Beautifully recorded with a high level of immediacy, Craig Safan’s third and newest recording is certainly one to get the blood pumping. The high energy of High on Hope Street sets the bar high as this celebration of life in the City of Angels launches. There’s also a sense of play in the vocals, plus real grit to the violin solos.

The disc’s title, L. A. Ex, works with memory (as discussed in the associated interview) but also refers to the city’s famous airport. Spring St. Boogie with its high-octane repetitions seems to simultaneously pay homage to boogie and big bands, but with an extra-beat “kick” to it. The immediacy of the recording is remarkable, particularly over good quality headphones.

There is a real impression of going into some sort of time vortex when listening to this disc; one is never sure which memory of which era will come into focus next. Safan’s imagination is vast, and he is a master painter in the way he creates an individual world for each track. Fantastically inventive; brilliantly realized. Colin Clarke

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