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JACK SPANN/Beautiful Man From Mars: Bowie covered writers like Paul Williams and Biff Rose so how hard can it be to imagine a cat that's essentially a folkie having his life changed by being Bowie's demo man on his last album. A wild set that's just right for anyone that knows what the Bowie ride is like and how to enjoy it.

ORGANISSIMO/B3tles-A Soulful Tribute to the Fab Four: Who doesn't like B3 in good hands? Nobody. Who doesn't like Beatles? Nobody. Who doesn't like smoking soul jazz? Nobody. Who won't like this record that has all three? Jerks. A solid dose of all the greasy B3 you can handle in one sitting, right now Jimmy Smith is calling out Norman Granz telling him he should have paid the publishing to make this happen for him. Not only righteous fun but the set list here shows how much room there is for more volumes of goodies like this. Well done throughout.

GENTLEMAN'S DUB CLUB/Dubtopia: It's hard to deal with something that has gentleman's and club in the same breath without finding the strippers that go with it, but this club is loaded with good times---and you can bring your own strippers. An antidote to the times we're living in, the crew comes back with a platter of good time skanking that has been in the writing stage for several years. With no message in the mix other than a loping invite to get flat, this set shows that white boys can keep it irie too---and do it quite well. Smoking party times riff and are rife throughout.

ECHO TEST/From Two Balconies: Down mouth prog rock beats show gaze any day. At least there's enough music going on that you don't feel like you're listening to rebels without a clue if you tune out the vocals. These King Crimson fellow travelers chart the contemporary waters of the seas of bummer but at least their sound isn't a bummer. Limits here are being pushed and tested successfully making this a serving of nu prog for nu ears that works throughout.

JENTSCH GROUP QUARTET/Fractured Pop: The liner notes are just too geeked out for anyone to be able to get through so don't read them. Just fire this up and let the progressive guitarist work his mind melds on you because all you need to do is enjoy these twists and turns and say, "whoa, that's cool". The kind of cat that gladly avoids all the ‘look at me' touches that could mar a creative set like this only enhances your enjoyment by letting you see how it all goes down. With a DVD to really let you see how it all goes down, Jentsch isn't afraid to let you into his world---and it's quite a nice place to be. A record that does not go gently into that good night, your ears will have a gasser with this if you just let it do it's thing.

HECTOR ANCHONDO BAND/ Roll the Dice: When this blues rocking bad boy straps on his Strat, you know right out of the box why he wins and places in all the competitions he's entered in. He hits the ground running, tears it up big time and raises the game of anyone that comes around. Killer stuff that shows how to party right.

JARED TYLER/Dirt on You r Hands: If Leon Redbone had proper mentors and a prequalified genre he could drop right into, he would have broken sooner. Tyler is a cat that knows how to use what the has at hand to his best advantage. Pushing the envelop of roots/Americana, Tyler yummily mixes old timey, folk, country blues and the rest of the magilla into a roux that can be rolled out in a mix or individually to great effect. A killer organic, back porch set that draws on all his strengths, this is a great off the clock set you can really kick back with. Well done.

MR. DAVE/Feeling Good: While the bloviators are still trying to get recognition for Chicago blues and Chicago house, they are missing the boat that Chicago is slowing becoming the ground zero for kiddie music and Mr. Dave is one of the cats leading the charge. Making music adults can hear in the car when the kids are present without losing their minds, Dave doesn't talk down to the kids and uses production chops that adult ears will be comfy with. The former jam bander has found his métier here easily making him the Raffi of the nu generation and it doesn't feel like he's going to need the vindication of being hailed as the Springsteen of kid music to feel good about himself. This stuff rocks!

RYAN SVENDSEN/Voiceless EP: Coming a long way in a short time (think music director for Lions Gate, um, the guys that released "La La Land", that he worked on), Svendsen offers a snapshot of where he's at right now having come from California Youth symphony to DMB to UTA to now. Too progressive to be seen as the next Williams or Mancini right now, he's still young and adventurous and the movie world doesn't know where it's headed tomorrow right now making him a good Mr. Right Now. He knows his stuff and it's just right for those who might be outré now but are heading toward the middle. Check it out.

JOHN YAO QUINTET/Presence: For a trombone player, Yao certainly likes to fiddle around. Calling in some like minded progressive jazzbos with solid credentials, Yao finds that spot the illegitimate child of Miles Davis and Carla Bley would have sounded like. Progressive stuff for progressive ears, Yao is on a collision course to meet tomorrow head on, but the crash won't be a mess. Check it out of this is up your alley.

TOMMY TALTON/Somewhere South of Eden: What a gas it is to get the mail and see a hand addressed package from Duane Allman's bestie Tommy Talton with his latest disc under cover. Still loaded with the kind of blue eyed soul that was blooming years ago between Macon and Muscle Shoals that led so many of us to Stax and Memphis, this wonderful, timeless groove is a most welcome tonic for jaded ears. With a rolodex round up of hitters he can easily call friends on board, this is a telegram to the young ‘uns to make them realize what they're missing out on today. And if they don't dig it, there's still enough of us old timers around that remember. Killer stuff from a cat that was there.

TOW'RS/Grey Fidelity: Musical old souls that merge Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Belle & Sebastian and Flood into a strange, low key mix that honors each of the various influences and coalesces it into an organic whole. Thinking man's ambient rock, there's something deeper going on here than you can hear in the first few passes, and it deserves your attention. If it doesn't break through, it has the making of a classic that'll be handed down over the years and referred to in hushed tones. Way too smart for the times.

Volume 40/Number 143
March 24, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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