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JIM SELF & the Tricky Lix Latin Jazz Band/Yo: The cover art made me think this was a kid's album. Don't make the same mistake. Self is a Hollywood vet whose tuba was the ‘voice' of the CE3K spaceship and the only time he's left he studios since was to go on the road with Marty Paich and Mel Torme (Google it, I could be over exaggerating for emphasis). Here, we find him going back to his love of Latin jazz for tuba, aided and abetted by a bunch he waylaid from Poncho Sanchez's crew. What a great backyard party record. High octane without making you sweat. Sunset and margarita's are the perfect accompaniments for this session. With a well tempered ace at the wheel leading a crew that knows the paces, this set is a top shelf charmer. Well done.

AMY BLASCHKE/Breaking the Blues: If you're going to give your company a name like this, you know the Leonard Cohen lineage is there, but she takes to grandpa's vibe by way of the riot grrls that have rowed these waters in the last 20 years rather than reach back the full 50. Having come through hard times, she's here to relate it all giving voice to all college girl rebelles without clues. With diametrically sort of sunny folk-rock backing the lyrics, this is the kind of stuff that appeals to all the moods of your mind and finds it's way onto the last moments of TV shows, the new AM radio.

JOEL ZOSS/Lila: How nice it is that Zoss's DIY record last year was more than a one off. Just because his hair is greyer than it was 45 years ago and he enjoys riding his ride along the south coast of Florida doesn't mean the versatile old pro has forgotten how to get it done. An easy going set that shows the progression from old Chicago folk blues to the later realities laid down by Taj Mahal and Keb Mo, you can just picture Zoss playing some local bar/restaurants behind this set and have people not aware of who he is giving him ‘compliments'. This is a great off the clock record that reminds us how the music once came first and that anyone bringing something great to the table was always welcome. It's not a nice return to form because he never lost it but it is a continued welcome return. Solid stuff throughout.

LOU CAPUTO'S NO SO BIG BAND/Uh Oh!: He might be a Billyberg native but Caputo is no hipster trustafarian that talks the talk but never walks the walk. A regularly working unit, this crew is called a not so big band because it ‘only' has ten pieces instead of 16 or more---and if that's the only knock on this bunch.... Tried and true swingers, they can take you around the block with a bunch of stops in between, all of which are played to perfection throughout. Tasty stuff that comes from being powered by chops forged in the working musician's crucible, this is a fine example of a party on a platter, jazzbo style. Check it out.

ROCKER-T/Return of the Tru Ganjaman: With over 1 million You Tube plays under his belt, this 30 year vet of Brooklyn reggae is still leading the fight for legal weed everywhere with music as his main sword. Hardly sun dappled reggae in these bytes, this bad boy still is brimming with youthful energy that's sure to take him to even more places before he goes gently into that good night. This is hard core, old school stuff for real, unreconstructed reggae fans.

TEN STRINGS AND A GOAT SKIN/Aupres du Poele: If you're taken in by this hillbilly sound that somehow isn't, it might be because this is organic music from Prince Edward Island, Canada, where a lot of the same Scottish and Acadian vibes flow as freely as they do below the Mason Dixon line and points farther south. How they can make a Ukrainian song sound so hillbilly is anybody's guess but that's why they spin on the same axis as Duhks and you don't. Throughly charming music from a crew that respects tradition but is too young to be wedded to the past, acoustic music fans will be hard pressed not to believe this isn't music that wandered down from Hurley Mountain. A delightful organic music alternative that really hit's the spot.

NICK SCHNEBELEN BAND/Live at Knuckleheads Vol. 1: If you think Schnebelen sounds way too accomplished for a young cat on an indie label it might be because you don't realize he was one of the members of Trampled Under Foot, a Kansas City award winning bunch of youngsters that were through the 4 phases of a career at an early age going from indie to major label and back again in a ride that was way shorter than it should have been. Regrouping with some new pals, he's playing like someone that's turned his back on an industry that turned it's back on him---not caring if the twain shall ever meet again. He's going to grab you right from the opening riff and not let go. A masterful set where everyone on board brings something delicious to the table, he and his crew are here to stay and our ears are better for it. Hot stuff from the crossroads where blues meets rock.

LITTLE BOYS BLUE/Tennissippi: This vet crew played back up for Carl Perkins in his late stage career and went on to be part of Muzik Mafia before reclaiming their own turf. Recording in Muscle Shoals, you can just imagine this on the play list when all Hank, Jr's, rowdy friends come over. Smoking southern soul blues rock, this bunch is authentic and entertaining knowing when and when not to round off the rough edges. The sound fans of a certain age partied the night away to in college, face it, the price of admission here is more well worth it than coughing up for some geezer victory lap tour that you're only going to so you can say you were there. These bad boys have delivered the real deal.

KATY GUILLEN & THE GIRLS/Heavy Days: C'mon, the title and cover art have to be a triple entendre at the least. A Kansas City blues rocker that blends all the stuff she's picked up along the way as a working musician into her mix, this crew oft times comes across more as a power trio than a blues crew but roadhouses and winning Kansas City blues awards are where they're found most. Nu blues rock for nu ears, their raw, gritty sound has the down and dirty stuff at home in frat houses and beer blasts of any age group. Smoking stuff that doesn't need accouterments to gild it's natural sound and fury, this is wonderful hard and heavy stuff that doesn't miss. Well done.

ED ROTH/Mad Beatnik: If this swinging, smooth jazz date has an old school feel that's because keyboard ace Roth is playing it on old school instruments without programming or frippery. A cat with such a wide range of people he's added his magic touch for that ranges from Coolio to Shelby Lynne, it's no surprise he knows his stuff so well. Sounding like something you might have expected from the Stuff axis when they were in their prime, this bar raising set hits it out of the park with each track. Killer stuff throughout.

Volume 39/Number 209
May 28, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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