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HAZMAT MODINE/Extra Deluxe Supreme: If you compare the original iteration of The Band to this crew and call The Band Americana, the tagging seems disingenuous. While The Band was lucky enough to get hired by an iconoclast that encouraged them to explore their idiosyncrasies and diversions, this bunch is doing it all on their own charting their own course with no prompting. Hopefully, there's a trust fund or two lurking the background for this bunch. More like Dan Hicks' version of Americana, the Modines embody the spirit of the left fielders who congregated around Woodstock and Austin in the 70s and let their freek flags unfurl well outside the margins. Americana from a place that never really existed but acknowledges the reality of the present, these musical hooligans aren't for everybody (like the whole Americana genre is, right?) but anyone who ever bought a pre 1980 Rounder record will probably buy this set and go out and start a band. Killer stuff.

MARK MAY BAND/Blues Heaven: This rock-blues shredding former sidekick of Dickey Betts has been on the road a long time but he's showing the smarts not the age. A righteous roadhouse rocker of a set that shows he knows how to own the milieu, May and company are firmly in the tradition and don't need embellishment as they storm their way through the night where the road goes on forever. This ain't music for either coast which those in LA and NY will never understand. Smoking stuff for all the rest of us that want to party.

FIALTA/Shadow of a Drought: The 70s gave us two married couples riding to the top of the charts as Starland Vocal Band. The 90s gave us driving Euro synth pop. The 10s have given us pestilence we have to fight against. These are the elements this bunch have chosen to throw into the genre blending mixmaster to see what comes out. Probably by setting the blades at high speed they came up with a concoction that works. Blending pomo sensibilities with sunshine pop, Fialta has given us the party record we might as well enjoy right up until the last one still standing turns off the lights. Well done.

RON STABINSKY/Free for One: You never know what's going to come pouring out of the Hot Cup. Mostly Other People do the Killing's piano man come lately (circa 2011) has played with everyone from punks to Dave Liebman and the vectors his mind plays off here show where that dexterity comes from. This set is eight piano solo improvs recorded in a single day that doesn't seem to play the same notes twice. The live, breakneck, anything can happen next vibe is captured exquisitely here to byte without a lost step in the process. Capably making the impossible seem commonplace, this set is sure to stop deep piano fans in their tracks. Killer stuff that proves Stabinsky is well on his way to taking his place with the jazz greats who could/can play anything.

LUIS PERDOMO/MOntage: Piano ace Perdomo has a touch and style that grabs you right off with making it seem too hard. He does that quite nicely while putting his own stamp on the proceedings. Playing with full on open ears and an open mind, this welcoming piano jazz date hit's the nail on the head for people that like sitting down jazz that's going to take them on a tour that ranges far and wide, but not in a world beat kind of way. Tasty solo piano stuff sure to keep you captivated throughout.

MIMI JONES/Feet in the Mud: This left leaning bass ace might be 20 years in but she still puts it out there with the wide eyed wonder of a tyro---just with more mature chops. An intimate quartet outing that feels close up but never closed in , with so much in her jazz vocabulary to draw from, you are impressed that a lesser talent could have just phoned this date in relying on familiar iconography to do the musical talking for her. No need for that here as creativity and originality are Jones' lifeblood. This should be a sought after original musical statement in a world that seems to get greyer every day. Well done.

CLINT MORGAN/Scofflaw: Sweet jumping Jesus, Morgan is THE pomo Johnny Cash. That only makes sense since he's a direct relation to the Carters. With a voice that sounds like he should be a bad guy on a show like "Justified", this lawyer should ditch civil procedure and torts and stick to making the kind of country/Americana records gangster rappers admire. Lining up a crew of hitters we didn't even think knew each other, they play like a real band on this audio movie of life in the underbelly. Impressing me with the cherry on the top by knowing the works of Jeffrey Frederick and working one of his classics in here, outlaw country has planted a flag in the second half of the 10s. All pretenders to the roots music throne better get out the way of this comer that hits it out of the park with ease. Hot stuff throughout.

ANDREY GUGNIN/Pictures: Shall we get ready to promenade? You would expect that a Russian tyro piano player would do justice to Mussorgsky's signature "Pictures at an Exhibition" but would you expect him to make it his own and give it that something extra? Warhorse repertoire my foot! Book ending that work with a set of miniatures by two modern classical composers that provide the lift off and cool down for the centerpiece, this solo set shows classical piano fans that they have a new pro with many good years ahead of him that will provide them with years of enjoyment. A winner.

TREVOR GIANCOLA TRIO/Fundamental: I can appreciate a record that doesn't feel the need to make a statement. I can appreciate a chop laden player that isn't trying to play like he's trying to get his mother's attention. If we didn't have needs for time, space and relaxation, single malt would have never been invented. This jazz guitar trio is top shelf single malt. They don't reference Wes or Benson. They don't run the scales because they have no other ideas. They just play wonderfully. As easy to get along with as your pal that doesn't call you out on your knucklehead ideas, this delightful record saves you the trouble of going out for $12 cocktails just to hear something this hot. Playing for the joy of playing---what a concept! Well done.

DANNY BACHER/Swing that Music: If you never heard Chris Daniels tribute to the three Louie's, check it out. Bacher gives that tribute another go with a different bunch of songs and a crew that would have been at home making this set for Concord or Arbors a few years ago but Bacher's youth probably circumvented that from happening. Bacher admires these gents and their work more through a Sinatra/Vegas prism than in a jazz tradition baggage kind of way. A sprightly swinger that could single handedly ignite a whole new lounge craze, this is fun stuff for people that want a party record that more than just a collection of beats. A delightfully smoking set delivered by a boatload of pros that understand what a good time is all about.

Volume 39/Number 188
May 7, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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