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BOB MINTZER/All L.A. Band: So you have Mintzer and Peter Erskine and the crème of who's who in LA jazz that wasn't busy that day. What else did you need to know? A load of big band fun with their big band days pulling on their coat tails, this crew takes you around the world and back. Even though there's only one track entitled "Havin' Some Fun", that's what this whole record is about. Jazzbos just jazzing it up and letting the good times roll, I'm sure you'd rather hear it than hear about it. Hot stuff by true pros.

RAZ/Best of: So when you've been rubbing shoulders with rock elite for 40 years and never turned off the tape recorder, you get a well stocked, career spanning greatest hits set that shows the world you were the arena rocker that should have been. Sterling power pop with first call pals that kept the ship afloat for years, this is for the rocker in everyone. How such wonderful, mainstream rock could have been under the radar for so long is more than a mystery. Check out this wild ride if too much of today's tuff just leaves you cold. You'll remember why you first wanted to rock.

MATTY T. WALL/Blue Skies: The debut set from this blues rock shredder from Australia finds him making room to step aside on his program of all originals to make room for tracks from both Hendrix and Robert Johnson. You don't have to worry about him or have any trepidations. He gets it! All quality with no clichés, this is a throwback to the great junkie guitarists that knew how to light up the sky back in the day. Killer stuff.

LASERS LASERS BIRMINGHAM/Royal Blue: With a gently, easygoing, loping vibe running through it, this ep displays a modern Americana sensibility that you aren't really sure where it lands but it's somewhere between the classic college coffeehouse and the one of today. This is how Firefall and Dan Fogelberg would probably sound today, with a soupcon of Michael Murphey thrown in.

MICHAEL BLUM QUARTET/Chasin' Oscar: I always felt that Oscar Peterson got a short shrift from the jazz police because he tried to make jazz into a popular music form. It seems he's getting more love from the new generation than the moldy figs. This set shows just how powerful Peterson really was since a young hot shot guitarist is paying tribute to the piano man instead of making the obligatory Wes tribute album. When you hear what this young hot shot can do with Peterson's source material, you jaw drops on both their accounts. A rising guitar star for sure, this no guts/no glory release catapults Blum directly to the top of the heap. Killer stuff throughout.

ILHAN ERSAHIN'S ISTANBUL SESSIONS/Istanbul Underground: It's only fitting that this bunch is playing with John McLaughlin this summer since this sound is what so many that tried to flow in the wake of Mahavishnu and Weather Report aspired to when they turned in their world jazz term papers. Top shelf world jazz throughout, this is one of those sets that leaves a long lasting mark that gets passed down from generation to generation without missing a step on it's journey through time. Wildly as good as it gets.

JEREMY MANASIA TRIO/Metamorphosis: A nice, sold piano jazz trio (with a friend on board) that easily and breezily hits all the right notes, Manasia knows what it is to be right in the pocket and play from the heart (did we miss any clichés that succinctly get the point across?). Tasty stuff mostly loaded with originals that really shine, this is a mainstreamers delight where the ears are tickled just as nicely as the ivories. Well done.

CRYSTAL YATES/The Other Side: Americana has met up with angst as a nu generation has popped up that is more familiar with Alanis Morrisette than Loretta Lynn. With scary tales of how to pull through life leading the way, today's hard pressed upon young ladies are sure to relate to the lyrics here. Solid stuff from a real comer that is bringing the middle out to her. Check it out.

SEMER ENSEMBLE/Rescued Treasure: And you thought all there was to Jewish music was klezmer and Barry Manilow. Some dedicated musicologists dug deep enough to find a Jewish music central that was run by Jews put upon from the first world war. Theatrical music to the right of forbidden cabaret music of the 30s, this is a recreation of the real deal. Talk about a wild descent into world beat, this will blow your ears open. Highly ethnic all the way, this really is something out of the ordinary--or perhaps really beyond the pale. Anyone that ever had at least a passing interest in Yiddish theater...., you know the rest. It's might be genre material, but it's well done enough that everyone should be welcomed into this tent.

SIVAN ARBEL/Broken Lines: She might be new to you but Arbel was already a force of nature in the rest of the world by the time she landed in New York, poised to take it over on her terms. A non-traditional jazz vocalist, Arbel is neither thrush nor art chick and is trying mightily to blaze her own trail. A creative set aimed at creative seeking ears, this pushes the boundaries nicely.

KRIS ALLEN/Beloved: Deftly putting together a sympathetic crew that lets his sax lead by default, this is a swinging set for the true sax fan that doesn't want all that other audio clutter to be anything more than coloration. A fine stretch of Allen's talents, this set will leave no doubt about his seriousness and dedication to moving himself and his sound forward. Hot stuff that burns with a smart, quiet fire.

Volume 39/Number 218
June 7, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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