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CRIS JACOBS/Dust to Gold: Equally at home opening for a rising country star or a vet classic rocker, Jacobs has the earthy, rootsy feel that'll probably make him welcome anywhere. A sharp songwriter that has an intimate bar rocker sound and feel, he seems like he could single handedly revive a sound that's been unjustly ignored for too long. Smoking stuff from the heart and the heartland. Well done.

CURTIS ROBINSON/Dancing in the Street: The vet guitarist tips the cap to the Funk Brothers, who, thanks to the internet and home video aren't as anonymous as they once were but certainly deserve to be celebrated as much as possible. We're the beneficiaries of this busman's holiday kind of set anyway. Played with a mixture of then and now in the grooves, since he's celebrating various phases of Motown and beyond, there's no way to pigeon hole things in one particular cast anyway. A jumping, thumping, groovy jam, this set refocuses how much fun the old instrumental takes on classic tracks really were. First class, head of the class work throughout.

FLOROCKER/Rich in the Heart: Vet beat maker is now rapping for his supper and it seems like the first lesson he's learned from all his years in the game is to make the lyrics intelligible. With annunciation being prominent, it gives you the chance to decide if you like the content or not and whether to get upset by it or not---but that's just his old skool skills speaking. Sure, it's a young urban sound, but it's some of the smokingest street level stuff since the Geto Boys were in their prime. Releasing this on his own label to reflect his own bottom up take no prisoners ethic, now that "Hamilton" has opened non rap fans ears to rap, take this ride down some back alleys for the real deal. Well done.

KATHERINE RONDEAU/New Hope Chateau: Here's a Philly folkie that'll have you scratching your head. With a voice and a vibe that really has her easily fitting into the mold of a gospel shouting blues belter, she continues to define herself as a traditional folkie. With a big bold voice that raises the roof with very little effort, you have to wonder why she was hiding out as a teacher for the last 15 years rather than going for it. Better late then never. She's got them ol kozmic blues mamma, and she doesn't have to screech them out to get her point across. Hot stuff.

SYLVIA/It's All in the Family: Hardly the kind of stuff you'd expect from a woman that sold millions of records, won every country music award there was and dropped out to become a life coach. That's a career path? Back with the kind of modern down home music that is right in the pocket with the kind of stuff Dolly was giving us when she stopped giving us Nudie suit down home music and played it from her heart of hearts, this is the kind of deeply personal record that never falls in the trap of getting sappy and preachy. In toady's deconstruction of everything, the ground is just right for this kind of indie music to take root. She probably never heard him, but I hear strong echoes of the reflections of David Ackles when he hit his stride on "American Gothic". A stellar return, let's not hide out for another 14 years, ok? Well done throughout with a helping hand from Nashville vets who knew they were in on something special.

GOOD INTENTIONS/Long Unbroken Line: There seems to be a nu underground in UK of UK based "Americana" groups that are actually musos reclaiming the string band music brought over here by those who would become hillbillies that would bring down home sounds to prominence. Too strong to be just a labor of love, this married duo just plain hits it out of the park from the back porch giving organic sounds a great treatment with just about no trace of them not being "authentic" roots practitioners. Not exactly folk music, it's certainly some kind of folk hyphenate sound that's entirely welcome. Hot stuff.

ALBERT MARQUES TRIO/Live in the South Bronx: This is a nice case of forward into the past. Marques plays with the kind of passion that was present in 50s jazz piano trios that were trying to make their way in the world and would do anything to get heard. Loaded with interesting choices, this set has the feel of old school jazz into classical dates made when jazz was trying to show it should be allowed into respectable suburban rec rooms but didn't want to lose any of it's footloose freedom along the way. Solidly played by a crew that knows it's stuff, they acquit themselves nicely in a live crucible where second best is no good. Hot stuff for the real jazzbo looking for the now version of the roots of his sound.

GREG DIAMOND/Avenida Graham: The gringo guitarist that's really only half a gringo let's his half Latin roots take flight with the rest of the melting pot of sounds you are going to heard if you open your ears living in New York City. Latin jazz with other worldly influences peering and peeking out of the mix as well, this is a spirited, urban flavored romp that isn't shy about getting in your face as well as your ears. Smoking stuff with a crew of pros bringing up the rear, this is killer listening jazz that will have you involuntarily bouncing in your seat. Well done.

GABRIEL ESPINOSA/Songs of Bacharach & Manzanero: A tasty little hybrid of a record, the only constants here are the drummer and the piano chair as the singer mixes five romantic 60s ballads sprung from his native Yucatan with five romantic 60s ballads by Burt Bacharach sung by Tierney Sutton. The two mainstay cats hold it all together while voices and players drift in and out of the mix making this feel like the kind of presentation piece you'd pick up as you left a cabaret after a smooth night's worth of entertainment. Everyone is cooking from the heart and the set fires on all cylinders. Check it out.

RICHARD SUSSMAN/Evolution Suite: A breath taking ride through the theory to find out what would have happened if Leonard Bernstein collaborated with George Russell. With a bunch of modes mixed together, this work that took a long time to pull together is art jazz music that isn't for those that like it when it knows the difference between deep and pretentious. A non stop thrill ride, this is cutting edge yet accessible boundary pushing music that will convert the curious and leave them disappointed when they try to make new and further discoveries on their own with out this as a guide. Not just for eggheads, this is a must for those who can set aside an uninterrupted hour to get their minds blown. Well done.

Volume 39/Number 330
September 28, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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