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MONSTER MIKE WELCH & MIKE LEDBETTER/Right Place, Right Time: So the hotshot west coast blues label had to come to the Chicago Blues Fest to find the white boys that could easily be the next Buddy Guy & Junior Wells combination? So be it. Way more Chicago juke joint than west coast roots, these bad boys show that tearing it up at the Otis Rush tribute was just the beginning. With a guest list any modern blues fan will be familiar with, this pair isn't just manqué-ing around as they show how the blues is coursing through their blood stream. A non-stop killer party powered by authentic soul, this set has what it takes to send over aged frat boys to some on campus senior learning center to get credentials to hang around where the action is. Well done throughout.

JOHN PRIMER & BOB CORRITORE/Ain't Nothing You Can Do: Back together after their victorious debut album, these two blues cats sound like they turned on the recorder in the back room of the Aristocrat Lounge after the jelly jar had been passed around to all crammed back there. Authentic Chicago stuff that tourists will dig even though it was made for enthusiasts, these two award winners make it as Chicago as the Chicago handshake. Killer stuff that'll flat out have you reaching for the dark glasses and turning on the blue lights. Hot stuff throughout.

KEVIN KASTNING/Connection of Secrets: His 24th album finds the world's most adventurous and unclassifiable guitarist checking in with only his third solo album and he launches himself into his self devised, multi stringed world in a trip that reaches from the inner world to the cosmos in a mere pluck of the string. If this accomplished, left leaning date doesn't take you to all the places hippies inspired by Wes have taken guitar over the last 50 years and leave you on shores you can't imagine, you better go back to the gift shop. High octane killer stuff for anyone that every wanted to hear the possibilities guitar can offer and where the fearless can take it.

MARK MURPHY/Wild & Free-Live a the Keystone Korner: One of the ultimate hipsters of modern times is caught live and in fine form 40 years ago, long after he'd gotten too old to be an angry young man but still full of the kind of fire that could take a diverse set list like the one on display here and make it all his own. Firmly taking a stand in the face of the disco juggernaut that rolled over everything in it's wake, especially hipster jazz vocalists, Murphy leaves no doubt about who he is and what he's all about, The band is right in step and a good time is had by all making this a timeless date you can enjoy on it's own terms miles away from fad and fashion. Killer stuff.

STEVE NELSON/Brothers Under the Sun: The vibist, a long time sidekick of Mulgrew Miller, gets Lewis Nash and Peter Washington right in line when he gets Danny Grissett to fill the piano chair and kick it out in spirited fashion on these tunes associated with Miller. Hard hitting stuff where the vibes shine but everybody gets some ensemble style, this is a fine example of jazz for the sake of jazz. Straight ahead and swingingly in the pocket throughout, this is the stuff that can make you stay out late on a week night even when responsibilities beckon in the morning. Well done.

MARC COPLAND/Better By Far: Since a bunch of the cats on board here show up on ECM albums, how come nobody told Eicher this indie set is a solid ECM set? The vet piano man leads his charges, all leaders in their own rights, through a set of solid sitting down jazz that any listener can easily appreciate. A solid program that finds nothing but fine playing extant, this is a nourishing set for hungry ears. Well done throughout.

THEO HILL/Promethean: An unbridled swinger, this piano man takes us back to the day and highlights the finest vibe of jazz piano trios before Beatles came along and changed everything for every one. No stranger to real jazz, he starts out by taking it back to the 50s and not getting much more forward than the 70s save for his original. Not a blast from the past but almost a breath of fresh air as it opens the window to the best of what was, Hill is an undisputed contender waiting for his change at the crown. Killer stuff.

IZUMI KUREMOTO/Late Chrysanthemums: Let's face it, this is the kind of massive work that you're either going to be intrigued by and spread the word or just hate for it's massiveness. A double cd with a DVD, the material here has been pulled from the composers last 25 years and defies categorization. Either a modern opera or a chronotransduction, if you've ever gone off the beaten path and marched to Steve Reich's drummer, you may well be on your way to appreciating these proceedings. Almost like nothing you've ever heard, if you dare to get down with it, have no reservations about it being well made--it is--it's just way out there there. This is one crazy thrill ride.

JENNY LIN/Prokofiev & Zaborov: The impeccable piano playing Ms. Lin shows her flair for thinking so far outside the box almost no one can keep up with her. In tackling some more classical Russian repertoire, she bookends some solid Prokofiev with recent works by a young Russian that she finds the gold in, all with just ten fingers and no outside help. A classical piano recital of the highest order, Sunday afternoon ears don't to fight traffic and ticket prices to revel in the joys of this masterwork anytime at all. High calibre throughout.

SANDRO RUSSO/Rachmaninov--Solo Piano Works: The kind of hard hitting, committed piano player that arts councils should have been created for, this classical piano man tackles the Rachmaninov canon and doesn't stop at just the warhorse repertoire. Finding music where other piano players didn't bother to look, this is a technician and tactician that stands and delivers rather than searches and destroys giving the listener more than what he thinks he came for. A dazzling work that does more for détente than anything political can.

Volume 40/Number 150
March 31, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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