CHRIS ANTONIK/Monarch: A nu white boy with the blues this award winning guitar shredder from up north knows a thing or two about how Muddy Waters viewed northern migration, industrial blues and take sit to the next level of the level where racket is still on the menu but clicks have replaced whirrs of machinery. Finding a way to make some heavy, personal lyrics fit into the mix, a couple of listens to this and you'll feel the connection from here to Merle Haggard without raising an eye brow. Even white man's blues change with t he times. This guy is on his way to more accolades in short order.
OZOMATLI/Non-Stop: The award winning Latin fusion party band kicks it up a notch with a new sound of the streets as they do an album of covers, some of which are covers of covers, and then they mix it up in a Mexican/Jamaican fusion. Easily the new sound of the summer for people that are going to want to chill out after an aggravating winter, fans can be sure this bunch won't disappoint and will open ears in new way. Killer stuff throughout that lets you skank your way through the barrio like you never thought possible.
DUENDE LIBRE: A keyboard player wondering what's new under the sun starts a Latin tinged, jazz piano trio. Write home about? You can on this one. This bunch knows how to take what's come before and refashion the language we already know into something that doesn't fall far from the tree but has a good roll to it. A tasty little treat that does the job it set out to do, entertain in a big way, an succeeds mightily. Nice solid stuff that works throughout.
BILLY VALENTINE/Brit Eyed Soul: Spotify be damned, there's no more national play lists and if the guy from "Sons of anarchy" wants to sing souly versions of Brit hits, give the people what they want. Actually a long time singer with roots going back to the 80s, he's having a good time and letting the good times roll on these songs you all know that he's busy making his own. A fun diversion.
LIGHT FREEDOM REVIVAL/Eterniverse déjà vu: There might be Dean inspired artwork and names like Sherwood and Wakeman on board, but the sound is practically CSN as opposed to next gen prog. Leaving the ponderousness at home and filling the sound with the spirit that rose up and drove Nixon from office, this sounds like new hope for a new day. What a dandy change! Pop that doesn't rely on beats for those who want something more with more meat.
MATT HOLMAN/Tenth Muse: Is this the era of deconstruction or what? An improv trumpeter finds the jazz in the 2,000 year old poetry of a lesbian poet. As befitting, it's certainly a set of art jazz but it doesn't beat you down with artsiness. Thinking man's jazz made for Sunday afternoon listening sessions.
TOM DEMPSEY-TIM FERGUSON QUARTET/Waltz New: There's a couple of interesting things going on here all at once. First up, this set is a tribute to Jim Hall and his influence on modern jazz. Second up, it sounds like a smooth jazz date in an acoustic setting where it hasn't been declawed of it's swing and drive. Is it a winner? Only throughout. A nice little text book on how it's done right with no dust on it, this is a solid, straight ahead set that pulls no punches and delivers straight to the gut straight from the heart. Hot stuff.
OSCAR HERNANDEZ/Art of Latin Jazz: This guy is a major figure in modern Latin jazz. So, what does he do? He makes a Latin jazz album the average, two left footed gringo can relate to and love. Not too Ricky Ricardo, not too ethnic, not to street, this is a set that takes the best of Latin jazz and slides it right down the middle for a set that can even find klutzes tapping their toes along to it. A solid gateway date for the gringo too intimidated to enter the Latin jazz tent, it's hard to say it gets better from here but this is the ear opener that'll bring new ears into the tent. A fine date throughout.
MATT OTTO with Ensemble Iberica/Iberica: Music from Kansas City that cal itself jazz but sounds more like Paul Winter that Count Basie? Yep. The sax man hooks up with a guitar trio and some other players, all of whom seem to have more of a world sensibility than you might expect from the heart of the heartland. Right in step with the original world beaters like Winter, Paul Horn or Oregon, this is music with an exotic edge that soothes the savage beast. Tasty stuff that has the easy charm to take you to places well around the bend into other realms. Well done.
COLORADO JAZZ REPERTORY ORCHESTRA/Invitation: From an idea to an institution in half a dozen short years, this region big band's debut is an accomplished, high water mark kind of date that shows what happens when you corral the crème of the crop and let them play their hearts out in their own way. A totally right on date that is in the tradition without sounding dated, they breathe new life into the oldies pulling them from various sources and quadrants. They do more than hit the right notes in the right order and deliver the good vibes as well. Solid stuff that auspicious debuts are made from.
Volume 40/Number 129
March 10, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record
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