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JENNY DARREN/Heartbreaker Best of 1977-1980: A Northern Soul singer that got bitten hard by the hard rock bug in the late 70s, Darren showed herself to be more than just a rock chick as she held her own opening for AC/DC, Patti Smith and others who knew how to set the night on fire. Having first crack at Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker", Darren shed her old skin and took things as far as she could while dealing with other hands in the mix. While these recordings originally got a short shrift here in the states, they still sound fresh and energetic. They'll probably sound like a revelation to those who never heard them the first time around. Killer stuff from a gal that had the attitude not to let anything stand in her way.

LARAAJI/Ambient 3 Day of Radiance: The oddball set of Eno's four ambient productions, looking back now, this shimmering autoharp session sounds like an extended remix of the break down on Lindsay Buckingham's "Trouble" which validates this records claim to be influential since it pre dated Buckingham by a few years. It also predated new age by a few years as well. This stuff was never music for the masses, but even at 35 years old, it's still a pretty trippy set of head music that's sure to accompany certain intoxicants in fine style. Alt.rave, here it comes.

GROOVE LEGACY: Since it seems like we're all working off the clock these days, there's no reason why we shouldn't make the most of the freedom this crew of vets that have played with the funkiest finds a lot of logic in that feeling. Setting sail with the vibe of the funky sounds we all loved in real time, they are fashioning the next wave of the groove while staying true to it's core. A total gasser for anyone who ever dug the Crusaders, Stuff and those kind of groups, this is the kind of stuff that can make you feel like it's got to be 5 o'clock somewhere in the world and there's no pointing missing out on the festivities. Killer stuff throughout!

CHRISTINE JENSEN-MAGGI OLIN/Transatlantic Conversations: When are art chicks not art chicks? When they aren't art chicks. Two dyed in the wool jazzbos from across the pond from each other that have struck simpatico in the past round up a crew for a big band date that scores new high water marks for sitting down jazz/contemporary instrumental music. Incorporating all kinds of music they love, this date was originally a Swedish pubic radio concert but when they listened to the work at a later date, they were as impressed with it as you will be. Tasty, up market stuff where the chops fly in an organic way, this is the kind of listening date real muso fans keep hoping will roll these way again more often. Killer stuff that does the driving for you so that you can sit back and really take it all in. Killer stuff.

R. B. STONE/Some Call it Freedom: The southern white boy that doesn't let time, state lines and attitudes mess with his mix is back with another high octane set that takes you around the horn of southern honky tonking blues rock that keeps coming even when it stops to take a breath. Hard hitting throughout, this is uncut fun that gets your blood boiling in a good way for good reasons. It might not be le bon ton roulette but it's a great example of letting the good times roll. Hot stuff throughout.

MICHAEL SPIRO-WAYNE WALLACE LA ORQUESTRA SINFONIETTA/Canto America: Perennial final ballot Grammy nominee Wallace really blows things wide open here. A trombonist at the top of his game that can be counted on for annual releases that provide heat for the feet, we find him pairing up here in different ways to create a set that's almost more for the head and heart than the feet. Not abandoning his party ways completely, this set honors the mixed race people of the new world in the early 1800s. Rooted deeply in Latin jazz, the pan Caribbean element isn't ignored reaching all the way into the Afro Cuban bag as well. Almost an audio movie, if the average gringo doesn't have his mind blown by this, we might be dealing with someone that has ears but also has no brains and no feeling. Killer stuff.

KELLY RICHEY/Shakedown Soul: 35 years in and the power blues rocker plays like she's looking toward and forward to tomorrow. High octane power stuff that shows no sign of giving quarter to the aging process, this is primo stuff for rocking the night away and shaking off the blues while marinating in a stylized form of them. Plenty here for shredders as well. Hot stuff that was built for speed.

JULIAN SHORE/Which Way Now?: Just by looking at the names of the important, rising young jazzbos peopling this date, esthetic prejudice would have you would thinking the result would be closer to what ever is going on downtown these days than it would be to something that sounds like something Aaron Copland would have composed but the egg would be on your face. More in line with nu contemporary instrumental music that recidivist, refracted glory, Shore blows your ears wide open with new sounds and outlooks. Sitting down music dealt from the top of the deck, this is brilliant stuff you'll be tempted to use as background music but will soon find yourself lost in it's confines. Check it out.

MIKE FREEMAN ZONAVIBE/Blue Tjade: Maybe Freeman gets it because he's a white guy but he's done something here that most thought couldn't be done. His Latin jazz vibe playing, assisted by a crack crew of Latin jazz players, has given rise of sounds that white guys can do the white guy dance to without feeling self conscious. There's a groove here even white guys can feel! Tipping the cap to Cal Tjader as an inspiration while not doing a tribute record (the songs here are all originals), this is a fun record whether you are sitting or standing. Killer stuff that really resonates, it's about time this cat stopped being a Grammy nominee and brought the statue home. Well done.

BOB WIJNEN/NYC Unforeseen: Score another win for crowd funding. A piano man that knows his stuff, as well as the history of jazz, sits down at the keys with some other well traveled, like minded pros and delivers a classic sounding, New York flavored piano jazz date that sounds like he spent his time in too many basement clubs beating his fingers to the bone in the process. With progressive elements from across the generations, Wijnen can go left field or stay straight ahead and make it all work side by side. Killer stuff that adds solidly to the piano jazz lexicon, genre/style fans need to hear what the hard core made possible. Well done.

Volume 39/Number 76
January 16, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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