the meantime, Happy Ramadan and have fun out there, OK?