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RANDY WESTON/African Nubian Suite: At 90 years old, jazz and exploring heritage are keeping this NEA jazz master young. Opening ears as well as eyes on this double discer, this is a combination musical extravaganza as much as it is a vital history lesson. Walking a fine line where he voices some well needed lessons without being pedant or student, if nothing else, this is the kind of record that belongs in every library extant. Surrounding himself with first call players, Weston has made something here that he'll be remembered for long after people stop streaming "Hi Fly". A masterwork from someone who we already know is a master.

JUDE JOHNSTONE/Woman's Work: One of America's pre-eminent adult songwriters is back with a new set of deeply personal observations that might not land her any new #1 covers, but like a Guy Clark album, it doesn't need a "Desperados Waiting for a Train" to be a top shelf entry in the canon. It might be sparely produced but that just adds to the personal feeling of the set. Simply killer stuff from a peerless writer that best flies the plane she built no matter what other singers knock at her door. First class throughout.

DOG LEG DILEMMA/Not This Time: We're always up for something that colors outside the lines and this bunch turns in a debut hat doesn't even know where the lines are. Sounding like a positively demented circus orchestra, there's so much mashed up here that it seems like everything from Raymond Scott to Sun Ra turns up somewhere in the mix. The spiritual great grand children of Spike Jones, these jazzbo rebels without a cause are a first class diversion that'll fry your brain as you try to follow along. Strap in here if a wild ride is on your to do list.

CLUB D'ELF/Live at Club Helsinki: And for those of you wondering what John Medeski has been up to lately, here he is on a double disc set of Moroccan influenced dub/improv music that wanders with the force of the mighty Mississippi on the road it takes to the sea. A chop driven set by a handpicked passel of pros, this most certainly is music you've only heard in dreams. Crazy stuff that comes together in the end proving that mental telepathy is not a myth. Check it out, if you dare.

JOHN RICHARD/Lost in Dublin: A Canadian folk rocker actually gets lost in Dublin, enjoys the experience and writes about it when he gets home. The kind of indie record that you don't have to make excuses for because it cuts no corners, these outsider observations made to touch the heart without worrying about touching the charts takes you on a wild journey through the back alleys as well as the back pages of one man's impressions of Dublin, obviously with the protagonist not wandering into the soulless tech centers that hold no mystery. An adult set for adults looking for new kicks.

LAURA DUBIN TRIO/Live at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival: With a little help from Kickstarter, this double discer is the embodiment of local girl makes good. Growing up in the shadow of the renown jazz festival, she's made her way around the world and back only to come home and bring the house down. Leading a smoking piano trio that heightens her pianistics whether delving into chestnuts, classics or originals, this is a savvy crew that is here to play and here to play for your enjoyment. Knowing how to be intimate while playing to reach the back row, this is a girl and her gang that you have to hear to believe. Killer stuff throughout.

JUNIE B. JONES The Musical Cast Album: It's always nice when kid's entertainment isn't stupid and this musical based on the series that's sold 60 million books to young ladies everywhere isn‘t stupid. With a boat load of Broadway and show chops at all levels of the production, this is a bright, spirited romp through the life of a normal, suburban girl that uses imagination and pluck to navigate the waters of life. Fun stuff that can easily become a fave for kids of all ages. Well done.

POPA CHUBBY/Catfish: Looking more and more like someone you wouldn't want to run into in a dark alley, the Chubster shows himself to be an old softie in the liner notes---but not in the grooves. Hard and heavy as always, this hard rocking blues rocker delivers the goods and ups the ante. A first class party on a platter for parties that need high octane, this is the kind of stuff that let's you rock the night away and not even realize the sun is coming up. Totally bad throughout---and that means good! Well done.

JOHN WESLEY COLEMAN III/Microwave Dreams: We know that Dylan and Petty have already met and Coleman sounds like the result of Dylan and Petty meeting. Inventing garage folk/rock on this outing, Colemen's pen is as sharp as ever as he delivers folk music for a punk rock generation sorely in need of some solid songwriting that is more than beats and a tag line repeated a million times. You don't dance and you don't head bang? This might be what you've been scanning play lists to find. By all means check it out.

THE GODS THEMSELVES/Be My Animal: Modern rock trio that mashes up rock with electronics and delivers the modern sound college kids are partying the night away to. With salty sex stirred into the lyrics at well placed intervals, this is a fine accompaniment to what ever is going on in dorms these day that parents don't' really want to know about. Check it out, it's the new sound of Seattle.

SADIES/Northern Passages: This bunch has been at it for over 20 years so when their sound seems to reach back to the 60's, it isn't something they developed by singing into their hair brushes in the mirror. True stalwarts of Canadian rock, this bunch goes for rock and psych/folk strumming their guitars like brush strokes from a master. Whether they go to the right or the left, the results are always compelling. Check it out.

Volume 40/Number 39
December 9, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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