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ROBERT ‘ROBI' SVARD/Pa'ki Pa'ka: Svard's story is a Cinderella story of a Swedish guitarist rising to the top of the flamenco guitar world without even realizing he was there already. One of those cats who is already great by the first time you hear him, this is just your basic five star, top shelf recording that sets top ten lists on fire and makes your ears burn. This the golden opportunity to savor what you've been seeking. Killer stuff throughout.

BOB DYLAN/Minneapolis Hotel Tape & the Gaslight Café: A couple of seminal Dylan bootlegs that have been making the rounds for years are paired up here for release as a single disc. The first few songs are from a gig he had opening for another act which so wowed a local New York critic that the then ensuing review lead to his contract with Columbia. The rest of the set makes up the bulk of the Great White Hope boot in which Dylan was a real folk singer doing a set of mostly Woody Guthrie, public domain and other folk chestnuts. The sound is pretty near top shelf for such old tapes nearly recorded in battle mode. For anyone that especially loves the first few Dylan albums, there's several songs here that were recorded for those albums but were never released. Don't know if today's jaded youngbloods will get it, but these humble sides were the launch pad for decades of trend setting sound and fury.

FLORIAN WEBER TRIO/Criss Cross: There's no manqueing around here as the piano man makes a bass less trio with two other rising contemporary all stars and plays piano tribute to the polar opposites of Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk. With the right touch, you can take anything anywhere. A sitting down set that does it right, this piano jazz trio starts out with the good stuff and takes it home from there. A sure treat for piano ears. Well done.

MAL WALDRON/The Recordings Part 1 1956-57: Already well into a 50 year career by the time he got the chance to step out on his own, Waldron is remembers as sidekick to hell raisers but he was also as much a part of Billie Holiday's sound as Lester Young was. The eight albums here find him kicking it out on two solo albums and as an integral part of the first six Prestige All Star jam albums. Always rubbing elbows with the best of the best, this is a collection of supreme daddio jazz without affectation. Showing that always showed up ready to play, these sides make a nice cornerstone to any complete modern jazz collection. Check it out.

MAL WALDRON/The Recordings Part 2 1957-61: Loaded with eight albums that underscore his status as a major innovator and a perfect accompanist, if you can find a false note in this bunch, you have great ears. Turning in a bunch of great dates as a leader and writer, along with some more Prestige All Star sets, Waldron probably would be regarded as a national treasure if he didn't move to Europe and plant his flag there in his later years some time after these sides were made. As the 50s turned into the 60s, the Waldron sound and influence was unmistakable and these sides are left to us as a map to the good stuff. Simply killer playing throughout from all on board.

WAYLON JENNINGS/Return of the Outlaw: Some of them old hosses were just too big to be contained by half hearted sound. A live radio broadcast from just ahead of the time when this outlaw bit had done got out of hand, this 1973 date is live from one of Willie's picnics that took place right before Waylon took Nashville by the nads and hung on for his eight seconds. Early versions of several outlaw classics populate this set and the rest are good choices as well.

MILES DAVIS/Lost Broadcast: Recorded the night before "Black Beauty", we find Davis and the lost quintet with augmentation once again opening for the Dead for hippies in San Francisco. Miles runs the voodoo down for them in fine form and the crew is up to the task even if the soundman isn't. You might already have all the songs stirred up in this bitches brew, but you don't have them like this where everyone's fingers are flying everywhere. Certainly a must for the hard core fan, the muddy sound is the only thing keeping this from being a you are there moment.

GREG MERRITT JAZZ QUARTET/New York Sexy: A jam band vet turns a corner and finds smooth jazz, but he finds it in need of a few rough edges and sets sail. An easy, breezy set that has serious pro under pinnings, this is dandy summer afternoon music when you really need to let the world go by. Tasty throughout, this is further proof of the nice side of things when worlds collide. Check it out.

THE RAPTOR TRAIL/New World: Hmm, melodic hard/prog rock with an internal sense of humor that doesn't take itself ponderously serious but plays it straight nonetheless. Verry interesting. With everything they need to be a high flying underground sensation at their finger tips, this crew might wind up finding out the road goes on forever but they'll have fun along the way.

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL/Live in Pennsylvania: Do you think there's enough bytes on a typical hard drive to list the entire membership of this crew now in it's fifth decade with Ray Benson as the only remaining, original member? Playing with a combination of the precision and feeling that would come from this crew really being together for 40 plus years, Benson has stewarded the ultimate western swing good time band that can go from old timey to modern in the drop of a hat. Parading all their greatest hits live, this set can turn anyplace into an Austin beer joint/dancehall in no time. Another in a series of good times from Benson and his posse, this set also recaps the audio portion on a dvd with even more good time tunes done just right.

JOHNNY CASH/Unchained in A Rusty Cage: A New York radio concert recorded when Cash was getting hot again in his Rick Rubin renaissance years, recent Grammy aside, the program on this date is mostly a greatest hits set of oldies for an alt.audience at Irving Plaza revering him for being a gangsta for shooting a man in Reno, just to watch him die. The audio isn't all it could be, especially for a radio concert, but the man mountain that was Cash is all he could be, never stopping to phone it in as much as 40 years after the original facts. Certainly an artifactual valentine for the fans.

Volume 39/Number 136
March 16, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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