Composer-producer Shawn Maxwell plays alto and soprano sax plus flute on his stirring and unforgettable J Town Suite (Cora Street Records). It’s a love letter to the Illinois town, Joliet – 35 miles southwest of Chicago – where he was born and raised. Add electric bassist Michael Barton, Collin Clausen on Fender Rhodes and Wurlitzer, plus drummer Greg Essig and his panoply of percussion, and you’ve got one big-time adventurous listen. Dude has 12 albums, one more searching and evocative than the next. This one, though, comes from the heart. Its off-kilter ambiance seems inspired by Frank Zappa, especially the 8:16 “Fries or Rings in the Back,” but all nine originals here reek of minor-key wisdom.

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