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ZARABANDE/ El Toro: Zesty Latin jazz with a double mallet front line that isn't all that common in all of jazz dazzles your ears on this outing. Loaded with muy caliente, this high octane, high energy release brings the gusto and keeps it coming. A solid set of originals without a wasted note in the bunch, this is a delightful ear opener that'll get the duffest lard ass to at least set his toes to tapping. Hot stuff throughout that goes the distance and then some.

AJ HOBBS/Too Much is Never Enough: He calls it outlaw but I call it modern honky tonk. I also call it good. Part of the new breed that wants to do it their own way, just like the outlaws did, maybe we're both kind of right here. A boundary pushing release that recaps a touch from his previous eps, Hobbs' no bullshit approach to life in the modern world serves him well lyrically. A real rouser of a set, now we all know what Bee Spears told him the day that he met him. If the new Nashville ain't doing it for you, this is where you want to be when the gloves come off. Well done throughout.

DAVID WISE/Till They Lay Me Down: A side kick of Gary Bartz, this well traveled lad has a world of sound at his finger tips and he just seems to be expanding his universe since landing in LA and working with top jazzbos and others. An eclectic release that finds it's soul in jazz but isn't afraid to explore contemporary touches from all quadrants, this cat is reaching for the stars and doing a good job of landing them. Solid music for millenials that are starting to feel like it's time to grow up. Check it out.

BLACKIE & THE RODEO KINGS/Kings and Kings: The utterly cool vet Canadian roots trio turns it up another notch by making a set that's in the spirit of those Asleep at the Wheel sets from the early 90s where they invited everyone cool in Nashville to come around. With June Carter's ex son in laws leading the guest list, these are the sounds of cats that know what they are doing getting back to playing for the love of it---and it shows without needing to be fixed in the mix. With enough awards between them to make the weight of the awards break through the floor, after all is said and done, this set shows that it ain't the gold that keeps a war horse staying in the game. Nothing less than rocked up country/roots music the way it should be done, the pretenders can begin queuing up toward the right. Killer stuff throughout.

LAWSON ROLLINS/3 Minutes to Midnight: Up to now, a new Rollins record could always be counted on to be a real treat. With this new record, Rollins keeps his record in tact. Firmly staking out his territory as a world beat guitarist par excellence, he avoids all the clichés and weariness that his contemporaries seem to fall into after making this many releases and makes you remember why you became a guitar fan in the first place. A tasty taste treat throughout, this is good bet for world beat/guitar fans to add to their Amazon wish list so present givers get the idea. Killer stuff throughout.

JEFF CHAZ/This Silence is Killing Me: Showing that his fairly recently released debut set was no fluke of pent up energy needing to be released, Chaz's follow up shows this white boy with the blues has got them bad. A high octane, jumping set that sounds like it came from the chitlin circuit show rooms as opposed to the more civilized Nawlins stomping grounds he regularly stomps, this is the real deal that could only have been forged in a real crucible. This record is just simply one super jamming good time by a master showman that knows the score. Hot stuff.

MISHA/Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake: The first thing you notice about this set is that Hendrik Meurkens totally removes all doubt about whether he's the heir apparent to Toots Thielemanns or not. He's there. Next thing you notice is that Misha is not an art chick but rather heir apparent to the thrush tradition. Bringing forth a set of all originals that sound like Chris Connor trunk songs you never heard, she and the crew are on point throughout knowing just how to deliver late evening brandy sipping music. A tasty set for the artfully inclined, this is accessible high brow music that was made for grown up enjoyment.

KAREN STACHEL/And of the Son: And now for something completely different--a mostly solo set of flute for Christmas. Inspired by her work in hospices, Stachel gives a soulful (but not soul music) reading to the holiday classics (with a ringer slipped in) that's firmly a set with both feet in the new acoustic music camp as opposed to new age etc. The kind of holiday music you want to hear when things are quieting down and you feel reflective (but not morose), this album's simple charms are enough to soothe the savage beast. Wildly winning in ways you wouldn't expect from directions you wouldn't guess. Check it out.

JORDAN HURWITZ/Lovesick: Almost aging out of the teeny pop bracket, Hurwitz's second pairing with Narada Walden finds her showing too much soul for someone named Hurwitz. Growing in to the person and persona she wants to be, this duo is quickly becoming a dynamic duo giving Walden his chance to show the ageist entertainment biz that age ain't nothing but a number. Tasty stuff that let's you feel, as well as hear, the growth this artist is maturing into as she seems serious about being a collaborator instead of a puppet. Check it out.

Volume 40/Number 18
November 18, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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